Q: I've designed three new items of clothing and would like to find someone to take them to market. There must be a million smart people waiting for this opportunity, but how do I find just the right one?
A: What you are seeking is a sales or manufacturers' representative. In the clothing industry, sales reps may sell the goods they represent from showrooms or take what they sell to potential buyers at their locations. While experience is desirable, a new rep is more apt to take on new products. To find sales reps, try fashion showrooms, trade expos, ads placed in trade publications and recommendations from clothing stores and manufacturers.
You can also use the Web to find reps: Input key words like "manufacturers' representative" and "clothing" into a search engine, or check out the various Net directories of manufacturers' reps. However, this will cost you: RepLink and the Manufacturers Agents National Association both charge $149 per year, so it's a good idea to contact these providers before subscribing to make sure they list enough sales reps specializing in clothing to make your investment worthwhile.
Another helpful source is GarmentoSpeak, a consulting firm that provides seminars and consulting for entrepreneurs in the sewn-products industry.
Paul and Sarah Edwards' most recent book is Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way. Send them your start-up questions atwww.workingfromhome.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.