Starting a unisex childrenswear brand was not something I anticipated doing. It was an idea that came to me and grew pretty slowly and organically, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it, and the more ideas kept coming to me. I had no experience in fashion at all, but I just started doing research. A LOT of research. I read loads of articles, blogs, Instagram posts and everything in between. So here are a few things to think about, if you’re thinking about doing it too:
- Did I mention research? You can’t hide from it. I looked at other childrenswear brands large and small at various different price points, with different aesthetics, ideals and ethics. This helped me land on what I wanted my values to be, what I wanted my collection to look like, and how I thought I could stand out from the crowd.
- Speaking of which… You need to have an original idea – you can look at kids clothing as a saturated marketplace, or you can look at it as a vibrant one – I chose to do the latter, but that meant ensuring that my designs aren’t copycats of anything else out there, and offer something unique to the shopper. I had a strong idea in my mind from the outset, and this helped me to keep going when I hit bumps in the road.
- Figure out your brand story – along with original clothes, you need the shopper to buy into YOU as a small brand owner, as when people shop small they’re often looking for the whole package. Be clear on your approach to sourcing, manufacturing, fabrics, finish, pricing etc. My collection is all made with organic cotton because the ethics behind this are important to me, but that also makes the clothes more expensive to produce and therefore sell, so I made sure that I communicated the value in choosing organic cotton clothing from the word go. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a pillar of my brand.
- Your factory and your relationship with them is critical, so shop around for the right one. My unisex kids clothes are produced at a family-run factory in Portugal. They are aligned with my values on sustainability and the environment, from their use of organic cotton, to their largely solar-powered factory and other energy saving practises. I found my factory after extensively researching online, attending virtual trade shows, and a fair amount of LinkedIn trawling. It was a long part of the process, but when I saw my first samples from my factory I knew it was worth it, and the whole concept felt real for the very first time.
- Don’t overstock for your first collection – you will doubtless be making a significant investment in stock so while you’re hoping for the best, it’s unlikely you’ll sell out overnight. Order 10-100 pieces of each item in the collection (across all sizes!) and see what sells and what doesn’t. Once you understand your customer and their buying habits better you can start buying more stock, re-order, or just move on to new collections – people love a limited edition! You may instinctively want to keep the cost price of the items down by buying more, but it’s better to spend less on stock with a smaller margin, and more on marketing to sell that stock, then upscale from there.
- Have a cheerleader. Whether this is a side-hustle or your full-time job there will be setbacks, and maybe moments where it all feels too hard. Have someone in your corner – spouse, partner, sibling, parent – whoever. Make sure they’re on hand to be a sounding board, or just to offer a cup of tea and cuddle (if restrictions allow!).
- Keep going. If you believe in the idea, and you believe in yourself, you can make a success of it. Go for it!