Fashion Startups: When, Who and How to Hire Your First Employee


Hey guys, I’m Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail. And today, this topic is for fashion startups. Who, when, and how should you hire your first startup fashion employee? Let’s unpack it. Now, chances are your very first employee is going to be a very strong admin. A very strong admin is going to be able to help take you through all the daily grind and, in fact, make you a lot more accountable to running your business on a day-to-day basis. You’re not going to be hiring your first online fashion marketer, you’re not going to be hiring your first, you know, production person. You’re going to be hiring a really good strong admin to help you with day-to-day operations.

So, let’s now unpack when you should hire this person, what to look for with this person, and how to do so efficiently. When to hire your first employee. Well, guys, chances are this person is going to be hired within the first 18 months. This is going to be that tipping point when you’re like holy bananas, how am I going to get everything done if I actually need this business to start to scale up? Maybe you start noticing you’re having difficulties with doing your seasonal pitches, maybe it’s difficulty when it comes to reaching out to PR people, when it comes to reaching out to editorial, maybe you’re having a difficult time looking at research for, let’s say, production or manufacturing. Your first admin is going to be that person who’s really going to be a generalist. Now, chances are, you’ll be spending at least $15 an hour to hire this person, and they’re likely going to start to work for you about five to 15 hours a week. So, make sure that you have the budget to be able to allocate to someone who’s going to be strong in terms of being able to be delivering the right results, they’re going to be available when you need them to be available, and they’re also going to be within your budget.

Now, who should this person really be? Well, you’re not hiring someone who’s senior level management, certainly not at $15 an hour. And chances are this person may not be able to stick around with you more than six months. So, definitely ask them during that interview process, can you commit to this job for six months to a year? You don’t want to be cycling through your first employees over, and over, and over again. And you definitely don’t want this person to be an intern. Interns require way too much assistance, right? You need to be able to train them, they may not know what they’re doing. And some interns these days can be quite entitled, so you actually want someone who’s going to be strong in office management, right? Someone who’s been in an office, someone who has lots of different kinds of skills that they can bring to the table and not someone who’s just going to be excelling in one particular thing.

Your first hire is likely going to be on contract and you want to make sure this person has a nice wide variety of skill sets that they can bring to the table. I would say look for someone who can do graphic design, look for someone who has a great phone voice in case you need them to get on the phone and talk to someone. Make sure this person is absolutely strong on their email presence and how they write and communicate. After all, if you’re going to be handing over key communications to someone, you’ve gotta make sure that they have the capacity to speak on brand the way that you would. Now, certainly they’re not going to be a direct replication of you, but you’re going to build them and grow them to become a really great part of your team, and you want them to espouse your brand voice and your brand vision.

Now how to do so. Well, obviously, we know there are lots of different platforms to find talent. You obviously have platforms like Craigslist, you can look at Upwork, you can also take a look at sites like The Business of Fashion, Women’s Wear Daily. Honestly, guys, for your first admin, Craigslist is amazing. You have access to people who are ready to hire, right? The people who are ready to get jobs right away. Craigslist works on such a factor of immediacy, you post something up within 24 hours you should have a flood of candidates who are ready to take a job in 48 hours. So I think, guys, Craigslist for this first hire could be an amazing first step for you. Upwork apart can be a little bit more challenging, so really ask yourself, do I need this person to work with me virtually, do I want them to come to my studio and be more local? You can definitely find freelancers on Upwork who are more local, but Upwork is really designed to have more of a remote kind of virtual capacity, right? Craigslist I feel really has a great core group of people who are local, who are looking to have, you know, jobs where they meet with you once in a while. And that, I think, is really important.

So, guys, I hope you have a really good understanding of what you need to do in order to get that first employee, and how to do so and what exactly you’re looking for. Make sure that you check out our blog posts on fashion startups, how you can scale up your operations and set them up for success. The step by step process is super important because when you think about your operations, it’s very important that you set up your business for success. Then make sure that you download, for free, our top 10 questions to ask potential hires. Trust me, these are top 10 questions that I use over, and over, and over again. Some of them are kind of funny like, what is your email inbox look like? You know, even though you’re a hot mess sometimes it doesn’t mean that people you hire should also be.

So, guys, make sure that you leave comments below. Please subscribe to our channel. Head on over to to learn about all the amazing things that we do for clients and I hope that I will hear from you soon. You can reach me at Have a great day.

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