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  • Writer's pictureMikelle Drew

If you're starting a clothing brand, you NEED a strategy!

If you're starting a clothing brand, you need a strategy!
If you're starting a clothing brand, you need a strategy!

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One of the reasons many fashion creatives struggle with their fashion businesses is that they focus a lot on the CREATIVE side but not on the BUSINESS side, and it’s the reason we started our fashion business competition From Pencil to Production.

And strategy is part of that “business side” that many fashion entrepreneurs are not clear on and don’t spend enough time getting clear on.

They know they want to be an entrepreneur, they know they want to start this brand, but they haven’t thought enough about how to do it.

Now, don’t get too caught up in “HOW”.

HOW can be paralyzing and is often the reason why people do nothing.

Quote by Ricky Gervais
No one else know what they're doing either!

I posted a quote several months ago by Ricky Gervais. It said, “The greatest bit of advice I ever received was ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.”


We’re all here figuring it out on the spot. But we’re not just throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. There is some thought and research and strategy behind the moves we make.

Remember when you learned about a HYPOTHESIS in science class?

Our definition was that it was an educated guess, meaning all signs and previous research point to your belief being right, but you still have to test it out to PROVE you’re right.

I often think of being an entrepreneur and having your own business as one big hypothesis. If, after you test it, your hypothesis is correct, you see success. If it’s not, you don’t see success.

Something that people don’t really talk about (but should understand) is that when it comes to starting your clothing brand, you don’t have to have it all figured out. In fact, most likely, you WON’T have it all figured out.

BUT, you should have done some research, have some educated guesses, and have a strategy so when you go out to sell your product and test your hypothesis, you’ve minimized the risk as much as you can.


Clarity is something I talk about a lot on this channel because it’s super important when you are conveying the details of your design, your vision to whomever is going to help you execute it. So we often talk about that in terms of a detailed flat sketch and a tech pack.

But when it comes to clarity in your business, that implies that you’ve really thought about, researched and decided who you serve, what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to do it. And that clarity minimizes the risk: this is what makes what you’re about to embark on an EDUCATED guess, not just a guess. And knowing that there’s a plan and strategy helps you function, helps you sleep at night.

It’s like trying to drive to someplace you’ve never been without a roadmap. But once you turn on that GPS app on your phone and put in the address of where you’re going, now you’ve got a clear direction on how to get there.

Car dashboard with a phone attached showing GPS map.
Your strategy is like your GPS, providing a roadmap to your business success.

And what happens when you take a wrong turn. It doesn’t say, “Awww, I’m done. You just made a wrong turn.” Nah! . . . it re-routes you. It may add a few more minutes onto the trip, but you’re still on the path to get there.

So in that same vein, take some time and get clear on those key things:

  • what’s your mission,

  • what’s your story,

  • who are you serving,

  • what are you creating, and

  • how are you selling it?

And that’s not to say that any of those things may not evolve. One of the first things that will probably evolve is who you are serving (your customer), especially once you start selling your product and you see who’s ACTUALLY buying it.

But regardless, you should have a game plan when you’re ready to start.

The Strategy

I want to stress that you don’t need to overcomplicate things. And I know what happens sometimes is we’ll simplify and then look at this simple plan and think, “It can’t be that simple. I’m missing something.”

Actually, friend, you’re not! It CAN be that simple. WE, humans, tend to overcomplicate things, and I invite you to STOP.

Hot pink overlay on a picture of african american woman holding her hand out to indicate "stop"
Stop overcomplicating you fashion business.

And especially now, when you’re starting the business, your idea hasn’t been proven, you don’t even know yet if you like working for yourself, don’t overcomplicate the strategy.

  • Pick some goals: that could be I want to sell 4 dresses this month.

  • Decide how you’re going to do that: make phone calls to your ideal customer (which nobody likes to do, including me, but on the low, is one of THE most effective sales tools, just sayin’),

  • Sell at flea markets, set up and MARKET your e-commerce site.

  • And then, make sure you have some way and schedule to track your progress so you’re not constantly selling at a particular flea market, but no one ever buys. (Survey says you should probably stop going there and find another place to sell.)

Again, don’t overcomplicate this. Keep it simple, and just make sure YOU can be consistent. Also, keep in mind, you’re not going to see results in a day or a week, possibly not even a month, so make sure you give yourself some time to see if your strategy is working.

I know, you just want to focus on the creative. Trust me, I understand. That’s a luxury you’re only afforded when you’re working for someone else.

Or when you get your business to the point where you can hire a team. But even then, you have to check in sometimes. It is your business!

But the exciting part is that when the strategy is working and things start clicking on all cylinders, you as the owner, reap the majority of the benefits including more money, more time, and the satisfaction of knowing that your hypothesis was correct!

If you need some business tips on how to start your clothing brand, check out our informative (and entertaining;) fashion business competition show From Pencil to Production.


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