Fashion’s environmental footprint is one of the largest of any industry in the world, although it’s nearly impossible to measure the true scope of its impact. (The oft-quoted stat that it’s the second most-polluting industry in the world has been disproven several times over.)
However, according to a 2018 report released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the apparel industry produces 20 percent of global water waste and 10 percent of global carbon emissions, while 85 percent of textiles — 21 billion tons — are sent to landfills each year. Consumers are purchasing more clothes, and keeping them for half as long, driven by fast fashion, fast marketing and a digitally driven thirst for newness.
And yet, while revenues increase when consumers buy more clothes, there is also evidence that implementing sustainable practises can actually increase profits. Allocating resources more efficiently, building better working conditions and using sustainable materials could boost margins by 1-2 percent by 2030, according to a 2017 report released by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group. When companies hold themselves accountable publicly, it can also create goodwill with consumers.
But how can the industry do better overall? That was the big question in a salon discussion at VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers in partnership with QIC Global Real Estate, held in November 2018. The group, populated with industry insiders leading the sustainability conversation, determined that fashion can make immediate changes by investing in biotech, sustainable packaging, air and climate and the circular economy.
When it comes to bioengineering fabrics — which some argue carry a lighter environmental impact than natural fabrics — the challenges come in scalability. How can substitutes for leather, for instance, be made easily available? As one participant noted, the industry “really survives on 10 fabrics,” many of which were developed hundreds of years ago. “Ten years is a blink of an eye in biotech,” one expert said.
In order to scale as quickly as the industry wants them to scale, the companies developing bioengineered materials — from biodegradable materials to lab-grown leather and synthetic diamonds — have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in hopes of meeting industry demand, even if consumer demand is currently minimal.
Are you generally a self-starter or do you need that extra little push? If you’re seeking ways to stay motivated in your fashion business, then you’ve come to the right place. Hopefully, these tips will help you in achieving daily self-motivation.
Have a strong awareness of yourself and what motivates you.
People can be motivated by many things. Money, fame, philanthropy, and freedom are a few. For some people, it’s competition or recognition. So, it’s good to have a strong understanding of who you are as a person and a strong awareness of what motivates you. Once you understand this, you’ll better understand how to motivate yourself.
Understand your purpose and calling.
What’s your big picture? I truly believe that we are all created by God for a specific reason and a specific purpose. If everyone did what they were called to do, the world would be a much better place. I truly think that a lot of people are miserable in this world because they are in jobs that they are not supposed to be in. God didn’t create you for that job and that’s why you’re miserable. You owe it to the world to be who you are created to be. So, let that be a motivation! Having that big picture understanding of who you are called and created to be in this world is crucial.
Have a strong why.
if your why doesn’t make you cry, it’s not strong enough. Your why can’t be that you love fashion. Yes, everybody loves fashion, but there needs to be more than that. What is going to motivate you when you’re tired and exhausted at the end of the night and all you want to do is go to bed? What’s going to motivate you when you’re sick and you’re not feeling well?
So, have a really strong why. Are you solving a problem? Are you trying to achieve financial freedom? Are you trying to just spend more time with your family and have a better way of life? Thus, what is your why? That’s really important.
Choose fear or faith.
So, what’s the chatter that’s going on in your mind? Is it more fear-based or more faith-based? Your fear mindset will have you play that victim card and throw a pity-party. Thinking- “Why me or why am I not succeeding like everybody else?” Whereas faith fills you with positive affirmations towards yourself. Fear and faith are the exact same thing- believing in something you do not know will happen, will happen. It’s just that one is positive and one is negative. So, it’s your choice. Will you choose to tolerate fear or are you going to choose faith? It’s up to you to make the choice.
Check your attitude.
Attitude is super important for everything in life- not only for achieving your dreams in fashion. Do you have an expectant attitude? I like to wake up every morning with the attitude that anything can happen in a day- anything can change in a day! You have no idea what God is going to bring in your life, what person might come across your path, what phone call you might receive, or what e-mail you might get. So, why not wake up of every morning expecting that something good is going to happen?
Also, at the same time, have an attitude of gratitude. We have so many things to be thankful for and while we can’t control what happens to us, you can control your attitude and what you’re going to do about it. If you need a reminder sometimes, go online and read inspiring stories about how entrepreneurs got started or read stories about children in third world countries that don’t even have clean drinking water. Expectancy and gratefulness are key to maintaining a healthy attitude.
Stop being a perfectionist.
