Podcast Ep. 30: 9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Fashion Brand

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So you’re thinking about starting a fashion or accessories brand, but you want to make sure you’ve dotted all of your i’s and crossed all of your t’s before going down that road. Well, you’re in luck, because this episode will help you do that. Here are 9 questions to ask yourself before starting a fashion brand.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

How to Determine Your Unique Selling Position


So you’re thinking about starting a fashion or accessories brand, but you want to make sure you’ve dotted all of your i’s and crossed all of your t’s before going down that road. Well, you’re in luck, because this episode will help you do that. Here are 9 questions to ask yourself before starting a fashion brand.

Okay, let’s get right into it with question number 1:

  • What is your USP?

I talk a lot about your USP (or unique selling position), and I’ll link to a past episode that you can go back to, but the first question you want to ask yourself when entering the fashion landscape is: how is your brand different?

It’s no secret that the fashion industry is both crowded and noisy – that doesn’t mean there’s no room for your brand but it does mean that you have to identify how you’re going to stand out. Spend a lot of time brainstorming, thinking and journaling about the ways you’re different from your competitors and then narrow it down to the USP that will most connect or resonate with your ideal target customer.

  • What does success look like to you?

Are you starting a side project, a lifestyle business or trying to build an empire? There is no right or wrong here but your answer will dictate how you start your brand. Will you be writing a 40-page business plan and pitching investors? (I hope not!) Or will you start out by bootstrapping with your own money and then organically growing based on market testing? As your brand business evolves, what will feel successful to you? What wins or milestones are you looking forward to achieving? What will actually feel like to reach the level of success you’re dreaming about?

  • How much money have you set aside to invest in building your business?

The truth is, it doesn’t take as much money as it used to to launch a clothing brand. And it doesn’t even take as much money as people think. But you do have to have some money available to invest in starting your business. Through Factory45, I’ve worked with entrepreneurs who invest a portion of their income every month into building their brand and I’ve worked with others who have thousands of dollars set aside. But as long as you have some disposable income available each month, you can successfully launch using the bootstrapping techniques and money-raising strategies that I teach in Factory45.

  • Does your product or collection solve a problem?

This goes back to the first question about your unique selling position, but it’s not enough to say “People need to wear clothes.” Your brand or product must solve a deeper problem for your customer. Whether it’s a specific problem like creating adaptive fashion for people in wheelchairs or a subjective problem like helping women feel more beautiful when they get dressed in the morning, you must solve a problem for your ideal target customer. I have more thoughts on this in a previous episode that I’ll link to in the description.

  • Are you appealing to a niche customer?

Did you hear me say “ideal target customer” earlier? Just as important as solving a problem, you want to make sure that when you’re first starting out you’ve narrowed down your market to a niche customer. Why? Because the more specific about who your brand is here to serve, then the faster those people will be able to find you and then come out to support you.

While I’m all for being inclusive, that’s very different from being broad. If you’re too general about who your target customer is then you’re going to have a very hard time building an audience. I always tell my entrepreneurs in Factory45, “If you’re trying to appeal to everyone, then you’ll end up appealing to no one.” Your target audience can expand as you gain traction and grow, but in the beginning, my advice is to niche down.

  • What is your ideal retail price point?

This is the price that you want to sell your product for. Your ideal retail price is dictated by your customer’s price tolerance, as well as your cost of goods sold. In other words, your retail price needs to reflect how much it costs to make your product. If you’re selling direct to consumer, then your retail markup can be less than if you’re also selling wholesale to boutiques or stores. No matter what you price your product at, though, you need to make sure there’s a profit so that you can continue investing money back into your business.

  • What do you need to outsource?

We can’t all be good at everything. Identify your strengths, whether it’s designing or marketing or branding or finance, and identify your weaknesses. In most cases, you’ll want to automatically outsource your pattern and samplemaking to a professional – as well as your production to a manufacturer. But are there other things that would make sense to outsource so that you can spend time dominating your strengths and not stressing about your weaknesses? Figure out what those things are and then one by one, start to eliminate the things you’re not good at from your day to day.

  • Should you seek out a cofounder?

Is there someone out there who can be the yin to your yang? Do you work better with partner accountability or do you prefer a solo show? I’ve run companies both ways – once with a cofounder and once as the sole founder and I can tell you, first hand, that there are pros and cons to both.

  • What is your “Why”?

I left the most important question for last… what is the “Why?” behind your brand – what is all of this for and why are you doing it? Entrepreneurship is an endless rollercoaster and you’re going to be constantly asking yourself what you got yourself into. Your Why is the answer that you’ll keep coming back to during both the low points and the high points, so it’s really important to figure it out before you get started. 

So, those are the 9 questions to ask yourself before you start your fashion brand. Once you figure them out (even if you aren’t sure of every answer) book a free discovery call to learn more about launching your sustainable fashion or accessories brand through Factory45. We’d love to help you turn this dream into a reality with a proven framework, personal support and an eight-year track record of success. Just go to factory45.co/apply and choose a time that works for you. Thanks for listening!