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

Who, when, and how should you hire your first startup fashion employee? 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 make you a lot more accountable for running your business on a day-to-day basis. You’re probably not going to be hiring your first online fashion marketer or first production person at the start. You’re going to be hiring a really good, strong admin to help with day-to-day operations.

When Should You Make Your First Hire?

You’ll likely hire your admin within the first 18 months. This is going to be that tipping point when you’re wondering how you’re going to get everything done if you actually need the business to start to scale? Maybe you start noticing you’re having difficulties with doing your seasonal pitches, maybe it’s difficulty reaching out to PR people, 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 going to be a generalist. You’ll be spending at least $15 an hour to hire this person, and they’re likely to start working for you about 5-15 hours a week. Make sure you have the budget for 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.

Who Should You Hire?

Who should this person be? You’re not hiring someone who’s senior level management- certainly not at $15 an hour. Chances are, this person may not be able to stick around for more than six months. Definitely ask during the 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. You also definitely don’t want this person to be an intern. Interns require way too much assistance. Interns likely require training and some can actually be quite entitled these days. Look for someone strong in office management, 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 area.

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. Look for someone who can do graphic design and 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 have to make sure they have the capacity to speak on-brand the way that you would. This person is not going to be a direct replica of you, but you’re going to grow him or her to become a really great part of your team and you want them to espouse your brand voice and brand vision.

What Are the Steps to Make Your First Hire?

There are lots of different platforms to find talent- Craigslist, Upwork, The Business of Fashion, Women’s Wear Daily…. Honestly, for your first admin, Craigslist is amazing. You have access to people who are ready to be hired. The people who are ready to get jobs right away. Craigslist works on such a factor of immediacy that when you post something up within 24 hours you should have a flood of candidates who are ready to take a job in 48 hours. Craigslist for this first hire could be an amazing first step for you.

Upwork can be a little bit more challenging, so really ask yourself if you need this person to work with you virtually or if you want them to come to your 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. Craigslist has a great core group of people who are local and looking for jobs where they meet with you once in a while. I think that’s really important.

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 you check out our blog posts on how you can scale up your operations and set them up for success. The step-by-step process is super important because solid operations are crucial for your success. Then make sure you get your free download, the top 10 questions to ask potential hires. These 10 questions I use over, and over, and over again. Some of them are kind of funny like, “what does your email inbox look like?” Even if you’re a hot mess sometimes, it doesn’t mean the people you hire should be disorganized too.

We hope to hear from you soon. You can reach us at hello@scalingretail.com–  and don’t forget your free download! Get “10 Questions to Ask Potential Hires” today.

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