How To Turn Your Craft Skills into a Thriving Fashion Business in 2019
Samantha Richards of Gazeboshop, specialists in gazebos and mini marquees for vintage fairs and pop-up fashion stalls
“You should sell these and start a business!” your friends and family exclaim when they see the newest piece of clothing, jewellery or accessories that you have handmade. And perhaps they are right. In a world where it has never been easier to set up an online store, now is the perfect time to turn your crafts passion into a flourishing fashion business.
Perhaps you already knew this. Maybe you already have an Etsy or Depop account and are wondering how to take things to the next level? If so, read on for our recommendations to capitalise on your crafts skills:
Find your niche
Brands such as Elsie & Fred have profited and made names for themselves by finding their niche in eccentric festival wear. Mother-daughter duo of The Design Studio Hawarden are a great example of this. Their focus on handmade and one-of-a-kind faux fur jackets and accessories has allowed them to have a strong unique selling point along with a distinctive brand image.
Rather than being a ‘jack of all trades’ brand that caters to every single trend and occasion, try to find a category that your brand can specialise in. By achieving this, your small fashion craft business can focus on designing and producing a capsule collection of pieces with a clear brand image in mind. Not only will this be positive for your bottom line and workload, but it also means that you can be sure that your production is ethical with less waste.
Adopt trends faster than the big brands
It seems like an obvious recommendation to keep an eye on trends if you want your fashion business to succeed. However, entrepreneurial and keen crafters have the advantage of working for themselves. Meaning that once they see a burgeoning trend on the horizon that they want to exploit, it does not need approval or communication up and down the supply chain before their pieces are ready for the consumer.
When maximalist hair clips and hair bands made their revival this year, fast fashion ecommerce retailers and high street alike were slow to adopt. In turn, many digitally-savvy consumers turned to eBay and Etsy stockists to get their fix of oversized diamante’ and pearl hair clips. All it takes is one recommendation from a friend, blogger or influencer for one shop on these platforms to jump miles ahead of the rest.
Keep an eye on trends that crop up during Fashion Weeks to preempt what will be topical during their season and consider how you can incorporate this into your craft offering. If in doubt, many platforms such as WGSN provide insights into trends well ahead of the curve in a concise, easy to use manner too.
Gather a tribe of loyal influencers
According to Mintel, over a third of millennial women say that social media is a top influencer for clothing purchases. Whilst this is not news, it demonstrates the shift in power that the fashion industry (like many others) is experiencing. Brands used to have to solely focus on fostering relationships with big publications, in order to gain exposure in front of their target audience – something that came easy to big fashion houses and high street names. Now thanks to influencers and the power they harness, small fashion craft businesses can increase their exposure in front of their target market without having to engage in traditional PR with fashion editors.
When you are an up-and-coming fashion craft business, micro-influencers are the way to go. Unlike the most famous influencers who have millions of followers and charge a significant amount per post, micro-influencers are ordinary people who will have anywhere between 1-20k loyal, but highly engaged followers. Reach out to these micro-influencers within your niche and offer them samples of your products in exchange for exposure.
Once you have included these ideas into your up-and-coming fashion startup, it will become second nature. When you find your niche, it will be easier to determine what you can feasibly produce within your craft skills. Keeping an eye on trends will become as simple as flicking through Vogue’s Catwalk roundups or Instagram’s Explore page. The micro-influencers that you have fostered great relationships with, and are currently showcasing your pieces on their socials may well have millions of followers in a few months. Aside from all this, it is important to not lose sight of why you started your fashion business in the first place. As long as you still feel the same passion for your craft skill that you did – then that is a success in itself.