10 Small Business Ideas in Garment Industry

I always write for garment industry professionals. And this one is not an exception. There is a tendency in young professionals to move out from day job and start something their own.

Having work experience in the garment industry, we primarily look for business opportunities within this industry. Keeping this thing in mind, I have shared some small business ideas that are related to the garment as product and some business ideas are services for the garment industry. 

Each business can be started in small scale. If you are on the same board you may be interested to hear something on small business ideas those are garment industry based.
Small scale garment business ideas
Small-scale garment business ideas

#1. Small-scale garment factory set-up

You can set up a small garment factory with your own tailoring or manufacturing experience. To scale production, you need to hire a few tailors and supporting staff. Make garments and sell finished garments to retailers or whole sellers in your city. You may select products such as school uniforms, ladies Kurtis, salwar-kameez, men’s shirt or make ladies blouses. You can also sell your designs on the e-commerce portals, like Amazon and Flipkart. Read this story of a manufacturing start-up.

To set-up a small-scale garment factory, first you need to decide the product or product group that you will be making in your factory. Next, prepare one project report – note down all kind of requirement for factory set-up. Here is a brief note you need to know for garment factory set-up.
  • You need sewing machines, fabric cutting machines, ironing and garment finishing equipment. Prepare a list of machines required and contact machinery suppliers for the price quote and purchase machines.
  • You need to set-up the infrastructure for the factory, lighting, water, material handling equipment, furnishers etc. 
  • You need space for factory set-up. While planning for space requirement, consider production processes, shop floor, office areas, sample showroom, pantry, warehouse etc.
  • You need to hire skilled manpower and need service providers
  • Need to source raw material, including fabrics, trims and accessories.
  • Prepare a business strategy and develop a customer base. 
  • Prepare the investment requirement and how would you arrange the fund for the business setup and factory running cost. For the fund, you can take a business loan from a bank. 
You can start a small business with a capital of 5 lakhs Indian Rupees. Initially, you need to invest in machines, factory shed, and employee wages. Normally garment operation cycle is 3-4 months. Factory running cost needs to be considered for that period. Industrial sewing machines are costly compared to black head sewing machines. So, you can start with the black head sewing machines with an electric motor to reduce capital investment. I have shared a machine mix of common apparel products for your reference. If you need additional guidance on small-scale business setup, contact us.

After setting up the garment factory you can do full package garment manufacturing or CMT manufacturing depending on your order and buyers.

Also Read: Business Plan for Garment Manufacturing Start-ups

#2. Sub-contracting business:

In garment sub-contract manufacturing, you need to set up a garment factory. Set up a small factory and do sub-contracting work (job-work) for export houses and domestic brands.

In buying seasons garment export houses book orders in excess quantity than their own production capacity. To complete those order on time they look for sub-contractors or job-workers. In this business you don’t need to handle buyers, don’t need to purchase raw materials. You need to collect cuttings from exporters and stitch garments. Some brands look for stitching, finishing to packing the garments.

In the sub-contract manufacturing, you just need to invest on machines, later you don’t need to invest on raw materials.

You can expand your job-work services and find an opportunity for getting orders from local retailers, and school uniform and office uniform sellers.

Read "Subcontracting Business Process in Garment Industry" to know more about subcontracting business process.

#3. Garment wholesale business

A garment wholesale business, source garment from different manufacturers and brands in volume. Later those are distributed and sold to garment stores. You can start garment wholesale business in your spare time. Source garments from manufacturing hubs and distribute those garments to shops in small cities. As you purchase goods in bulk quantity and directly from manufacturing hubs, you will have a good margin in this business. In India, Ludhiana and Tirupur are considered as knitwear manufacturing hub for all age groups. Kolkata is well-known for kids garments in the woven category. Delhi is well known for shirts and jeans for sourcing. Though there are many places from where you can source garment in bulk for your wholesale business.

For this business find garment manufacturing hubs for sourcing bulk garments and get the dealerships of some products and from brands. Once you get buyers, you can get garment manufactured from the job-workers.

#4. Open a clothing store

You can open a garment retail shop or an outlet in your small town or city, in a street corner or inside a mall in metros. If you chose this option, you need to plan your product group you will be primarily selling. You know there is a wide variety of product ranges and of the different price range. If you visit a market place in your city, you will find all shops are not selling the same apparel product ranges. Depending on your budget, and your interest, decide the product group. 

