Merin Guthrie is the CEO at Kit and she has a pretty great piece of advice for anyone who is trying to break into the fashion industry: stop emulating what successful people has done. Seriously:
The fashion industry, just like almost every other industry out there, relies on some old traditions to get it through. Things that have always worked should continue to work, or so the theory goes. However, startups are finding that the rules are made to be broken – and they have to be broken for anyone to be successful.
To create a successful fashion startup – or even to make a lasting impact in the fashion world, there are some ‘hard and fast’ rules that you must eschew. Here are some to rethink:
Seasons matter in fashion, but not necessarily for everyone. If you have a retail location or an e-commerce site, you have to focus on what people are wearing now. You can’t sell swimming suits when people aren’t wearing them – or you can, but you will sell fewer.
Get your product out early but keep your product out later as well to get the most out of each season.
Take Lower Margins
Remember that people aren’t always going to make tons of money when they first start. Instead of using exotic furs or extremely expensive materials, use items that can still make quality products but still keep your prices low. No one wants to spend thousands of dollars on something from an up and coming designer, it just doesn’t work that way.
You have to offer a better price for a product that is better than other products in its price range. Once you create those materials and get a following, you will be able to take on higher margins.
Focus On E-Commerce
E-commerce is king right now. More people are turning to the online market to buy everything, including their fashion. Many successful fashion lines don’t have any brick and mortar stores anymore, instead they focus on their online content.
Remember that having a website isn’t the only way to have e-commerce. You can sell on social media as well, so make sure you embrace those platforms.
Make It Personal
You have to be involved with whatever you are doing in a startup. When your name is on the product, you tend to take everything more seriously and work harder. Whether you are starting a tree care company or you are creating your own line of necklaces, you need to oversee everything, from when things are being created to how your product ships out.
Own It, Literally
Continuing on from make it personal, you have to own your startup if you want to get anywhere. The rule of thumb in the fashion industry is to over 51% of your company. This means that you will never give up control. You will have the final say on everything.
Whether you are working in a fashion startup or you are working at company, you have to remember that just because something has “always been done this way,” doesn’t mean it has to continue this way.