Starting a new apparel brand can be challenging. It is even more challenging to do it with limited funds. However this is a reality many of you are facing, but you don’t want it to stop your plans. So how are your money best spent? What should you pay for and where can you save your money? Read our guide to bootstrapping.
- Inspiration material. This is the start to every collection and product development. You feel you need to have it, get it!
- Designer/product developer. Unless you have design skills I would advise that you pay someone who knows design/product development. You will save a lot of time and in the end money. The products are your entire business, you shouldn’t play around with the design until you have learned how to design.
- Photographer. Pictures will be a big part of your communication to the world. Professional pics do wonders for the products and your brand.
- Accountant. It doesn’t matter how small you are in the beginning, you always want to have your books in check. If your brain freezes when you see numbers, pay someone that knows what they’re doing.
- Necessary tools – computer, phone and good internet connection. These will be your everyday tools. You will be very frustrated if you have a crappy internet connection or if your phone is old or broken.
- Adobe Program Suite: Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. If you don’t know these programs, book yourself a week and learn them. Google, youtube or get online on a webinar. Your whole business is based on these programs. Illustrator for tech packs and line sheets, Photoshop for pictures and InDesign for layouts like workbooks and leaflets
- Trips to factories. This is important for several reasons: it’s relationship building, you can product develop quicker while on site and you control the manufacturing.
- Visit material fairs. Go to the biggest fabric fairs like Premiere Vision, Texworld or Performance Days. Be well prepared before you go in order to get maximum out of your visit. You could also stay an extra day and stroll around town in Paris, New York or Munich for inspiration. Going to fabric fairs is the quickest and best way to source materials. Grow your network and broaden your fabric selection.
- Studio. It works perfectly fine to work from home in the beginning. Make a little office space in your home for everything “sportswear brand”. When you need to increase your team, that’s when it’s time to find a studio.
- Graphic design and branding. Your logo will be seen everywhere, on your products, website, communication and social media. Get it right from the beginning and exactly how you want it.
- The website. Spend a couple evenings on youtube and learn to make a simple website for your brand. Use free WordPress templates to customise your site.
- Expensive models from agencies. Search your network and see what friends of friends are your ideal customer and use them as models in your photoshoots.
- Ditch the printed look book. It’s not environmentally friendly nor cheap. An online look book is fine. Buyers or customers see it on your website or you can email it to them.
- Spend time on social media instead of money on PR agencies. When you start out authenticity, transparency and personality is much better for your branding.
- Wait with exhibiting at fairs. To exhibit at a fair costs a lot of money and it’s not always the best ROI. Contact and visit your most important customers to build a long lasting relationship.