Building a Clothing Brand: Everything You Need to Know | Tamara Hall | Skillshare

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Building a Clothing Brand: Everything You Need to Know

teacher avatar Tamara Hall, Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Welcome

    • 2. Target Market & What to Sell

    • 3. Branding, Price-range & Profit Margins

    • 4. Where to set up shop

    • 5. Manufacturing & Shipping

    • 6. What sells the best?

    • 7. Product Photography vs Mockups

    • 8. Social Media & Influencer Marketing

    • 9. Ready to Launch!

    • 10. Tips & Best Practices

    • 11. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Hi guys! If you've always wondering how to start your own online clothing or t-shirt brand, this is the class for you! Over the past 5 years I've ran both a leggings and tshirt brand. I'll walk you through exactly step by step on how I built them along with share tons of important information about things that worked as well as things that didn't. 

Some topics I'll cover are:

1. Choosing your target market and where to sell

2. Branding, price-range and profit margins

3. Where to sell (Shopify vs Etsy vs Squarespace)

4. Manufacturing and Dropshipping

5. Product Photography

6. Social media marketing & networking with influencers

Share your shops below so I can see the awesome things you create!

Meet Your Teacher

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Tamara Hall



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1. Welcome : You're here because you're curious on how to start an online clothing brand or an online clothing slash accessories brand slash store. Lot of sloshes. So i a bit about me, my name is Tamara. I've been a graphic designer for over ten years. And for five of those years I spend building a clothing branch from the ground up. I, you know, built the store, created the designs, got the designs made, got them shipped to, did photo shoots, put the photos in the store, advertises the brand, marketed the brand and all the bookkeeping. So I feel like I've got a lot of information that I would be valuable to you, especially if this is something that you want to pursue cases. Some of the things that we're going to cover in this class are creating the branding for your clothing brand. Figuring out who your target market is, figuring out the best channels on the best channels to where you should be selling your items, like whether it's online or in person. I'm going to suggest some really awesome suppliers that I've worked with and the best way to get your designs on items shipped out to the customers. Okay, there's a lot to cover here. We're creating a clothing brands. So couple other things that I'm going to talk about are doing photo shoots, the best type of product photography for your items. Things to keep in mind. What photography captures people's attention more than others. What will make your product stand out when someone's scrolling through a list of all these different types of products, why are they going to pick your product over other people's? There's a certain type of product that sells way more than any others. And a lot of people make this mistake where they will. You know, I'm going to go into this in the class, but there's something that like, if you remember this, your products will have a much higher chance of selling. And so we're going to cover that two. We're also going to go into a bit about social media marketing, what worked for me, and what didn't. Just want to get into everything right now, it's just the intro. It's, I'm supposed to keep it short. So if you're interested in figuring out how to start a clothing brand and build a clothing brand of this class is for you. And let's get started. 2. Target Market & What to Sell: So in this chapter, I'm going to cover things like how to pick out the name for your brand, figuring out who your target market is, and figuring out what you're going to sell. So first off, the most important thing is figuring out what you want to sell. So you've probably kinda thought about this already. Whether it's T-Shirts, whether it's leggings, accessories, hats, maybe all of the above. So yes, there's probably some things that you definitely are leaning towards. And if not, that's not a big deal. So do some research online and figure out what kind of items that you want to solve in your store. After you figure out what you want to sell, your next step is to figure out who your target market is. So you'll want to figure out things such as the age range. So safe, you're selling tee-shirts. Your t-shirt designs are going to be geared towards 15 to 25 year old men and woman, something like that. Just give yourself a basic age range so you know that you can keep this in mind when you're making your designs. It's good to get really specific to sow. Some stores that do the best are ones where you've really locked into your target market. You are not. Your target market is, and oh, it's for everyone that likes it. If your target markets to bake, it's gonna kinda fall in that gray area where no one's really that interested in it. Once you hone in your target market as close as possible to your ideal costumer. You're really going to draw their attention and they're going to want to purchase your items. Once you figure out your target market, pick a theme. So say you're doing video game theme t-shirts or you're doing inspiring motivational t-shirts. You might be safely pick backpack. So you're gonna have mostly abstract designs, something like that. So all of your items kind of have a bit of a theme. Your store has a bit of a theme and that'll help create your brand. So once you've decided on your target market, roughly the items that you're going to sell and sort of like the theme of these items, then he can go into creating your branding. 