5 Rookie Mistakes to avoid when starting a Fashion Business

5 Rookie Mistakes to avoid when starting a Fashion Business

, iSo, you have creative ideas for your fashion brand and are looking to start a fashion business soon or might have already launched. If yes, that’s wonderful, but that stage you’re in is a delicate one.

An overwhelming number of fashion businesses fail during the first two years of operation, and roughly half of all of them don’t survive past the fifth year. These brands launch with so much enthusiasm and fire, but when you check back in a year or two, they seem like they’re barely surviving.

How do you successfully launch and grow? Here are 5 mistakes you should avoid when starting your fashion business.


1. Launching without learning, research & proper planning

I know you might be tempted to ‘wing it’ and start with whatever you think will be fast-selling, but that’s not the way to go about it. If you’re going to succeed in business, you need to do proper research and planning. Start by educating yourself about the fashion industry, learn about the creative, technical, and business side of fashion. Study other fashion businesses, find out where they excel, where they are lacking, and then you can now come up with a solid plan.


2. Trying to be for everyone

When it comes to business, you can’t please everyone, don’t even try to. Find out the gaps that exist in the market and select a niche. When you choose a target audience, make sure you stick to it. For instance, if you pick a large target market it won’t necessarily translate to more customers. You might have to spread yourself thin and under-deliver, so don’t be tempted to change your target market every three months because you think a different one is better.


3. Start too big

You don’t have to start with 30 styles, a professional photoshoot, or a big fancy store in Victoria Island, especially if all your money will be going into it. You need money to run and scale the business; if you expend all the money at the start, it will be hard to grow and scale the business.


4. Underpricing or overpricing your products

Pricing is a powerful yet overlooked pillar of every fashion business. Alot of new fashion business owners make the mistake of pricing their products too low, hoping to increase it after they get alot of customers. However, this plan usually backfires. You need to find the right price point, either by calculating or using a pricing tool. That is why, we created an affordable pricing calculator that does the job effectively.

It not only helps you know exactly how much to charge your customer but also enables you to analyze discounts, track expenses, and set targets for yourself. Awesome right?!


5. Failing to invest in marketing

The business world today isn’t what it was five years ago. There are thousands of fashion brands coming up with products just like you are. To reach your customers, you need to invest in marketing and brand awareness. They can’t find you where you are, that’s why you need to go to them. There are a variety of marketing strategies you can implement. You can try; influencer, affiliate, email, referral, and social media marketing. Pick anyone you think will be the right for your brand and get started. What other mistakes do you see new fashion business owners making? Let us know in the comments.


If you want to learn how to build and grow a successful fashion business, we have online fashion courses for you. 

How to Pay Yourself a Salary as a Small Business Owner & NOT Feel Guilty About It!

How to Pay Yourself a Salary as a Small Business Owner & NOT Feel Guilty About It!

Image from http://scoopak.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Salary-of-the-Month-Funny-HD-Wallpapers.jpg
I thought this picture was hilarious when I saw it.  But the reality for many of us business owners is not that funny.  Many of us are struggling to keep the business afloat that the last thing on our minds is getting paid at the end of the month!  
I personally dread month-ends – and I am sure every business owner does to.  In fact this is the only time I wish I was still working for obvious reasons.  That is when your bank account that you have struggled to build up during the month takes the hardest hit!  Can be pretty destabilizing.  And the worst thing is, it has to happen every month! ;-(  
And like there is nothing even more worse than the worst thing, YOU – the person who does most of the work does not get paid!  🙁 🙁 🙁
And even more worse than what is worse than the worst thing – you get accused by so-called business-people of dipping into the business funds to try and maintain your basic needs.  Yes can be quite frustrating right?!
NOW!  Don’t get me wrong…

Image from http://www.careerealism.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Negotiate-Salary-Without-Pricing-Yourself-Out-Of-The-Job.jpg
Many small business owners are guilty of that because many lack discipline.  Many fail to distinguish between personal funds and business funds.  Heck!  In fact many do not even have corporate bank accounts and those who do are not disciplined enough to ensure every inflow goes straight to the bank account.  No wonder at the end of the month, you have have no idea where all the money you made went to.
Anywayz… the time to pay salaries is coming up soon enough and yet again business owners will shortchange ourselves yet again.  Many have asked me this question and I have posted it in a Facebook group once so I thought I should post something on how to pay yourself a salary without feeling guilty at the end of the month.  
I have literally copied and pasted it (with of course some edits).  This worked for me in the early days and hopefully it will work for you as well. 
Image from http://www.centonomy.com/salary-does-it-work-for-you/
Here goes…
“On the personal / business finances, this is my take on it.

