When should you launch your fashion line?
One of the biggest mistakes I see a lot of newbie designers make is not properly preparing for the launch or launching way too soon. You definitely don’t want to launch too soon because it’s going to equal fewer sales. It’s way better to properly prepare and do launch the right way. It will equal a ton of sales for you and motivation and really get the momentum going in your business, which is super important to keep you motivated.
What You Need Before You Launch
When have you really launched? Many people think it’s a bunch of different things. A real launch means you have all of the below ready to go.
1. All of your samples should be fitted, perfected, and tested. This means you have worn them, you have washed them a million times, and you have tested them out to make sure nothing crazy is going to happen when people buy this and start wearing it. You're not ready to launch if your samples are not at this stage. If you are still making changes to your samples or you're not 100% satisfied with them, do not launch. You're better off waiting and launching later on.
2. All of your fabrics and trims are completely finalized and confirmed. If it's not in stock or not available for you to order, you need to find out how long it's going to take to reorder or how much do you need to reorder in order to acquire that fabric or trim. If you can't get that fabric or trim or you can't meet those minimums for whatever reason, start thinking about either dropping that style, switching the fabric, or finding another vendor. You need to do something before you launch. You don't want to launch with a style that you can't even get the fabric for.
3. Website needs to be ready to go. This means it’s complete with a shop page, your size chart, refund and shipping policy, social media, blog, etc. If you need help with your website, download our free commerce checklist right on our website. It’s in the popup box, so you can download that to make sure that you have everything ready to go for your website.
4. Your photoshoot and videoshoots are edited and complete. All the photos and videos that you did need to be ready to go up on your website and ready to post on social media.
5. Have a decent following on social media. You need to show that there is a need and/or desire for the product that you're launching. All your followers should be truly engaged in what it is you have to offer and they love your product. Anywhere between 1 to 5000 would be a good amount to start with, and if you need help you can checkout our digital marketing services. You are also going to need a decent email list that you been nurturing for at least six months. You should have had a pop-up box on your landing page of your website even though your website is not launched yet so that people can subscribe to your newsletter. Plus you should have been sending out newsletters for at least six months keeping people engaged, building the suspense, getting things going, and building your following before you launch. If you haven't sent out one email, you don't launch. I'd rather have you wait, start nurturing that email list, start growing that email list, and really getting it to the point where people are dying to have your product. That's how you are going to make day one of your launch a huge success.
6. Be ready to take your orders and collect payment. No matter how you are collecting payment - if it's on your website or if you plan to do a lot of pop-up shops - you need to be ready. Your square card reader, Paypal account, etc. need to be ready to go. You don't want to have people waiting to buy your stuff and you can't actually have them pay for it.
7. Have your cost sheets finalized and your pricing & shipping all set and ready to go. You should be thinking about how much should I be pricing this at. Should I make this $150 or $200? All of that needs to be figured out and ready to go before you launch.
8. Have your finances secured for production or at least a strategy in place to collect the finances. Production is going to cost money. If you don't have that money already set aside to do your own production, you need to think of a way to come up with that money in order to produce. Now if you're selling to boutiques and they are small boutiques, most of the time you can get a 50% deposit, that can help you fund your production. If you are doing pre-sell or crowdfunding, those can help you fund your production. So there are many ways to fund your production, just have the strategy in place and know what you're doing beforehand. You don’t want to take a bunch of orders and then not be able to fulfill them.
9. Have your manufacturers lined up and be sure that you have a backup factory. You might have factory (A) that you absolutely love and their work is so great and the prices are awesome. However if they're too busy around the time that you're ready to do your production, you want to have factory (B) as a backup. The worst thing you can do is ship late to your consumers or to your stores. You definitely don't want to fall into that trap so make sure you have all of your manufacturing setup and ready to go and you've got backup. You also want to make sure you have your delivery set. Therefore if you are doing pre-orders or you are pitching to buyers, you are going to need to know your delivery dates and that will depend on how fast you can get your production. You typically should allow at least 4 to 5 if not 6 months for your production. I know it sounds like way too much time, but you're going to need it - trust me! If you want more information on that, we have an entire online course called Production Like A Pro that goes into all the details.