Small Clothing Business Ideas
Clothing store
From my observations, here is some product grouping you can consider for a clothing store.
  • Kids and Mom clothing products – All products range kids normally need and some regular products of the season-wise you need to change product sourcing.
  • Ladies products – Kurtis, Leggings, tops, dress, gown and more. 
  • Youths product range– T-shirt, casual shirts and jeans, shorts
  • Inner wear products – Sells all inner wear products of women and kinds, including night suits
  • Family shop – You can keep all product ranges of a family clothing requirement.
  • Knit wear products – store only sell knit wear products including inner wear and winter wear clothes.
  • Sarees – This is another product range where you can sell saree and include bridal collection, lehengas, and ladies’ suits.
  • You can take franchise of apparel brands. Where brands will supply you their products, you need to sell and get the commission.
Even you can start selling apparel products from your home. In the modern day, many women are doing business from home – like selling ladies clothing products including Kurtis, gown, salwar-kameez, and other wide range of products, selling Sarees, designer clothes. For this kid of business, you need to source good quality products and a variety of design those will be preferred by the prospective customer. You need to promote your business if you are doing business at home. Home based tailoring business.

Note: If you are considering opening a clothing store, learn about garment quality and customer demand in the selected product range. Buy only quality products and sale quality garments only. By selling quality products you can build trust with customers and retain your customers for the repeat purchase.

#5. Export surplus garments store

Export quality (international brands) garments at a low price are on demand now-a-days. In metro cities, most of the young generations want to look trendy and wear branded clothing, but they don’t want to spend much money in Brand’s retail shops. So, they look for export surplus garments. Therefore, opening an outlet for export rejected and surplus garments is a good and profitable business idea. If you are working or worked in past in garment manufacturing, you know that garment manufacturers make extra garments than the order quantity they get from buyers. Sometimes whole order gets rejected due to the quality issue or shipment delay. Purchase stock of surplus garments from factories and sale at attractive prices.

Though there is unethical practice in export surplus business, you should avoid doing an unethical business. I mean, many stores make garment locally using low quality fabrics and trims and attach brands labels. They sale those garments as an export surplus. But these are not the export surplus products what customers are interested to buy from such clothing stores.

From where you will get the surplus garment? Google for surplus garment dealers and agents. They can help you souring export-surplus garments.

#6. Printing and Embroidery Unit

Printing and embroidery are value added processes in garment manufacturing. In this fashion age, to make product trendy, the designer always add some colors and patches on their designs. Hence, excluding some basic product, all export orders include printing process or embroidery work or both. To set up Print and Embroidery machines inhouse garment manufacturing factories need to invest extra money for these machines. You need to hire staff and bear the maintenance cost. At the end, printing and embroidery machines capacity will not be utilized by them fully. Looking at all aspects, small-scale garment manufacturers don’t set-up in-house printing and embroidery machines.

Thus, it can be one good business opportunity in these value-added processes. You can fill up the gap and printing business. Start with flat-bed screen printing and later add the latest printing machines to scale up your business.

In the recent day’s digital textile printers getting more popularity. You can even setup printing business using a digital textile printer and do custom garment print services.

#7. Set-up a garment washing plant

Washing is required in various stages of garment manufacturing – fabric washing, various types of garment washing.

Secondly, buyers placed an order for washed garment, with different types of end looks and hand feels. Small exporters don’t have their own washing plant. You can look at this option as one of the business opportunities.

For a washing plant, you need to buy a washing machine, hydro extractor and tumble drier. Washing machines are available in the different capacity. You need to setup machine with variable capacity, considering that you will get washing job-work order of various volume and weight.

#8. Starting garment buying agency

An apparel buying agency works as an intermediator between the apparel brands and apparel manufacturers. They take orders from buyers and get the garment manufacturing done in a garment manufacturing. Depending on the product type, order volume, and buyer's vendor selection procedure, a buying agent selects their suppliers. There is no fixed rule for selecting a garment supplier. Bigger brands involved their team in vendor selection, while small retailers give all responsibilities of vendor selection and order sourcing to their sourcing agents.

If you are working as a merchandiser in an export a house or buying house for a few years, you might have developed a good relationship with your buyers. You have a good opportunity to contact with buyers, take the order and get manufactured garments from a factory. You can even set up product development and sampling room to attract more buyer and display a wide range of products.