Many accuse business owners of dipping into the company’s purse but I can safely tell you it is the business that actually takes from you.
I put every dime I had into my business. If I wanted to be strict, I would say other sources should go to me directly not into my business. It does not work that way.  Those who say they never touched a dime probably had people footing other bills for them. 

This is what I tell people and my students who ask me for advice.

1. Every business income must go straight into the account. For that reason, I hardly take cash and ask people to pay directly into the account.

2. The truth is, you can never really pay yourself salary until you get to a point because you will only end up using it for a business expense.

3. Determine how much salary you think you deserve and then also give yourself a realistic nominal value based on what your business can afford. Eg. You are a CEO so maybe your salary should be n750k per month BUT your business can only afford N50k. That extra 700k should be recorded in the books as what your company is owing you which will help give a basis for the valuation of your business should you want to go limited and sell some shares.

4. With that 50k, you will probably still use some of it for the business so it is a tall order so this is what I do. 

I don’t spend much on myself so it is easy for me to track my finances. I have a book I record it in.

If I ask my assistant to get some petty cash for the office and say I ask him to buy me something to eat on the way back, I will record that expense as a personal one in my book. 

At the end of the month, I will compute all personal expenses and if it exceeds that 50k, I know next month, I must take out that extra.  Simply put, if I have overspent by say 20k the previous month, this means I can only do say 30k personal expense this month and vice versa. If I have not spent up to 50k, it means the office owes me but rather than take it as cash, I add to that 700k.

It takes a lot of discipline but it does work. That way you do not feel guilty when your salary pays for a sausage roll or a movie ticket. After all, why am I working if the business cannot meet my needs.

I am not talking about 250k Gucci bag needs o. I used to be a Jewellery person before but I don’t do much Jewellery anymore because I am running a lean means approach to everything. 

If I need something that I cannot afford, I ask for it. I will pray about it and put it on social media and funny enough, a friend obliges. That’s how I got my iPad mini as a wedding gift and so many other things I use in my business – things I would not have bought for myself.  I am never shy to ask if I need something.  Worst case scenario, I will get a NO.  

But I am allowed to enjoy the fruits of my hard labour. I feel if your business cannot meet your basic personal needs, then you are not running a business!”
That is what works for me!  Remember, DISCIPLINE is key!  You MUST go around with a pen and paper ALL THE TIME and do not say, oh I will update it later.  When you withdraw from the ATM, write it down in the book and state what exactly you use it for real time.  Whilst buying petrol, write it in.  Whilst on the bus, write it in.  You will be better off for it.
You can get something this small that costs N300 or so.  It needs to be small enough so it does not weigh down your bag.
And each page must have: Date / Description / Amount.  If yours is big enough, you can add vendor (i.e. who you gave the money to).  NOTE that this does not replace your company’s expense register.  You should reconcile this with the company’s.  I include both corporate and personal expenses in this one and do a reconciliation when I can.
Okay!  I think I am done with this!  Please feel free to ask questions if you have any and I will be happy to help you out – preferably in the comments section below.  It would be great if you help others out with your questions so everyone learns from it.  I often find people asking me questions privately and I wish they could post it on the site instead.
Before I leave… I think you should read this piece I stumbled upon when looking for a picture… 
I thought it made a lot of sense.
Enjoy the rest of the month and wish me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY in advance! 😀  
Fashion Business: How to Find Your Best Ideas

Fashion Business: How to Find Your Best Ideas

Great ideas come and go, often they come in unexpected moments of inspiration. But what do you do when you need to come up with fresh ideas? How do you jumpstart the ideation process?

