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Start a Fashion Business

Got an eye for fashion trends? An apparel business could be just your thing.
June 1, 2002
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/52358

(YoungBiz.com) - So you've decided a career as a fashion model isn't for you. After all, you really enjoy the occasional cheeseburger and fries. And strutting down a runway isn't your thing, either.

That may be the case, but it doesn't mean you don't have a future in the fashion industry. Teens are known for their keen fashion sense. And plenty of 'treps are taking advantage of it.

A Thing of the Past
Lots of businesses get their start because someone couldn't find a product he or she wanted. Take Corona, California, teens Evan Kiley, 18, and Renold Aparicio, 19, who couldn't find the type of clothing that appealed to them. "Skate fashion is really big around here," Kiley says. "We didn't want to look like everybody else, so we started wearing vintage, but the only place to find good vintage clothes was in L.A." That's when the pair decided to open Impact Clothing, their own vintage clothing store.

One of the keys to their success was the groundwork Kiley and Aparicio laid before opening their doors. Once they decided they wanted to open a clothing store, they visited the library every day for two weeks to get information on how to start a business. "We also polled kids at school to find out what they would buy," says Kiley.

They then spent two months writing a business plan, which helped them not only to get a grip on where they were heading, but also to secure a grant for starting their business. For these 'treps, preparation was paramount.

Creating a Niche
Jesse Walter, an 18-year-old 'trep in Covina, California, also had a fondness for specialty clothing. But rather than recognizing an industry niche, he decided to create one. Walter founded Premiere Clothing America (PCA), a company that specializes in sportswear for body boarders.

Like Kiley and Aparicio, Walter also spent a good deal of time doing research. "I ran ads in body-boarding magazines to see what the outcome would be," he says. "The response was good, so we started making some T-shirts."

Rather than opening his own store, Walter introduced his new clothing line through area surf shops. That idea worked so well that, during PCA's first official Christmas selling season, the company made about $125,000.

But Walter will be the first to tell you that success isn't a destination--it's an ongoing journey. Once PCA was off the ground, he had to figure out how to keep it going. For his business, magazine advertising and trade shows were key. Eventually, PCA was able to offer a complete wardrobe for body boarders, including board shorts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, bags, cargo shorts and pants.

Accessorize, Accessorize
No outfit, no matter how cool, is complete without the right accessories. That's what 15-year-old Gwynetta Adesuyi had in mind when she started Gwyn's Designs, a handcrafted jewelry venture in Milwaukee.

Adesuyi echoes the same keys to success that our other fashion 'treps recommend: good preparation and planning. "My business plan made me more organized," Adesuyi says. "Just write about what you want to do and how you are going to do it. The important thing is to get started today making plans for where you want your business to be tomorrow."

So even if you're not headed for a modeling career, if you love fashion and clothing, you can still make a business of it. With a little planning and a dose of creativity, you'll be on your way.

Next Step
  • Can't decide if you've got what it takes to run a successful clothing store? This Start-Up Kit will help you figure it out.
  • Visit YoungBiz.com for the whole story on how Jesse Walter became a body-boarding outfitter.
  • Read about Erynne Ozane's unique fashion business, Clothes for the Soul, on YoungBiz.com.