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Establishing yourself in the handmade fashion industry

Unique products and amazing designs

Fashion is a notoriously fickle business chewing up and spitting out many new designers. However, with careful thought and planning an accessories business can transcend fashion, especially if your products are unique with amazing design and made from the highest quality material and in the UK.

As with any business do your market research first and decide where your business will sit in the market:

  • Is it a new innovation or style?

OR

  • Do your designs, materials and creative skills set you head and shoulders above similar existing products?

This is your unique selling point (USP), it will be the reason why people will be tempted to buy your products. Try not to compete on price and try not to be too much of a slave to the prevailing fashion trends or seasonal colours.

Customers want to feel that they are getting good value for money, buying something useful and necessary but also special and even iconic. Source your materials carefully and to fit in with your USP. If it is about local or ethical, your materials must match your marketing, if it is high street fashion be prepared to change rapidly and fit in with the current trends.

Be passionate about your design and product. If possible, always wear your items and if budget allows let your friends and family wear them too. Take every opportunity to ‘show’ your offerings.

Don’t skimp on photography, make your product look fabulous and develop a brand personality. This works really well for online sales especially on the market sites like Etsy and Not On The High Street. If you are selling wholesale to shops, make sure they have plenty of information about you and your products and plenty of reasons to sell, the sales staff need to love your product as much as you do in order to sell it.

Use social media to its absolute limit. With fashion being so visual Instagram and Pinterest are perfect. Add a blog and Twitter feed talking about fashion or country pursuits but with a sneaky mention of your product and you will fast build up a database of potential customers.

With a limited marketing budget, social media can help your customers buy into your product. Drip feeding stories, pictures and scenarios, will make them devotee’s of your products.

Think hard about the price point you set. With handbags, for example, people do expect to pay a premium for handmade and unique bags, but it is a sensitive market and there is a lot of competition.

Your retail price should cover your raw material cost, the leather and trimmings, and overheads, your premises, electricity, your tools, but don’t forget to cost in your time and profit. If you spend 5 hours making a bag at a very conservative £5.00 per hour your bag is costing £25 before any materials or marketing. You may need to charge a lot to cover all costs. It’s a difficult balance and you can only price according to what the market will pay so longer-term look at alternative production methods and ways of keeping costs down.

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About The Author

By Fiona Davies

WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise)

More Information

Top tips when it comes to making it in the fashion industry: 

  • Pictures, pictures, pictures. Have lots of beautiful images in different surroundings and occasions and take every opportunity to show your items off
  • Talk to your customers even if you can’t see them. Create a story around your products and help them imagine
  • Keep your stock small initially and establish what works well with your market
  • Price for the market but make sure you still make a profit

 

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