Here are a few ways to open up your mind and get your creative juices flowing.⠀

1) Take a walk

A change of scenery will do you a lot of good. It’ll help stimulate your senses, decrease stress, get your blood flowing and before you know it you'll probably be able to generate creative ideas.⠀

Fun Fact: Einstein walked on the beach when he needed to work out complex problems.⠀

2) Socialize more

Go out, meet new people, attend events, talk to people in and outside your industry or strike up conversations with customers you’re familiar with.⠀

It’ll help you learn more, generate new ideas and refresh your perspective.⠀

3) Keep an Idea Journal

You can never really predict the exact moment when a great idea will come to you, that's why it is essential to have a journal where you can record them.⠀Write everything down! No matter how silly it may appear. It helps you remember and develop fresh ideas from past recorded ones.⠀

different transport

4) Travel

‘The more you travel, the more learned you are’ – this old saying has proven to be true. And it doesn't have to be outside the country either.  Travelling helps you generate new ideas, knowledge and gain insight previously unattainable.⠀

5) Try out market research

Market research can prove invaluable in generating new ideas. It’ll help you find out exactly what your target market wants, key services/products you should be offering and how to get ahead of the competition.⠀

The best ideas come to you when you’re taking a shower or randomly surfing the web.  For me, it will be when taking a shower, driving or praying.  And that’s okay! The important thing is to find what works for you.  But it's also key not to try tooooo hard.  All thoughts and ideas become elusive when you try too hard. 


One thing I have also noticed, at least I can speak for myself, is that the best eureka ideas come from your frustration and your pain points.  Think of something that really really upsets you!  A real nag for you and that could just be it!  

I have said this story too many times.  I went into fashion because I was tired of my tailor wrecking my clothes.  I said I would learn it and come back to teach her!  And that was it!  

My sister came up with an idea of a food app because she never understood what the ingredients on her food labels were.  And really that is how it is.   Your best ideas come to you when you least expect it!  So be prepared when they come!



I'm so happy today!!!!!  I just got this testimonial from one of the participants of our Creative Patternmaking & Origami Online Course and I have really been stoked!  Check out this testimonial!!!

Martwayne online course testiminial
Martwayne online course testiminial

As I said on Instagram, the greatest fear a teacher has is delivering on her promise to make students understand seemingly difficult tasks! Ad I am so glad for the validation that we delivered!!!!!  So really... I have always said... those who worry about online courses have never tried Martwayne Online Courses. You have nothing to fear!  We overdeliver!

Online Short Course in Sewing & Patternmaking

You really should try our online courses.  Check them out at this link.  We have the next online course coming up which is the Online Course in Sewing and Patternmaking. And you get 3 bonus courses instead of 2. It launches on the 1st of February and registration has started. You can register wherever you are in the world.  So check out our courses or you can chat me up on or WhatsApp 08143402567 to learn more.

Recommended Resources

Become a Top-Notch Fashion Designer with our Online & Physical Fashion Courses

Learn how to Sew or Perfect Your Skills in No time with our Online Short Course in Sewing & Patternmaking

Start & Run a Successful Fashion Business with our Fashion Entrepreneurship Course

About Me

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

A fashion entrepreneur passionate giving power through fashion by sharing knowledge guaranteed to help fashion lovers turn their love for fashion into a viable business.

Someone you know needs this article.  

Help them out by sharing this article on social media.

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Fashion Business: How to Use Freebies to Grow Your Business

Fashion Business: How to Use Freebies to Grow Your Business

One would think it is difficult to succeed as a bus⁣iness if they give out freebies. It seems counterproductive. How exactly do you make money by spending money? Although I am inclined to go the Biblical route using the 'give and you shall receive' principle in Luke 6: 38, it has also been proven in the business world that freebies actually grow your business. Here's how to do it.

1. Free Samples & Trials

free samples

Image from https://www.mysavings.com

Most people hesitate to try new businesses, but free samples or trials eliminate the fear, after all, the customer has nothing to lose. It also gets you free testimonials which you need to grow your business. Free samples and trials are a versatile marketing tool and you can use them as part of your branding, as a customer bonus, a kick-start for a new business or even sponsorship of an event.