3. Branding, Price-range & Profit Margins: You'll want to create a logo for your business. And you can do that within Adobe Illustrator if you have it. You can also, if you don't have Adobe Illustrator, there's also other programs you can use, campbell, I believe, but you may need the premium version to export it in the proper formats. So fair logo, just remember, keep it simple. Simple is always better than over complicating it. Another thing that you'll want to consider is your price range. So depending on who your target market is, your price range is going to vary. If your target market is more like to that 15 to 25-year-olds range. You may choose to keep your products a lot more affordable. Whereas if your target market is in the 30 to 4550 year old range, you may choose to create a higher end product. So this is something really important that you want to consider is your pricing of the products. You'll also want to make sure that your cost for the products is low enough that you're still making a fairly decent profit margin. You, a good rule to consider is 50% or more. Profit margin is pretty good. So say if a t-shirt cost you $10 to me and manufacturer, if you're charging $20 or more and on that t-shirt, not including shipping and all that, then that's a pretty good profit margin. So by the end of this chapter, you should have thought about your name, your target market, what you're going to sell, and a general price range of the items that you're going to sell. 4. Where to set up shop: So in this chapter I'm going to cover a bit about where you want to sell your items. When I had my clothing store, I went a few different directions. So initially I had set up a Shopify site where I listed my products. But the problem with that was I wasn't getting any visitors to the site you like it was dead pretty much. I was getting couple visitors a day. And that's not going to translate into sales. So after try not for, I'd say like six months, I was like, okay, this isn't working. So I set up a store on Etsy. And because at CSO popular, you get all the ETC traffic, right? So people are typing keywords for your items, they're coming to your site and the people are already there. So that works really well for me. The Etsy store, I was my main store and it was bringing in quite a bit of sales. If you're just starting and you wanna make it easy for yourself, I'd probably recommend fc. And then actually you have your strong Nazi for awhile and you feel like you want to expand a bit and really start building your brand, then maybe move into creating a Shopify store. Another option is also Squarespace website, because Squarespace does now offer an e-commerce site and it's fairly simple to use if you're wanting something that's beginner friendly. Through sites like Squarespace and Shopify, you are able to register a domain. So once you choose your brand name, be sure to check and see if is available. If the is not available, then maybe just try doing a spell on it. Like my business was called my clothing brand was called minton chopsticks clothing. I mentioned chopsticks was available. So the more unique your name is, the higher chance that you're going to be able to get that domain. So don't be afraid to like, think of something really weird for your brand name. It doesn't have to be, it doesn't have to reflect exactly the items that you sell. Have fun with the name, make it catchy, make it fun. So one of the really cool places that I found was a lot of fun to that. And dot was I would sell at different festivals where I knew my target market was hanging out. I'd go to a lot of electronic music festivals, set-up a little tens and have all my leggings that had t-shirts and a few other things just set up in the ten to slave in the ten. And it was really cool because you actually get to meet your customer. And you can really get a sense of who likes your items and who your market is. Once they try on your clothes and you see how excited they are to wear them. Trust me, it's an awesome feeling. Local markets are also a really good option. So if you live in a small, medium to big town, you might have a local Sunday Market or handcrafted markets. You might even have a Christmas market. These are really good places just to get your name out there. You might only break even for the cost of being in the market and with how much you sell. But just kind of getting your name out in your city is really good advertising. And it's amazing how quickly word of mouth. 