Why doesn't someone tell you that the first 12 months will be rough?
Last week I visited the Life Instyle trade fair with my client Robyn and had some great conversations with designers who were exhibiting for the very first time. Whilst most of the chats were full of excitement and positivity, Kat, a children’s wear designer of two years, raised a point of frustration. She asked Robyn how her first 12 months had been to which Robyn replied “well it wasn’t easy”. Kat then responded in angst “why doesn't someone tell you the first 12 months are rough?!”
This opinion immediately resonated with me and I’m glad Kat wanted to highlight it. As a mentor to start up fashion business owners I’m obliged to be completely honest with my clients and inform them that they can expect the first 12-18 months to be the toughest.
Most of your first twelve months will be about setting up shop from scratch. You will do everything from getting to know your target market, test your idea with anyone and everyone, create samples of your designs, secure your manufacturing partners, develop your e-commerce platform and much, much more. Plus all of this needs to be planned out correctly and paid for - yes, you will need also need a budget!
This first year may sound overwhelming and, to Kat’s point, “rough”, but you can totally make it through if you surround yourself with the right support team starting with a good industry mentor who can act as a voice of reason, validate your thoughts and ideas throughout your journey, and help you to plan and manage your workload to ensure your great idea becomes a successful business.