What can you offer as a free sample?  

Well it all depends on what your company is selling.  If it's a product, you could offer a comparable item that costs cheaper so the customer can try out your product first before committing.  If it is a service, you can offer a free trial version or even a free 30-minute consulting for say, client consultations or visual merchandising.  If you make clothes, perhaps free sewing services if a client brings their fabric, if you have a clothing line or even a free dress. 

Complete Guide to Dart Manipulation Course

The first time I can recall was a freebie for the very first course we had on the e-learning portal.  It was the Complete Guide to Dart Manipulation and it was free for a limited period of time.  Now I knew even if we had charged for it, people would have paid because of our reputation.  We had done lots of paid courses in the past, even an online Fashion Entrepreneurship Course on Facebook then and had even used the e-learning portal for our in-house courses but this was the first time I was opening it up to the public. I needed to test the portal, get feedback on what I could do better and also test how people were open to learning online.  

It was more a learning process for me. And during the learning process, I felt it was unfair to let people part with their money so I threw it out there for free.  And got almost 500 registrations!  Way more than I could have imagined!  This alos confirmed one of my assumptions.

Martwayne testimonial on free dart manipulation course

Then I got free testimonials which validated the product and spread the word about Martwayne and the course even further.  These validations and testimonials made it easier for more people to register for the paid course. Now in comparison to those who eventually paid for the other course, it was wayyyyyy less but it set the pace for more online courses because I had the testimonials to show for it.  Now our Complete Guide to Dart Manipulation is a paid product available on Udemy or available for free with the purchase of another online course such as the:

-  Online Short Course in Sewing & Patternmaking; and  

- Creative Patternmaking & Origami Online Course.

The only thing advice I will give about offering freebies is to ensure you have have clearcut objectives you want to achieve and offer it to the right audience that will either become customers or can provide you the customers through word of mouth referrals.  

2. Give free gifts as a purchase bonus

Buy one get one free image

Banner Vector created by Starline - www.freepik.com

You can offer your customers a small but valuable gift to increase repeat purchases, add brand value, upsell and increase brand loyalty. It can be a surprise bonus or a free bonus with the purchase of another product.  Let me give you another example.

When we launched the the Creative Patternmaking & Origami Online Course, we offered 2 Bonus Courses and a discounted rate for Black Friday sales:

-  Complet​e Guide to Dart Manipulation course; and 

Clothing Design & Styling with Darts

We wanted to create a huge buzz around the Course and get enough people to register before the start date.  3 courses for the price of 1 and a discounted price was a great deal for the participants and even though it resulted in a loss for us, yet again, we weighed the benefits against the losses. 

The testimonials and word of mouth referrals will eventually net off the cost of offering the bonuses, which will eventually spur others to register for it.  Offering both courses for free, after weighing the costs and benefits, seemed a small price to pay and would give us the opportunity to share even more of our knowledge and leave the learners extremely happy.  

Martwayne testimonial online course

And we were right!  The testimonials went a long way in promoting our course and we got more registrations after the bonus was over.  

Both courses are now paid Udemy Courses, which of course Udemy offers at a discount.

They are, however still for free if you register for these courses:

-  Online Short Course in Sewing & Patternmaking; and  

Creative Patternmaking & Origami Online Course.

Online Short Course in Sewing & Patternmaking

My advice though, which applies to all freebies, is:

1.  Always do a cost-benefit analysis before adopting this method; and

2. Be careful. What you lose on the bonus gift ideally should not be equal to or higher than the product on sale even though the value can appear the same.

3. Host Giveaways


Source: Monsterinsights.com

Giveaways are a brilliant marketing strategy when done right because you get the customer to do all the work.  

So what is a giveaway?

“A promotional drawing where a prize is given away to a participant chosen from a pool of entries at random.

Artistically speaking, a giveaway is a fun way to grow your audience while giving back to your fans.”

To put it in context, think about all those Instagram posts that ask you to share or tag someone you know and "get this top for free".  Those are giveaways.  By giving away a product or service, you encourage people to pass the word on, spread your brand, merchandise and website through social media without paying a penny for it.  The objective of the giveaway must be clear and giveaways can help you capture leads at every point in the sales funnel.  I'll talk about sales funnel at a much later date.  As an entrepreneur, it is amazing the stuff you have to know and understand in order to make informed decisions about your business. 

