How To Start A Fashion Business aka Clothing Line


You know, with the popularity of Project Runway, so many individuals have gotten the bright idea to start their own fashion line.  Little do they know what is REALLY involved.  Many people think they have the new hottest idea.  Truth is most of it has already been done.  Lots of them are trying to reinvent the wheel.

Yesterday I attended the first part of Liza D.’s Fashion School and it got me thinking.  Seems about a third of the attendees didn’t belong there IMHO.  Not that Liza isn’t a wonderful teacher…she’s great.  But some of the attendees were very secretive about their brilliant ideas.  In conversations with them, they barely gave you an idea on what they were trying to produce.  How the heck are you supposed to give them sources for contractors, fabrics, etc. if you don’t know what they are trying to do.

I shared my line sheets, samples, and some fabric sources with the class.  Yet, when asked directly, several of the “designers” were very guarded with what they were trying to manufacture.  Well, how in the world is anyone going to suggest a sewing factory if they don’t know what you are sewing?  See, some sewing factories are great at sewing knits while others only sew woven fabrics.  A place that sews bras wouldn’t sew your hats (unless of course you’re wearing a bra on your head).  Thankfully, by day two, attendees started to loosen up a bit.

Many were so concerned with patents.  Unless your idea is truly innovative, that’s throwing money away.  Instead, spend that money on marketing.


One of the great things about Liza’s seminars are the networking opportunities.  There were a few individuals I’d want to hang with:  the three girls who wanted to start a bathing suit line (they asked the right questions), an Asian gentleman who was all business, the Vietnamese handbag guy who knew a lot about overseas production and the sweet blonde who wanted to do plus-size women’s wear.  These were the ones I’d put my money on.  They got it and would most likely be successful in their ventures.  None of them were concerned with small silly details.

Liza stressed the importance of having a business plan and went into detail of what should be included.  This particular session was very helpful.  One of the things which she suggested be included in your plan was asking and answering the questions, “What are the 5 problems that can happen?” and “What are the solutions to these problems?”  It’s how you deal with these types of things that can make or break your business.  For instance, let’s say a particular fabric you were planning to use is no longer available.  How do you plan to source replacement fabric in a pinch?  Or a worse case scenario–what about if the sewing factory burns down?  Do you have a back-up sewing factory?  I’ve purchased the Canadian Fashion Incubator’s Fashion Business Plan, but see where it needs to be tweaked.

Another important thing is the Cash Flow Chart.  It was suggested that you make a 2 year chart.  As designer entrepreneurs, we tend to focus on the artistic aspect of the business, but we really need to spend just as much time on the financial part.  Your designs may be awesome, but without a plan for financing it, all is lost.

I found came across this link which might be useful:

BRC’s Planning Guidelines

Today’s 2nd part of the seminar was awesome.  We learned about costing, cut sheets, factoring and production.  While I knew a lot of what was taught in the seminar as I’ve been researching my plan for the past two years, the most important thing I got from Liza was to stop over-researching and JUST DO IT!

Meaning, I could have the greatest ideas, but unless I get out there and produce, it all means nothing.  Thanks Liza for a wonderful weekend!  You’re truly inspiring.

For those interested in learning more about Liza D.’s Fashion School, visit her website!

ok…now for some pics of my traffic nightmare getting to and from Manhattan this weekend…a mere 15 miles which took over an hour each way…ugh!

While idling in traffic, I noticed this De-Fender fender protector on the SUV in front of me.  How hysterical!  Who would have thought?!  So if someone bumps into your fender, you don’t scratch your $2,000 bumper…brilliant and useful here in NYC.


Here’s a close-up pic of the De-Fender borrowed from an auto parts website:


Leaving the city, I passed the old World Trade Center…which is just a large pit and dozens of construction vehicles.  Still no new buildings.  The city has really dragged their feet on rebuilding the area.  Sad.


Seems most of Manhattan is under construction…ALL THE TIME.  Doesn’t matter what day or time it is, there is always construction.  The roads are getting worse everyday.  When they say you take your life in your hands driving in NYC, they aren’t kidding.


Oh and in case you thought it’s all bumper-to-bumper traffic in NYC, you can still drive 70 mph through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel…LOL!  See?


Off to watch the Season Finale of Desperate Housewives!  Have a great night!




  1. Hi Firstime commenter, longtime lurker…
    Thanks for all the tips on new biz venture. I’m there too. But it is in publishing–about to found a new magazine. Oh, the tips are great. And I agree what’s with people hoarding info? whether it is cause they don’t know themselves, or cause they think they need to covet their brillant ideas–sharing is the way to go–It is what will make that biz happen. And I’m about to do my biz plan, so I will check out that link and see if it is biz-specific. thanks a mil. Speaking of sharing, I’m chronicling my efforts here

  2. well you know I would NEVER drive in Manhattan…I’ll just let YOU drive me 😉

  3. Lisa,

    This is a great post, and fabulous of you to share. What a great opportunity, this class. I searched high and low for someone with experience willing to share their knowledge, when I was starting RuffleButts. It was nearly impossible to find. Unfortunately, I learned many of these lessons the hard way, but I tell you what, she’s right when she says just get out there and do it! I understand that research is imperitive and people absolutely must understand what they are getting themselves into when starting a fashion line, but with all the research in the world, it takes getting your hands dirty and putting every bit of effort and passion into pursuing this dream. No matter how much we know, we will fall down, we will get dirty, we will have near-mental-breakdowns, but we will also get back up and keep going with determination and strong will. With every thank you note and adorable picture I receive from my customers in my creations, there is a renewed sense of accomplishment and that push I need to overcome and defeat every mountain in my way! I know you already know so much of this, and I give you much credit for sharing your experiences here at the domestic diva!


  4. Lisa,
    I really like reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences. This two day seminar sounds fun and informative. Like the others commenting, I too was in search of someone with experience to help guide the process when I started my baby/toddler clothing company Up and Comer Apparel — wish I had known about the class then 😉 ! So far the ride has been wonderful, with the requisite highs and lows, of course! I look forward to continuing to grow and learn with all you!


    For all you South Floridians, the Liza D. 2 Day Fashion School is coming to Miami June 28 and June 29, 2008. I’m thinking about attending after reading your posts, Lisa. Again, many thanks!

  5. Hi guys, long time lurker,..but I had to respond to this topic, I am a apparel design consultant. Though it is good to “do it yourself” , its always great to get assistance
    check out my site guys

  6. maureen pfano mbedzi says:

    i love fashion i wish to have my own label one day,getting started but ill become a designer just one dae

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