Have you ever thought of starting your own fashion business but do not actually know how and where to start? Are you in need of fashion business ideas and opportunities?

Do you want to know what it takes to setup a profitable fashion boutique? Do you need a practical sample fashion boutique business plan template and feasibility study? Then read on.

Running a fashion boutique is one of the most exciting possibilities for those of you who are seeking the ideal business to start up. It is an especially attractive prospect for the ladies’. However, the nature of the business doesn’t exclude the gentlemen from embarking on this industry either.

Now for those who are beginners or novice to the happenings in the fashion industry; let me share some statistics with you. Below are some facts about Fashion Business/industry in the United States.

12 Facts about the Fashion Business Industry
  • The fashion industry in the United States alone grew 4 percent in 2011, yielding a total sale of $199 billion and over 4 million people are employed by the fashion industry of US. New York and California are cities having the greatest concentration of fashion designers. In Nigeria, the highest concentration of Fashion Designers can be found in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
  • US is regarded as the largest importer of garments in the world and China accounts for 35 percent of every apparel sold in the US. Nigeria is also the biggest importer of garments in Africa, staying ahead of countries like Ghana, South Africa, etc. Importation of textiles materials was once banned in Nigeria but the ban has been lifted. However, there is a long term plan by the government to prohibit the textile importation, so as to encourage local content production.
  • In 2010, each American household spent on average $1700 on apparel and foot wears; and this is growing rapidly.
  • Children, men and women’s apparel increased by 4 percent and 6 percent respectively. Approximately 58 percent of women who normally shop for apparel online are between the ages of 25 and 45. 6.9 million Women in the US shop for online apparel.
  • Fashion week in New York City funnels approximately $20 million into the economy of the country.
5 Reasons why you should start a fashion business today

1. You are your own boss

If you start a fashion boutique, the only person you have to answer to is yourself. Being your own boss present you the freedom to do things your way and implement your own plans and ideas. Better still, you will have a feeling of fulfillment and self actualization as you watch people appreciate your creative works.

2.  You will learn how to deal with people

There is no successful business that does not require you dealing with people. If you lack people skills, your fashion business will force you to develop these skills. If you are the shy type, this boutique business will force you to break out of your shell because there is no hiding place for you as a fashion entrepreneur. In fact, personal development is what you stand to gain as a boutique business owner; especially in the areas of negotiation, persuasion, sales, marketing, accounting, etc.

3. Running a fashion business exposes you

Who hasn’t been afraid of speaking in a public at some point in their life? Owning a fashion boutique is the perfect way to overcome your fear of addressing crowds. This is because at various point in time in your business, you will be required to address groups of people; whether you feel comfortable or not.

You will also get to travel to many places in the course of sourcing for merchandise, marketing your products, attending trade shows, events and Expos, etc. This will enable meet new people and learn new things.

4.  It is flexibility and easy to run

5.  It is very profitable

If you are thinking that it’s just only large corporations that make big profits, you are wrong. There are a lot of medium and small scale enterprises that are making money serving a smaller niche. Although the start-up process can be quite tough, if you are able to run your business well, the rewards can be huge.

Starting a Fashion Boutique – Sample Business Plan Template

1.  Get the necessary knowledge

One of the greatest mistakes you will make as an aspiring fashion entrepreneur is to start a boutique based on assumptions. The fashion industry is a rapidly changing one; what is in vogue today might be outdated tomorrow and the wears that sell in a student dominated area may not sell in a region dominated by employed individuals.

You will also need to know the fashion brand that sells fast in your country or state. That is why knowledge is fundamental to running a fashion boutique. To get started, below is a list of institutes where you can hone your fashion designing skills:

List of the best fashion business schools in Nigeria

  • Glamour institute of fashion textile and craft
  • OSC School of fashion
  • Fashion and art academy
  • Fashion, Art and Creative Academy (House of Henri)
  • Burgoo fashion school
  • Zaris fashion & style academy
  • Ginani
  • Princessklin ventures
  • Kendy’s creation

Best fashion business colleges in United States

  • Savannah college of art and design
  • School of art institute of Chicago
  • California college of the arts
  • Academy of art university
  • Fashion institute of design and merchandising (Los Angeles, AC)
  • Parsons, the new school for design
  • Pratt institute
  • Massachusetts college of art
  • Columbus college of art & design
  • Rhode island school of design

2. Conduct a feasibility study

  • What type of fashion boutique do you want to start?
  • Is your boutique going to target men, women or kids and children?
  • Will your boutique carry high-end products or average affordable products?
  • Will your boutique target the elites of the society or the middle class?
  • Will your boutique carry only one line of fashion products and accessories from a particular brand like Versace, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Vera Wang, Christian Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, etc?
  • Will you run a product specialty boutique for shoes, bags, wears, jewelries, caps, accessories, etc?

These questions asked above will be answered by the result of the feasibility research you will carry out.

In the process of doing a feasibility research, you will also need to determine the best place to site your boutique? Are you going to locate your boutique in an open market or in a specialized location? Will you locate your business at a busy intersection or in a quiet area such as a shopping mall?

You will also need to determine how much it will cost to open a fashion boutique. Where you will source your products from and who your suppliers will be? Who are your competitors and what are the risk involved with running a fashion business? These are some of the factors you will need to take into consideration.

3. Write a business plan

After compiling your feasibility report and you believe the metrics of your research are favorable, you can then proceed to write a business plan. Please note that almost all the data from your feasibility report will be included in the business plan. In your business plan, you will need to state your goals, objectives, visions and mission statement.