As I like to say, perfection is the enemy of progress. You will not progress in your business if you are a perfectionist.
I also like to say that perfectionism produces procrastination. You are not going to get anything done if you have to make it perfect all the time. Understand that it does not need to be perfect. Done is much better than perfect- especially when you’re starting a business and working on things. If you have time to worry about your mistakes, then you are not doing enough in your business. You might think that’s mean, but it’s true. So, work harder on your business and you naturally become less of a perfectionist. This is one of the most underrated ways to stay motivated because you’ll get more things done in your business and start seeing growth.
Have tunnel vision.
This is a big one. Have that tunnel vision where you are looking at your goals. You are not looking at what your competition is doing. You are not looking at what your friends are doing. You have that really laser focus strategy where you are only focused on what you are doing and you are not looking to the left, you are not looking to the right, you are solely looking at your goals ahead. The acronym for the word “focus” means to follow one course until successful. All you have to do is not get off course, just stay on the course. If you are running a race, the only thing that will stop you is quitting the race. Just stay on track and you will not get off track.
It’s also important that you don’t focus on your competition too much. Look at your top 10 competitors and yes that’s very important, but you don’t want to focus on it too much. That can start a “curse of comparison.” You don’t want to start to covet what other people have and think that their life is better than yours or they have it easier than you do. It’s good to look at where your competitors are doing so that you can one-up them, but you don’t want to make it a part of your everyday life and you don’t necessarily want to focus on it. You want to focus on your goals and where YOU are heading. Let your success- earned through hard work- keep you focused.
Observe your environment.
Your environment includes both your work-space around you and the people around you. So, number one, where is your work-space and what does it look like? Figure out what works for you and maybe you need an office makeover. Maybe you need to cluster your goals on the wall so you can look at them every single day and know you’re headed in that direction. It’s also important that you have a dedicated work-space, so no working in your bed, no working in the living room or while you’re watching TV. Try to have a separate dedicated space because psychologically, you want your brain to start getting accustomed to where it is and when it’s time to work.
Now, the second part of the environment that I’ll talk about is the people around you. So, this is really, important. Are the people around you negative or positive? Are they supporting you and encouraging you or not? If they’re not, then they are not helping you at all. Just keep in mind that your friends and family, they love you, they have good intentions, but they don’t always know how to help you and so my tip for you is to stop caring what other people think. Start getting around millionaires. If you want to be a millionaire, you better start hanging out with millionaires. You want to be a fashion designer, start hanging around designers. If you remove things from your environment, they are not going to have an effect on you and it’s the same thing for people. Change up your circle- very, very important.
What are you listening to and reading?
You have all heard the phrase- you are what you eat. Well, I believe you are what you listen to and you become what you listen to and read. So, what type of books are you reading? What are you listening to? What are you watching on TV? When you are getting ready in the morning, listen to a podcast. When I’m doing my hair and makeup and stuff, I’m listening to podcasts from top online marketers and other people in the business world that I want to become and I want to learn from. What are you filling your ears and eyes with? Pay attention to that because what goes in will naturally come out.
Speak positive things over yourself.
The bible says that we hold the power of life and death in our tongue and it’s so true. There are two glasses of water, I spoke positive things to one glass and negative things to another glass. We are talking about glasses of water. I’m not even talking about people. Over a period of 10 days, the water that they spoke negative things to turned black! So, if you’re speaking that to a glass of water, imagine how much more of an impact it is when you’re speaking it to a human being or yourself! So, every single day- wake up and tell yourself, “yes, I can do it. Today, it’s going to be the greatest day ever. I’m awesome. I’m amazing.” Speak positive affirmations over yourself.
So pump yourself up before you have a buyer phone call that you have to make or before you have to pitch to a store in person or when you don’t know what to post on social media! Tell yourself, “yes I have so many ideas, I don’t even know where to start!” And those ideas are going to come to you, I promise!
Stay healthy and work out.
If you have ever noticed- most successful people workout. They have an exercise routine and it’s not because they are trying to lose weight. It’s because they understand that when you keep your blood flowing in your body, everything is going to work more properly. You are going to stay healthy- this includes getting proper rest and taking care of yourself. Your business is not going to go anywhere if you are a wreck and your health is a mess. So, it’s important that you stay healthy. This will also add to your energy. I love working out purely for the energy. That energy is going to help you be in a better mood and it’s going to help you stay motivated to get things done.
