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? << Big question.
It’s like asking how much does it cost to buy a house. The answer…it depends.
But “it depends” is not helping you! So, I decided it would be great to answer this Q for everyone who wants to start a fashion line – clothing collection, accessories line – on a tight budget.
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!
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.
Also, one quick PRO TIP on where to you’ll needs to spend $$. If you have a small startup budget, DO SPEND money on pattern making and high quality photos. You can skimp on other things like paying yourself and studio space (if possible).
You can do a relatively cheap photo shoot – use your own kids and friends – natural Instagram style, do it outside – even consider hiring a WEDDING photog to do the shoot. They know how to capture people and use lighting and are available on a Tuesday.
First – design some styles. Each in two color ways – 10 hangers – so that could be 5 bodies for a total of 10 pieces to show a customer.
Next – get items SIMILAR to what you want. Buy them from stores, raid your kids’ closets, ask friends etc… Use these examples as references to show a pattern maker what you want and how you can improve the styles for your collection. For instance, if you like the collar of that piece and you love the trim on another piece. You gather up whatever compilation of items you can to show the pattern maker EXACTLY what you want in your unique piece.
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, 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 free list of wholesale fabric vendors for startup fashion brands (and they sell small quantities).
Pattern maker – going to network and industry events or asking around is a good place to start. Makers Row is another great resource.
Sample maker – here’s the sneaky way I produced my blanket and baby blanket line.
Build an audience BEFORE you’re ready to sell. 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 lining up customers for your brand even before you have a product ready to sell.
Our proven audience building method is taught in this Build an Audience Before You Launch workshop.
Yes, it’s totally possible and Gaby, 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, social media, offering a quiz for email list building, or emailing your friends & family with updates on what you’re working on.
Costing and pricing – you’re playing chicken and egg here since you’re guessing quantities, but you gotta start somewhere.
Get your samples made. A few rounds of samples – pattern, fitting, pattern corrections, cut a new sample… Get to a final “perfect” sample and then…
Get manufacturing quotes for production pricing and determine your retail prices.
Plan a simple launch event. With your budget, I suggest a home party (or 2 or 3 or 10) at friends’ w/a charity component or virtual events. I strongly suggest doing pre-sales to help with cash flow and also know what quantities of what styles to order for manufacturing.
Start selling and take orders – customers should pay up-front and you ship in 6 – 8 weeks or sooner if possible.
Produce and ship.
Get product reviews. After you ship, reach out and ask what they like about the product? Where did they go with the kids in the outfits? Ask your customers to send in pics you can use for marketing purposes.
Want a step-by-step fashion startup blueprint? If you’re serious about launching a profitable clothing line, 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 if that’s true, everything is harder.
The “Launch a Line” course will save you from a ton of mistakes, frustration, and wasted money.
Here’s a quick look at how I would use your $5,000 startup budget:
- 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
Total startup budget used for Gaby’s new children’s clothing line: $5,000
So tell me… was this blog post helpful to you?
Please let me know what you think in the comments below and thanks! Based on your feedback, I’ll know what to write about next!