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Articles on designing your own custom merch, growing your brand, and managing manufacturing as a small business.

How to Start Your Own Clothing Line from Scratch

The key to launching a successful clothing line for custom apparel is getting off on the right foot. From choosing a manufacturing partner that meets your needs to getting your brand story just right, the whole process can feel a bit overwhelming. In a nutshell, it comes down to the five simple stages of starting your own clothing label from scratch.

1. Get Your Story Straight

The only way to create a marketing strategy for your new clothing label is to know who you’re talking to, what you’re trying to say, and how you’re going to say it differently than your competition. In essence, this is your brand narrative, upon which the rest of your marketing plan will rely.

Quick Tip: Create your brand narrative by considering your target market, your brand’s competitive advantage, your unique solution to a gap in the marketplace, and recent trends in the industry or segment you’re seeking to enter.

2. Design Your Unique Custom Apparel

In order to sell a product, you first have to make the product. Once you’ve finished your market research, taken a good long look at your competition, and found the exact product you want to take to market, it’s time to design your product.

Quick Tip: To save time and money, choose a full-service manufacturer that also offers design services, like The/Studio. That way you’ll be able to quickly and easily alter your designs depending on the substrate and can have a fast turnaround for new and expanded product lines.

3. Manufacture Your Custom Product

Now that the design is set and you’re sure it will please your customer base, it’s time to choose a manufacturer to partner with. When choosing a manufacturer, be sure to find options that are built for small or budding brands since they’ll have more of the services you need as you scale your business.

Quick Tip: Choose a manufacturer with low (or no!) minimum order requirements and quick turnaround times, so your brand can stay nimble and easily scalable as you grow your business in response to your customer feedback.

4. Make Connections & Promote

The product is ready, your website is made, your items are listed on your online retail channel of choice – now what? Promote! Network! Connect! Now is the time to tell everyone and anyone you know about your awesome product and ask them to share it around.

Quick Tip: Offering free samples to influencers is a good way to get people talking about your product, but don’t go overboard. If you decide to partner with an influencer, be sure they’re someone you trust being associated with your brand, and that they have the attention of your target audience.

5. Sell, Sell, Sell

You’ve got your product, you’ve marketed it, your brand narrative is getting your new custom apparel label lots of attention, but now it’s time to sell. Apparel marketplaces, trade shows, meetings with buyers, and e-commerce are all great options for a blooming clothing label and should all be packed into your sales strategy.

Quick Tip: As you’re starting out, you may have better luck getting your products into a small boutique than in a big name store. Don’t be afraid to hit the pavement at your favorite local shops and talk to them about how your brand fits with their clientele.

If you’re ready to start making your custom apparel products, check out Our Story, then contact us!




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