10. Set aside some time to do all of your sales and your marketing. This is going to take a lot of time, so you want to make sure that you have that time set aside and ready to go. You want to have all of your marketing materials ready that includes your labels, your hangtags, your business cards, any promotional flyers that you need, and swatch cards before you launch.
11. Schedule your launch events. You’re going to want to schedule some events around your launch so that again day one of the launch is the biggest push that you get the most sales. This could be a launch party, pop-ups, a market, trunk shows, crowdfunding campaign, or fashion show.
12. Have Facebook ads ready to go. You're probably going to want to do some Facebook ads if your budget allows. I would have those ready to go before you launch. You don't want to be struggling to figure out which Facebook ads you are going to do after you've already launched your website.
13. Plan your PR. Last but not least, you're also going to want to have all your PR planned - whether you're reaching out to influencers, celebrities, or bloggers. You want to get people to start wearing your product and then posting about it on day one. You can learn how to do this in our online course, PR Like A Boss.
If you're planning to sell wholesale to retailers...
- Have your list of boutiques and the buyers that are going to approach
- Have your buyers pack ready to go - line sheet, order forms, terms, sales order form - so that buyers can take orders (download forms here)
- Have a wholesale login on your website or use a third-party website so that retailers can actually purchase from you online
Tips To Make Your Launch a Success
1. Focus on the benefits, not the product features. This is super important and I hope that you can get this in your head and start to change your mindset around. Steve Jobs when he launched the iPhone, he doesn’t talk about how fast the processor is or how much better the camera is on the phone or all these stuff. He talks about what it's going to do for you and your lifestyle and how it's going to make your life easier. If somebody wants to know the features, that information is available on the Apple website, you can go and read it at any time. He is not promoting that during the launch. I hope you understand the difference between a feature and a benefit now.
2. Get influencers and press onboard. You want to start lining them up in advance so that they start talking about your line on your launch date. This includes bloggers, influencers, and media. Get interviews lined up, get all of the blogs written and ready to go, and literally everything ready to launch on your launch day. Just request everybody to not launch it or post it until your actual launch day.
3. Build suspense. Star Wars doesn’t wait until the day before the movie launches to tell you about it. They are telling you about it 6-9 months in advance. Why? Because they want that movie theater packed out and filled to the brim when that movie launches! It’s the same idea with your line - you want to be promoting it now on social media, on your blog on your website, etc. Don't wait until you have a product because nobody wants to see the product anyway. They want to see the lifestyle and the benefits, not the features.
4. Turn your launch into an event. Plan a launch party, pop-up shop, a crowdfunding campaign party - anywhere people can donate right on the spot. Include a fashion show, do something that's fun where you can sell or at least pre-sell your line and get the hype and the buzz going. Think about if you had a room packed of a hundred people, you invited some influencers and press, and you had all these people talking about your line on the launch day and posting it on social media. How awesome would that be? How much momentum would you have in your business if that happened on day one of your launch?
5. Offer launch discounts and incentives. Give people a reason why they should buy right away. Give some kind of a launch discount so that people are more willing to buy up front because if they get excited about it, they are going to start posting, they are going to start telling their friends, and everybody else is going to get on board really fast.
6. Plan, plan, and plan. Keep in mind that if the sale starts really coming in, you might have to hire part-time workers to help you take care of all the orders or pack and ship stuff out if you're literally doing all that yourself. Just be prepared ahead of time - you don't want to be scrambling with all these orders and not be able to ship them out on time and have angry customers that the end. Plan for the best case scenario, what would happen, and who could you get to help you.
7. Gather feedback after the launch and use it for the future. Use it to either tweak your samples before you do your production, if you're launching and pre-selling the line, or if you're launching and you're selling the line at the same time. Use it for next season and tweak your samples from your customers feedback. Whatever the customers want is what you need to give them. At the end the day, your customers are the ones with the money and the ones that are making the buying decisions. I am not saying please everyone because you possibly can't please everyone. However if a lot of people are requesting the same thing, there's probably a reason. So keep that in mind and use it to your advantage because your line will sell so much more if you just give people what it is that they want.
Those are the seven tips to make your launch a huge success. You can also grab a FREE “Before You Launch Checklist” here!
So who’s ready to launch? Let us know below!
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