You can use giveaways to create or increase leads and eventually the leads become sales.  Shortstack in its article "30 Promotional Giveaway Ideas that will Help Your Brand Cut Through the Noise" lists different objectives you might want to consider and which giveaway works for that objective.


Although freebies are an important marketing tactic, it is important not to giveaway too much and only run freebie campaigns from time to time.  There is a difference between a sales-driven company and a profit-driven company and if you do not understand the difference and are consumed only by making sales, you will literally run your company to the ground.

fashion entrepreneurship course flyer

Do you currently use freebie marketing? Do you think it's a great idea? Let's discuss in the comments.

Recommended Resources

Start or Run a Stronger Fashion Business

What is a Giveaway? - Rafflegator

The Psychology of Free and the Power of the Giveaway

Recommended Resources

The Psychology of Free: Does Giving Free Samples Increase Sales?

4 Creative Ways to Use Free Samples to Grow Your Business

The Science of Free Samples: How Freebies Can Keep Customers Coming Back For More

What is a Giveaway - EasyAcc

15 Steps for Creating a Successful Social Media Giveaway Contest

What is the Difference between a Competition and a Giveaway? (Or the Difference Between a Contest and a Sweepstake)

How to Do an Instagram Giveaway: Ideas and Tips

30 Promotional Giveaway Ideas That Will Help Your Brand Cut Through The Noise

10 Free Online Contest Software Options for Viral Giveaways

About Me

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

A fashion entrepreneur passionate about giving power through fashion by sharing knowledge

guaranteed to help fashion lovers turn their love for fashion into a viable business.

Someone you know needs this article.  

Help them out by sharing this article on social media.

To get notified about our articles, please sign up below:

Fashion Business: Do I Need to go to Fashion School to Succeed in the Industry?

Fashion Business: Do I Need to go to Fashion School to Succeed in the Industry?

That’s like asking if you need an education to succeed in life generally. But, I could also argue that many self-made billionaires either never went to school or dropped out of school. Cases in point: Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and also our very own Cosmas Maduka of Coscharis Motors…and the list goes on.

I know you could say well… those people are not in the fashion industry – or the fashion industry is different and a lot more complicated so I’ll bring it closer to home.   Ralph Lauren – yes you know him (many of us own at least one of those tops with a horse on it) – well… he never went to fashion school and also dropped out of business school. The last time I checked, he was worth about $6.5 billion according to Forbes in 2012 and I am sure he is worth a whole lot more now.

Ralph Lauren

Image from www.mrkoachman.com

So with these reference points, it kind of makes you wonder why you need to put yourself through so much stress and spend all that time and money to get the knowledge right?   Yes, I also asked myself that same question at some point until I realized that although these men may have dropped out of school, they opted for a different kind of learning environment. They got the relevant work experience and spent a long time at it as well.  Cosmas Maduka revealed how long he spent as an apprentice learning the nitty gritty and Ralph Lauren worked at a tie manufacturing company. So whilst it was not the conventional fashion school, they still learnt the ropes in a formal establishment.   Needless to say the learning would have been pretty unstructured since I doubt there would have been any form of proper curriculum to follow. So it would have been pretty much “on-the-job” training – which, by the way, you still need even if you go to fashion school!


graduation from fashion schol

My graduation from fashion school

So lest I digress, on the question of “to go to fashion school or not to go to fashion school?” here is my take on it. I’m listing just a few of the benefits of going to fashion school from the perspective of someone who attended one.


1)  First, we all know that to be the very best in any field, you NEED to learn the basics – especially if you are coming from a completely unrelated field. That foundation is key!


Attending a proper school gives you an in-depth knowledge of the processes and procedures and makes you extremely knowledgeable in the field. There is also some form of structure to what exactly you are learning as against work experience where you are learning on the job with no set curriculum. That way, you can properly plan your time and finances as well. Plus you tend to draw your customers in with your knowledge since they are convinced you know what you are doing.


