As an emerging designer, there’s always a debate whether you should focus more on designing your clothes or finding your niche market. While it’s a controversial topic, both components are crucial to the success of your business. While producing a good product is a no-brainer, finding your niche will guide and maintain your business’s focus.
But “finding your niche market” can sound so boring . . .
Don’t think of it as “finding your niche market.” Think of it as defining your IDENTITY and future LEGACY.
One of the worst things you can do as a new designer is release scattered, aimless designs. Providing your audience with an unfocused or vague array of options will either confuse them or make them less likely to remember your work. Start by defining your why. Instead of thinking of your market research as finding a niche market, think of it as unveiling your company’s future legacy.Instead of thinking of your market research as finding a niche market, think of it as unveiling your company’s future legacy. Click To Tweet Defining this early on will set your designs apart and help them withstand the test of time.
Before completing this blog post; ask yourself: “What would I like my legacy to be?” “How can I impact this industry in a way no one else can?”
Paths to Finding Your Niche Market
The beauty of true entrepreneurship is that no matter how saturated your industry, there is always room to distinguish yourself. How can you find and fill untapped potential in a market? It simply takes curiosity, courage, and keen observation. The approaches are limitless.
Here is an inspiring list of “niche” business approaches that have created a legacy.
Comme des Garcons’ avant-garde silhouettes and Hermès’ signature leather bags are two great examples of artistry and product spearheading a legacy. Comme de Garcon’s slogan, “Wear Your Freedom” reinforces the intentionality behind the brand’s eccentric designs.
Audience (the specific group of people you are serving)
Frill Clothing from Shark Tank’s Season Six hit a gold-mine due to the extreme specificity of their business. Recent college graduates, Sharon Bui and Kate Steadman target sorority women who are trying to find flattering, yet budget-friendly outfits for recruitment week. As a sorority member, Bui experienced the struggles of dressing for recruitment week first-hand. The company now promises affordable, customizable outfits for any occasion- even bridesmaid’s dresses. Every outfit comes with an exclusive “no-matching chapters” guarantee. Their line is not really anything new, it’s more about WHO they are targeting with the line. The business had already received $400,000 in sales BEFORE appearing on Shark Tank.
Location (where you operate or sell)
Start-up founders Jack Burns and Ali Rose VanOverbeke of Genussee were inspired by the environmentally harmful plastic water bottle crisis in Flint, Michigan. While the launch is still in progress, Genussee’s mission is turning the accumulated plastic bottles into eyewear. The production will be centralized in Flint, Michigan- providing jobs there as well.
Materials and Sourcing
Aurora James’s Brother Vellies was birthed from her travels in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Morocco. She fell in love with the African methods of shoe-making and sought to share it with the world. Brother Vellies guarantees its artisans fair wages and pleasant workspaces. By-product furs, vegetable-dyed leathers, and recycled brass closures are all indigenous of African artisans and farmers as well.
Everlane sells quite ubiquitous styles as their focus lies in quality and “Radical Transparency.” Everlane has generated a loyal customer base by providing the true costs of every garment while maintaining a low retail markup. The site lists costs of materials, hardware, labor, duties, and transportation for each garment. Everlane is also intentional in their partnerships with factories. They only work with manufacturers that score 90 or above on compliance audits. Audits help ensure reasonable work hours, fair wages, and safety of factory workers. The website also lists factory bios for customers who truly seek transparency in the items they wear.
Finding Your Niche Will Benefit Your Future Growth
What do these businesses have in common? They each tap into a unique sector of the market that has shaped their business identity. Many new designers equate having a niche with limitation, but the approaches listed above prove how focused niches can help facilitate smarter and more strategic expansion. Take Frill Clothing, for example. They started out offering outfits for sorority girls to wear during recruitment and college events. After the proven success, they thought of a way to maintain their post-grad sorority clientele by offering casual bridesmaid dresses. Brother Vellies added a line of men’s shoes, kid’s shoes, and accessories while still producing everything with artisans in Africa. Starting small and focused allows you to grow organically and expand after proven success and history. This allows an organic, steady expansion rather than casting your net too wide in the beginning and possibly losing money.
Define Your Legacy
The approaches listed above are just a few examples of what unique niche markets can look like. While these ideas are revolutionary, filling a void in the market takes great determination and even more RESEARCH. If you’re an emerging designer or simply have a desire to start a fashion business we recommend our Market Research Made Easy course to you! This course breaks down market research in a simple, palatable manner as you assess the viability of your business ideas! So, delve into research and get one step closer to finding your niche market and defining your business legacy!
What would you like your business’s legacy to be? Comment below or share this blog with your designer friends!
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