CEO Advice Startup

10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Starting a Fashion Business

10 Reasons You Shouldn't Be Starting a Fashion Business

Launching and running a fashion business is a lot of work. Are you cut out for the job?

That’s right – these are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t be starting a fashion business. It looks like a lot of fun and glamour – but in reality – fashion is tough. You have to enter the industry with a set of specific traits, ready and willing to do the work.

Use this as a guide to assess who you are and how you’re willing to work. Not everyone will be a good business owner. Not everything needs to be monetized. And you don’t need to profit from all your hobbies. Designing for your own pleasure may be all that you need…

1. You Don’t Know How You’re Going to Fund It.

Don’t start a fashion business if you don’t know how you’re going to fund it. It’s not that you need to have the money ready. You need to know about funding, have access to capital or know who is going to give you the money. Some designers use their day jobs working for other brands to finance lines of their own. The Monse designers we highlighted in our SR50 list of emerging brands come to mind. Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia are the co-creative directors of Oscar de la Renta, and recently launched this up-and-coming emerging label on the side.

2. You Won’t Buckle Down to Work or Pay People to Do It for You.

You have to be willing to do all the hard work that needs to get done in every area of business. This means everything from cash flow management and managing wholesale accounts to running your website and designing. Starting a fashion business is a lot of hard work. It may look glamorous, but it isn’t easy. You have to be willing and able to learn everything, and take the time to do it well.

Of course if you’re not tight on startup capital, you can hire a team to lessen your load.

3. You Don’t Have a Distinct Point of View (POV).

Don’t bother going into fashion if you don’t have a distinct POV. Markets are saturated worldwide; only brands with distinct marketing, design or consumer POV will make it.

4. You Aren’t Ready for the Responsibility.

As a fashion startup founder, you’re responsible for a lot of people and processes. You’re also asking people to purchase your products, and that comes with a certain level of responsibility. You have a responsibility to your contractors, employees, buyers, consumers and the market. It’s expected that you work regularly and reliably. And you can’t just go into the business to make a collection once and never again.

5. You’re Aren’t Willing to Learn Business.

If you don’t have a CEO or business partner on board, you can’t hide in all things creative. You need to be willing to learn the ins and outs of business.

6. You’re Unwilling to Hire an Attorney and Accountant.

Most people undervalue the importance of a lawyer, but an attorney will be one of the most important investments you make. You’ll need their services for trademarks, copyrights and establishing and incorporating your business. You’ll also need them for contracts  – and even remaining compliant with hiring procedures. Attorneys may command significant fees, but they’re a lot less expensive than the issues that can arise if you’re not prepared!

Accountants are also vital for purposes such as understanding what can or cannot be written off. Nobody wants surprises when tax season rolls around.

7. You’re Not Willing to Commit to a Minimum of 3-5 Years.

You’ve got to be in it for the long haul- or at least more than a few years. The fashion business takes time to get started, time to produce collections, time to land wholesale accounts and more. If you want to run a brand for a couple of years and that’s it, it’s better not to start at all.

8. You’re Not Willing to Be Patient for Success.

In the same vein, fashion isn’t a get rich quick opportunity. It’s difficult to be profitable right from the start. It takes time – sometimes that means a few years. If you’re thinking you’ll launch a business to make x amount of money from it by xyz’s time, you’re probably better off launching something else.

9. You’re Not Willing to Network.

You have to network and meet people to make it in the fashion business. The strength of your network will always play a role in your success. From PR contacts to potential new manufacturers, and meeting store buyers face-to-face, there’s no way around it.

Rest assured, this is something you can start to master over time. Even people who used to be super nervous in social situations have learned to adapt and get comfortable over time. Take a deep breath, show up prepared and don’t take yourself too seriously. You can do it!

10. You’re Not Open to Change.

If you don’t love change, how can you love fashion?! The fashion industry is always evolving, always shifting – and not just the trends. Just think about the last few years. We’re seen so much change from everything including Shopify and inclusive sizes to AI and DTC business models. An unwillingness to embrace change will leave you behind.

Do any of these points apply to you? Don’t worry about it. You can still have a fulfilling career in fashion – designing for another brand – or an entire lifetime designing for your own enjoyment. Launching and running a business isn’t for everyone.

For more details on what it takes to launch, download your free copy of our “21-Point Checklist to Launch a Brand”.

Are you cut out for the business and ready to launch? Even CEOs need support. Contact us with your brand concept, wholesale vision or your dreams for your first store. Our team of seasoned experts will help you hone and promote your brand, strategize for sales success, implement consumer-centric marketing messages and more. Call us at 310-957-5264 or send us an email at