Did you overestimate the amount of furry-hooded parkas you'd sell this past winter? If so-or if you find yourself with a surplus of those bikinis Sports Illustrated had you convinced would fly off the shelves-perhaps exporting is for you. (After all, U.S. swimwear exports totaled about $82 million last year.) Because countries in the Southern Hemisphere have their seasons at opposite times of the year from us-Australians are snorkeling as we're making snowmen-their apparel market could help you avoid seasonal sales losses.
Commence your studies at the Export Advantage Web site, where you can link to information about government export programs and trade events, search for overseas buyers, get updates on export issues and learn about other avenues exporters can use, such as e-commerce. If talk of tariffs and taxes leaves you craving guidance, click on "How-to-Export," and you're a phone call away from a free consultation with a specialist at the Trade Information Center.
Larry Brill at the Department of Commerce says what you don't want to do is think of countries like Australia as a dumping ground. Buyers there and in hot Latin American markets prefer designer names like Calvin Klein or Donna Karan.
Diane Levin, 41, co-owner with sister Janice Levin, 39, of Poleci, a Los Angeles women's clothing line, agrees. "The key in our industry is not to have goods to dump," she says. "You have to have a product [that's] sufficient in every market."
The Levins flew to places like Taiwan to research opportunities six years ago, and now they export all over Europe and Asia. Thankfully, today, Internet research will save you a few thousand dollars in plane tickets.