Once I had decided starting my business was something I was ready for, and after I spent a few years at Fashion School learning the craft, I spent a long time researching.
I really believe after learning how to sew properly – this was one of the most beneficial things I did. For about six months I immersed myself in the lingerie world. I have a HUGE collection of magazines, hundreds of them. I spent many many hours flipping through these magazines and ripping out every page that featured lingerie, and anything else that caught my eye in regards to what I wanted my brand to be. Even looking through all those pieces of paper now it still shows my vision, a collage of what I want Hopeless to look like in the end.
As well as the overall look, I was looking at details of how things were put together, the stitches and cuts, and sketching as much as possible. I have books filled with ideas, and this is still something I do today. I can’t imagine ever being short of ideas because of how much ground I covered during those research months. I can take any of those sketches and adapt them to merge with all I have learnt since I started and a new idea comes to life.
I also spent A LOT of time on the internet. I studied every single lingerie brand I could find. Knowing what I was up against was and still is very important. I mostly looked at smaller boutique brands, but there is still a lot I can learn from the bigger mainstream brands. I did SWOT analyses of every brand I could find, learning from what they did well, and looking at what I could improve on. This went on to form part of my business plan.
The business plan is something else that needs to start taking shape at this stage. I have never studied business, I am not financially minded – but thanks to the internet I have taught myself how to improve those areas. I still have a long way to go, but I managed to put together a decent business plan that I still work with today. It is an ever evolving document but the vision and goals remain the same as they were when I started. The details are figured out as you go along, but having that document to always come back to is really important. There are tonnes of blogs and websites that can help you put a business plan together, and the great thing is there really are no rules – it is such a tailor made document you really can put anything in there you want. As long as it serves your business and guides you in the direction of your goal.
While putting together your business plan you need to decide on your niche. After researching all the brands in your industry you should be able to see what is already a saturated market, and avoid it. Your idea has to be something that few, if any others are doing. There is no point creating something that hundreds of other people are already selling. Find your point of difference, and stick to it.
If any other business owners are reading this – how did you go about getting started? I mean – before the sewing of actual samples!
And for those getting started – what else can you research to help you get ahead?