Fashion designers don't often talk risky business. In her Startup Scene debut, Farida Naguib, founder and creative director of Egyptian rising label The King's Mother, talks innovation and disruption in an industry that is often overlooked in the startup culture.
Deciding to start your own fashion business is a huge decision that comes with plenty of responsibilities, a myriad of emotions and a great deal of enthusiasm. But starting a business requires you to make daily decisions and take on continuing risks that are much more than just creating bold designs. There are several decisions that require you to think of factors such as finding your USP (unique selling point), offering a product that no one else does, knowing the investment required to achieve your goals, and being intuitive and passionate to help make your business succeed. Finding the right balance between these three factors is what is needed to be on the right path towards success.
Taking risks in a fashion brand isn’t only about creating designs that are daring; creating beautiful statement pieces without knowing the correct ways to fund your business, create strong strategies, and recognise ways of marketing your brand - all of which are fundamental points that require risk-taking - will make it difficult to survive your fashion business.
Starting a fashion business comes with getting out of your comfort zone, in order to be able to take a plethora of daily risks, starting off with monetary risks, knowing how much investment is required to achieve both your short and long term goals, and taking the initial investment to create capital for your business.
The risk of kick-starting is not just based on the bold designs you create, but also means getting out of your comfort zone daily.
Additionally, you are forced to encounter macro-environmental factors such as economic and political situations that could be a risk to your business; this is especially true when starting a fashion brand in a developing country that is faced with economic and political instability. Similarly, when starting a fashion business in a country or city that is still emerging in many industries including yours means that you will be struggling to get support and educating consumers about your business and your product.
Creating unique designs needs to ensure that the supply chain is smooth and steady, which is extremely vital for a fashion brand; deciding whether you want to outsource your production or carry it in-house - each direction comes with its own set of risks. Perfecting your supply chain takes a couple of seasons, and sometimes trial and error, before finding the correct suppliers and manufacturers that you can trust to achieve the quality you need, at your ideal cost, and who are able to deliver on time with no delays. Production is, in fact, one of the most important and tedious factors of a fashion business and there are risks that come with this search, such as manufacturers raising production costs season after season, trusting the wrong suppliers, getting defected production or delay in your orders to retailers. And on the other hand, if you decide to keep your production in-house, managing your own team is a difficult and costly task to take on, which requires patience and great leadership skills.
When deciding whether you want to outsource your production or carry it in-house, each direction comes with its own set of risks.
With every great idea that requires taking risks in creating daring designs, comes the risk of rejection from consumers and retailers. It takes time to build their trust and loyalty as well as changing their perspective regarding your product before they decide to try it out; at that stage you need to ensure that their initial experience with your product is a meaningful one that makes them come back season after season. While working towards reaching your vision and being faced with the risk of getting turned down, this is when the balance of passion and motivation plays a key role, to make sure you stay focused to your goals and persevere to achieve them.
As your business grows and you start deciding to develop relationships with third party partners - whether it is to be more efficient and focus on other factors in-house or hiring companies that have expertise in departments that you are lacking - you will be faced with risks such as knowing whether you are investing in the right companies for your brand, and paying the price for the service you need to achieve in a certain time frame.
In every stage of a fashion business you are taking risks with the decisions you are making daily, monthly and annually. The risk of kick-starting is not just based on the bold designs you create, but also means getting out of your comfort zone daily, to be challenged with various decisions, all of which come with a risk. However, the initial risk taken is deciding to leave the safe option of being an employee in someone else’s business, having a steady and stable job and venturing onto your own adventure to create your own journey. The balance of a great idea, strategic execution and focused perseverance will surely help you take the correct steps to get you one closer to your overall vision and achieving your dreams, making all the previous mentioned risks trivial in comparison.
Find out more about her startup here.
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