All fantastic creatives and designers must start out somewhere. Usually it's as simple as having an idea. From there, it's up to the designer to decide how to approach their brand and how to grow it into a successful business.
I have had the pleasure of helping some of these now successful designers throughout the process, like Rochelle Behrens of The Shirt, who has a robust direct-to-consumer e-commerce business and sells in Bloomingdales stores across the U.S.; as well as Isabella Rose Taylor, a thirteen-year-old who now has a capsule collection available at Nordstrom.
How did they do it? These are the three tips I think every creative needs to know in order to launch a successful brand:
Know your market.
A designer needs to be able to describe their inspiration, their "why" for creating the brand, in a couple of sentences or less. Inspiration and mood boards are a great way to do that and they will allow you to find and convey your theme. Slowly, you will start to see your brand's DNA unfold and hopefully, buyers and customers will develop a positive association with your aesthetic. Rag & Bone, DVF, Ralph Lauren, and Levi's are all examples of brands that do an amazing job of this. They stay true to their brand season after season; everyone knows who they are and what they represent.
Don't get overwhelmed with sourcing.
So many of my students and clients get flustered by the idea of finding the right factory or pattern maker. It's the easiest part of the process! You simply go to the "source" and find a "grader." A grader takes finished patterns and grades them into any size the designer wants. The grader will then know the best pattern makers for your line and the factories that best suit your needs. They then deliver the patterns and "markers" to the factory of choice. It is still your job, however, to go out and meet these contractors and facilitate the product development process.
Go out and sell.
If you're not hungry to sell, making the garments will be a waste of time and money -- at the end of the day, sales are all that matter. You must knock on doors, pick up the phone and call retailers, and even shlep your line to showrooms and buyers. Most importantly, you must take into account all feedback and never get discouraged. Your brand may not be right for every retailer, but it shouldn't deter you from taking a risk and putting yourself out there.