How To Start a Nigerian Fashion Business With Little or no Money.

In this hard economy, teaching someone how to fish, in this case, how to start a Nigerian fashion business, is the best gift you can give them. Hey, I don’t mean eja oh, I mean how to make money. So today, I come bearing gifts.

Hello everyone, eku Saturday, I am QueenBee as you already know, the Nigerian Author, fashionpreneur, relationship expert, and Slay Queen ( I just added this title, will tell you all about it in a later post).

Today on Fashion Hotspot with QueenBee, we will talk about starting a fashion business with little money.

You have probably heard many times, people telling you to own a business, build your own dreams and be your own boss. But no one tells you that starting a business is no easy task, and more daunting when you have no funding.

Getting an investor comes with its own attendant problems, and borrowing from the bank is never advisable. It is foolish to start a business with borrowed money.

So, you cannot get an investor, and borrowing from the bank is not advisable.

After graduating from the University in 2013, I was in a rush to be independent. Asking for allowance from my parents became uncomfortable, as I felt I was now a big girl who should take care of herself.

I come from a comfortable family, but my parents believed in graduating and getting a corporate job. They did not believe in starting a business or getting a skill for that matter (I have been able to change their mindset).

So, I had no money even though I wanted to start a business. But I had my passion for fashion and I had a scrapbook full of designs. I decided to start a fashion business regardless of insufficient funds, and Sleek Couture was birthed.

I will show you how to go about setting up a fashion business like I did, with little or no money.

What do you do?

First you need to understand the Nigerian Fashion business, and find out if it is the right business for you. Get this stamped in your mind. Running a fashion business requires 24 hours a day, and 7days a week commitment. There are no off days, especially in the early years of the business.

You see, the Nigerian fashion industry has evolved in recent times, and is a billion dollar industry at the moment. Pioneers like Deola Sagoe (she is my favorite, and my role model in the fashion industry), Zizi Cardow (since watching Lekki wives, I have fallen for her designs), Mai Atafo (he is quite the go-to designer), and Lisa Folawiyo, have set the pace for fashion entrepreneurship in Nigeria, so much that, everyone wants to be a fashionpreneur.

Nigerian Fashion
Deola Sagoe

 

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But the Nigerian fashion business goes beyond the clothes you see in the showrooms, on mannequins and on the runway.

There are four steps in the Nigerian fashion value chain, and each of these steps requires meticulousness, for a successful fashion business. They are;

1. Design and Development

This is where talented fashion designers draw out a design, make patterns, samples and even research textiles, and fabrics. If you are not a fashion designer, but still interested in the fashion business, you can either buy designs from fashion designers, or get someone to design for you.

2. Production and Supply Chain

This is where you send your designs to a production house, to manufacture them into clothes. At the early stages of this business, you might have to make low quantities of your design, and make it in-house, until when you can outsource to production houses.

3. Marketing & PR

So you have produced beautiful clothes, but who is going to buy them if no one knows about them? Advertising your fashion brand should not be a Herculean task in this digital age of social media. Take advantage of social platforms. But most importantly, build your email list. This is where your main market will come from.

PS: Need someone to hold you by the hand and lead you through the steps of creating and sustaining your email audience? Book a session here

For your marketing, please keep in mind that your customers include online and offline retailers, wholesalers and individuals. After expansion, you might have to get a brick and mortar store, e -commerce sites and so on. Just make sure you have a distribution channel in place, as this can make or mar your business.

The key to prospering in the Nigerian fashion business is carving your own niche. You cannot be doing all types of fashion at the beginning. You only expand into other niches, as you grow older in the business. This will help define your target customers.

Some niches in the Nigerian fashion industry include;

Nigerian Fashion
Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

1. Bridal Wears

2. Street Fashion (casuals such as denims, t-shirts etc)

3. Children and Babies Wear

4. Cultural/Native wears

5. Lingeries

6. Fashion accessories (jewelry, head wraps,  belts, hair pins  etc)

So quickly, let us see the steps to starting a fashion business with little cash. Read carefully and understand each of these steps, as they are very important in starting and running a fashion business.

 

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1.  Brand Name and Logo

There is no fashion brand without a name and a logo. This would help people recognize and identify with your fashion brand. Because you are cash trapped, you might not be able to get a graphic designer to design a logo for you.

In this case, you should bootstrap. Put your hands on a free graphic design course online (there are loads of it), and learn how to design your own logo. Again, you can use Canva. Canva is an android design app that comes with over 60k templates, including logos. All you need do is customise the already designed logo template of your choice.

Your logo should reflect your brand and also tell people about your business, just by looking at it.

2. Fashion Business Plan

So you have a name, and a pretty well thought out logo, but you cannot just go and make productions without a clear cut direction. You need a plan.

A business plan is like a road map from where you are, to where you want to be. It is the blueprint of your business, and you should do a thorough research before putting this together. You don’t just need a business plan when pitching to investors, you need it to help you run your business.

A good fashion business plan should include;

. Executive summary, which is a description of your business concept.
. Marketing/sales strategies and analysis
. Pricing
. Financial projection

3. Designing

You cannot have a fashion business without designs, unless you are in mainstream retailing, where you just get anything that goes from your supplier. Your designs must be unique, and reflect your ideals. It must also have a trademark that sets it apart from the other designs around. To craft designs that are both creative and unique, you need training in fashion designing. Otherwise, hire someone to design for you, or buy someone’s designs, and just tweak it to your taste.

4. Make a small batch of clothes

You cannot run a fashion business on no funds, and to get funds, you have to sell your clothes. Don’t be foolish, and go make 2000 units of production, when you don’t have a ready market for it. Even the big labels don’t make more than they can sell.

With a tailoring expertise, you can make a small batch of your designs, and sell to your customers. The more you sell, the more funds you have to re-invest into your business.

So what if you don’t have a tailoring expertise, and you don’t have enough money to get a manufacturer?

Take your designs to a manufacturing company in need of new customers, and give them your designs to make on credit. Negotiate terms with your manufacturer for a later payment plan. Many first time fashionpreneur do this.

But remember, don’t make more than you can sell.

5. Sell your clothes online

You don’t have money for a store, but you have the internet. Tell your friends about your clothing line, and make them your first customers.

Get a business page on Facebook and/or Instagram, and drive traffic to the page. If your designs are good and meet the market requirement, people will buy from you.

Ask friends and family to share your posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and anywhere your potential customers are.

The next important thing is to build your email list. You see what Jumia, Aliexpress, Amazon and other major online sellers do? They constantly send you updates of new products in their shop. You should not miss out on building that email list because,

1. It is the one place you will get major sales from

2. It is the one place your audience will always be.

You could wake up one morning and find that your social platforms have been deleted, suspended, or hacked. But this can never happen with your email list.

PS: Need someone to hold you by the hand and lead you through the steps of creating and sustaining your email audience? Book a session here

Like every business, there are risks. But with careful research, you can find ways to mitigate them. With determination, you will succeed, even with little or no money.

So, have you tried to start a Nigerian fashion business without funding? How did you cope? Were you successful? What challenges did you face? I will love you to share with us in the comments.

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About The Author

QueenBee Aurora is a writing coach, publisher, content creator, freelance writer, editor and fashionpreneur. See more of her at ToriesNg, where she shares amazing and inspirational stories. Check out her story on ToriesNg, Black Widow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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