You will be needed a small team to start a garment buying house. For this business, you need to contact buyers and show them your designs. At the same time, you need to develop a supplier base, who is eligible for making your design and order in your target cost. Check these important points to start a buying house.

#09. Starting a consultancy service

You might have built up your expertise and skills in some specific fields. If you have a passion in teaching others and can solve real life problems daily faced by garment factories, buyers and auxiliary business firms, you can start consultancy services.

Though at present consultancy services are not very popular in the apparel industry, in future factories will look for expert guidance -in the areas like cost reduction and factory performance improvement. Training of the production department to enhance employees’ skill – in merchandising, in industrial engineering, sewing operator training etc.

Other than doing full-time consultancy services, you can also do freelance consulting and provide your services to the needy businesses. The area of consultancy would completely depend on your area of expertise. For example, one can provide pattern making service, Techpack development, product designing service, souring raw materials etc.

#10. Custom T-shirt printing

The custom t-shirt printing business got popularity at the start of this decade. In custom print business, individual customers or a group of customers, design their own design and place t-shirt/polo shirt order online and get the printed t-shirt delivered at their home. This business opportunity is still there but it has saturated. There are some big players like Vista Print.

You can still start custom garment print business, you can find the gap and fill it by your innovative services. The custom t-shirt print service provider buys blank t-shirts in bulk and keeps as inventory. When they get an order with printing artwork, they print the selected garment (style, color and size). Printing can be done using a digital garment printer or a screen printer.

With the custom t-shirt business, you can also add custom embroidery services. Customers normally want embroidery for brand logo. A logo stitching machine can be used for custom logo embroidery. If the embroidery design size is bigger then you need to choose a computerised embroidery machine.

#11. E-commerce business

This one is an additional idea. The e-commerce business can be done in two ways – first starting your own label and selling your designs through your own website (e-commerce site). If you want to start small and you don’t have huge money, I would not advice to start an ecommerce platform for selling own designs online. Instead, you can purchase garments and sale those garments on Amazon, and Flipkart.

There few other ecommerce web-portals line Paytm, Shop Clues, Myntra. You can also consider selling your product through them. Yes, you can start your label and sell your products through this ecommerce platforms.

Conclusion

I have just explained 10 plus garment business ideas. You can start one out of those 10 business opportunities depending on your competency and business networking. Each business is profitable if you can create your customer base and specialization. Yes, there are many other kinds of business opportunities in the apparel supply chain. My objective is giving you an idea that will inspire you to explore more in starting a small scale business in the apparel sector.

Many entrepreneurs aspire for starting their own labels in some specific products. If you have similar dreams, go for that. For starting own label choose any apparel product.

Whatever business you start, you need to follow your country rule in starting a business. Here is I have shared a list of things you need to do to start your business. (Disclaimer: the list of legal documents for may very and this is not a complete list)
  • Give a name to your business. Company name and brand name can be the same or a different
  • Register your business. Registration can be as a proprietorship firm, partnership firm, a company, Private limited company. What kind of registration you need to do depend on some factor. Take guidance from a CA for the correct one. 
  • Open a current bank account, under your registered company name
  • Apply for PAN card
  • GST registration
  • Tax registration
  • If it is a factory in the commercial area, you may take the license for setting up business. Also, you need a various certificate from local authorities. 
  • For the business promotion and online address, register a domain. Get one website for your company.
Did I miss any idea that can be a business opportunity for a garment industry employee? As we are moving forward, new business opportunities are coming. Please add your valuable ideas in the following comment box.

To enrich knowledge of the newcomers in garment manufacturing, I have written a book titled Garment manufacturing: processes, practices and technology.
 Garment Manufacturing book
Book by Prasanta Sarkar
 If you want to know more about garment manufacturing processes and want to know how garment export houses work, I suggest you read this book. Click on the following book cover to learn more about the book.

Image credit: theideasmith.com, carynluxtondesign.com.au

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Online Clothing Study: 10 Small Business Ideas in Garment Industry
10 Small Business Ideas in Garment Industry
Small Scale Business ideas in garment industry. If you have passion in clothing products and have a dream to become an entrepreneur, you can choose one of the 10 business ideas to start with.
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