5 Expert Tricks to Succeed as a Fashion Startup on a Budget

Gone are the glory days when you could start a fashion brand, go to a few trade shows and have instant success. My father immigrated to the United States in 1968 and started his clothing company, which is still in business today. He is famous for his stories of the glory days in the 1980’s when he “would go to sleep and wake up with 5 purchase orders for tens of thousands of dollars.” He always says that the fashion start-ups of yesteryear would never survive if they started the same way today. In this new era of fast fashion and a vast digital landscape, it takes more than creative talent to be taken seriously as a fashion startup. Today’s competitive market demands that fashion brands impress buyers, editors and influencers, but it is hard to do when your budget is lean. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you are taken seriously as a fashion startup:

Have a professionally-created, high resolution logo

I can’t tell you how many new brands we’ve signed that send us logos that are not high resolution (300 DPI or greater). You will need your logo for a myriad of uses from printed presentations to large-scale signage for trade shows or events, so just having a web ready logo is not enough.

How to get it on a budget: If you have a logo that is not high resolution, you can hire a graphic designer to “vectorize” it to make it high res. You can find freelance graphic designers on sites like Guru.com or Odesk.com, even Fiverr.com. If you need a logo created, but have a tight budget, try one of the many competition based logo services like 99designs.com or reach out to local art students in your area.

Invest in gorgeous product and editorial photography

Photography is a critical element for any fashion company. Without good photography you won’t be able to convey the beauty of your product or service and will limit the amount of editorial coverage you can secure. If you have a product, make sure that you have high-resolution product stills of the collection not on a model along with some lifestyle images. If your fashion start up involves a service, make sure that you have strong images that convey the service you are providing. You can use some stock images, but make sure you have a few organic images that you created to capture your brand’s essence.

Photography is a critical element for any fashion company. Without good photography you won’t be able to convey the beauty of your product or service and will limit the amount of editorial coverage you can secure.

How to get it on a budget: For product images, you really need a professional who specializes in product photography. We recommend Photo Synthesis Photography to all of our clients because the photographer has over 20 years of experience in product photography and does excellent work with affordable pricing, in large part due to the fact that she has a home studio, so her overhead is lower than competitors. You can also search online to find other product photography companies using the search term “fashion product photography.” For fashion lifestyle images, sometimes you can negotiate with models, photographers and make-up artists for reduced rates in exchange for rights to use the images for their portfolios.

Create an attractive website with email capture & social media links

There is no excuse in today’s era not to have an attractive website that is functional. Stick with a simple, clean layout that is easy to navigate. Make sure that all of your links and navigation panel is fully functional and prominently display social media icons with links that work. If you have a shopping cart function, test it from various browsers to make sure customers can place an order to completion. Also, make sure that you have well-written copy on your website and no typos!

How to get it on a budget: Sites like Squarespace and Shopify (what the PR Couture shop is built on) allow you to create attractive websites that will meet the needs of most startups for fraction of the cost of hiring a web developer and designer. There are even designers and developers that can build a site for you using these platforms, which is less expensive than building a site from scratch and will allow you to make changes yourself in the future. For the copy on your website, PR Couture founder, Crosby Noricks offers a website copywriting service that is affordable and tailored to fashion brand’s needs.

Develop a digital linesheet or product/service profile documents

Having a PDF document that outlines your product or service offering in a well-designed, clean layout is key showing the world you are ready for business. There should be a cover page, background info, product or services offered with pricing and a contact page with email, phone number, website and social media handles listed. If you have it saved digitally as a PDF, you can always print copies as needed and you have the flexibility to enlarge the prints or bind them into a spiral presentation book.

How to get it on a budget: You can design something yourself that looks professional using PowerPoint or Pages (Mac) and convert it to PDF. Search online for other line sheets or product profile sheets to get ideas for layout and design and if you need to hire a graphic designer, try using a student in design school or learn the basics yourself.

Make sure your PR and social media efforts are on-point

You get one opportunity to show editors and the world how amazing your fashion start up is, so make sure whatever you put out there is worthy of your brand. Make sure that you have strong images, pricing and purchase details ironed out before you begin a PR campaign. Fashion is anchored in aesthetics and images, so if you don’t have gorgeous images for social media and clever copy, it is best to sit on the sidelines until you do.

You get one opportunity to show editors and the world how amazing your fashion start up is, so make sure whatever you put out there is worthy of your brand.

How to get it on a budget: If you can’t afford a full PR campaign, try to find an agency that accepts brands on a project basis. Our agency offers a small business PR package and hourly consulting for brands that want to do DIY PR and social media. PR Couture has a handy ebook, Pitch Perfect, that’s a great resource to learn how to manage your own PR campaign. You can also take online course to learn the basics like this one offered from RMIT Short Courses.

It’s not easy to be taken seriously as a fashion start up these days, but with a little ingenuity and putting forth a professional public image, there are no limits to where you can take things!

Photo Credit: Cedim News via Compfight cc

About This Author

Lori Riviere is the founder of The Riviere Agency, a boutique full service integrated marketing, PR, social media and events firm with offices in New York and Miami. She has worked with clients assisting them with sales, marketing, PR, social media and fashion show production. Her lifetime in the industry gives her a deep understanding of what it takes to build a successful brand. Lori has worked with top brands such Oscar de la Renta and Tory Burch as well start-ups and small businesses. She and her team also handle production and front of house PR for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week shows in New York and Miami. She has placed clients in major magazines both in the US and abroad, national television, radio, fashion blogs and major social media influencers as well as celebrity seeding. .