Why did I decide to start this online store? Well it's something I've been thinking about for YEARS. Ever since I was little I've loved fashion and knew it was something I wanted to do when I was older. I did a bit of sewing at high school though and hated it so left it alone for a good decade.
Fast forward to 2015 and I was 26 and working in fashion retail. So still in the realm of the fashion world but not quite where I saw myself. I've always struggled with the idea of working for someone else, I'm a do it myself kind of gal! So I decided to enrol in the year long certificate fashion course at Ara, and from this I decided to go all the way and complete another three years to get my Bachelor of Design in Fashion Technology and Design.
My final year is almost over and fingers crossed I almost have my degree. But first I need to complete my research project which has taken over the entirety of our second semester this year. Unlike previous years, your final project doesn't need to be a fashion collection, but can be anything fashion related. BUT, you need to be able to create a research question, that your project will be answering.
I was stoked when I realised I didn't have to make a collection as the stress of making a mass amount of garments in a limited time wasn't appealing to me at all! I have never considered working at a big label or in a super stressful environment as that's just not my style. I wanted to use my time to start up a small sustainable business which I could continue after my degree had finished, and with the tutors and my classmates to bounce ideas and get support from, this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Now for the research question...
In a city without a strong fashion scene, is it attainable to launch a low budget, start-up online fashion brand? What can be utilised to make this a successful and viable option for designers and brands who want to sell their wares in an inhospitable environment?
I've always wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a small independent store, whether that be bricks and mortar or online. In this current climate, starting a real life, rent a building, store seems terrifying and unlikely to thrive. Online business and fast fashion means that there are fewer people willing to head out to town and spend that little bit more money on a more sustainable garment, when they're surrounded by retailers offering whole outfits for under $100. And to set up a physical store, with rent and fixtures and visual merchandising and staff doesn't seem like a viable option for a low budget, start-up brand/designer. Add to that a city that fell down and still doesn't have a discernible fashion district and it doesn't seem like a great idea. An online store seemed like a much more risk-free, manageable place to base my project, as many start-up brands/designers often have real jobs on the side, another reason why they can't go rent a store!
For my project I decided to use Shopify to build my online store, and for my product I would source secondhand clothing. To drive sales, and build a customer base and rapport, I would utilise Instagram, and a market or two to get my business's name out there.
Next up, what have I learnt about starting a store?