You will also need to state if you will be running the fashion boutique alone or you will work alongside co-partners or team. If you will be bringing a team on board, then you will need to write a brief biography about them in your business plan; and don’t forget to input a marketing plan and your financial projections plus risk analysis. However, if you don’t intend raising capital for your fashion boutique, you can skip the lengthy business plan and stick with a simpler format or template.

4.  Decide how you want your boutique to look like

Before embarking on a search for a rental space for your boutique, you need to have a simple sketch on paper on how your boutique will look like and the interior decoration you will use to spice up your showroom. Will your boutique have a showroom or display glass? Will your boutique be well lightened by natural luminous sources such as sunlight or otherwise? You will need to decide this.

5. Find a location

Now based on the feasibility research you conducted and the preliminary sketch of your boutique you did, you can then proceed to find a space, shop or mall for your boutique. Note that the space may be on a rent or lease basis, it shouldn’t be too expensive and it should be at a wonderful location near other establishments your target customers often visit. Here’s how to buy and sell designer clothes from home.

6. Name your fashion business

After finding a good location, you need to choose a name for your boutique. Mind you that the name you choose for your boutique must be easy to remember; must be creative and above all, it must be brand-able. Now to choose a good fashion boutique name, you can try out these fashion business names ideas below:

Fashion Boutique Business Names Ideas

  • Your Name” “Specialty” Fashion Boutique
  • ABC” “Ladies Wear” Boutique
  • XYZ” “Jewelry ” Place
  • 123” “Designs” Fashion House

After selecting a business name, you can then proceed to register or incorporate your business. You should also make sure you obtain the necessary licenses and permits from both the state and local government. You should also open a business account with a bank that supports small businesses

7.  Buy the necessary equipment you need to operate

Yea, there are certain equipments you need to operate a fashion boutique efficiently and profitably. Examples of such equipment include:

  • Fashion boutique management software
  • Business cards
  • Close circuit surveillance camera
  • Furniture
  • Mannequins
  • Creative posters and wallpapers
  • Display glass
  • Hangers
  • Wardrobe
  • Large standing or wall mirror
  • Computers
  • Catalogue
  • Models
  • Weaving machine
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric shear
  • Measuring Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Marking pen

8.  Stock your boutique with goods

After setting up everything, you can then proceed to purchase your goods from fashion markets, local designers and even eBay or garage sales. You can find many wonderful new items in the most unusual places. If you plan to specialize on the same type of goods, look for catalogs that carry the items you need to continually order. But if you plan to go versatile, make consignment offers to local designers from which you can get a cut of each sale.

9.  Advertise your business

At this juncture, your fashion boutique is properly set and the next step is to market it. You can achieve this both online and offline. Print posters and fliers and distribute them to people. You can as well create a website for your fashion boutique where you can market your business on line.

Most importantly, you must enter into strategic alliance with other boutique owners in your area and other establishments such as hair salons, barber’s shop, beauty shops, etc. You should also strive to attend workshops, tradeshows and fashion Expos. Don’t forget also to market your wares in fashion magazines, fashion shows on TV and online blogs.

List of Creative ways to Market your Fashion Boutique

  • Start a fashion Blog
  • Recruit affiliates or initiate a referral program
  • Host a fashion show
  • Develop creative Business cards
  • Setup a business page on Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+
  • Advertising your products on magazines, brochure etc.
  • Engage in Door to door selling
  • Do Product placements (support local community events)
  • Create videos and post on you tube
  • Run online and offline promotions
  • Treat your premise like a billboard
  • Engage in public relations and publicity

5 Challenges of Starting a Fashion Boutique

Opening a shoe and clothing store is an exciting event for the owner of the shop who has the sense and experience of fashion. The downside of it is that the store must be fully stocked with inventories right from the opening stage and it requires and costs a huge amount of money. Below are the challenges that you are likely to encounter in course of opening and starting a fashion boutique or store:

a. Fashion business is affected by season

Fashion is a seasonal phenomenon. Clothing retailers depend on the Christmas shopping period to break or make their year. This is a distinct disadvantage if shoppers do not have enough confidence in the economy to purchase gifts as they usually do when the economic condition is good and favorable. Emphasizing other holidays, like Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Easter Day, Mother’s Day and Fourth of July with sales and specials increases revenue in those months.

b. Theft by employees and customers

A nicer term for theft by customers and employees is addressed as shrinkage. Employees are likely to steal from the cash register, they may as well take clothes from the store without paying and can as well give their friends clothing or an unwarranted discount.

Customers sometimes feel that shoplifting is not really hurting anyone because they are stealing from a business and not a person. The customer may bring in 5 or 6 items to the dressing room, put one item under their clothing and pay for another.

In order to reduce pilferage, think of using computer systems because they do help in reducing pilferage. In-store cameras, special clothing tags that could only be touched and removed by the sales staff and employees being alert for the signs of shoplifting customers assist in reducing shrinkage also.

c. The fashion industry is known for its constant change

The fashion industry is an ever changing industry that changes from season to season, from year to year and also changes with people’s perception. Now this constantly changing trend can be both an advantage and disadvantage. Customers will always want to make replacement in their wardrobe and as well keep up with the latest trends and colours.

This is an advantage to an entrepreneur who understands the fashion needs and the trend in vogue. The disadvantage is that you may be stuck with merchandise whose trend is phased out. Most of the wholesalers and manufacturers do not accept returns. The best option is to mark the items down so as to sell them faster, or accept it as a total loss.

d.  Difficult in finding sizes

e.  Dealing with leftovers

It is very complicating to predict the general demand for shoes and clothes. It is as well difficult to return them for a credit to the distributors. The trends, styles and seasons changes so often in a shoe or clothing store that managing large amounts of unsold inventory becomes common. A store with too many unsold inventory must sell items on clearance, sometimes at a loss, or give them away to create room for new ones.