I truly believe that building momentum is one of the biggest ways to stay motivated in your business. Like the Law of Motion says, when something is in motion- it stays in motion. So, think of a ball rolling down the hill. The more it rolls down the hill, the more it picks up speed and the faster it’s going to go. Thus, if you have momentum going in your business, don’t stop! Don’t take a break. You might need to rest a little bit, but don’t let that momentum get away from you. A lot of times you are not motivated to do things because nothing is going on in your business or you have no customers buying things online. So, if there is nothing going on, make stuff happen. I don’t wait for people to come to me, I will go to you. I will find a way to make things happen in my business and that’s just the attitude that I have because I know once I have the momentum going, it is like wildfire. Also, more things are going to happen because now you are going to EXPECT them to happen.
Change up your routine.
Sometimes, we are just really bored because we do the same thing every single day. You get up at the same time. You have the same commute to work, go to the same office, come home at the same time, go to the same gym, etc. That can get boring and keep you unmotivated. So, change up your routine a little bit. Maybe go for a run or do some meditation or prayer. I like to think of it like working out. Personal trainers advise their trainees to constantly change up their routine because your body can get used to the same exercises and movements. Your body will grow accustomed to the movement and won’t be pushed like it was in the beginning. Your fitness routine, therefore, stops progressing. Once you stop progressing and growing in life or in your business, you are dying.
Reward yourself and celebrate.
It’s always important to look at how far you have come. You might think that you are not where you want to be, but I can guarantee that you are not where you used to be and that’s my motto. I might not be where I want to be today, but I’m not where I was yesterday. So, we should always be moving forward and giving ourselves credit.
We all have a lot going on. First, most of us are women. We are moms, we are stepmoms, we are very emotional creatures and we internalize a lot. Guys have it easy- I’m sorry but it’s true. It’s ten times harder for a woman to start a business than it is for man. Look at where you were six months ago, a year ago, five years ago, and reward yourself. When you accomplish a goal, do something for yourself. If you like to shop, buy something.
Have an accountability partner.
Your accountability partner will tell you what to do and he/she is going to expect that you have it done. So, having that person to kind of report to or check in with is one of the crucial ways to stay motivated and achieve your goals. So, make sure that you tell someone what you are doing. Just by speaking it out loud, you are setting that intention. Tell the world, tell everyone, and especially tell someone that is going to hold you accountable. You are more likely to do something if you know someone is counting on you.
Visualize the win.
It’s important that you visualize where you want to be. Literally, close your eyes and imagine what your life would look like if you never had to work for someone again. Imagine if you could walk into your boss’s office and say, “I’m sorry, two weeks is my last day and I’m never coming back.” How amazing would it feel to walk away from your job because you have a business that’s profitable and paying you more than you are making at your full-time job? Start to visualize the win, daydream, and create vision boards. Vision boards are so, so powerful. So, what do you want your life to look like? Start curating your envisioned life on a board and put it in front of your office, your computer, your lock screen, or wherever you are going to see it. It’s going to really help you stay focused on your goals.
Make it fun.
Building a business is a lot of work. It’s not always peaches and cream. It’s totally different from working for someone else and having a job that’s very specific. As a solo entrepreneur, you are responsible for everything. You are wearing many hats and there is a lot to juggle. You don’t really think about all the things you have to do until you are thrown into it. But even though it’s not always fun, you can create the fun.
Say no to make room for the yes.
This is a big one. Say no to make room for the yes. As women, way too many of us are people-pleasers. I’m sorry, but most of us are saying yes to everything. People ask us to walk their dog, “yes.” People ask us to watch their babies, “yes.”
We automatically say yes because we really want to please people and then we regret it later because we didn’t really want to do it. We probably didn’t even have time to do it. So, then you hate yourself and you hate that person for asking you when really it was your fault because you said yes. Stop saying yes- when you need to say no. “No” needs to become your new favorite word. For example, if someone asks you to get lunch and they are a negative person and all they do is complain, then why are you going to lunch with them?
You need to make room for the things that you really want. To do that, you MUST say no to the things that you might not really want or might not be worth it for you.
Don’t ever quit.
Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You cannot fail if you don’t quit. Failure is necessary for success. So, as long as you just don’t stop, you will eventually succeed I promise. Refusal to quit will motivate you. If you’re the type of person that constantly quits and then takes time off- then you won’t stay motivated in your business. Stand your ground. You can’t ride the fence the whole time. Decide that you are going to put everything into this business and just do it and don’t ever quit!
