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  • 01/10/2020

How to manage your apparel business?

How to manage your apparel business?

1024 363 Nathan Ball

Small Businesses Design and Development

As a small business owner, it can be a matter of success and failure if you don’t manage your business well. Being one with many years within the garment industry as a cut and sew manufacturer, we have learned a lot. Add on the experience of working for multi-million dollar companies as well as startups, I have to point out that one of the main aspects of managing your business is money. 

How you manage your money, be it making money or spending it, is highly underrated by many new business owners

Breaking it down

Today we will touch on the following topics related to managing your business efficiently:

  • Delegation
  • Waste
  • Planning
  • Overbuying
  • Designing a System
  • Marketing


Hiring a few select key co-managers can be wise. Delegation and management are the keys to success. Smart owners in the fashion industry should be sure to have a very easy to follow workflow system in place that has been built from the ground up to ensure that all follow a well thought out and planned path to a less stressful and successful business.


Waste; be it in time or money is a definite killer! Design and development should be streamlined; one has to take care to maintain a very strict budget as overspending in this area is easy, especially if the owner is the designer.


I will actually say that if budget is an issue and for new business owners it almost always is; spending money on design (fabrics, trim and the actually making of the samples) are of prime import but be aware of waste…plan, plan, plan! Spending time in the planning stages, researching prices (especially when credit is available), using swatches and samples of trim could go a long way.


Overbuying in the sampling stage can be very costly. Generally, a smaller business could have a small team with a patternmaker and sewer/cutter. Preferably in one place, to minimize waste of time and expense in travel. I personally like to hire people who can do multiple functions as needed.

Designing a system

Put a system in place that will minimize costly mistakes, so that all know what steps need to be followed. A system, such as, how the sketches are delegated to the pattern maker (questions must be answered), how information regarding the fabric and trim is given, who handles any special treatments and testing, and so on. This should all be set up to flow from one section to another. A patternmaker, a sewer and cutter working in symphony, as well as, being responsible for each of their jobs makes for a smoother operation. Having a meeting with all team members in the design room (and some key members of production) is a good way to start the sampling and design process.


The next step and probably the most important part is marketing.

Nobody will buy your beautiful designs if no one sees it. Plan out how you will roll out your creations:

Finding or growing your sales force in the Apparel Mart in your area is a solid start. Here I suggest you take your best samples (and selling information if available) and basically hit the road (or the phone as the case may be). If you have existing retail store customers asking for advice or referrals from your buyers is the best way to go.

Wrapping it up

Budgeting for and researching the best trade shows that your business can participate in are imperative. Whether it is in the early stage or down the line, this is the most effective way to get your designs/collections noticed by a much bigger retail audience then your immediate area will provide, unless you are in the New York area. The New York markets are the most attended markets in the US and a good amount of business can come from having a well-connected sales rep there. The trade shows can be very expensive and must be planned out over time, dependant on the revenue received, unless another funding source is made available (to be discussed in coming releases). Finally, you can manage your design and development very efficiently if you plan. You must be sure that your team is competent and responsible to do their part to bring the plan to life. In this way, you can easily see how you will move ahead, and where you need to improve in terms of resources, expertise or re-planning. Watch every stage…the research, design and sampling…and know that every person in your team is there because they can do their job.

If you’re looking for a company that is going to put your vision first and make your dream clothing line a reality, then CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE DEVELOPMENTAL BOOTCAMP to get you started NOW!


(Inspired by an early Indie Source feature by Evie Seifu)

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