From Prototype to Profit: How to Turn Your Ideas into Products (Clothing Line)

We’ve all been hit with that one-in-a-million fashion idea. You’ve seen the next big thing in your mind, and now you’re ready to make it a reality. As a fashionable individual, you’re off to a good start. However, an idea alone isn’t enough to create a product. There’s a lot that goes into garment making no matter what type of clothing item you have in mind.

Product to profit
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You’ll need to become a mini-entrepreneur to go from idea to market. How do you take that idea from your thoughts alone and turn it into something worthy of buying? It will take hard work, dedication, and the willingness to think outside of the box. Are you ready to turn your idea into a reality? Follow these steps below.

1. Do Your Research

Believe it or not, a startling 42% of small businesses each year fail because there’s no market need for their product. Before you even begin, you need to make sure there’s actually a market looking for the product you want to design. If you have a need in your life that inspired your design, that’s great, but you want to make sure you aren’t the only one with that need.

The best way to do research in the fashion industry is to simply go shopping. Easy enough, right? Visit a few different stores and start researching. Talk to the salespeople, the owner, or the manager. Ask them what they like to buy for their store, and what they’re not able to find in the marketplace. Take notes and offer up your idea for feedback. 

Another option is to search for your idea on Google. Search for the problem you’re trying to solve. Are other’s looking for the same thing? Whether you’re trying to solve the lack of environmentally-friendly undergarments or clothing for women of a certain shape, so how many results you get. You want to make sure your niche isn’t already oversaturated with products.

2. Work on Your Prototype

In the fashion world, your prototype is also known as a sample. Once again, doing some research will help you with this part. See what similar designers are doing well so you can make note of these positives. If you wanted to create a product for dance students, for instance, looking into recital wear from Alexandra Costumes would be a good way to learn more about the types of samples you’d need.

There are a lot of different ways to go about creating your sample. The most expensive (and professional) is to work with a manufacturing company, most of which are located abroad. This usually means needing to purchase a large quantity in order to get samples so it might not be the best method depending on your budget.

The most affordable option is to start with a simple design. This can be a sketch of what you want to make. If you’re not comfortable sketching your own design, reach out to someone who can assist you. Fashion design students are a great resource, but you can also look at online resources like Fiverr or Upwork for a professional designer.

This sketch is how you’ll see if there’s actual interest in your product. Beyond that, you’ll need to make a more professional prototype. This will involve an industry pattern maker and a sample maker. These individuals know how to create prototypes designed for larger-scale production. Why shouldn’t you just use your local seamstress? While these sewing professionals might be great with one-off projects, they’re not usually familiar with how to create designs with future production in mind.

3. Raise Capital

Raising capital for your product production is your next step if you want to get your design from sample to ready-for-sale. By now you should have a strong understanding of who your product appeals to and how you can sell it effectively. Now you need money to make that happen. Luckily, there are a lot of capital sources today that are easy even for new entrepreneurs to make the most of.

The first option is to fund your own project. This works well if you have a large savings account or if you have a network of family and friends willing to pitch into your cause. Since we don’t all have our own resources to fall back on, another powerful option is crowdfunding. This allows you to gather funds by marketing online and reaching digital users. Popular crowdfunding platforms include IndieGoGo and Kickstarter.

Finally, consider taking out a business loan to fund the promotion of your business. You’ll need to talk with a financial counselor before proceeding with this method since it can be a large risk if you don’t have full confidence in your product. The best way to find affordable rates for small businesses and fashion startups is through a local credit union.

4. Begin Production

Now that you have enough funds, it’s time to start production. Ideally, you’ll also be confident in your ability to find a solid market for your product. You have two main options: produce locally in the USA or produce abroad. Many customers prefer to purchase products based in the USA, but these also will come with raised production costs. USA manufacturers might also have more flexibility with the number of products you’ll need to produce, while overseas companies likely will require mass production.

Consider your goals. How much product can you reasonably store? What’s your budget? These are the questions that will guide your production process. Here is the process flow of bulk apparel manufacturing that you can follow for your production process. If you decide to continue with production at home, ask around your local community for production recommendations. You might be able to create an in-house team of quality garment makers.

5. Marketing & Sales

Finally, your product has arrived and it’s ready to sell. In this day and age, the majority of buying and selling happens online. E-commerce is huge, especially in the fashion industry, and it’s easy to build your own website without much experience in the development space. It only takes a few minutes to set up a Shopify store with a professional design, and you can quickly begin accepting payments for your products.

Setting up your website is the easy part. Now you need to market your brand to attract customers. While word-of-mouth works with an in-person business, this is less effective when you’re selling online. That’s why social media influence is a must. Build social media profiles on the platforms where your fashion shines brightest. That means gaining a following on Instagram and Pinterest, at the minimum.

Reach out to social media leaders in your fashion niche and partner with them. Many times these influencers are willing to share your products in exchange for free product. These are vital relationships that gain your new brand exposure. Create stunning visuals that attract attention, and be sure to target your unique audience.

Marketing and sales take time. There’s no such thing as overnight success in most cases. Slow and steady really does with the race. Allow your brand the time to build its recognition within the market. Grow your following online and develop new ways to share your product with your audience.

From Idea to Profit

Your product is only worth what you’re able to put in. Many new designers make the mistake of thinking their idea alone is enough to get them far. As you can see from the steps above, you need to be diligent throughout your entire journey from start to finish.

If you believe in your product, don’t give up. As long as you’re careful, you can build something that truly works in today’s market. What are you waiting for? Your finished product is closer than you think.

This guest a post is written by Ashley Lipman. Ashley is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion in providing creative solutions for building brands online. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches.

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