How are you going to do it?
When you have a clear vision of what the brand should be about and who your ideal customer is, you need to figure out how you’re going to do it and the size of it all. If you’re the creative type, you’ll probably focus on the product and everything related to it—but of course the other side needs attention too: the business side.
Who’s going to do what?
If you’re a designer, find a good business partner—and if you’re a businessperson, find a good designer. No one can do it all and neither should you. It’s better to focus on your strengths than to do everything half-assed. So, what competencies do you possess and what do you need to outsource? What are you good at and what do you most enjoy doing? If you’re not working in the clothing industry, it’s time to start making some phone calls and get networking because you need to meet the “right” people. Find a great designer who “speaks the same visual language” and let him/her get going on the design, sourcing, and production. Find that amazing photographer you admire and let him take the pictures. You could do it all by yourself—but it’ll take you much longer and you’ll for sure make a load of mistakes along the way. Starting a clothing brand will have you wearing many different hats—and that’s the beauty of it, too. There are no rights and wrongs in starting a clothing brand—the most important thing is that you stay true to yourself and your vision, you have fun along the way, and you learn from your mistakes.
How to Start & Run a Successful Apparel Brand
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17 Roles to fill
There are many roles that need to be filled in your business. As a small apparel brand, you can and probably will take on several of them yourself. But ask yourself which roles you can actually fill and which you need to outsource.
So, what are the typical roles you need to fill? Here they are—your dream team:
1. Market researcher
Researches and follows market and color trends. Collects ideas, opinions, consumer-behavior info, likes and dislikes, perceptions and attitudes. Needs to understand client requirements with respect to your products. Coordinates the conversion of data, prepares reports on findings, and interprets them. You want to stay up to date with what’s going on so that you don’t copy anyone else.
The heart of the business. Don’t underestimate the need for a designer on your team. After all, it’s all about the products. Stays up to date with markets, creates mood boards, stories, decides colors, designs the collection, creates tech packs, sources material, leads fitting sessions, approves samples, and visits manufacturers to assure product development.
3. Production manager
The link between your brand and the manufacturer. Coordinates and communicates with all suppliers and manufacturers.
In charge of getting the materials for your production. Ensures delivery requirements are met. Places all orders to suppliers and manufacturers and makes sure everything arrives and gets delivered on time.
Creates the garment patterns. A skilled pattern-maker can make all the difference to your end result. For the apparel business especially, you need one who understands the body movement and well-fitting clothes. Can also grade the patterns, if not done at the factory.
6. Quality controller
Oversees quality procedures. You can have someone on the team to do it or an external partner.
Creates the samples. The more technical your styles are, the more skilled the sample-maker needs to be with the sewing machine. Sample-making can also be done at the factory.
8. Sales manager
Makes sure your collection sells. It doesn’t matter if you’ve the best apparel collection in the world if it doesn’t sell. No sales = no business.
9. Marketing manager
Makes sure the world knows about your brand and creates a demand for it on the market.
Creates the brand looks for shows and photo shoots.
11. Financial controller
Keeps track of the money. You want it to grow.
In charge of the overall operations.
13. Tech manager
In charge of IT services, social media accounts, as well as your online presence.
Makes sure your bookkeeping is up to par.
15. Office manager
Takes care of everything that falls between two stools.
16. Copy /graphic
In charge of creating copy and graphics.
Takes all those unforgettable photos and videos for your workbooks, Web and marketing material.
It’s not a bad thing if you’re forced to take on several of the roles yourself. You’ll learn about the different trades and understand your business better. You’ll become less dependent on others and harder to bullshit. Still need to find help and keep your costs down? Tap into your network and see what skills they possess.