To be successful in the fashion industry you must live and breathe fashion, and possess great business acumen. If you yearn to be your own boss and crave the freedom of owning a business, you should research what viable opportunities there are in the fashion sector.
A buyer’s profile
To be successful in the fashion industry you need to have a great eye for detail, clothes sense and a passion for keeping on point with new trends and emerging designers. Competition is fierce in this sector, so you need to have a strong business plan and USP.
Qualifications in the fashion buying and marketing may be beneficial, however, you will also need to build up experience working within a clothes store or brand. Try to work yourself up to a managerial position; the skills you learn will be much needed when you buy a store.
You will need to have great management and leadership qualities if you plan to hire and train employees. Alternatively, you may be planning to run a web-based fashion business, in which case you will need excellent skills in building and maintaining your own website.
Finance and statistics
There are various government grants that can help entrepreneurs break into the fashion industry. Each state will have different funding schemes, for example, Starter Company Plus offer advice, support and information on government regulations for businesses in Ontario.
Once you’ve decided where your business will be based, you should check to see whether you are eligible for financial assistance. Speak to your accountant or business advisor to get more information on what private loans or government grants you could be eligible for.
Certain business propositions may also offer seller financing and training within the sale conditions; these may range from as little as CA$25,000, and up to CA$599,000 for a 30-year-old business. You should appoint a broker to mediate between yourself and the vendor.
What to look for in a business
A successful fashion store will have high turnover and profit margins, with an efficient, well-trained and reliable team of employees and a high number of regular customers. Ideally, the business should have a great high street presence, high footfall figures and attractive frontage.
The building should be structurally sound with no signs of damp or rot. Arrange for a survey to be carried out to detect any issues and calculate any potential renovation costs. Also, make sure any fixtures and fittings that are included within the sale are in good condition.
If you’re buying an online venture, you should know how to measure a website’s success rate taking into consideration traffic figures, web presence and marketing content. Find out what marketing plan is currently in place and consider the cost of attracting more customers.
Licences and permissions
BizPaL is the best online resource to help entrepreneurs determine what federal, territorial and municipal permits and licences you may need for your business. You should also consult the Government of Canada website to ensure you set up your business legitimately.
The type of business you own will also affect the licenses you need; for example, a retailer will need
different licenses compared to a clothes manufacturer. You should also familiarise yourself with the import regulations and requirements when sourcing stock internationally.
Most Canadian states will require a permit for any advertising signs, and you must ensure your plans comply with the local sign and zoning bylaws. It’s vital to know all this information before you buy a business to make sure you are operating on the right side of the law.
Is it right for you?
Working in the retail industry means that a lot of your busier trading times will be during weekends; you need to make sure you have a flexible lifestyle that can accommodate these unsociable hours. The business must be the main priority and will require all your attention.
You should be fully aware of the competition you face from online retail giants such as Amazon. They have changed the way we shop, with many customers preferring to buy online at their own convenience, and with the aid of reviews and faster postage options.
Make time to socialise with other fashionistas and industry specialists, they could prove invaluable in the future. Overall, you need to have the confidence, passion and know-how to run a successful fashion business and a USP that helps you stand out from the competition.