Now don’t get me wrong, work experience is vital! You still need it! But I have found that the questions you ask during the work experience will be more channeled towards how to apply what you have learnt in school. Plus, things make more sense to you in a shorter period of time and you can also use the opportunity to learn other areas you may not have been exposed to in school. Which is why a lot of fashion schools include some form of internship during the programme.


2)  Fashion School changes your whole perspective of what fashion and the industry is really about.

Fashion Business Opportunity - Visual Merchandising

Like others, I thought fashion was all about designing great clothes and sewing them but after just one year in fashion school, I realized that was just a parochial view of what the industry had to offer. Anyone with a thorough knowledge of the industry will tell you that there are SO SO MANY business opportunities in the Industry over and above the real art of fashion design and manufacturing. Do you need school to learn that?! Well… no. But it does help you know about them and you do get to learn how to exploit those industries in a shorter period of time.

3)  Fashion School helps to shape your vision and further mould your idea into something more tangible.

Specialization in the fashion industry

It also helps you discover who you are as a designer. You may have started out with just an idea and no clearcut plan on how to achieve it but attending a fashion school helps to put that plan into better perspective. You also learn quickly enough what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can build on those strengths, work on those weaknesses and focus your energies on the areas you naturally gravitate towards.

4) Fashion School is a highly competitive environment. 

Fashion Courses at Martwayne Fashion School

You are in a classroom filled with a lot of talented people so it helps you up your game as well. Of course, everyone thinks they are the best. Well, that is only up to the point when you get into a learning environment and realize that someone else is better at what you thought you were the best at. Watching others also inspires you and pushes you to put in your best –and you definitely need that best when you eventually start off on your own.  PLUS it helps you know what others are really doing so you can add that extra touch to your work which will help you carve that niche for yourself when you start off.

5) Fashion School gives you an opportunity to create vital networks and also learn from others in a controlled environment. 

Your teachers and fellow students form part of that network which you will definitely need when starting your business. They are collaborators who you can always call on for help because of that bond created in that environment.


Well I usually stop at 5 but I’ll throw in an extra one – which to me is the most important.

6) Fashion School affords you the opportunity to make mistakes in a learning environment and learn from them.

Learn from your mistakes

Image from www.jagranjosh.com


More often than not, the stakes are much higher when you make those same mistakes in your business – mistakes you could have avoided if you had learnt about them in fashion school.  You will end up losing wayyyy more money when you start the business than if you had spent an even less amount investing in the knowledge.

I often tell people, fashion school is not just about learning, learning and learning. You have to test the principles that are being taught and apply them before you leave that environment. When you are in school, you can ask questions on what worked or did not work and your teachers are there to help out.

applied knowledge is power

PLUS, your customers encourage you and do not mind being your “guinea-pigs” or your mistakes when they know you are still learning. But once you are done learning and you project yourself as a full-fledged designer, that’s it. You clients become vicious and those mistakes can make or break your business before you even begin to crawl.

Great! I’m done! One thing is certain though – to succeed in any industry, you have to know a whole lot about that industry. Ralph Lauren and Cosmas Maduka certainly taught us that. I don’t think I would really have appreciated fashion as I do now if I had not attended fashion school. But I’m glad I did, and if you can attend one, you should.

knowledge is power

If you, however, cannot attend one now, don’t let it deter you. Start off with learning what you can learn now. There are so many great resources available on the internet which can help you start off. Start the research now, not later and don’t only focus on the art or the skill. Also learn about the business sides as well. 

Being a fashion designer is great but useless if you cannot make money from it – well except it’s a hobby to you.  But what I always say is, if you make something for yourself and someone likes it, the minute you make that same thing for someone else and accept money, even if it is just to buy the materials and fabric, that is the start of a business.  And we do know many people make a whole lot of money from their hobbies so why shouldn’t you?!  But that’s just how I think.

And how about you?! What’s your take on fashion school? Is it a a “yay” or a “nay”?! And if you did not go to fashion school, do tell us what you did to get you so far in your fashion business so we can also learn from your experiences.


Do leave your thoughts in the comment section below.  I'd love to hear from you. 