Last but not least, remove as much thinking as possible.
This is going to sound a little weird, but I just don’t like to think. First of all, my brain needs a lot of energy in order to think and I have very important things to think about. When you have to think about something, it often allows room for your feelings to start to emerge. And feelings are kind of iffy. Feelings can kind of start to sway you in a direction that your mind will tell you, you don’t want to go. So, you might have a thought, but then the feelings override the thoughts.
Therefore, if you remove the thinking as much as possible, then you don’t have to worry about your feelings and you can have emotional intelligence which is important. So, one way you can do this is to create a system. Systems are great because systems stand for Save Yourself Some Time, Energy, and Money. You might have to put in a little bit of time and effort in the beginning to create the system, but the time and effort that you save in the end far outweigh the time and effort in the beginning. So, start to remove your thinking, start to create systems and just do. You know it’s almost like acting like a robot and I know that sounds kind of horrible. Why would you want to be a robot? You are a human being and you have feelings, but your feelings are not necessarily good for your business. You need to start acting like a business owner and do whatever needs to get done. So, start being committed. Start doing what you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has left you. And that’s what commitment is all about!
Mr Chigozie Amaraegbeni held the class on growth and the importance of branding.
Key factors in planning for growth:
Research into our market.
Segment your market.
Determine the customer acquisition cost of your customers.
How do your customer talk/want to be spoken to.
Develop a marketing strategy.
Learn quickly and adapt.
Three things to consider in general
Who is on your supply chain?
Who is our competitor?
Who is adjacent to your market?
In an earlier post, I talked about the perks of signing up for a Fashion Acceleration Program like I said it is not an alternative to fashion school. It is a program primarily focus on business and not design.
In light of this 360 Creative Hub would be hosting a specialized training aimed at Accelerating emerging fashion designers to becoming the next Valuable Brand and transform their fashion label into a sustainable business.
The program will welcome 30 fashion entrepreneurs that have existing businesses operating in Lagos, Nigeria. Fashion Acceleration Program is open to any entrepreneur within the fashion value chain; Fashion designers, Fashion Bloggers, Fashion illustrators, Fashion Retailers, Pattern makers, Jewelers, Shoe makers, Bag Makers, and every fashion-related field.
TRAINING COURSE OUTLINE
What will be taught in the program?
The Accelerator program is developed with your best business interest in mind and equip you with all knowledge needed to strengthen your business case.
The program will cover the following course material:
Business Model Design and Business Strategy
Competition & Positioning
Financial Literacy & Planning
Digital and e-commerce Strategies
The use of Social media to grow the Fashion Business.
Hands on Practical Sessions.
How it works
• Each Participant would be subjected to training for 12 hours per week (that is, 8 hours on Monday, 4 hours on Tuesday, including practical sessions)
• The 360 FAP Board will invite notable Fashion celebrities during weekends of the program to have a mentoring session with the designers,
• The designers would be given weekly assignments which would prepare them for a grand finale competition
• The graduation day will feature a competition where all the designers will showcase their designs that will be judged by Industry experts. Academic Backbone
The program has been specifically designed with a strong academic foundation in collaboration with Alan & Grant Business Solutions in order to deliver a comprehensive and instructional program that will equip the students with a global mindset. Industry Practical Know-How
The program has partnered with some international and the country’s top minds and companies as workshop instructors & guest lecturers, merging practicality and industry insights with academic backing.
Phase 1: Call to entry and opening applications
The program has a two-step application process. The first step is the online application which will evaluate the participants on basic business & financial understanding, as well as on the solidity of their business structure.
The 2nd step is a day-long boot camp, where the applicants will convey at 360 Creative Innovation Hub and embark on a day-long activity, designed to test them on key business skills such as financial literacy, sales negotiation, marketing and human interpersonal skills.
Phase 2: The Accelerator
During this period the accelerator will take place every week on Mondays (full day) and Tuesdays (half day).
Phase 3: Graduation + Announcement of 2018 Edition Winner
At the end of the program, the participants will be required to present a business case in front of the judges and review committee. All participants will graduate officially from the Fashion Acceleration Program; one participant will be nominated as the winner.
During the graduation event, our panel of judges will select the fashion entrepreneur who has demonstrated most business acumen and capabilities to become the first Fashion Acceleration Program Winner.
As you think about the overall size and breadth of your fashion collection, you should identify the number of items required to fulfil your vision, but cross-reference that with a reasonable assessment of what can fit in a store, on a website or into a retail account’s buy.