5. Manufacturing & Shipping: So when I was first starting out, I urge into Lee looked into manufacturing my items in China because I had heard China is going to be this really affordable place to manufacturer. I looked into quite a few different manufacturing companies there for leggings. And I spent a lot of money. A huge downside to getting your products manufactured overseas is that you don't know what the quality is going to be like. So you have to order samples from them first, and the samples can be quite expensive, then you get the sample and it's not what you wanted. So you have to go back to the drawing board, order another sample and so on. Not to mention the shipping costs and everything like that. Sudden died. I wasted a lot of money going that route and it ended up being not the route for me. I realized it was actually the same amount of money, even a little bit less, to get the products manufactured in the US and drop shipped directly to my customers. This was the way that our way of doing it because I didn't have to mail out the products to my customers directly. So it saved a lot of time of like putting packaging together, packages together, going to the post office Malay. Now it's the packages like that's a huge, huge chunk of time. So if you're not familiar about drop shipping, basically there's these drop shipping sites and you design your items on there. And every time a customer makes a purchase, you basically just go into your account, select the item put in there, your customers address, and they will send the product directly to the customer. You don't have to do any of the work except put in the information on their site and makes it really easy. And with at sea you can even set up a link with the drop shipping sites so you don't even have to put the information in. It automatically communicates to the drop shipping sites when there's an order and doesn't all automatically for you. So yeah, personally, I think drop should mean is definitely the easiest route. The drop should be insight that I use is called Print Full. I also used another local Canadian company called Art of wear. But I found that I liked principles quality a lot better. Principal shipping rates are really low, like I believe it's only anywhere from like two to $5 to ship within the states. Basically, once Print Full gets notified that there is an order, they will print the design on whatever it is, leggings, t-shirt, and then they'll ship it out directly to your customer. So you literally don't have to do anything. It's really easy and it's great, especially if you're a busy person and you don't have time to constantly ALL orders. And when I ordered wholesale, so that means I ordered like a large amount of products that are just kinda price. Some downsides to that where the ship bean for me to ship to an American address is like $15, some already losing a ton of money just on the shipping. Also another downside to ordering wholesale is you have to have somewhere to store all the stock. It's a lot of money initially to because you have to order like large amount of your IDA. Hmm. So say you have to order a 100 t-shirts. Now you have to store them a 100 t-shirts and you have to sell them a 100 t-shirts. It's, it's a lot of extra work and it's a lot of stress, would drop shipping. You only order them as the orders come in. You don't have to store any stock because they're printed on demand. I definitely advise you do the drop shipping wrote just because it's a lot easier and you don't have to deal with storing any of your items are stressing about not being able to sell. 6. What sells the best?: Well, we'll look at what's already selling out there and then they'll copy the designs basically and make something really similar. And this is a good way to go about it a lot of the time because it's already been done. Your designs aren't gonna sell as near as good as those other ones. So for my clothing brands, what I did is I made designs that I really wanted to see. I'm close but I couldn't find anywhere. So I was looking for leggings with really fun cute patterns on them. Kinda like Japanese hairs you goose style with little like Kitty burgers and unicorns, palm trees, things like that. And this was about, I want to say like six years ago. So there wasn't really a lot out there. When I tried searching for acute lanes online, I couldn't really find a lot of stuff nowadays. There's a lot more, but yeah, back then I wasn't able to find anything. So basically I was like, okay, well, why don't I just make them myself? And that's how the whole clothing brand was born. So something I'd suggest for you is just to think outside of the box. Think of something that maybe you've looked for a design, you've looked foreign, you weren't able to find, make something along those lines rather than copying what's already out there. Aside from minton chopsticks, I also started an online t-shirt company and my sorrow was located on Etsy. One thing I did find about having it on Etsy was the T-shirts that sold the best. We're really obscure kind of t-shirts. So definitely if you start a t-shirt, stone Etsy, t-shirts are really saturated on there. So what you wanna do is create designs that aren't already on there. So think of like really obscure movies, TV shows, video games, quotes, just really random stuff that exists, but there aren't any tee shirts