Things I learnt since I started my own fashion business | Justine LeconteOn October 15, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Hi, everyone! It’s Justine I receive more and more messages from you guys, and I can’t write back every time anymore. It’s just getting too much though I still read everything just like the comments under my videos. And there is one big topic that keeps coming. So I’d like to tackle it in today’s video. It’s about creating your own company. Ah, where do I start? (hehe) first question. How do I turn a creative hobby in to a job? How do I make it my..main job? I started already, I’m stagnating, I don’t know what to do next, what now? Or how to sell the stuff that I’m creating, that I’m making. All those questions… I don’t tackle that much on this channel I prefer to focus on the creative part cause that’s the part I prefer, and I feel that’s also the part that’s inspiring you to take on a creative hobby, or go chase your dream job, just like I did, but there’s a lot more to it, obviously, in the business part. It’s extremely important. At the end of the day I’m an entrepreneur, too. So today I’d like to share with you some bits and pieces of wisdom which I’ve learnt the hard way in the last two plus years of running my own business. I’d like this video to be motivating, but realistic …but motivating. Some might I say it’s common sense but I feel it’s useful to hear those things again and again on the way until it sticks. So let’s talk business. First, what is your story? You need to have a product that is…new, innovative, different, interesting in some way, and you need to tell people about it. Innovation can be the product itself if it’s something completely new. That’s ideal, obviously. But innovation can also be in the way you market, distribute, or even present the product. In my case it’s about the product itself. I use a knitted fabrics with body types in mind. I source and I produce exclusively in Europe, which means good comfort, good fit, high quality, and good ethics. When you buy clothes from me you know that the workers are paid a fair wage so it’s okay to pay more, and you know you getting top quality. That’s my pitch so to say, but the story only make senses if people hear the story. So I explain it everywhere. On my website, in the webshop, in interviews, in my newsletter. If you receive it you’ve seen that already. In social media, and even on YouTube even though it’s not the main purpose of my channel, but it’s important for people to know what I stand for, I think. Communicating your story is key, and you should be able to phrase that story for anyone, in just a few words like I did. Number two.. People are not waiting for you… you need to go find them. I think my clothes and my point of view are new and different and I think I can bring something fresh to the fashion industry, but fashion industry…wasn’t waiting for me. They have enough designers and labels out there already, and end consumers at the beginning dont even know that I exist, so that’s the big question: How do I reach all those people and tell them that I exist and what I stand for? That’s the crucial question that you need to ask your self very early on the process of building your own business. Do you know people, store owners, who are willing to sell your product, your clothes or anything else that you design? Do you know Instagrammers, PR agencies that you can pay to help you spread the word? If you can’t afford to pay people then maybe you need a co-founder, an associate, somebody who will take over the bussiness and sales aspects of the company while you’re creating…. whatever you selling. So one business person, one creative person. There is enough work for two people and many more, that’s for sure, but is it a deal and a compromise that you’re willing to make? It’s also shared risk, but it’s shared responsibility. Then do you wanna start with physical stores, or online or… another way? I started online because before design I had a background in marketing, and I felt I’d be better off building my own online shop rather than taking my collection from door to door and showing it to people who have no idea who I am haha, and who have never seen me before. Also, I felt that an online shop would be easier and faster to reach an international audience. In my case it’s all in English so anybody who speaks English can order no matter where he or she is living in this world…but is it also the right strategy for you? That’s something you need to decide Number three.. Find the “right level” of pressure. There are different ways to start a business; some people will buy a sewing machine, sew some things, sell them on Etsy or DaWanda then the bussiness will grow little by little, and at some point they can go full time. Bingo! Other people will find a sponsor, an investor, put their own money in, and go all in immediately from the beginning. You need to find a pace that’s right for you; the right proportion, the right investment of your money and your time within one week or one month. That still allows you to sleep at night without having second thoughts. And that pace is different for everyone I think. It depends on how risk averse or risk… friendly you are as a person. In my case, I borrowed money from the bank, and I quit my previous job to be able to focus on my business, but in fact I had a back up plan it sounds very risky, but if I failed I could go back to marketing, take on a job like I had before, and earn back the money that I had lost pretty quickly cause I earned good money in marketing. It made the risk much more manageble for me. So it depends on how much financial and time pressure you are willing to set for yourself. number four… How to know when to scale up – or down (things take time!) Before you start, and regularly afterwards you need to question what you’re doing. Is my product good? Is it still relevant? Am I still doing the right thing? Do people enjoy using it? Wearing it? etc.. Am I marketing my product in the best way I can, or is there still room for improvement somewhere? Looking at the way other people do things for instance. That’s very inspiring, or are there areas I should work more on to be able to get closer to success? Am I.. lacking behind in some areas? In my case, full disclosure: I need to spend much more time on building up distribution, and sourcing new suppliers. It’s something that’s not easy to do from Berlin because there’s no garment district in Berlin and only very loose network of suppliers. I should spend much more time on that. I am not doing it now. So should I scale up? Should I hire more people? Can those people produce enough extra sales to finance their own salaries within three months? Or not yet? And the other way around: if you feel that your costs are rising faster than your sales then you seriously need to rethink the way you doing things. Are you marketing to the right people? Are you addresing the right audience? Are you doing enough marketing? Do you have too high fixed costs? Is the bussiness model the issue? Is the product the issue? Is the distribution the issue? Or you just need to sell more which is the problem for most enterpreurs at the beginning, for doing the creative side and the bussiness side in one person. It’s really challenging, but you need to think about that and shift things up again. So getting used to doing that intellectual gymnastics is extremely helpful as an entrepreneur. Whatever you decide and no matter how fast you want to go creating and building up a company needs time and patience, and resilience. I suck at patience, haha but I am learning or I should say life is teaching me.. so I… learn 🙂 Number five… no one is good at everything – delegate You can’t be good at everything and that’s okay, it’s….. human hehehehehehe I can’t be a designer full time, and a sales person full time, and an accountant on top of it. When I design I don’t answer emails, I don’t go to events, I’m not dealing with orders, my phone is off I’m literally not there, and on the days when I deal with business I can’t come up with any great idea. It’s either or, and then on top of that there’s the accounting. I completely delegate the accounting. I pay a team of accountants, they check, they count whatever there is to count. They check all the bills, gather everything, and at the end they give me one final number that I need to file my taxes. I don’t deal with it, but it’s being dealt with. Because if you don’t file and pay your taxes on time, no matter which country you’re creating your business in your business will be shut down. It’s absolutely mandatory, but it doesnt have to be me hehehe Having proper accounting saves you more money and trouble than it costs you. I see it as investment in the existence of my company, and in my own peace of mind. And seeing it that way it’s not an expense, it’s a treat. I said this video would be common sense but you really need to check every now and then that you’re still on the right track so talk about it with as many people as possible, read entrepreneur blogs, magazines, go to entrepreneur networking events. You need all the input and the inspiration, especially if you’re starting alone as many entrepreneurs do, as I did because otherwise after the euphoria and the kick from the beginning. Once that has disappeared, you might feel you are entering into a tunnel, and you see no light at the end of the tunnel. If you know what I mean right now, if you feel this way right now then take a step back, do your sanity check, change what needs to be changed – maybe – and then, keep going. Creating a company, building it up, is not easy every day but it’s incredibly rewarding. That I can tell you! And you learn so much on the way that is worth the hassle. – hustle – hehehe Thumbs up if you enjoyed this video, and good luck in all your projects. Subscribe to my channel, and click on the bell so you get notified when I upload new videos every Wednesday and Sunday. Take care, bye bye !