There are three fundamental elements to planning a balanced collection and it’s essential to keep these in mind, over the long-term development of your product assortment, as well as in each and every collection you produce. We often think about these as a collection pyramid.
The Base: Every successful fashion company rests upon the success of one or two items which form the foundation of the overall product assortment and a more predictable stream of revenue around which a real business can be built. These products don’t change dramatically from season to season and they become the staples of your product offering. Tory Burch has her Reva ballerina flats, Louis Vuitton has its leather goods and Acne has its denim. Without this kind of solid foundation, it’s difficult to build a successful business.
The Middle: In the middle are the products that you adapt and refresh each season with new colours, fabrics or prints, but the basic silhouettes remain the same. Over time, you may choose to slowly adapt these products and perfect them, but in general, you are using tried and tested shapes which have already been proven in the market.
The Top: At the top of your collection is the purely seasonal elements which are more about driving interest and bringing new energy to your product mix. This may be the pieces you show on the runway and which are featured in the editorial. From time to time, you may have a huge commercial hit at the top part of your collection, but as it’s generally hard to predict exactly what will strike a chord (or which product your favourite A-list celebrity decides to wear), it can sometimes be hard for a small fashion business to capitalise on the short-term buzz generated by these types of products.
Use a stylist – smartly!
Many designers choose to employ the services of a stylist. These can be hired professionals, in-house team members or even a friend or colleague with a good eye. The most important outcome here is that you receive a second opinion on how the collection sits together best and how to present it to buyers or customers. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step, as it can greatly impact your eventual sales.
Make sure that you are designing and developing a product that can reasonably be produced. While that may sound like an obvious point, many talented designers create beautiful concepts that prove to be too expensive or complicated to produce at scale.
A business plan is an essential tool, not just for raising investment, but also for clarifying your goals and objectives and communicating these to your wider team of employees, business partners and clients. There are five essential components:
A business plan is an essential tool, not just for raising investment, but also for clarifying your goals and objectives and communicating these to your wider team of employees, business partners and clients. There are five essential components:
Executive Summary: The executive summary is at the beginning of your business plan, but should be the last thing you write. It encapsulates all the key points, ideas and objectives of your business in a very short and concise “elevator pitch.”
Vision & Objectives: This section will help investors, and anyone else reading your business plan, understand what particular market need you are going after and what you will offer that is unique and differentiated.
Market & Competitive Landscape: This section describes the market that you plan to operate in. How big is the market? How fast is it growing and what evidence do you have that this part of the market is a viable opportunity? You also need to identify who the competitors in the market are, whether they are growing and what their position is on the market. What are you going to do that is different?
Implementation Plan: This is probably the most detailed section of your business plan, identifying the specific actions that your business will take to go after the market opportunity you have identified. Ideally, it should cover three years of activity, on a seasonal basis, and should include everything from how you communicate as a business and the staff you will hire, to the space you will need and the outside expertise you will require, in terms of marketing, communications or PR.
Financials: Your financial plan shows how your business will grow in terms of both profit and revenue and what financing you will need to make it happen. An income statement uses projections of how your business will grow at the top line, through sales and other revenues, and will also project the costs of delivering that growth. The cash flow statement shows the peaks and troughs of your cash situation on a monthly basis and identifies what funding you will need to finance growth.
In fashion, creating brand awareness is essential, the person designing and developing the product is often also responsible for the advertising campaigns and the brand communication. As a creative director, you will be overseeing multiple parts of the marketing mix.
Know Your Customer: A designer should keep a specific target customer in mind as they develop the collection. Think about their lifestyle, budget and what is important to them. Understanding all of these things will help you communicate with your customer and create awareness about your brand.
Brand Story: A brand story is what people will talk about when they think of your brand. It summarises why your brand exists and what are the unique characteristics of your product that makes it distinct from everything else in the market.
Marketing MixThe Four Ps: The marketing mix is a set of tools that allow you to craft a clear marketing direction and tell your story.
Product is the tangible physical product or service you provide. The fashion industry has all sorts of different products. You might be known for footwear, evening dresses or active wear. Be specific about what you are selling.
Price effectively positions you in the market. This determines who your competitors are and also the different materials and quality of materials that you will use for your products.
Place is where you distribute and sell your products to customers. You want to make sure that your product is available where your target customer shops and at a place that is consistent with the positioning of your product.
