Turning Your Passion for Fashion into a Business

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Whether you’re planning on going the traditional route to a career in fashion, you’re bootstrapping a fashion startup from the ground up or a combination of the two, i.e., running a side hustle while studying/apprenticing, at some point, if you want to make your own money in the fashion industry, you’ll have to register and run a business.

What this means is that, along with finding a supplier like R&P Prints Canada for designing and printing shirts and sweaters or sourcing the perfect sewing machine for your tailoring & alterations service, you’ll also have to register your business with the CRA, market your business, decide on a platform(s) for selling your goods/services and much more.

The good news is, following the tips below can help can get you started on the right foot.

Always Start With a Plan

A building is only as solid as its foundation, and a well-thought-out and detailed business plan is the foundation for every business, big and small. In a nutshell, your business plan should cover why you’re starting this business (its purpose outside of making money, one that your customers can buy into), where you are now, where you want to go and how you will get there. Most business plans generally include:

  • Company objectives
  • A description of your industry and your company’s place in the market
  • SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
  • Your sales and marketing strategy
  • Day-to-day operations
  • Team/staff or network if you’re a one-person show
  • Current finances, financial needs and sources of potential financing

A business plan is the starting point for turning your business idea into a reality and shows you how viable it is at the moment.

Register Your Business

If you plan on designing and selling custom shirts or jewellery to generate an income, you’re legally required to report that income (but also your expenses) to the CRA. You may also have to register for a GST/HST account and start charging the tax if and when your sales exceed $30,000 in a calendar year.

But before you can do either of those things, you need to choose a business structure. There are three main types of businesses – sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations, each with its own pros and cons. Simply put:

  • A sole proprietorship requires the least amount of startup capital and has the least regulations to worry about. You report the business’s income, expenses, profits or losses on your personal tax return as the owner; owners assume full legal liability for their business operations and goods/services.
  • A partnership is also easy to register, and profits or losses are reported on each partner’s personal return. Partnerships also have unlimited legal liability, and control over the company may become disputed.
  • A corporation has more protections, including limited legal liability for board members and lower tax rates, but corporations are heavily regulated, expensive to organize and require the most record keeping.

If you plan on keeping your business as a side hustle, then sole proprietorship is probably the way to go. If, however, you want your business to grow and start taking on employees, you might want to speak to an accountant about incorporating.

Getting the Word Out

Another crucial function of every business is marketing. If you’re into fashion, you might already have an Instagram account for your fashion line/business. There are plenty of free online tools that suggest hashtags and show you monthly search volumes for them.

As for the content you our out on social media and your website, speaking to your target audience is crucial for every business, but the need to reach the right people with your marketing is more pronounced in fashion.

Make sure you’re posting regularly on the right platforms (where your audience hangs out) with the right message and that your content is helpful, inspirational or entertaining.