Fashion is a way of expressing creativity and style. Statistics show that top fashion businesses in Nigeria earn above one hundred million naira every year. This article is a guide to assist those who want to start a fashion business in Nigeria.
How to start a fashion business
- Identify your unique selling point:
Before starting a fashion business, consider the value you intend to offer the buyer. Your fashion business has to make a difference in the lives of your customers. It might be in the product you are selling, how you sell it, or the service you offer.
- Specify your target audience:
Identifying a target audience will help you understand your customers’ needs better. It will also help you improve the services you offer.
- Write a business plan:
A fashion business plan helps to identify the business purpose, the startup cost, the competitors, and advertisement methods.
- Register your fashion business:
A business that you register under the CAC will give people evidence it is legal. It will also deter frauds who want to steal your business identity.
- Brand your fashion business:
Branding a business has to do with the business name, logo, tagline, colours and others. You can use this to create social media pages, a website, and an online store.
- Buy equipment and supplies:
Every fashion business needs supplies and equipment. Like in fashion design, you need sewing machines and other sewing equipment. For a boutique, you need to rent a store, furnish it and stock it with outfits. You must make proper enquiries to know which supplies you need for your type of fashion business to flourish.
- Market and advertise:
To make sales, plan the best methods of advertisement that will easily catch the attention of your target audience and convert them to customers.
How to raise money for the fashion business
The saying, to make money you need money has never been truer as regards starting a fashion business. Depending on the scale of the fashion business, you will need from #200,000 above to start.
So how can you raise money for it?
To start a business, you need time to plan and save up. A calculation of the cost will give you an idea of how much to raise. With this sum in mind, create a budget to manage your spending and help save up for your fashion business.
- Financial help from family and friends:
To get financial help from family and friends, explain the purpose of your fashion business and politely ask them for support and financial aid.
You can get loans from banks and other financial institutions. However, most people are apprehensive about dealing with banks. They can approach business owners for a loan to start their business.
- Angel Investors and Partners:
If the cost of starting a fashion business is above your budget, approach people who are financially stable to invest or become partners. Then split the bill and pay the expenses. It is important to remember that this means you are not the sole proprietor of your business anymore and you have given the partner equal rights to your business.
Opportunities in the fashion business in Nigeria
The fashion business in Nigeria has several career opportunities that many do not know. Below are some of them:
- Fashion illustration:
While there are many talented fashion designers in Nigeria, it seems few of them focus on becoming fashion illustrators. A fashion illustrator is a person who conceives creative fashion ideas and styles in their minds and uses drawing materials to make sketches to bring these illustrations to life.
- Fabric sourcing:
Advanced fashion designers do not go to the market to source fabrics or materials. Instead, they employ someone who knows quality fabrics to go do the sourcing.
Because fashion has a lot of new trends daily, there is a need for people who will make patterns of clothing using papers or other ordinary materials and sell them to fashion designers.
Export potentials for the fashion business
Exportation from Nigeria in the fashion business has a lot of potential today. Because of the recent awareness about Africa and its rich, beautiful culture, the world has picked interest in African fashion, appreciating the vibrant colours and variety of African fabrics.
With some business proof and evidence of legibility, anybody interested in the exportation of fashion items can approach companies or sellers outside the country to strike up a bargain. Social media can also help to meet prospective buyers and inquire if they will be interested in wholesale buying of these items.
Importation potentials of the fashion business
Importation of fashion items like clothing and footwear into Nigeria seems to be on the higher side too. Manufacturers produce these clothes cheaply in countries like China and advertise them on sites like Alibaba or other dropshipping sites for interested parties to negotiate and buy these items in bulk. The good thing about most of these sites is that they allow people to order in various quantities, from a small bulk to larger ones. This is beneficial for people who do not have too much money and cannot afford a large quantity.
Challenges facing the fashion industry
- Textile production: Currently, the rate of cotton production is low in Nigeria and this has affected the rate of production of fabrics. This is partly because of the ban on textile importers getting foreign exchange.
- Credit loans and grants: Most people interested in starting a fashion business do not have access to loans and grants from financial institutions and the government. This has made it harder for fashion designers to invest in new fashion ideas and expansion.
- Electricity: The erratic electricity in Nigeria affects the production of fashion items either by manufacturers or by individual fashion houses and designers.
- Fabric quality: because of a lack of capital and human resources, the quality of many fabrics being produced is low. Affecting the durability of this fabric leads to rejection, as most buyers, especially foreign ones, refuse to accept it.
