Starting a clothing line is a very interesting and financial rewarding venture but not without its ups and downs. There are lots of people who have failed in the business simply because they didn’t plan adequately for the challenges they would face.
N.B-: This article was culled from: “The Complete Guide to Starting a Clothing Line from Scratch.”
In this line of business, challenges are not things to run away from; they are things you have to face head on. But how do you face them head on? By knowing them, expecting them and preparing for them so that when they show up, there are no surprises because you are already armed with the knowledge and information to tackle them. So, what are those challenges you are likely to face when you want to start your clothing line?
10 Challenges You Will Face When Starting a Clothing Line
1. Capital-: If you do not already have the funds required to start your clothing line (which is pretty difficult, considering it is such a capital intensive investment), you might have a hard time convincing financial institutions to lend you money to start your clothing line. Why?
The reason is because the clothing business is very risky. One season goes and all the clothes for that season become almost unsellable because fashionable people would not be caught dead wearing last season’s dresses in a new season. So basically, you have to put the clothes out on sale at very cheap rates to at least encourage people to buy and this becomes a loss to your business.
I guess you now understand why banks would have reservations about loaning you money to start a clothing line. To solve this challenge, you have to start your business in phases, meaning that you have to start small and produce in little batches so as to avoid running into losses. This is where a business plan comes into play? Here is a sample clothing line business plan template you can use.
2. Demand Forecasting-: This is another challenge you would also face. Since you are just beginning, you might not have existing records of demands therefore, knowing what quantity to produce, which sizes and what colors would sell better might be a problem. To handle this, you must think about using crowdsourcing; such that your customers would be able to decide on what to produce based on customer’s choices and opinions.
3. Rising costs of production: Costs of production in the clothing industry increases every day. Don’t be surprised if the costs you have in your business plan is different from what obtains in the market even though you wrote your business plan just two months ago. As more people get into the business, the prices of materials needed for production continues to increase.
Inflation isn’t helping things at all and since there are tons of brands in the market, the customers move on to the cheaper brands when your stuffs get too expensive. The best way to curb this problem is to use outsourcing as a way of cutting production costs so that you can avoid some overhead expenses.
4. Unforeseen Business Expenses-: You should also try to keep some funds aside for unplanned expenses so that if any expenses come up that you weren’t informed about or prepared for, it wouldn’t have to mean the end of your business.
5. Distribution Challenges-: Designing and producing your clothes is totally up to you but you cannot fully control the distribution of your clothes. Distribution is usually a challenge for clothing brands. You have to work hard to get your brands into clothing stores and that might cost you more than a little effort and time.
6. Getting good manufacturers-: Getting good and reliable people to handle the production of your designs might also be a challenging experience. If you decide to handle the production yourself, that would actually mean a lot more capital because of the costs of equipment and if you decide to outsource to companies abroad where it is usually cheaper.
You would have the problem of minimum order quantity because these companies usually have a minimum order that they can take which is sometimes in hundreds. How sure are you that you would be able to sell a hundred pieces of the same design easily? Again, you would need a lot more capital to do this.
7. Designs: To keep your clothing company running, you have to keep on turning out new designs all the time and sometimes, you might run into some kind of ‘designer’s block’ where you would find it difficult to come up with unique new designs of your own.
However, you won’t have too much trouble with this when you hire a team of designers to handle the designing aspect of your business. They would be able to create new designs for you. You can also consider buying designs from independent designers.
8. Promotion-: This is where a marketing plan comes into play? Here is a sample clothing line marketing plan template you can use. You would also have to spend a lot of money on publicity and promotion especially as a new comer in the business. You would have to host launching parties, give out free samples, and pay for advertisements and a whole lot of other expenses related to promotion and advertisements.
9. Competition-: The truth is that there are several people in the business. Think of the several brands you see when you walk into a clothing store; thousands of people own clothing lines in different countries and as a new entrant into the business, you might have a hard time breaking through and positioning your business at the forefront.
Nonetheless, there is still hope if you are smart enough to study your competitors closely and strategize how to break into the market. You could use pricing strategies, promotional strategies or social networking tools to reach out to your customers and offer them what your competitors are not offering them.
For instance, you can launch your brand with a crazy buy one get one free promo or referral discounts. You would be surprised at the number of customers you can win over using this technique.
10. Counterfeiting and Copycats-: Some designers are just lazy, instead of taking the time to think and design unique cloths, they would rather let other designers do the job and then copy the work of other designers.
This is another problem you might face because after spending a lot of money paying designers to ensure that you give your customers the best, it would really hurt to see another person steal your designs and present it to their customers at very cheap rates because they didn’t spend too much money on designing. Trademarking your designs would really work to solve this particular challenge.