made for it yet. If you make t-shirts where there's already a ton of selection and a lot of things, a lot of designs available for that specific topic. Whether it's like safe, YouTube's like, I'm gonna make a Zelda tee shirt. Well, there's tons and tons of Zelda t-shirts out there already. So you're going to have to compete with all those other exalted t-shirts by Nancy and see what there isn't lookup random things that you like and see if there's t-shirts about them. If there's not, chances are people are on their searching for a t-shirt. Not all of your products are going to sell really well. There's always going to be those few that are going to sell way better than the rest. But those it'll give you a good opportunity to learn and see what people like, and then you can make more products along those lines. So before you launch your brand, think of five to ten different designs that you want to start with. I'd recommend having at least five different products when you launch. So start brainstorming now and see if you can come up with five really interesting ideas for designs that aren't already out there. 7. Product Photography vs Mockups: So in this chapter I'm going to talk a bit about product photography. Professional product photography is really important. On the drop shipping website I mentioned before, Print, they do have the ability where you can easily mock up your designs on a t-shirt. So you can mop it up on a t-shirt and either get the flat lay of the T-shirt or you can mock it up and then a model will be wearing it. This isn't really a good route to go if you don't have the equipment or money to invest in photo shoe. So when I did, when I had my strong at sea with the, with mint and chopsticks, I invested in professional photography. So what I did was I ordered samples off principal of my leggings, designs, networks with some local models and photographers and did photo shoots. So we did some photo shoots at the local arcade. We did some at the water park. We went downtown and found some really cool wall backgrounds to do it. And I felt this was actually really good in creating not only awesome pictures to post on social media, but also these kind of pictures grab attention when you're scrolling through Etsy. Etsy, there are so many people that are using just those typical flatly mock-up T-Shirt photos. So you're scrolling through and it's all the same. So when you do something different leg to actual photos with models wearing your designs, it really stands out on there and I think it can be a huge benefit to your brand. 8. Social Media & Influencer Marketing: As far as advertising goes, there are a lot of different avenues that you can advertise when you have your own clothing brand. Some of the best ways that I found that worked the best word, Definitely and through social media. So Instagram based, not really Facebook, more Instagram. When I run my business, Tiktaalik wasn't around, but I can imagine that would be a really good avenue for advertising as well. So when you network with influencers and set them free product in exchange for photography, it's amazing what it can do. I had one influencer from Los Angeles, post some photos of her wearing my likings and it was crazy. I got so much traction on my account. I got tons of new follows tons of new purchase says, and it was all from her posting a few photos. So one really interesting way that you can also advertise with the samples that you ordered. When you're done with the photo shoot, you're gonna be left with a bunch of samples that have been worn, gently worn. So a really good way to advertise is to send out the samples to social media influencers and ask them to post pictures of you, of them wearing your product and take you in it. For her because she was just starting out in the modelling influencer around. She didn't charge me to post those photos. All I had to do is send her a free leggings. But this day and age, if you want to network with some of those bigger influencers who have tons and tons of followers. They're going to probably charge you for advertising on their accounts. So just keep in mind that you might need a bit of an advertising budget when working with influencers. If you have absolutely no money to spend on marketing, it doesn't hurt to reach out to some of them and ask them, hey, will you trade product photography and posting photos on your account? If I send you free stuff, some of them might say Yes, so it doesn't hurt to ask. 9. Ready to Launch!: Okay, so you've created the name, you've decided on your products, you've figured out where you're going to sell them. You've figured out how to advertise, you figured out your designs, you're finally ready. Let's say you've ordered your samples, you've done your photography, you're stores online, and now you're ready for your big launch. So this far is really fine. You can plan a launch party which was pretty cool. Definitely a good if you live in a bigger city and you know that you can get a lot of people and a lot of excitement. If you're from a small town, a launch party might not be the best way, but that's okay. And if you're going to have a launch party, just be sure to order a bunch of stock, have everything nicely displayed