When it comes to shopping for plus size clothing online, it oftentimes leads to a trade-off. Either you have to pick something trendy and flattering and spend a boatload of money on it, or you’re stuck with something poorly made and unflattering but within your price range. There almost never seems to be a win-win in this situation!
If you’re like us, you’ve probably found yourself kicking back and wondering after an unsuccessful day or afternoon of online window shopping – what if I started my own plus size clothing line? Just the thought alone is super exciting – the ability to design and make your own clothing that fits your sense of style and impeccable taste. It’s like making something absolutely perfect for yourself that you can actually share with the world.
But where on earth do you get started? How does this happy little daydream become a reality? If you have the passion, the drive and the lifetime of experience wading through the seemingly endless options of plus size clothing online, how do you apply it to start your own line?
Never fear – we’re going to lay out the basics of the basics here for you to help you to really decide if you’re ready and willing to make a break into this niche industry. Keep reading to discover how to start your own plus size clothing line.
STEP 1 – RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!
You may be rolling your eyes, thinking that this is obvious, but many, many businesswomen and businessmen often forget this essential first step. Even if you have grown up shopping plus size women’s clothing and think you have an understanding of the industry, this may only be one sided. Sure, you get the customer side of things, but what about the business side?
Do Some Online Window Shopping
Our favorite part of this whole process – online shopping – is at the forefront of the research portion. Take your time browsing different plus size websites from all over the industry, whether it’s targeted at teens, older women, trendier women – look at everything. Take notes on what you like about the website as well as what you don’t like.
Do Some Real Window Shopping
Another great resource for information is actually hitting up your local plus size clothing retailers! Going to the mall and browsing the selections while taking notes can help you get an idea of what you like and don’t like about these retailers and how you can apply it to your plus size clothing store.
Figure Out Where Your Business Will Fit
Once you’re done with your research, take some time to sit and think about it. Was there anything that was missing from the retailers you looked at? Is there a gap in the plus size world that you can totally fill with your unmatched sense of style? Once you identify where your business will fit and what you would like to do with it, it’s time for step 2.
STEP 2 – INVESTIGATION TIME
Now that you’ve figured out your niche, it’s time to move on to the more business-y aspect of things – licensing. You’ll need to take a deep dive into the business regulations and rules around licensing in your state and what you will need to do to get started. It may also be helpful to chat with local small business owners for guidance on how they got started with this process.
Here’s who you’ll need to talk to in order to get licensed:
- Your state’s department of licensing – step one in this process!
- The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) – scary, but necessary!
- Your local SBA (Small Business Association) – they’ll help point you in the right direction!
STEP 3 – GET DOWN TO BUSINESS
Now that you have your licensing in place and figured out what you want out of your plus size clothing brand, it’s time to figure out your business plan. How will you go about operating your plus size clothing line? How will you market and promote it? What exactly are you planning on selling? This is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, as it directly affects the overall success of your business immediately and down the line.
Now, many brand owners go into this step thinking – My only business plan is to make money. While this may be a great goal, it’s important to plan out how you’re going to get there. How much are you willing to spend on materials to create your clothing? How will you market it to the right customer and what will you spend to do so? How will you ship the product to the customer and make sure it reaches them? It’s always crucial to consider everything that goes into each part of what will eventually make your business truly successful.
If you’re feeling lost here, start small. Think about the end customer – who is she? How does she typically shop? What will we need to create this experience for her? Once you write her story and figure out what she needs in order to become a loyal customer, a business plan will begin to write itself.
And remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at this point – that’s totally normal! You can always reach out for guidance to your local SBA or another small business owner. They’ll more often than not be excited to help you out!
STEP 4 – GET STARTED ON SOURCING
Once you have your niche and licensing nailed down and have your business plan in place, it’s time for the fun part – sourcing! Now’s the time to get moving on finding everything and everyone that you need to actually get your brand moving and off the ground. This includes designers, wholesale retailers, tailors, patternmakers and more. It can also extend to other areas, such as finding a website designer, copywriter, customer service representative, social media manager, etc. Essentially, anything that you’re not doing yourself, you’ll need to outsource to the proper people to make sure that it all gets done (and gets done well!).
Make sure that you go into this process with a budget in place – after all, you don’t want to overspend and run out of money when you’ll eventually need it elsewhere!
STEP 5 – GET IT GOING (AND KEEP IT GOING)!
Once you have everything in place, it’s time to finally get your business going. Have fun with it – launch your brand, promote it how you want and watch all the women swoon over your amazing clothing line!
Just never forget – your business is always a work in progress. Don’t be afraid to continually go back and evaluate your progress and see if there’s any room for improvement. And once you have a loyal customer base, you can easily crowdsource this information, too! Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for feedback or if there’s anything they’d like to see from your brand. After all, they are your most valuable resource.
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