I spent most of last year putting my skills as a journalist and researcher to good use writing a book on Fashion Entrepreneurship. The idea behind the book titled 'Start-Up Your Fashion Label' was that it could democratise the aspiration of becoming a
Designer-Entrepreneur by covering every aspect of setting up a Fashion Label. It has been a real gratifying experience for me knowing that young designers, whether they are based in Dimapur or Delhi, Mumbai or Moradabad, will feel confident enough to embark on their fashion business after reading this book. So what did I learn from a year's worth of research and talking to top designers including JJ Valaya and Anita Dongre, who recently dressed Princess Kate on her trip to India? Read on.
- The future and the money lies in originality
With the influx of several cheap international ready-to-wear brands like Zara and H&M in our malls, there's no point aping Western designers. Couture king JJ Valaya, for instance, feels that more young designers will move to Indian and couture wear for this reason. But don't restrict yourself, you can design Western if that's where your heart lies, but understand the competition. Take inspiration from red-carpet favourite Elie Saab who never denies his Lebanese roots.
- You need some start-up capital from personal sources
Almost all the designers I interviewed for the book shared with me their struggles of raising capital. Be prepared to raise funds from family, friends and personal savings.
- Even after years of being in the business, money can be a struggle
Many of the designers I spoke to, even the established ones who've dressed major Bollywood Fashionistas like Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor moonlight as film costume designers, ad shoot stylists and so on. So don't quit your day job yet, and have an excellent business plan in place to tide over the difficult years. Incidentally, the longest chapter in the book is based on working out a solid business plan.
- Finding skilled workers can be tough but incredibly satisfying
Designers shared with us tales of scouring high and low for skilled karigars, master tailors etc. But for many of them the most gratifying aspect of being a Designer-Entrepreneur turned out to be employing people, paying them good salaries and watching their families flourish.
- Tapping into the e-commerce space breaks all barriers
Today, there's no barrier to where you can start your fashion business from. Setting up an e-commerce store literally takes a few minutes, and as Pernia Quereshi of Pernia's Pop-up fame, whose interview we feature in the book says, the only thing the online space looks for is talent, not where you're based, how much money you have or whether you have a fancy brick and mortar flagship store. So dream big!
Bonus Tip: Don't run a business too long without an accountant, hire one as soon as you can afford it.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)