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Fashion entrepreneurs and start-ups

It is not unusual for individuals in the fashion industry to want to start a new business, that is, they want to be entrepreneurs.
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It is not unusual for individuals in the fashion industry to want to start a new business, that is, they want to be entrepreneurs.

According to dictionary.com (2018), an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”

Fashion entrepreneurs create these businesses within various sectors of the fashion industry—design, branding, marketing, technology related to fashion, or retailing.

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The term start-up (or startup) is used to describe a new business venture of an entrepreneur with the intent that the business will grow beyond the initial founder(s). Therefore, depending on the purpose and intent of the business model, the number of people involved in creating the business, and the financial risks assumed by the owners, entrepreneurs will typically create their new businesses as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or LLC. As start-ups grow and evolve, they may become privately held corporations and then, if so desired, file for an IPO to become publicly traded corporations.

Because of personal satisfaction and potential, entrepreneurship is a coveted endeavor. In general, successful fashion entrepreneurs possess the following characteristics (Fitzgerald 2015):

  • Determination—successful fashion entrepreneurs realize that success does not happen overnight and that even though there will be times that they will want to quit, they will continue to move the business forward.
  • Passion—successful fashion entrepreneurs know the “why” behind their businesses, the reason why they do what they do and what motivates them. Passion is not motivated by money but from a more meaningful value.
  • Resilience—“successful fashion entrepreneurs are not afraid of failure,” and when endeavors do not go as planned, they keep moving forward.
  • Confidence—successful fashion entrepreneurs are confident in themselves and their abilities; but not to the extent to which their egos take over and they believe that their businesses are guaranteed to succeed.
  • Vision—successful fashion entrepreneurs have a clear vision of what their brand represents and an articulated mission to guide the business.
  • Flexibility—successful fashion entrepreneurs realize that the fashion industry is always changing, and therefore, they continually learn and adapt to new opportunities.
  • Effective Communication—successful fashion entrepreneurs are constantly “selling”—their vision to investors, their products/services to potential clients, and motivating employees. Effective communication is imperative to develop relationships necessary for success.
  • Risk Tolerance—successful fashion entrepreneurs “must be comfortable with risk,” engage risks as opportunities, and take action to mitigate business risk.

Many websites, books (e.g., Granger, Sterling & Cantrell 2019), courses, and higher education degree programs are available to assist entrepreneurs in legally starting the business, securing investors, creating a vision and mission that will guide the business, managing the day-to-day operations, and growing the business as desired.

For example, the online resource, The Business of Fashion, offers educational collections on fashion entrepreneurship (Fashion Entrepreneurship 2018). Maker’s Row assists brands, designers, and product developers in starting their own businesses in the United States, finding US contractors throughout the supply chain, and showcasing US-made products.

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Business Law and the Fashion Industry

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