Promotion includes everything from traditional marketing with advertising and PR, to new media marketing on social media. Today it is absolutely essential to have a website and a digital presence.
Advertising: Advertising can help you reach a large audience, control and increase brand awareness and secure press coverage. However paid media comes at a high cost and it will probably be a long time before you can afford it. The real potential for moving your brand forward in terms of image and what you control is online.
Public Relations: When you have things to share, new products coming out or announcements to make, working well with different types of publications is going to be a key part of building your brand. Therefore you should build a good relationship with the press, especially the ones that have taken interest in your product and what you are doing.
Social Media: Social media is a powerful and affordable way to build awareness about your brand. Only engage in those platforms that address your target customer. Be aware that it takes time and resources to manage and provide content on social accounts, so it is probably the right choice, to begin with only one or two social media channels. The fashion community really engages first on Instagram and then on Facebook.
Financing your fashion business can be overwhelming. Each season as your sales increase and your business grows, your upfront costs will increase and the money you earned from previous sales will not be sufficient to finance the growth. You will need some kind of financing to bridge the gap. There are generally three different sources of available financing for a fashion start-up. Equity: Equity investors provide cash to invest in your business. When you take on an investment from an equity investor, they become part owners of your business, which inevitably means that you will have to share some decision-making with that investor. The best equity investors can offer you smart money, which is money that comes with expertise; contacts and other types of advice that can help you build your business. You will have to report to a board for key decisions and regularly report on how your business is progressing.
Debt: Debt financing usually comes in the form of a loan. You are required to pay back the money you have borrowed plus interest in a defined schedule of payments. Taking on the debt will mean that you will have additional cash outflow that your business will have to support each month and that can be an additional burden for a business to bear in the early stages. The big advantage with a loan is that you are not giving away any equity of your business and you maintain full control. Debt providers will not actively get involved in your business; they are mostly concerned with getting back the money they have lent you with interest.
Other Income: This can come from a variety of sources, including awards and competitions and providing advice or services to other companies. The benefit is that this kind of funding is non-interest bearing and you are not giving away any equity in your business. However, these other commitments can be a distraction from your core business, as they require your time and energy. To know more about managing the business angle of your fashion business, you can register with us.
The term “business plan” is casually bandied about like a hot potato in the studios of emerging fashion designers. Everyone knows you need one, but still, so few emerging design businesses take the time upfront to properly plan for their success. Success is very rarely accidental. Sure, we all benefit from some good luck from time to time, but real success can only come through hard work and good planning. For this, a business plan is critical.
So, what is a business plan for? Many people think that the primary purpose is to secure funding – i.e. loans from banks or cash from investors. And while this is certainly one important objective, it is not the most important one.
The truth is, the business plan is, above all else, for you: the person or people who will drive the business forward. It is the document that lays out your vision and objectives. It is your roadmap for how you think it should evolve and grow to achieve this vision. It contains the budget and projections for how your business will manage is finances and fund growth. It is the document that helps you decide what to do, and just as importantly, what not to do. It is a living, breathing document that you should use to measure your progress, while still being willing to adapt it to reflect new insights, unexpected competitive threats, and changes in your business environment. In short, it is like your company bible – except that this is a bible you can adapt as you go along.
You can also think about the business plan as a tool for communication. Anyone who has set up a new business knows that when you are looking for investors, employees, suppliers, office space, banking services, professional advisors and everything else that you need, you have to tell people about your business and its aims. When you have spent the necessary time in crafting a business plan, you will be able to more clearly articulate what your business is all about. This makes you seem more professional and organized and will enable you to attract the people, support, and money that your business needs to succeed. Going through the business planning process will enable you to distill your business down into a short “elevator pitch” of concise points that together provide a good understanding of your business aims in a short period of time. When people understand your business, they will know better if it is something in which they would like to be involved.
Now, if that all makes sense, what then do you need to include in a business plan? Essentially, it should address all of the constituent parts of your business starting from the broadest vision of the business right down to the most minute operational issues of job descriptions and work plans. The first thing to do is create an outline for all of the topics that need to be covered, and then for each of those topics jot down all the ideas and thoughts you already have. If you don’t have a written plan already, then it’s likely that much of your business plan is in your head and so you need to start getting your current thoughts out on paper in a structured way so that you can then go and revisit each of the topics in more detail.
A sample outline of a business plan for a fashion business might look as follows:
1. Executive Summary – This is something you do at the end, once the rest of your plan is fleshed out, It will quickly become the so-called “elevator pitch” for your company when you need to describe it in a short interaction. It only needs to be a few paragraphs long.
