How To Finance/Fund Your Fashion LineDec 09, 2021
How To Finance/Fund Your Fashion Line
Starting a fashion business can be so much fun! Creating new clothes, getting to wear the great styles you create. But, it can also be ridiculously expensive. Especially because you have to invest in raw materials and labor before you can ever sell your product. So how do you get financing/funding for your fashion line?
As a fashion designer myself, I know all too well all of the challenges that a designer and brand owner faces when starting a fashion brand, and I'm going to give you all of the tips I know and some that I've used, without taking out a loan or borrowing any money.
Before we get started, there is nothing wrong with borrowing money for your venture, I even mention it below, but for me it wasn't an option I wanted to take, because I already had student loans and I didn't want my entire life to be filled with debt. That said, money does have to come from some where. So keep reading for some great alternatives to funding your fashion business. Keep in mind, these funding ideas can work for many other types of businesses too.
Doing an event at Sephora
Creative Personal Investment
When I was working at Ralph Lauren, I invested in the companies 401-K on the first day. I then aggressively saved in the 401- for the entire time I was there. Knowing that when I left I would start my own business. At the end of 6 years, I had a great nest egg to use to go towards funding my brand. Once the brand is profitable, it will pay me back-instead of an investor.
Now what you want to take away here, is the idea of saving what you can, to get what you want. Obviously, the particulars will be different for every person, but what can you do with what you have access to?
This worked two fold for me in that 1. it allowed me to save for my biz and 2. it allowed me to learn from people in the industry so I had a network and I didn't make mistakes on my dime.
While you're planning and orchestrating your grand plan, are you able to get a part time job and save all of that money for your biz when you're ready to launch it? Do you already have personal savings that you can allocate to your venture? How can you use what you have to get what you want?
After my money ran out, I got a part time job waiting tables in NYC. Again my goal is to not take out loans and investors for fashion brands can take some time to acquire, so in the mean time I waited tables to get large amounts of cash, quickly to help fund the up front costs of my fashion brand.
It was a very difficult time and I was very tired between the work and the business, but I was able to raise the funds I needed without taking out a loan. I chose serving tables because I did it in college and knew it was the best job to get quick money, that didn't require anything of me when I wasn't at work + there are no real responsibilities with it No meetings, no projects, and my brain was left free to focus on my biz.
Is there a skill you have that you can make money from quickly that won't interrupt your business? Then do that and inject the cash into your biz.
Cutting out my pattern.
Sell, Sell, Sell
If you know how to do your own patterns and can sew, then start making products and selling them online, on Etsy and at local vending events. Vending events are events that your city has where small business owners sell the goods that they create. In NYC there are a few of them and I did this for the first year and a half that I was in business. It's a great way to build an email list, raise some money, get direct feedback from your consumer on what they think of your product. If you're not scheduling to sell at vending events, you're missing out on a great opportunity.
You've probably seen these types of events or fairs in your local community. Google them to find out how to sign up as a vendor, what the requirements are and start selling!
My space at Macy's back in 2019.
I honestly don't love this idea for myself, but to each their own. Depending on your audience and if crowd funding is a good fit for your brand, it may well be worth it for you. My products are premium products with higher price tags, so I never felt that crowdfunding was a good fit for my product. But if it is a good fit for your product, you should absolutely consider it.
There are many types of crowdfunding sites that you can research and see what works best for your biz and brand.
Loans are an option for some people. If you find that you don't desire to do any of the other recommendations or are having difficulty with doing them, then a loan may be worth considering for your situation. You'll want to pay attention to the interest rate and terms. You'll also need to be prepared to pay on your loan every 30 days.
I would recommend using this for specific projects only, so that you have the chance to make the money up from the project and pay it off as quickly as possible. So for example if you're doing a trade show, you could take a loan out for the trade show, and work hard to get enough orders so you can pay off the loan from the success of the show. *trade shows are hard and many new, small brands don't do well at them, so I wouldn't recommend doing them either, but it works for the example. We'll talk about trade shows another time.
It's worth pointing out that loans can be very difficult for fashion businesses to get because they're seen as high risk. SO if you can attach the need of the loan to a project that you can prove success in, you may stand a better chance of getting it.
Work On Your Biz + Trade Services
One of the best things I've ever done for my business is being capable of performing tasks for myself. So rather than paying for a pattern maker, I make my own patterns. When finances are an issue, it's great to be able to still get what I need, without having to pay for it. What skills do you have that you can do for your biz? Can you do this skill for other businesses and trade services for each other? Perhaps you make the patterns for you and a business friend and they do the sewing for both of you?
How can you get what you need with what you have? This is literally the constant question I ask myself. You'd be surprised at what answers you come up with when you're determined to succeed.
If you're at the point where you have a factor that means that you're selling products. Factors give loans agains promissory notes/purchase orders that you have. So if you get an order for 1,000 of your best selling dress, you can take that purchase order to a factor and get a loan for this order, based on the purchase order.
Factors are pricey and charge a hefty interest rate; typically 10+ and higher. BUT, it gives you the injection of cash you need to fulfill the order. When the order is delivered and you've gotten paid from the buyer, you'll then pay the factor the cost of the loan plus the interest charged. You can get a factor for fabric or for cut and sew and typically people will get a factor for one or the other or both to complete the order they have.
Lines Of Credit
I know so many fashion brands and small business owners that use lines of credit aka credit cards. It's a great way to get what you need. You'll of course have to pay monthly payments on it and if you fall behind in payments you jeopardize not only your biz, but also your credit score-but it can be an easy, simple way to get what you need immediately.
As you get lump sums of cash, I would recommend paying off on the card to keep the available balance low so you always have room to buy the goods and services you need.
Small business owners are eligible for all sorts of grants. The trick is to be connected to organizations so that you can find out that they are even a possibility. So, sign up for newsletters with your local chamber, the SBA, and any other organization that relates to either your community, industry, college or interests.
There are also plenty of large companies that have grant opportunities for small businesses. Companies like Cartier, Fedex, Tory Burch, and countless others have yearly grants that you can apply for. Do your research and get connected to stay up to date with the opportunities around you.
Applying for grants can be tricky, but with some easy tips, you can get funding for your biz that you don't have to pay back...ever. Below are some tips that I shared, take a look!
What ways have you used to create cash for your fashion brand? Comment below and let's share and keep the conversation going!
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