on racks, maybe have models kind of walking around wearing items or your friends, either R. And then yeah, just the way that people can come purchase the clothing. Have someone working in the til for a lot of launch parties. You might have a DJ, you might have some kind of decoration, might need to run it like a little venue or maybe you can use a friend's house or something like that. But yeah, just getting the word out, make little fliers, pass it around on the fires. You can have a slider for, you know, 50% off one item or whatever it is or like a free thing. But just to entice people to come. If you don't live in a big city and it's a bit hard to have a launch party to generate that excitement. Don't worry. What you can do instead is just get things going online. So on your Instagram, so on your Instagram account you can do like a countdown for the different days. So counting down maybe five days. So five days to launch and poster graphic each day counting down. And then when you launch, just be sure to post tons of stuff about all the different items that you have available, how people can buy them. You could also plan to to have a couple influencers post on their accounts on your launch day. So prepare ahead of time for this. Have them have the product, you know, a month before, take the photos and then so they're posting your posting, everyone's posting and it's generating a ton and traffic to your website. 10. Tips & Best Practices: So another great tip is to release new products. Often you'll have your big launch, which hopefully you'll have around five to ten different items. But after that initial excitement, it will wear off very quickly. The thing with having a clothing brand is you have to be prepared to keep designing cube, launching new stuff. That's what keeps your Bryan fresh and interesting. I'd recommend launching a new product every two to four weeks, at least. If you can come out with new products more often than not, then that is always good, but at least plan to release something new every two to four weeks. So one thing happens to people when they start an online clothing store, you kind of expect, okay, I've launched it, I've got a bunch of sales. You expect that to keep rolling. But the key is to be really patient because it takes time for people to know your brand and to love your brand. So the first time they buy from them, hope the firsthand they buy something hopefully won't be the last. But you do need to get that initial brand loyalty built. And that can take time. So if you're not seeing consistent sales month after month, don't worry, just keep at it. Keep releasing new products, keep doing photo shoots, key posting regularly on social media. And your Brian's, we'll get there. It might take a year, it might take a few years. But if you're really passionate about building this into a well-known clothing brand. 11. Final Thoughts: Okay, so basically you should have everything you need nouns, you start your own clothing brand. So you should have your name picked out, your logo died on. You should be, you should have figured out whether you want to sell on Etsy or Shopify or a different platform. Your designs are most likely finished anywhere from five to ten designs, I'd say it's good for an initial launch. You figured out your drops or drop shipping service at that surround that you want to go. Or you've also decided if you want to order a wholesale and then have stock on hand that you will sell and ship out yourself. Aside from that, hopefully you'll have some different ideas like how to market your brand through social media, as well as how to network with different influencers. So I hope you have until as you need to get started. And for your class project, please, please post the name of your brand. What type of items you sell, what you're designing a little bit about you and why you're doing this, as well as where we can find your stuff. So if you have an Etsy shop up post Etsy link, Shopify, website, whatever it is. If you don't have anything yet, don't worry about posting where to buy it yet. Maybe update it down the road. This is gonna be a great way to start to get the word out there about your shop and start building the hype things, that's n. And I really hope that this video has shown you how to start your own cruelty and Brandon helped you giving you some ideas. If you have any questions or if there's something that I've covered that you're a little bit unsure note, please send me a message or leave a comment and I'll be sure to clear that up for you and help you in any way. I can mean a clothing brand. It's not a lot of work. It's hard work, but it's also a lot of fun and you'll get to meet some of the most amazing people. It's really cool when you create designs and then you start senior designs on people out and about. I can remember the first time I was at a festival and I saw someone wearing some lanes that I designed. I ran up to them and I was like I was kind of like a little bit weird or whatever, but I was just so excited and it's just, it's a really cool feeling to know that someone appreciates what you've created. So thanks so much for joining this class and I hope it's helped you on your journey to start your own brand.