5 questions to ask before starting a fashion business

I received a lot of positive feedback for my article on the fashion industry as well as requests for a more detailed post on the topic. So here it is:

Beautiful people and beautiful things. Glitz and glamour. Prestige and parties. Fame, fortune and fun. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of the fashion industry? Sadly, all this is just part of the reality, if at all.

This industry is not for everyone. The glitz and the glamour hide all the hard work and the tears. Insecurity comes easily while success does not. Challenges are aplenty. Finding meaning, purpose and joy eludes even the best.

Here’s a checklist for you to go through before you set up a fashion business.

  1. Do you have something unique to offer?

Ask yourself this – why will people choose your product over someone else’s? Is it the price, the design or the dream that you are selling? This is a hyper competitive industry even at the smallest scale so it is essential to have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that sets you apart from your competitors.

  1. Who is your customer?

It’s not enough to answer with – “A rich, stylish man/woman”. You need to understand their lifestyle and their motivations. You need to understand their relationship with fashion. Assessing how your business can blend into their life will ensure that there is a demand for your products.

  1. Are you ready for the grind?

Are you ready to pack boxes at 4 AM? Create invoices and analyse receipts with your accountant? Source raw material and liaise with manufacturers in countries where you may face a language barrier? Find stockists for your product and coordinate with them on a regular basis? Handling all these complexities can prove challenging even for the most organised person. Your success will hinge on your entrepreneurial abilities as well as your commitment to your business.    

  1. Where is the money coming from?

Is it your family and friends? Bank loans? Angel investors? Grants or sponsorships? And how much do you need? It is critical to ensure that your money doesn’t run out half way through. Take the time to create a business plan. It will not only help you get funding but will also refine your vision for your brand and set a roadmap to realizing it.

  1. Who is on your team?

Even if you are the sole founder and only employee of your business, you would still need a team of people to support you in various ways. A graphic designer, photographer, stylist, accountant, lawyer, PR maven, social media manager – depending on your business, you may need one or more of these people. Finding the right people is as important as having a great product.

I hope I haven’t scared you from starting your business. My intention is to make you aware of the challenges and the processes involved and be prepared.

If you have successfully answered all the above questions, you are ready and I wish you all the success in the world.

Note: The above article has also been published on the Expat Fairs website here.

New Beginnings

September is going to be a month of several new adventures for me and my family.

My son is starting preschool. At 20 months, he has joined Arts Kidz in Bukit Timah, a great school by all accounts. I am experiencing mixed emotions right now, most of which I haven’t sorted through. It’s really hard for me to let go off a boy who I have raised almost singlehandedly since he was born (my husband was in Malaysia for work for almost a year and I have no help or family in Singapore). It’s taken me some time to trust his teachers and not be too critical of them. After all, they are not his mothers and they play a different role in his life.  The discipline at school chafed me initially but I have accepted now that it’s necessary. My son cries every day when he is dropped off at school (which is why my husband drops him) and cries occasionally in between as well especially when he has to share things (he hates sharing and wants everything for himself even when he is not using them).

It’s excruciating for us to see him cry and to think that he is crying when we are not around. We have willed our hearts to stone so that we can do this every day. There are immense benefits to attending preschool and I have noticed significant positive change in my son in just 4 days but I guess he will take some time to adjust emotionally to his new environment. We will just have to bear the torture in the mean time.

We will also be moving to a new apartment at the end of this month. The lease on our current place is expiring and will not be renewed. Besides, we also want to move closer to my son’s school so that we don’t need to take the bus for drop offs and pick ups. However, the kind of houses we have seen so far has put me in depression. We currently live in an old executive HDB apartment which is huge in size, has a great view and very affordable rent. Only condos are available near my son’s school where the apartments are small and expensive. We might end up choosing between a nice house or a house near school as it seems we can’t have both.

With my son in preschool now (starting full days soon hopefully), I have a lot more time to devote to work and I am really looking forward to taking my business to the next level. More exciting projects, meeting interesting people and making a lot more money are on the horizon. I am super psyched!

I am also going to start 2 new sections in this blog – Look out for Label and Interview of the Month. The aim of the first section will be to draw attention to new and/or under-the-radar brands that are unique, good and have a certain ‘It’ factor overall. This is a particular passion of mine that I am finally able to bring to reality. The second section will introduce you to interesting and inspiring people that you must know about.

Friends, if you have any ideas on how I can improve this blog, please do drop me a note in the comments section. Thank you!