The perceived glamour and fun that is associated with the fashion industry makes many jump into this venture head first. While several successful businesses are born out of a consumer need for a product or the uniqueness offered by a brand, there are plenty of peaks and valleys on your fashion business journey.

We engaged in conversation with Nidhi Yadav, the Creative Head & Founder of AKS Clothings as she helps you understand the world of fashion, the niche challenges of the industry and how to strategise your business plan to make a mark. 

1. How to step into the fashion business with little capital investment?

A ‘fashion clothing business’ is truly a profitable business to venture into if you’re looking for some new low investment business ideas. The fashion segment has been on the rise in India and it has been projected to grow at a stable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.4% from 2018 to 2023. Of course, there are some failures, but those are a part of any business and one can perform well in this industry with proper planning.

If this is really just a shoestring idea, and you’re testing your designs on a small scale, you might not need a full-on business plan to get started. Watch out though, if your idea takes off, you’ll want to scale pretty quickly; so it makes sense to have a rough expansion plan at the ready. You never know – your idea might be so good that your business could skyrocket pretty quickly.

Bear in mind though, the fashion industry is notoriously difficult to predict. Things change with the blink of an eye. A trend that shows promise to stay for a long time could vanish without a trace and a new one could take its place out of the blue. Your plans, therefore, will need to be flexible and since there are no guarantees, you’ll have to be for any challenge that comes your way.

2. What research needs to be conducted before you start your own fashion business/brand?

Fashion and lifestyle industry is one of those industries that have seen rapid growth in the past, and have created an opportunity for many young entrepreneurs to enter into this space. For anything to go smoothly and in a structured way, one has to do thorough research before investing and thinking of starting a business. 

It is, however, important to understand that the biggest thing in the apparel industry is the ability to understand and meet the demands of the end consumer according to the changing trends in the market. In order to gain a permanent solution, the best way is to study forecasts and conceptualise new styles. Right from identifying your target customer and their needs to formulating a marketing and pricing strategy, thorough research is mandatory. Research not only gives you the idea but also a direction that you will follow for the years to come.

3. What is a solid fashion business plan and how to strategise the execution of your ideas?

Picture Credit: Yourstory.com

If you want to turn your creative vision into a fashion label, a well-researched business plan is what you need, and for that, you have to brainstorm your ideas and pave the way to success for your company. Points that can turn out to be game-changers would include –  firstly, knowing what your competitors are doing and with what approach. Secondly, what do you have to offer in the market which makes you unique? Not all research can be done behind a screen. It’s about doing the legwork; you need to go out and familiarise yourself with the ground reality of the market and to know about the people you are going to be dealing with on a day to day basis. Setting up small goals and working to achieve them can lead you to success.

4. How do you choose a target customer in India?

In India, we see a large market in the middle-income group of people. The target audience can be segregated from a market on the basis of needs, income, location, trends, age, lifestyle, hobbies, occupation etc. The process of identifying a target audience can vary according to the product or service that you are trying to sell. Then you have to present to the audience what you have to offer in a unique and interesting way.

A general way, however, is understanding the product better, what unique problem does it solve, and who are the people that might be experiencing that problem.

The brand needs to be analysed repeatedly both from a buyer’s perspective and a seller’s perspective. Once you are aware of your target audience or multiple target audiences, you need to organise the data in a smart and systematic manner.

5. Besides a website, which social media platforms should you target?

Social media platforms play a very important role in the growth of your business. India boasts more than 564 million internet users and almost all of them are signed up on the mainstream social media websites. Anyone who knows anything about marketing would tell you that the business is where the people are. And these social media platforms not only expand the horizon of your business to the customers but also develop among them a sense of personal connection with the brand. 

A social media platform can be used to connect with your customers to know what they feel about your product and you can get their feedback as well. That feedback would then help you to customise the product to better suit your target audience and as a result, you’d generate more sales. The best platforms for a clothing brand are Instagram and Facebook, as these two platforms are frequented by 90% of the population, comprising all age groups, preferences and types. So if you target these platforms and come up with a solid marketing strategy, you’d be able to generate serious business.

6. How to best utilise ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing for a fashion venture?

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM), also called the word of mouth advertising, is the social media era’s version of simple ‘word of mouth’. 

In today’s hyper-connected world, a single recommendation can have far-reaching consequences, leading to word of mouth marketing (WOMM) or word of mouth advertising strategies to capitalise on the opportunity. 

Statistics say that 92% of all consumers follow through on suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. So, a good way of marketing is to get in touch with influencers or bloggers as they share decent feedback of the product to the customers and make them use it.

Experimental clothing sometimes leaves the customers in a dilemma, as to whether they should buy it or not, and that’s where these mouth of word recommendations work well, as nobody wants to invest in something which is of no personal use.

7. With fashion businesses popping up exclusively on Instagram, how do you tackle competition?

We should always take competition in a healthy way; if we only talk about what other competitors in the market are doing, we would never be able to appreciate what we have in our creative mind or store. Instagram is a great platform which can give you good returns if used wisely. We should just try to stay loyal in serving the good quality products which we are showcasing in our posts on social media. Staying true to your customer will make them come back to your store for the next purchase. This is the most important mantra for success.

8. What would be the 5 things to remember when tapping into the e-commerce space?

Along with digitisation, e-commerce is also on the rise with improvements in logistics, infrastructure and convenient payment channels further accelerating its adoption. Not to mention that the current scenario has led to the early digitisation of a lot of industries and this could, in fact, turn out to be a blessing in disguise for these industries.

The digital world is an exciting place to be, with business owners starting their very own digital brands and competing in the digital marketplace. But it isn’t always easy to hit it big online. You have to know what some of the trade secrets are if you want to make it to the top.

  1. Give your customers a reason to come back to you for another purchase.
  2. Acknowledge their feedback and show your regular customers gratitude in the form of coupons and vouchers.
  3. Offer customer support, and answer their queries. 
  4. Get the pricing right.
  5. Be easy to find with the help of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) as it plays a vital role in the e-commerce business. If your website is difficult to find then how will it make good sales?