Starting a Fashion Business: The Basics
By Uduak Oduok
Stacey Estrella a Stanford University and Harvard MBA graduate; and current owner of her relatively new company, Estrella Couture, sat with TDINK to talk "FashionInk Business".
How did you start Estrella Couture?
SE: I started designing hand bags. A friend invested some money so I could start designing apparel and here we are. (laughs)
Where does a designer begin in the process of starting a fashion company?
SE: F irst, you need a business plan and strategy. Next, you have to be really honest with yourself about your motivations, your strengths and your weaknesses. You need to build a foundation that allows you the freedom to create.
That requires fundraising to cover your costs of living, collection development and sales. It also requires building a network of early customers that like your product and wear it well. However, when raising money--even from friends and family--don't ask for it UNLESS you know how you will spend it and how you will use it to add asset value to the company.
What are the critical questions a potential fashion company should ask?
SE: 1) Who is my customer? 2) What is their lifestyle? 3) What other brands do they shop? The answers to these questions will drive your decisions about brand, price, distribution and public relations.
This will also help you to define the customer experience. The creative process is not all about you. It's about providing a tangible, intriguing, provocative and rewarding experience for your customer. That experience becomes your brand.
What is your approach to building your fashion company?
SE: I'm first focused on establishing a sound base of creative and financial assets.