Top fashion houses/businesses in Nigeria
Deola Sagoe, the owner of the prestigious House of Deola, a fashion house that opened in 2008 and is famous for adding the African feel to modern styles. With the use of Aso-oke, which is handwoven by weavers and a tough fabric to sew, Deola Sagoe has successfully made various collections of it for brides and other purposes. Making a name for herself in the fashion industry worldwide and the country, she has earned millions of naira because of her creativity and ingenuity.
- Lisa Folawiyo:
Lisa Folawiyo is a globally known fashion brand that specializes in using Ankara or West African fabric to make urban and luxurious women wear. This brand had earned its reputation worldwide with its aesthetics and traditional look. Popular magazines like Vogue, Essence, NYT, and others have featured her fashion house.
- Atafo Official:
Atafo Official is a fashion brand owned by Ohimai Atafo. It makes bespoke and ready-to-wear outfits for men, women, and even bridal collections. Atafo Official has been a part of various fashion weeks, like the Spring Fashion Show in Paris, the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Africa, and many more.
- Duro Olowu:
This is another top brand named after its owner and designer. Duro Olowu is famous for its use and mix of unexpected fabric colours to create outstanding designs. Euro Olowu has received a lot of international recognition. They awarded him New Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, Best International Designer at the African Fashion Awards, amongst others.
- Lanre da Silva Ajayi:
Lanre da Silva Ajayi launched her fashion branch in 2005 and she named it herself. People know her brand for its use of metallic fabrics and African patterns to make high couture and daily ready-to-wear outfits for women. Her collection has gotten a feature in top magazines and fashion shows like at the New York Fashion week and they sold her clothing line at the Dolce and Gabbana store in Milan and many others.
Ten fashion business ideas you can start
- Open an online boutique:
Online boutiques are getting famous and well-liked by people because no one wants to go through the stress of walking about in the market to look for clothes. If you know where you can bulk buy these outfits and resell them at an affordable rate, then open an online boutique, either on social media or e-commerce. Advertise and promote your business to your friends and other people on Instagram. The more reviews you get, the more customers will come your way.
- Sell African streetwear:
If you are not a fashion designer, you can strike a deal with fashion designers to make this African streetwear in bulk at a certain price. You can even look for customers before starting by showing people a sample and producing only for the interested persons.
- Make and sell accessories:
Accessories complement daily outfits. People like to add more accessories to their look before they step out. Accessories are cheap and easy to produce.
- Become a fashion designer:
Just like we have seen from top fashion houses, you need creativity to make a difference and have a unique selling point. Those who are inventive enough to do this can learn to become fashion designers.
Many people such as thrift wear sellers and wholesalers usually do clothing importation, but they usually buy from manufacturers in countries like China. The prices are usually affordable and that is the reason these importers currently have a high level of customers.
- Exportation of African fabrics:
Many fashion designers, both African and non-African, need quality African fabrics. Some fabrics like the Aso-oke, the Adire and even mud clothes are hard to find in non-African countries. If you can get a reliable supplier, maybe in a rural area, approach these foreign designers through email or Instagram and offer to export these fabrics to them.
- Mend clothes:
Even new clothing can get torn or need some adjustments to fit a person. With basic sewing skills, you can open a store for just mending and alterations. This fashion business is profitable because the level of competition is low.
- Fashion design school:
You don’t need to be a fashion designer to open a fashion school. As long as you have enough startup capital to rent a space, furnish it to a high standard and employ skilled fashion designers. This fashion business will bring profits, as many people attend fashion schools to improve their skills or start a fashion business.
- Start a fashion blog:
Because of the need to make a fashion statement, people always ask for advice about what to wear with what or how to combine outfits or accessories. You can gain popularity with a fashion blog and earn money as a fashion influencer from fashion companies only if you give good advice and make a reputation.
A physical boutique is a store where people sell fashionable clothing. To increase the customer traffic, one can specialize in selling only dinner wear, streetwear, maternity wear, babywear, etc. Specializing in one type of clothing will make your boutique popular among people in your vicinity.
If you have ever wondered or considered going into the fashion industry, then here is your chance to do so. Fashion, especially African fashion, is gaining popularity worldwide, and there are different ways you can join the bandwagon.
Get inspiration from others who have made it to the top and try out the ideas listed in this article. Who knows, you may become the next top fashion designer.
General opinion on fashion business
Image Credits: All images on this website are sources from Getty Images, Pexels and Unsplash.