College is an ideal place for experimentation. A great place to try new things, meet lots of people and to start new businesses. If you are looking to own a fashion brand, attending a fashion school can give you a leg up on your resources. You will have access to sewing machines, fabric contacts and experienced industry leaders. However, you do not need to attend a fashion school in order to launch and have a successful brand. In college, you are already in an environment to create a prosperous business. So, for those in a regular college who want to start a fashion brand or retail business, here a couple pointers on how to get started.
Creating a need-based business
Walk around with a Field Notebook and write down your ideas. Keeping notes in your iPhone is a very different creative process than writing it down with a pen and paper. Keep tabs on what your friends talk about. What do they ‘wish’ they could find, what never seems to fit right, what are the pain points. This is valuable ethnographic research that most marketers would die to have.
Brands need to get out there to test their products and ideas before going big. Having access to a ripe market filled with people who are willing to give their thoughts and opinions makes for an ideal playground to test your ideas. Think about doing little pop-up shops on campus and build your audience through word of mouth.
Launching your site
It’s easier than ever to put together a website that can capture emails and sell products. If selling multiple vendors on your site you can even integrate with drop shipping sites to purely test your hypothesis without investing in inventory. If producing your own collection, you can test styles and get a read on demand without having to produce too much. Just make sure to have an email acquisition field that says ‘notify me when back in stock’.
Go big on social media
New brands are launching on Instagram before their products even hit the market. Building demand and the lifestyle for your brand online is a great way to gauge demand. Make sure your images are consistent and that engage daily with potential followers.
Be on a budget
This isn’t the time to take out big loans to follow your dreams, but you are still in a position to ask for funding from friends and family. BUT, be on a budget. Put together your startup expenses and your ask, and take it to Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
Lots of brands launch straight out of college. Pura Vida came from two college grads out of USC! The traditional approach to launching a fashion brand is always through experience. If you want to launch a collection that you produce, then having the mentors and working your way through the ranks will always yield you with connections and a leg up. However, you can disrupt the market as a smart entrepreneur and create a product your customer will love without the traditional path.
Plan your product
If you want detailed instructions through the pre-production and production processes, pre-register for our Prototyping 101, and register for our Production 101 and Sourcing 101 courses. Our Academy offers these educational guides for free! Over the duration of each course, expect a new lesson in your inbox each day.
After you have put together your designs, check out Maker’s Row for nearly 10,000 factories with capabilities in sampling and production.
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