How Do I Start a Clothing Line with $5,000? Where Should I Spend the Money? 

How much does it cost to start a clothing line? Here’s what to do if you have a $5,000 budget to launch a line.

I received a great question in my Inbox the other day about the budget needed to launch a successful fashiopn company. and it’s a big topic. I figured it would be great to answer it for everyone who wants to start a fashion line or apparel business. If you’re on a tight budget., this is for you

Here’s the question…

Q: “I have 5K to start a childrenswear line and…”

…am hoping to double in profit. Ideally I’d like to get started as soon as possible, a day doesn’t go by that I’m not thinking about it! Initially I was working for a bank, thinking that a 9 to 5 job was requirement for success. It wasn’t until I met my husband 3 years ago that I realized success is where passion meets purpose.  I’m a new stay-at-home mom, so what better time to take a chance than now when I have the time to do so! 

The clothes line idea I am pursuing is more than just clothes for kids. It’s a message. An important message that I wholeheartedly believe needs to be shared from parent to parent, and the focus and common ground is the love of our kids. My muse – well you guessed it, is my 20-month-old son. My brother-in-law is a web developer so he will be in charge of that aspect.  Again, any advice in any step of my process is greatly appreciated!”  
Stay well,

A: Hi Gaby. Here are the steps to starting a clothing line on a small budget.

Before we start, Gaby, I’ll tell you that this is how I would start if I had your budget. There are lots of different ways to bake this cake, but here’s what I would do step-by-step.

Here are the steps to launching a clothing line on a budget:

1. First, design some styles. Each in 2-colorways. If you start with 5 styles, each in 2 different colorways – 10 total items to purchase – hangers – so that could be 5 bodies for a total of 10 pieces to show a customer.

2. Do some research on items SIMILAR to what you want to create. Buy them from stores, raid your kids’ closets, ask friends etc… Use these examples as references to give your pattern maker an idea of what you want and explain how you want to improve the styles for your collection. For instance, you may like the collar of that piece and love the trim on that other piece. Gather up whatever compilation of physical samples and references combined with simple sketches to show the pattern maker EXACTLY what you want in your unique pieces.

3. Fabric – ideally buy your fabric wholesale and keep it simple!! Don’t source a ton of different fabrics. You can get creative in other ways – like with trims, finishes, topstitching, etc. – so be sure that your base cloth is used in multiple places. When you choose your fabric, try to buy it from small quantity wholesalers. You can download my list of wholesale fabric sources who sell small quantities).

4. Pattern maker – to find one, going to network and industry events or asking around is a good place to start. Makers Row is another great resource.

5. Sample maker – here’s the sneaky way I produced my blanket and baby blanket line.  Often, your pattern maker or a freelance fashion designer will give you a lead.

6. Start building an audience. While you’re doing all this product development, don’t forget you’ll want customers from the first day you launch. To make this happen, you’ll want to start building an audience for your brand even before you have a product ready to sell.  

Yes, it’s totally possible, and please don’t miss this step! What I mean is gathering a group of like-minded people you want to sell to. You can do this by starting a blog, an email list, social media, a Facebook group, and emailing your friends and family with updates on what you’re working on.

The key is to build a community of like-minded people around the lifestyle of your ideal customer and not just around a product.

where to buy wholesale fabric in small quantities

7. Cost and price your apparel products – you’re playing chicken and egg here since you’re guessing quantities, but you gotta start somewhere. This online workshop reaches you my method of costing & pricing to be sure you’re profitable.

8. Get samples (prototypes) made of your garments. A few rounds of samples – pattern, fitting, pattern corrections, cut a new sample… Get to a final “perfect” sample and then…

9. Tag each item with final retail price. You may have to do your costing and pricing a few times as you get more details about manufacturing and fabrics prices.

10. Plan a B2C (direct to consumer) selling event. With a small budget, I suggest an online launch party or an in-person home party (or 2 or 3 or 10) at friends’ homes with a charity component. You could also consider adding a Facebook Group or FB LIVE party event, IG Live, TikTok, or YouTube.

11. Sell and take orders, pre-orders actually. Customers should pay up-front and you ship in 6 – 8 weeks or sooner if possible.

12. Manufacture your product and and ship.

13. Learn from someone who’s launched a clothing line and done so successfully. My suggestion for your next step is my full startup course. It’s been called a lifesaver because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and when that’s true, everything is harder.

The New Designer Program will save you from a ton of mistakes, frustration, and wasted money.


Total startup budget used for Gaby’s new children’s clothing line: $5,000

where to spend the budget for a startup fashion line

How to use a $5,000 startup budget for a children’s clothing line:

  • Fabric: $1,000
  • Pattern Making: $1,200
  • Samples and Fittings: $1,200
  • Trims and Packaging: $400
  • Miscellaneous: $250
  • References for pattern maker: $450
  • Selling Event expenses: $500

It’s not the ideal budget, but it can definitely work. If you build an audience BEFORE you try to sell, you can get enough pre-orders to finance your first season.

Also, a PRO TIP on where you’ll need to spend $$.

If you have a small startup budget, DO SPEND money on pattern making and high quality product photos. DON’T SPEND on other things like a studio space, a fancy website (not necessary in the beginning). You may need to hold off on paying yourself in the beginning. 

PRO TIP on doing a photo shoot for an apparel or fashion product.

You can do a relatively cheap photo shoot – use your own kids and friends –  and do it in a real-world Instagram style outside so the lighting is good. Consider hiring a wedding photographer. They’re reasonably priced, know how to capture people, and are usually available on a Tuesday afternoon. 🙂

Also, if you’re serious about launching a profitable clothing line, it all starts with this program

HUNDREDS of students have taken our startup course and launched successfully. You can do it too.

Wishing you the best!