Updated: Jul 13, 2021
If you have recently made a decision to start your own clothing company or have already started a clothing company but are still trying to get it off the ground, this is the article for you. I'm about to share some of my very own trade secrets on where to start, what you need, how to create a winning design, how to gain massive local support, where to sell your products, and how to expand. The clothing industry is a huge business that isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and tapping into its power can generate anywhere from a few extra dollars a month to a multi-million dollar income. So, join me as I try to help cut the learning curve to make you more successful in much less time.
Where To Start
Perhaps the best place to start is by knowing your primary objective. Basically, what do you want to accomplish? Some people just want to create products to turn a quick buck while others are interested in actually creating and building their own brand from the ground up. Honestly, both a very good reasons to start a clothing company, but not being clear on your objective can cost you a lot of wasted time and money. So, let's explore the difference to give you a better idea of what steps are right for you.
What You Need
If you are getting in the apparel business for the profit alone, then all you really need are wholesale suppliers for finished products of what you're trying to sell. There are countless places that supply all kinds of ready-to-sell merchandise such tees, sweats, jeans, jackets, and a wide range of other clothing items at great wholesale prices in bulk quantities. The difference between the wholesale price for buying in bulk and the retail price you sell each article for individually equals your profit margin. So just like in most other businesses, the idea is to find the products that you can spend the least on yet charge the most for. One of the best places in the country to buy great apparel at wholesale prices is the "Garment District" in Downtown Los Angeles, California. Even if you are nowhere near the west coast, searching online for suppliers based in the DTLA is always a smart move and a great place to start.
If your objective is to create and build your own brand, I can honestly say that it's more work but much more rewarding. When creating your own apparel brand, many of the steps are similar to that of pushing finished products bought wholesale. The only difference is that of putting your own original logo or design on it somehow. Basically, this is like being an artist with clothing as your canvas. Unlike selling finished products designed by someone else, pushing your own brand builds valuable recognition for your business as well as yourself, and that value can equal a fortune over time. If this sounds more up your alley, not only will you have to find suppliers for your "blanks", you will also have to decide on a method of putting your design on your apparel, such as embroidery, silk screening, or heat press, just to name a few.
How To Create A Winning Design
If you chose to create and build your own apparel brand, then producing designs that pay is very important. Though it's common for most new designers to assimilate with the latest trends, it's usually those that set the trends that have the most influence in the industry as well as the most money. Though they can be very lucrative ventures, I avoid basing my designs on thing like sporting events, political figures, or memes, because they don't represent nor magnify my brand. Instead, my designs are usually influenced by things that are timeless. For example, one of my most successful designs was inspired be the city I live in, much like the very popular "I LOVE NY" shirts that have been selling for decades. So, don't be afraid to commit to a niche, because they still have the potential to create a worldwide demand.
Gaining Massive Local Support
Though the internet does a magnificent job of connecting the entire planet, nothing can replace the value of being embraced and supported by your community, regardless of what type of business you have. Virtually every major brand or corporation in America participates in some form of philanthropy or "giving back", and that's no coincidence. Companies often get involved in charitable causes as a way to establish a positive public image. A favorable public image gives you a competitive edge by giving customers a reason to choose you over other options. So, start making it a habit to volunteer, sponsor, or donate whenever possible. You community and your business will thank you.
Where To Sell Your Apparel
The best place to start when selling your own apparel is usually with the people you know. Introducing your gear to friends, relatives, teammates, classmates, and co-workers are a great way to begin making sales and to gain valuable feedback about your products. This will help you learn which products will be your best sellers and which ones to send back to the drawing board. By starting with those you know, you will also a great chance at getting some valuable word-of-mouth advertising.
Social media is an excellent way to generate sales, however it is important to remember that this will immediately lead to having to take electronic payments and ship your products. I personally fill that the best answer to this issue, is PayPal. Seriously, I was introduced to PayPal in 2004, and I have been using it ever since. PayPal not only allows you to accept credit cards, your customers don't even need to have a PayPal account to pay you. In addition, PayPal also has a feature that allows you to pay for and create your postage from home using the payment from your order.
Your very own website is also a great place to sell your items, however this requires some marketing to be at all successful. You can have the best looking website in the world with the hottest products available, but if no one knows the site exists, you not going to generate many sales. So, for websites to generate sales, you're going to have to put in some work. Some great ways to get your site found is through Pay-Per-Click, banner ads on other websites, Facebook ads, and email marketing. These methods cost, so do some research first and start with a small budget until you discover which ones create the biggest results.
Pop-up shops are also a very good way to generate a lot of sales immediately while promoting your brand to the public at the same time. This can be elaborately done by renting an empty storefront for a day or to, or you can just get a local business to allow you to set up a table right outside of their establishment. Either way, these pop-up shops can generate hundreds to thousands of dollars a day.
How To Expand
Once you create a design or brand that generates a decent income, you might start wondering how to multiply your returns. Basically, there's two ways to do it. You can either increase what you're offering or increase the number of people you're offering it to. In my case with the very popular Pasadena based brand, "MADE IN DENA", I started with a one-color design on a black t-shirt. As the popularity for that product grew, I began to create more products to sell to the same customers. Now, MADE IN DENA gear has expanded to many different designs on everything from children's clothes to ladies' workout gear.
Though I could have probably went on forever about each of these particular steps, this is more than enough to take the guess work out of getting started. For more detailed information, I will be putting together an amazing instructional video that will be on my YouTube channel, and I will be detailing the best of my best methods in my upcoming book, "LIFE OF A BOSS: Creating & Living Your Own Definition Of Success".