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Where To Spend And Where To Bootstrap
Starting a new apparel brand can be challenging. It’s even more challenging to do it with limited funds. However, this is a reality many of us are facing—but you don’t want it to stop your plans.
So how is your money best spent?
What should you pay for and where can you bootstrap?
Read our guide to spending and bootstrapping:
- Inspirational material. This is the start to every collection and product-development process. Feel you need to have it? Get it!
- Designer/product developer. Unless you have design skills, we’d advise you to pay someone who knows design/product development. You’ll save a load of time and, in the end, money. The products are your entire business—you shouldn’t play around with the design until you’ve learned how to design.
- Photographer. Pictures will be a major part of your communication to the world. Professional pics do wonders for the products and your brand.
- Accountant. It doesn’t matter how small you are in the beginning—you always want to have your books in check. If your brain freezes when you see numbers, pay someone who knows what they’re doing.
- Necessary tools: computer, phone, and good Internet connection. These will be your everyday tools. You’ll quickly get frustrated if you have a crappy Internet connection or an old/broken phone.
- Adobe Program Suite: Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. If you don’t know these programs, book yourself a week away from work and learn them. Google, YouTube, or get online on a webinar. Your whole business is based on these programs: Illustrator for tech packs and line sheets; Photoshop for pictures; and InDesign for layouts like workbooks and leaflets.
- Trips to factories. This is important for several reasons: it’s relationship-building, you can product-develop quicker while on-site, and you control the manufacturing.
- Visit material fairs. Go to the biggest fabric fairs like Premiere Vision, Texworld, and Performance Days. Be well prepared before you go in order to get the maximum out of your visit. You could also stay an extra day and stroll around town in Paris, New York, or Munich for inspiration. Going to fabric fairs is the quickest and best way to source materials. Grow your network and broaden your fabric selection.
- Studio. In the beginning, working from home is definitely an option. Make a little office space in your home for the new brand. When you need to increase your team, that’s when it’s time to find a studio.
- Graphic design and branding. Your logo will be seen everywhere—on your products, website, communication, and social media. Use, for example, a service such as 99designs instead of an expensive agency.
- Website. Spend a couple of evenings on YouTube and learn to make a simple website for your brand. Use free WordPress templates to customize your site.
- Expensive models from agencies. Search for your ideal customer amongst your network of friends, and friends of friends—then use them as models in your photoshoots.
- Ditch the printed lookbook. It’s neither environmentally friendly nor cheap. An online lookbook is fine. Buyers and customers view it on your website or you can email it to them.
- Spend time on social media instead of money on PR agencies. When you start out, authenticity, transparency, and personality are much better for your branding.
- Wait before exhibiting at fairs. Exhibiting at a fair costs a lot of money and doesn’t always give the best return on investment. Contact and visit your most important customers to build long-lasting relationships.