2. Vision and objectives – This section describe the vision of your business — essentially, why you set it up. What specific market need are you trying to fill? Which customer are you targeting and why?
The more specific you can be about these issues, the more compelling your business plan will be. If the reader (or listener) can really understand the market need you have identified, then they will be much more likely to buy into your overall business plan.
Understanding everything about your customer’s lifestyle and preferences will make your job as designer and manager all the easier. You will not only know who you are designing for but also where they shop, what magazines they read and what influences their buying behaviour. All of this will feed into important decisions you make every day about how you design your collections, manage your business, and promote your brand.
3. Market and competitive landscape – This section describe the market you plan to operate in. What is the size of the market and how quickly is it growing? Who are the other players in this space?
To be clear, the market size you need to describe is not the size of the global market for clothing, but your estimate of the size of the specific market you have identified, in the geographies you are focusing on. Yes, this information can be hard to find, but you can take larger market size figures and estimate what share of the overall market your business is going after.
As for your competitors, the better you can describe and understand their products, their style and aesthetic, and their positioning and strategies, the better you will be able to shape your business to stand out from the pack.
In general, quickly growing markets of a good size with few competitors (or few strong competitors) are usually quite attractive. However, if you have identified a clear niche market that is currently -unfilled, then that can also be very compelling.
4. Implementation plan – This section clearly describes all of the resources you will need to make your business successful. How many staff will you need in which roles? What type and size of space will you need to design and sell your collection? What outside expertise may you require operating successfully?
An implementation plan, therefore, contains a detailed description of all of the operating requirements in your business including Design, Production, Sales, Marketing/PR, and Retail. You should have a detailed plan for each of these core steps including human resources, expertise, space, and timing. Thinking very clearly about the various roles and responsibilities that need to be filled will ensure that you find the right people to make things happen for you. In turn, attracting the right team will also make it easier to attract funding. Most investors invest in people and teams, not just ideas.
Without an implementation plan, your business plan can lack the concreteness and specificity required to convince people you can take your vision and make it a reality.
5. Financials – This section is absolutely critical to your plan as it will identify your projections for how the business will grow, in terms of both profits and revenues, and what financing you will need to make it happen.
An income statement uses carefully thought-out projections of how your business will grow at the top-line (i.e. sales and other revenues) and will also project the costs of delivering that growth, including the team and other resources you have identified in the implementation plan. This statement will then project profit, by taking projected revenues and subtracting projected costs.
However, the income statement does not tell you how much money you will need to raise as it does not reflect the timing of cash inflows and outflows. This is where the cash flow statement comes in.
The cash flow statement is one of the most important parts of your plan as it shows the peaks and troughs of your cash situation on a monthly basis and identifies what funding you will need to make it through the troughs. You can think of the cash flow statement as a monthly account of cash coming in and cash going out. The difference between these two figures is your funding need for that month – and you are better off knowing your funding needs in advance as opposed to finding out later when your bank account is empty and suppliers are asking for payment before they release your goods. This is particularly important in the fashion business where you incur many costs up front (designing, sampling, sales efforts) before any of your revenues even come in.
If you can, you should have a trained financial or accounting professional (a friend, family member or other contacts) to help you with this section. They will have the expertise to sense check your assumptions to ensure that they are sound and believable. It’s better to have their input before you take your plan out to investors who will inevitably ask you the same probing questions and who will be looking for concrete answers.
Next time: We would discuss finding the right investors and partners
Once you have a plan in place, you will then be ready to start soliciting financing.
To know more about managing the business angle of your fashion business, you can register with us.
Many young designers rush into setting up a business, attracted by the perceived glamour and fun that is associated with the fashion industry. There are wonderful success stories of designers like Ohimai Atafo (Mai Atafo) or Folake Coker (Tiffany Amber). The stories we hear less of are those that describe all of the failed companies and dashed hopes that are the cruel reality of this industry.
One of the most common questions designers’ fresh out of fashion school (as a bachelor’s degree or from a vocational school ) ask is: “Should I start my own business or should I go work for a big fashion house?”. The truth is, the right answer depends on you and your aims.
The first thing to think about is “Do I really want to run a business?”
Displaying your collection in a fashion display, completing designs for clients– what more is there to want from a career?
Here’s a reality check: it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. Running a fashion business means, steaming clothes over and over again, and pouring through receipts with an accountant will become part of your routine.
