All business undertakings come with a certain amount of risk. When you’re trying to break into the fashion industry, things will be no different. However, some entrepreneurial decisions can make matters more complicated than they usually need to be.
Unfortunately, creating a sustainable fashion brand is one of those things. While it’s definitely a cause worth investing in – especially when we consider the multitude of ecological and social consequences of the fast fashion industry – sustainable fashion is also a niche that requires you to meticulously prepare before you’ve even started product development.
So, if you’re thinking about creating a sustainable fashion brand, here are the four greatest challenges you should count on for the process.
A Complicated Supply Chain
Probably the greatest challenge of designing eco-conscious clothing and accessories is going to be keeping an eye on your supply chain.
Even when your intentions are good, sourcing fabrics and ensuring that the people involved in making them receive fair compensation can be a mindboggling task. Just take a look at what happened to Patagonia, a company with a relatively good reputation, that was found to be complicit in human rights atrocities in the Uyghur region of China.
Unfortunately, as an up-and-coming small business, you can’t afford such a faux pas.
That’s why the first thing you should do is to conduct extensive research into viable fabric options. If possible, go with naturals like organic cotton and linen, or opt for engineered materials like Tencel. Secondly, make sure that you source locally and that you’re aware of the carbon footprint that results in any unnecessary shipping.
Finally, don’t forget that without treating all the people in your supply chain with respect and dignity, you cannot call yourself a sustainable brand. So make sure you offer fair wages and nurture a positive company culture in your organization.
The last few years have seen a drastic increase in the number of sustainable fashion brands in the market. And, if you’re just getting started, this might be a worrying fact.
According to a 2018 survey by Good Must Grow, 44% of consumers found that socially responsible products cost too much. And if this sentiment means them turning towards your fast-fashion competitors, then you’ve got yourself a problem.
As you’re probably aware, engaging in price wars isn’t the best way to increase your bottom line. After all, very few entrepreneurs have financial padding to afford to operate at a loss.
So, instead of degrading the value of your hard work, you’ll need to find better ways to make your business profitable.
- Firstly, make sure you’ve got a solid financial plan and a trusted advisor.
- Secondly, realize that investing in various forms of marketing, especially organic reach, is going to be crucial.
- Lastly, make sure that you regularly run audits and analyses so that you can react to any hardships on time.
Finding the Right Voice for Your Brand
Once you’ve got the technical details of running a business down, it’s time to get thinking about how you can appeal to your target audience.
Brand identity is going to be a huge aspect of your success as a sustainable fashion brand. That’s why you want to make sure you’ve come up with the best possible one for your business.
In addition to getting a great logo and website, you also need to consider your brand’s voice. What’s your company’s personality? How do you communicate with your audience? What points do you bond over with them?
You need to have a clear vision for your brand, even before you get started, especially as consistency is one of the key elements of successful branding. Make sure that all your marketing efforts build on the same pillars. Stay true to your values, communicate them to your audience, and own up to your mistakes.
In the end, you want to build up a business that’s long-lived and successful. And the best way to do so is by investing in strong relationships with your customers.
The Inevitability of Mistakes
Finally, my last piece of advice is to accept early on that you’re only human, and that you’re going into uncharted waters. Ultimately, this means that you’re bound to make a couple of mistakes along the way. But don’t worry. That’s a completely normal aspect of any business venture.
To ensure that your sustainable fashion brand thrives, I highly suggest that you adopt a growth mindset as soon as possible. Realize that errors don’t have to mean the end of the road – they could just as well be a shortcut to life’s next stage.
If, by any chance, you find yourself in a predicament, approach the problem systematically. Look for effective ways to overcome obstacles. Ask for advice. Understand that worry won’t get you far. And, of course, make sure that you always practice honest and open communication.
Being upfront about possible setbacks doesn’t have to mean going out of business. On the contrary, it means that you’re practicing what you preach and giving your clients or partners correct information. After all, no one’s perfect. But being honest about things is definitely a better way to build customer loyalty than deception or greenwashing.
As you can see, creating a sustainable fashion brand entails much more than designs and fabrics. As with any business undertaking, it requires careful planning and lots of resilience.
But despite its challenges, it’s also a rewarding adventure. After all, it allows you to combine aesthetic experience with practices that have a positive impact on the environment and community. So even if you are worried about what lies ahead, keep this in mind. Because, in the end, no work is as satisfying as that which we’re passionate about.