5 Ways Fashion Designers Get Funding

When you’re a fresh-faced aspiring designer, you probably have ideas swirling around in your head with all the designs you’re wanting to try designing. You have the inspiration and probably are visioning yourself as being a highly successful designer on par with your favorite designers. The biggest problem you’re likely to run into is funding. You may not have the ease of finding big investors like a real estate investor would, but there are several ways to find funding to get your new business off the ground. 

Five ways fashion designers get funding are crowdfunding, asking around friends and family, utilizing sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe and small business grants or loans. You can also get a job working in fashion design to fund your brand. If all else fails, you can always start your business as an online boutique and build it up online. 

Asking Friends and Family

5 Ways Fashion Designers Get Funding

This may seem like a way to really annoy your friends or family, but if you have friends or family who have money to invest, and they love your designs that can help you find the funding. It’s not the same as going to your dad and asking to borrow money for gas or food. Take your portfolio and give a presentation as though you’re talking to a major funder to show how serious you are about your fashion brand and how much you respect the person you’re asking. 

Remember that some people have problems with lending family or friends’ money and even if they find your brand a good idea, they won’t lend you the money on principle. Don’t go into a meeting with someone you’re close to feeling entitled to their money and don’t take it personal if they don’t give you the money you’re asking for. 

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You can also ask total strangers on the internet for funding help. This involves creating a profile on a site like Kickstarter (GoFundMe is another option, but most people use it for medical bills or emergencies, Kickstarter is made for creative projects). You can share with your social networks, friends and family as well as reach anyone who happens to run across your profile. 

In order to create a great profile that will make people want to donate, you need a well written story about how your brand started, list any credentials you may have gotten over the years, include pictures of your products and make sure everything looks professional. 

You may also want to include gifts you will give to people who give you certain amounts- free products, VIP status for major sales, etc. 

You set up your profile and set a launch date- once you get to the launch, there is a certain amount of time you can set to reach your goal. Remember with most crowdfunding, social presence is important. Try to get as many of your followers and friends/family to share with their followers on each social site and make sure you use hash tags and public posts. If you don’t reach your goal, there is a chance (with most crowdfunding sites) you won’t get anything- so it’s best to set small goals and aim higher. 

Small Business Grants and Loans

There are banks that will loan money to new businesses. There are also grants available to some business owners. The best bet is to look up the ones available in your area and see how to qualify. Some grants are held as contests, and some are merit or minority based. (Specifically for women, minority races, other less represented groups, etc). Don’t just use the SBA’s website, although that’s a good start. You will want to check out nonprofits as well as online (legitimate) contests. If you find contests online, make sure to research and make sure they are legitimate. 

If you want to go the route of getting a loan out, you want to make sure you’re able to prove your business to the bank. Banks tend to be more selective and may not approve a fashion brand that hasn’t had the chance to prove itself yet. 

If you want the banks to take you seriously, you want to get as many pictures together as you can of your products. Show the quality of the products, create a very professional business plan and do market research to prove there is a market for your product. You want them to know you are here to stay and aren’t going to go out of business after just a couple months or a year. 

Once you set up your appointment, you may want to take a couple samples of your sewing (if you’re trying to start a homemade fashion line and do the sewing yourself) so they can see the quality of your stitching. Remember to dress the part when you meet with them. You want to look professional, if possible, wear something you made or are wanting to stock in your line. That will show that you have faith in your own clothing and are willing to wear your own stuff yourself. 

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Get a Day Job to Fund your Business

5 Ways Fashion Designers Get Funding

If you can’t get a loan or don’t want to get a loan you will have to pay back, there are positions you can get in the fashion industry that will give you connections as well as experience. You can get jobs working as a ghost designer, working as a designer under a bigger brand or even a part time job working in a clothing retailer. If you work for a clothing retailer, you can see how they set up displays and how they merchandise their products. It can give you a leg up on how to display when you open your own store. If you don’t need the income from the part time job, it can go into a savings account to pay for the things you will need to get started. 

If all else fails and you cannot get funding from any of the ways mentioned, you can start your business online. When a business is hosted one hundred percent online, it’s cheaper. You will want a good website, quality photos and you will need to study up on terms like SEO and maybe take a couple free courses in business and marketing (can be free online, major universities offer free courses online on some websites). If you choose to go the online boutique route, you can choose a website like Etsy (if you make the clothing yourself), Amazon, eBay, Shopify or even go with WordPress. WordPress and Shopify give you more control and you are in charge of everything, but Etsy, eBay and Amazon bring in traffic. 

When you sell online, it can build up the money and the brand image in order to move to a brick-and-mortar store. You will also reach more people when you go online because you can reach any country that the site allows. Make sure you pay close attention to shipping costs and processing times. 

There are tons of resources available on YouTube and other sites for starting an online business, and a lot of books you can read to help with everything from setting up, photography, marketing and SEO. You can also sell off your own website or start a fashion blog. This may not be an overnight success, but with time and dedication you will build up a following and find that people are interested- or not. It’s also a good way to test how much interest is in the types of fashion you’re choosing to sell and you can tweak everything before committing to a physical location. 

Just because you are wanting to start up a business with little to no money up front doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do it. Even if all funding fails, you still have options if you know where to turn. You may not find a billionaire investor who will give you the full funds to create a full fashion line or you may not be able to partner with someone to create a huge line like a celebrity does, but with the right combination of efforts and the right dedication (along with a quality product and good customer service, you will find that you’re able to get your feet off the ground. You may even find yourself able to hit the ground running. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Should I open my fashion design business in person or online? 

The best way to sell fashion is to sell in person. Most people prefer feeling the fabric and trying clothing on in person. Impulses are better in person as well- you’re much more likely to buy extra accessories or another shirt if you pass it while walking to the cash register. 

If you find that you have to start online, do your best to describe the fit and feel of the clothing well enough for people to understand the exact fit and feel of the clothes. Quality photos from all angles are also a must when it comes to selling clothing, preferably on a human instead of flat. 

To learn more on how to plan your own fashion designer business click here!

Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.