Recommended Resources

It's Finally Over!  My Graduation from Fashion School

Which Fashion Course is Right for You

Specialization in the Fashion Industry

What Makes Ralph Lauren Who He Is? 6 facts to know about him

2020 Top 20 Richest Fashion Designers with Net Worth in Millions and Billions (PS. Ralph Lauren is top of the list!)

The Man. The Myth. The Style Legend – Mr. Ralph Lauren

Debunking the Various Myths About Fashion Design & the Industry

Some Top Tips You Will Need To Know If You Wish To Pursue A Career As A Fashion Designer.

How Students can learn from their Mistakes: Must know these 7 tips

About Me

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

A fashion entrepreneur passionate giving power through fashion by sharing knowledge guaranteed to help fashion lovers turn their love for fashion into a viable business.

Someone you know needs this article.  

Help them out by sharing this article on social media.

To get notified about our articles, please sign up below:

Fashion Business: Tips for Starting Your Fashion Business on a Lean Budget

Fashion Business: Tips for Starting Your Fashion Business on a Lean Budget

Starting a fashion business with very little capital is very challenging, but it can be done.⁠  Sometimes having too much starting capital can be a bad thing, it gives the early illusion of success and leads to wasteful processes and business practices. ⁠

I remember when I first started out.  Many people believed in my vision and of course I had lots of support from friends and family who wanted to support my dream.  A year down the line, I was out of cash!  When I thought back to what I spent the money on, it seemed to be on things that did not directly relate to revenue. It was more about 'branding' - and I use the word very loosely.  I spent money on things that, in hindsight, did not seem to matter then such as having the perfect website, employing staff I did not need, spending money on business cards that cost so much but was never delivered and other things.  ​

broke and desperate

When I was about to start over, I cried to my parents for help (well not literally) and asked them not to give me the money but to loan me the money.  That was the best thing I could have done for myself.  And luckily for me, my parents were quite shrewd.  I had to pay the money back in instalments when it was due. 

It made me 'hustle' because I knew I had to pay back money at a certain time.  It made me think, strategize, spend money only when it was necessary and create new products and services.  Lucky for me, all the excess staff I had left for one reason or the other.  The interns went back to school, the Corps member completed her service, the tailor who was misbehaving then got suspended and never showed up at the end of his suspension, and little by little it all paid off.  I watched my costs like a hawk, spending money only when absolutely necessary, bargained like there was no tomorrow and learnt to prioritize my spending. Little by little, it all paid off.

start up with no money

By starting lean, you'll be more likely to maintain disciplined financial practices as your business grows. Here are six tips that’ll help you start your fashion business on a lean budget.⁠

1. Don't spend money without thinking about how that money is going to grow your business.⁠
2. Keep your business and personal account separate.⁠
3. Don't assume you have to buy everything for your business, rent or lease if possible.⁠
4. Hold off on opening a physical space unless you absolutely have to.⁠
5. Don’t hire unless absolutely necessary.⁠
6. Outsource.⁠


One other thing I would add is that financial help from friends and family does not have to be financial in nature.  You can ask for a donation of physical assets instead.  I remember when setting up the office, my father gave me some office chairs, 2 desks (which I thought was old-school then but looked absolutely fabulous when I ran out of cash) and he also gave me a generator which I really needed, my mother donated 2 ACs when she noticed I did not default on my repayments, my friend also donated an AC, I was vocal on Facebook about things I needed and people who had these gave them to me.  Money, at the end of the day is only useful for its intrinsic value so if I could get the things I needed, then chances of spending the money on things that did not really matter were really slim.

My advise to you is that if you're going to start with very little capital or start a business at all, you need to plan carefully and conserve all the cash you can.⁠  Cash is the lifeblood of every business.  Without it, your business will crumble because you will be unable to pay for goods, services or even your utility bills like electricity or staff salaries, if you have any.


Did you start your fashion business on a lean budget?  Share your experiences in the comment section, we’ll love to hear from you.⁠

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About Me

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

A fashion entrepreneur passionate giving power through fashion

by sharing knowledge guaranteed to help fashion lovers

turn their love for fashion into a viable business.

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