You will likely spend less than 10% of your time designing, while the rest of the time you will be managing production, dealing with suppliers who want their money (now!), managing your employees while hoping they don’t fall ill, and trying to eat and bathe in between. On top of all that, you have to worry about making enough money to declare some kind of dividend from the business for all your hard work. You will eat, live and breathe your business 24/7. If that doesn’t turn you off, then keep reading.
Starting any kind business requires tenacity, endurance, and dedication. Setting up a fashion business is all the more challenging because this is a hyper-competitive industry (who doesn’t want to be a fashion designer these days?) and a very complex one as well, even at the smallest of scales.
What other kinds of start-up businesses so quickly find themselves with customers and suppliers scattered around the world, requiring so much coordination and organization?
Managing to get all of your raw materials (fabrics, lace, Ankara, etc) to start your production and then sending it all out to clients in different corners of the world (each with their own customs procedures) in only 2 months can be a nightmare, even for those with great forward planning and troubleshooting skills.
All of this is to say that one of the key drivers of success will be your entrepreneurial skills and your commitment to running a business. In order to be successful, you should think of yourself as a CEO first, fashion designer second. A CEO is a manager of people, finances, and processes. Therefore, you will have a great deal of responsibility and important business decisions will face you each and every day. The buck stops at you and the business should always be at the forefront of your mind, not just an afterthought.
Next, you should ask: “Do I already have or can I find the necessary skills, contacts, and funding to create a successful fashion company?”
Clearly, you won’t be able to do absolutely everything yourself. This is where you need to find other people who believe in you to join your team or provide support in some other way. Doing a self-assessment of your skills and abilities will tell you what gaps you will need to fill in order to make your business work.
You may assume that having completed a design degree, there are no skill gaps there. However, the design process in a business can often feel very different to that of the design process in school, where you don’t have to worry about things other than the product. Running fashion business means developing and following an organized creative process that works for you – and that other people can work as well.
One of the great things about designers who have previously worked in a large fashion house is that they have seen how other people organize themselves and can take lessons from there as they start. Having a clear design methodology is crucial to getting the best out of your abilities. If you don’t have this in place now, perhaps you may want to spend some time learning from someone else first.
Apart from mastering the design process, something that some of the smartest designers do next is to find a business partner they can trust, who brings different skills and connections to the table. Often it is a spouse, sibling or a friend who might take on this role. In this way, not only do you have someone to lean on in times of difficulty, you also have a division of roles, which allows you to focus on more on the creative aspects of the business.
You will also need to find people in the Industry who agree to support you and work with you. You’ll need a PR who will (at least initially) give you his or her services for almost nothing and a factory that will make your clothes in small quantities. You will also need accountants, lawyers, stylists, photographers, graphics designers, production managers and interns – hopefully, all at discounted prices. You, therefore, need to ask yourself if you already have a set of contacts which you can leverage to make your business work. If not, you need to get out there and meet people so you can start your business on the right foot, with the right team behind you.
Finally, for most designers who don’t have Bill Gates as a father or Uncle’s like Aliko Dangote, starting a business is also a question of finding money. There are many sources of funding, but each source will take time and effort before it bears its fruit. Having a network of people who may be able to introduce you to potential sources of funding is imperative to set up your business. You can have a brilliant business concept, a fantastic team, and all the energy in the world, but without funding in place from the start, it will be difficult to get up and running.
Lastly, you should ask yourself: “Do I have something unique to offer the market?”
If there is one crucial thing I recommend that you do before rushing off to start a business, it is to carefully craft your business concept. What is it about your business that will be unique? Why will people choose to buy your product over someone else’s? Is it the design, the price, the value or the dream that they are buying into?
You will need to think carefully about who you are designing for. It is cliché by now, but you need to ask yourself “Who are you designing for? And why?”.
Most of the time, this simple question is met with groans or blank stares or platitudes like “I can design for anyone” or “A very glamorous man or woman with lots of money”. This is not enough. You need to get into the mind of your customer and understand what motivates them. Where do they spend their time and for what occasions will you dress them? What makes them buy a garment? Understand their psychology, emotional needs and relationship with clothing. Visualize all the aspects of their lives and assess how your business can blend into making them even better.
Remember, your business concept needs to offer a clear proposition of value to your customer and if you can’t identify that yourself, seek help from Fashion Business School or subscribe to Incubation Programs.
To know more about managing the business angle of your fashion business, you can register with us.