Many people approach me about building their brand. Most are so early on in the process that they're still just in the gathering information phase. This is great because doing your homework is essential to this process!
Starting your own business is a huge journey, and it's not something to start lightly. It’s a hazy, windy, and turbulent path with many ups and downs. It’s unclear exactly where you’re going most of the time, the terrain gets rocky and your path is swimming with obstacles.
Cue a personal photo of me looking my 🌟 absolute best 🌟....sarcasm.
This hike was one of the hardest moments of my life. I honestly did not even know if I could make it there and back. I was the first in the line because I was the slowest and needed to set the pace. We were wading through the middle of the Malaysian rainforest during bad, rainy weather, and I was wearing sneakers with zero traction. Cute and fashionable, yes…but safe for a slippery rainforest hike? Hell no.
Much like this picture, the journey of starting a brand is a HARD one. The weather will be stormy sometimes, and you won’t have a clear path in front of you. At times you’ll have more than one path with none that look super appealing, but you’ll still need to make the call.
I like this particular phrase around starting a fashion design brand because it's super fitting and true: It won’t be quick, it won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap.
Here are a few more details on why, but we'll elaborate more on each aspect over the next 4 weeks!
It won't be quick. ⏳
It's not a speedy endeavor to create a new business and develop your own products. The development process alone is about a 9-12 month period for most apparel unless it's incredibly basic. During that time, you can also work on the inner functions of your business to get it up and running. The timeline is drawn out a bit because there are usually several rounds of sampling, and each round is a multi-week wait time. There are ways to move a little quicker, but usually, they're a little hacked together and not ideal. We'll chat about that in an upcoming blog post to expand on the timeline topic.
It won't be easy. 😩
Don't start a business in fashion if you're looking for fast money. I assure you, this is NOT for people looking to 'get rich quick!'
There's just no way around this fact: Starting a business is a long-term investment, not only in yourself but also in your team, your customers, and the ability to meet them in earnest and try your best to support their needs. It's NOT about you. It's about them, and because people are unpredictable, there will be days where you just feel like it's SO hard, and you have no idea how to go on. Sometimes the people you're doing this for won't appreciate it. Sometimes they'll complain, and you'll have to respond to those emails or phone calls.
Sometimes it's going to be a huge slog, and you're going to want to quit on a bad day, but you should NEVER quit on a bad day.
It won't be cheap. 💵
In the beginning, you'll be burning through a lot more money than you probably expect. Of course, the cost is relative, but this will NOT be a chunk of change; it's a real investment to start an endeavor like this. At the end of the day, if you are not superhuman, you will need to find some help in areas where your skills don't flourish.
Getting support where you lack will cost you, and it might be your time or dollars, but it's likely to some degree it will be both. For example, suppose you try to teach yourself how to do digital marketing. In that case, learning those skills will cost you time and energy, and you might also need to pay for some educational materials. Another consideration is how much time will it take you away from your other business functions. Your time is worth something even if you're not paying yourself, so you need to know upfront if your time is better spent elsewhere. If it takes you a long time to learn, you might need to pass this task on to a professional, which will cost you both money AND time. In this scenario, the time cost is less as it's in the hands of a professional with the experience and know-how to do what you need to be done more efficiently and effectively.
Whether it's a designer, an accountant, or both, you'll need cash reserves to start building your business.
Starting a business has tremendous upside in the long term. It will be satisfying and enrich your life in ways you probably can't even conceive of right now. For me, the best part of starting my business SO FAR has been expanding my team to include incredibly talented women that align with my values and goals.
Me at the top of the waterfall once we made it to the summit of our hike!
So no, it won't be quick, it won't be easy, and it won't be cheap...But is it worth it? Most definitely.
Stay tuned for the next parts of this series, where I’ll dive deeper into the timeframe, mental toughness, and costs required to run a fashion business.
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