Starting a fashion brand can be pricey. In the beginning, new fashion start ups key to save money and this means cutting corners. If you’re thinking about starting a fashion brand, or even if you’ve already got one, then there are 3 things you should never scrimp on, because it will cost you sales and money in the long run. In this blog post, I’m going to tell you what they are and why you should never cut costs.
When you first decide what you will spend your budget on, the focus is usually product and in many cases that would be right. You’ll need materials and some kind of production. Even if you are making the products yourself, the cost is still time, which means you’re not doing other things, like promotion or planning, which will cost you sales and then profits for collection number 2. There is always a cost, whether that’s money or time to every project and sometimes the smallest things can affect the profits you get back in the long run.
Successful brands always think about the future and the long-term cost implications, but for most people, it can be hard to balance the things you know you should spend money and time on, with the reality of life. The problem is that as your brand hopefully develops, cutting costs early on can actually affect the profits you make. So let’s avoid a lack of sales, by spending our tight budget in the right places.
1. CUSTOMER PROFILES
A Customer Profile is basically research into your target customer. It sounds like a sales based targeting document, that comes across as a little sleazy to do. Not at all. If you are offering a product or fashion collection to customers, then you want to make sure that it gets to the right people who will love what you do. To do this you need to understand who exactly your customers are. This means research!
By understanding your customer you are making their lives easier. They don’t have to search for products because yours will be in the place that is convenient for them. They’ll love your prices, because it hit’s their budget. It’ll be the right fit for their bodies. In a quality that they adore and every item will be in front of them when they want it! You’ll have adoring fans that love your fashion brand. They’ll re-tweet and share and like. They’ll check your website or store looking for new and exciting things. They walk around showing it off to everyone they meet…… which means you have a healthy, profitable business, doing what you love.
And you’ll achieve all of this……. from research.
Many brands skip over the Customer Profile part, because they believe in their design or product. I understand completely. It’s the fun and exciting bits that people want to do. Not boring research and data. I get it. But the problem is, that when you don’t understand your customer, you are going to waste a lot of time and money putting up pages on social networks that are pointless. Trying to convert people to buyers that will never be the right person for you. Developing products, that if only they had been in another colour, would have sold out……. the mistakes and assumptions are endless.
What does this all mean for you?
Time wasted, that you could spend on doing things that actually make you money and wasting your budget through mistakes that could have been avoided.
I know research isn’t the sexy part of the design process. I started as a designer, so I do understand. But what my career has taught me is that fashion brands are also a business. If you want to stay in business, then you have to make money and profit. It really is that simple. No money coming in means no money to spend on the next collection….
SO WHAT TO DO?
I won’t go on about customer profiles in too much depth but if you want to read more, then check out this post CUSTOMER PROFILES: WHY YOU SHOULD DO THIS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE! which will guide you through your options. However, as a last note, this is a boring part of your business, but it really, really, really is essential to your success! Either do it yourself if your budget can’t stretch to a professional one, or get someone to do it for you. Either way, I really can’t emphasize enough how important is it for a new or old, fashion brand.
Most companies who offer such services rarely put the price on their websites unless you ask and they come with various options, so it’s difficult to put an average price on one, but the price can be fairly high as it’s a lot of work to put one together.
A basic Customer Profile will cost you around US$ 3,000 upwards which is a lot of money, but it will increase your sales by round 10X compared to not doing one.
TIPS FOR REDUCING COST
It’s always a good idea to ask companies what they offer and see what you can afford. Even a little bit of information is better than nothing at all. My sister company Fashion Services offers two levels, a basic and a full, which includes different options. This is the same for most companies who also offer the service, but be careful that they aren’t overcharging for options you actually don’t need. Always ask why they are researching different areas and think about whether you need it or not.
My last tip is that if you can find fashion specific companies, they will understand the type of research they are actually doing and can analyse the result far better for you. Better analysis means better results for you in the future and in the long-term, the cost of not doing one could mean you lose out on thousands of product sales and a lot of your tight budget, through mistakes.
2. TECH PACKS
So onto a Tech Pack. A Tech Pack is basically a blue print for your garments. It tells a factory how exactly you want things to be made. A bad Tech Pack is just as bad as not having one at all and this can halt your products for anything up to 2 years.
A good Tech Pack should get your samples back to you perfectly first time round, if done properly. Factories do often send back samples with the odd random measurement or something a little strange, but essentially it should be what you asked for.
