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As a company that works with a huge number of emerging and establish fashion brands, we’ve seen both success stories and lethargic paths. Across all the multi-million-dollar young fashion brands, there are some common themes. Below is what we have seen firsthand through watching fashion brands’ journey and know these tips will expedite your path to making your first million:
1) Launch, then perfect
The 1st million is a counter, a sale at a time. And you cannot sell till you launch. Ruminating over the perfect product is delaying your chances to make money. Yes, you need to have a deliciously perfect product. But perfection happens over time, and collecting feedback from sales. Bite that bullet and for Chrissake go launch already!
2) Keep your supply chain in the United states
Trusting an entity you haven’t met in the far flung east with your entire supply chain and product is a horrible choice. Rapid pace to market is key for you as a young fashion brand, and you need control of product edits. The opportunity cost of losing time to market, and quality will cost you customers and $$s! An American supply chain is your path to millions.
3) Test, test and test
Don’t launch with just one product. Yes simplicity is key, but the filtering down to your core products can happen later once you gain feedback. You think you know but …you don’t always know what your star product will be. Start with a set of products rather, and make each in smaller quantities.
4) Sell on more channels
Are you selling on Amazon? No? Bad call. Yes your brand goal may be to be the next Ralph Lauren and you don’t want to dilute the brand by selling on Amazon, but let’s rethink those assumptions for a second. First, high end brands the like of Ralph Lauren sell on Amazon. The site is fast becoming a destination for brands of all price points, medium and high end ones. Second, with the kind of huge market amazon caters to, it would be sacrilege to not have a presence there atleast at the beginning. Sub brand and launch under a different name on amazon maybe. You can always kill your presence later. Pick 3-4 other channels not more (etsy for example), so you’re spreading your ability to gain different types of customers without diluting effort. Atleast at the beginning it could be the source of additional money and customer acquisitions.
5) Replenish your supply chain every 2 weeks. Smaller quantities, order more frequently
Stock as less inventory as you possibly can at any point in time. Build a relationship with a manufacturer where you can get smaller quantity product every 2 or 4 weeks, and where you can dynamically change volume distribution across products depending on how your demand is flowing every 2-week order cycle. At Suuchi Inc, we have an engagement model designed to cater to your demand flow: quicker re-orders and flexibility in order distribution. If your manufacturer is in China or India, this model will never work. You ordered 1000 units of product A, and now realize you need to launch product B and product C because these edited designs are what the customers wants. What to do with the unsold 1000 units of product A…?
6) You don’t have to get your customer pricing right at word GO
Correct, you don’t. Play with pricing and you can hence interact with different customers. We’ve seen a ton of brands strip expensive packaging for a cheaper selling price on wholesale channels/amazon. That’s another reason having different sales channels is a good thing. Play with pricing to get to data that helps answer 3 important questions for your 1st year, (a) which leads to the highest basket value, (2) what’s leading to the most units sold, and (3) which price leads to most new customers, and to most repeat customers?
7) Focus on revenues. Don’t break your head over margins on your 1st run
You cannot have revenues and high margins from the word go. Yes, it happens in some extreme cases of fairy tale blessed sparkle startups, but most fashion companies are only going to break even at best, or have negative margin in the first year. AND THAT IS OK! Distributing product varieties and ordering in smaller quantities is going to cost more per unit and erase margins, but you’ll build margin over time. Focus on gaining customers and revenue first.
Good luck in getting to that golden 1st million.
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