Question of the Week; SMT and the importance of having a Business Plan…

Hi guys!

I get a lot of weekly emails from new and aspiring designers (all in the same boat as myself) and I love to share some of my experiences and advice. Nika recently emailed me and I thought I’d share the answer I gave her as it really summons up the importance of a little bit of planning and working on a Business Plan before venturing out in the oblivious of this industry…I’d love to hear any feedback or added advice from you as well, plus, anyone out there that knows the meaning of SMT?

“Dear Alice, my name is Nika, I am a designer artist,have a collection of my unique accessories-scarves.
I also do them in a limited editions. I want to buy a right(or smt like that)to start my own label in order to go into fashion accessories business,also to protect my artistic rights. Do you know what is the best way to start it?”
Thank you, Best regards,

Hi Nika!

Thanks for your for buying a smt (which is new to me) I always recommend start up designers to 
work on a Business Plan, just to give you an idea on the following:
1.What designs would I like to make and why are you doing them, is there any ‘message in your label’ and a meaning?(point of difference is an important part of starting any company).
2.Who is going to buy it, ask yourself; what’s my end customer like? (will your products relate to high end or lower price brackets, age and gender of your customer down to their style and then cater for them)try to make a rough profile of your potential customer so that you know where and who they are and ultimately what they would be willing to pay for the piece your making. 
3.Are you filling a need in an already over-stocked market? Is anyone really going to want your products and if they do, ask why? Is it because they are unique or is it because they are cheap and so on…
4.Costs and Mark Ups and your end profits? This might be a bit tricky since you won’t know to much about this section until your actually in production but do a rough estimate according to the vision of your accessories, clothes and so on. Most designers have an idea on what materials they want to produce in and this will set the tone on the cost of the garments along with qnty. Compare what it would cost to sell in a commission based store or online shop, ask yourself where you’d like to sell them, like a physical store or if your more comfortable selling online?
5.Where are you going to source your materials, this is connected with the above number 4. since you’ll need to know what actual material to use first, but a little bit of research at this stage goes a long way. Compare prices and start talking to Manufacturers (if you have any sketches ready), or are you planning to make everything yourself?
6.Have a separate Bank Account added, make sure all purchases and future income (when selling the pieces) goes through that account (it will make everything so much easier) then to mix payments with private purchases. I always recommend to start as a Sole Trader before Starting a ‘real’ business as you wont have the initial costs and you can call it a hobby whilst learning the tricks of the trade and by talking to an accountant.
Finally, Try Your Products!
It’s a great way to get feedback and change things around before making huge orders that you risk getting stuck with. Try local markets with a few samples, try store managers (again with a small sample collection, but be savvy and prepared for a visit like that, have business cards and possible order sheets ready, know your products and the ‘retail price’ inkl the stores mark-ups plus have a season ahead and time the buying period, usually ranges at August/Sept=S/S, delivery in Jan/Feb) and learn about delivery deadlines and all that comes with producing in seasons for the stores. 
Have your own website set up where you add a bit about yourself, and the store of your label. This gives your customers faith in your label and it’s a great way of show-casing yourself. You can of course set up an online shop and sell through that, it’s all about show casing your pieces and again see if anyone is keen to buy them (for this it’s all about traffic and good SEO along with networking on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and so on..that’s a mild start and it won’t cost an arm or a leg.

I have written a great story about my life experience (when it comes to Manufacturing and then selling) plus I’ve added useful resources to manufacturers along with an interview with an American Manufacturer plus heaps more on tips and tricks and no education or experience needed…If always recommend to start (if your serious) to read that and then join Make it Fashions New VIP Forum which has a lot of designers already sharing experiences about what they are doing…
Here’s the link to the E-book:Make it Fashion

Best of Luck and Happy Designing out there, xx Alice

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    5 years ago

    I am currently working on the business plan for a fashion designer’s company while she makes her sample collection. Here is a link t of business plan that I often use for many business ventures in the past and am using now. It is extensive and you can dowload it to your computer and take what applies to you and add questions it it as well. In ANY business it is imperative to have a business plan and having a proven business plan template is vital becuase it will ask question you may not think of as a creative designer that business minds (creators of these templates) know need to be answered and researched in order to plan and manage a successful business. Here is the link: The first one titled: Business plan for a Start-up business is the one I have used many times. Good luck fashionistas’.