The cost for not doing a Tech Pack can be both financial and time and the time is just as important to your success as the money. The longer you delay in getting your products to your customers, the more you delay your profits, which means you run the risk of using up your budget before you can sell anything. That’s not good.
In terms of cost, every time you ask for a sample, you’ll be charged. It uses fabric, thread, buttons, zippers, postage and skills of pattern cutters and machinists who make the sample for you. All costing you money. So surely, spending some money on a proper Tech Pack is the better option. It will reduce the sampling process for you, which means you can get products out quicker and revenue back in your bank account AND you’ll save all of the cost of sampling that would be wasted without one.
If you want to develop your Tech Pack skills, you should have a look at my E-Book, which is over 260 pages of measurements, sampling, technical information, as well as how to create a Tech Pack, step by step from scratch. You can find the book, How To Create Tech Packs for Fashion, HERE
Most freelancers can charge anything from US200-300 per pack, which in some cases, might be accurate, but only if the products are complicated. Usually they charge that price because they are taking advantage of the specialist skills needed to create one. However, from the majority of Tech Packs I’ve seen and the constant portfolios I look at from designers wanting jobs, most aren’t very good. I doubt you’d get a perfect sample first time round. On the other hand, there are a few websites I’ve seen that charge only US$40. In this case, I would definitely remind you of the saying “You get what you pay for”. If you’re tempted because it’s cheap, then I’d say save your money and take a chance without one. Essentially, if they aren’t up to a good standard, you’re just throwing cash away
TIPS FOR REDUCING COST
A good Tech Pack should take between 2-8 hours and cost around US$100-$200 per pack. However, if you are doing a range of the same style of garment, or you have small variations on each one, for example, the same T-shirt with 10 different prints, then you might be able to get a discount. Doing Tech packs with small variations of each other is not the same as doing completely different items, because the technical designer won’t have to redo everything, just amend bits.
Other than that, there is just no way around the cost. They are technical and they are essential. If you want to find out more on Tech Packs, then you can watch a webinar I did on Tech Packs, here
OK, so the last thing you really should spend your time and budget on is your Branding. I meet a lot of designers who get really excited about their new fashion line and although they spend a lot of time on the products, spend very little thinking about the brand itself. I really don’t want you to make the same mistake.
You want to take time to think about anywhere that your customer comes into contact with your brand [also known as touch points] and that includes your marketing strategy, your website, your garment labeling, logo, and so on. For it to work properly, it all needs to:
- Work seamlessly together
- Reflect your Brand Identity
- Give potential customers a clear message on who you are before they even look at the products.
At Fashion Services, when a client comes to us, we actually advise them to do this near to the end of their first collection, because the chances are, their products will change during the process and then, what they thought their brand would stand for, no longer works.
If you’ve spent time on websites, business cards and various others bits, then this will waste the budget you have. Branding is what your customer will see before they even look at your products, so it’s essential that you get it right first time. I wrote a blog post outlining your Brand Identity in-depth. If you want to learn more, then you can read it here FASHION BRANDS ARE UNNECESSARY…IDENTITY IS ESSENTIAL
The cost in money terms and wastage can be as small or as large as you want. If you only have to redesign business cards, then maybe US$30. If you’ve gone all out with flyers, websites, marketing items and so on, it could roll into the thousands. But this is financial only. If you’re wondering what the real cost of rushing your Branding is, then think about all of the products you’ve missed because you didn’t like the look of a website, or shop window display. You, like your customers will walk right past and not even bother to look.
The cost to your sales can be enormous because the potential customers that might be perfect for you, won’t even take a chance.
TIPS FOR REDUCING COST
Reducing cost for branding can be easy. You can get creative and try to do things that are free. Designing your own business card or setting up a website is fairly easy these days. Concentrate on your preparation and take time to consider all of your options before you rush into anything. I won’t pretend that professional companies won’t do a better job, but if your budget is tight, there are ways you can reduce your costs. Rather than money, saving costs for your branding requires time. It will take some planning, patience and reading lots of other posts on my website to help you, but that won’t cost you a penny.
So in this post we’ve covered:
- Customer Profiles.
- Tech Packs.
- What they cost you financially and in other areas of cost as a Fashion Brand.
- What they cost to get done properly and how you can reduce cost.
Now I want you to take action and actually focus on the right things to get more sales and money into your business. So move onto the action steps.
[wc_fa icon=”cogs” margin_left=”” margin_right=””] Action Steps:
- To make sure you take action and do it now, I want you to comment below and tell me when you have completed either your Customer Profile, Tech Packs [properly done] and Branding