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UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Tips and Steps to Start a Business

posted by Sylvie Serant

My name is Sylvie Serant, I am an LIM graduate and founder of BATA NYC. This is a fashion label focused on organic creation, community, and sustainability. To me, the hardest part about starting a business … was actually starting. In the following, I will share information I learned along the way that I hope will make the process a bit less intimidating for anyone interested in starting their own business.

sylvie

WEBSITES & DOMAIN NAMES

Playing around with how you would want your website to look is one of the first and important steps to catapulting you into making your ideas more tangible. This was one of my first steps.

You can design a website and enter into a payment plan only when you are ready to publish it! I originally was using Wix and switched to Squarespace because I personally preferred their formatting, navigation, and payment plan options.

Do your research to see which platform might be best for you and your business! Website building platforms allow you to purchase your domain directly through them as well.

CORPORATE EMAILS

Wondering how to get an “email@brandname.com” e-mail address?

In order to acquire a "___@brandname.com" e-mail, the first step is to simply purchase your domain name.

I used Squarespace for my website which made it very simple for me to search for and purchase my domain right through them. This took about 5 minutes and the cost starts at $20/year (depending on your domain).

Once you have your domain, you can now create a Google Suite Account (if you're into google like me, I highly recommend it) which will walk you through how to set up and link your email to your site.

G-Suite accounts start at $6/month for the most basic plan.

EIN NUMBERS & FILING FOR AN LLC

Getting an LLC in NY costs $200-$225 to file your Articles of Organization. The whole process can be done in as little as 10 minutes! Once the name of your LLC is approved, you are all set and can now move on knowing that all liabilities of your business will fall on the business itself and not on you as the business owner in the eyes of the law. This means that your LLC is now treated as a separate entity in the eyes of the law. This may not be necessary for everyone but take this into consideration when you are going into business.

All you need is your credit card and the name of your company and the rest is self-explanatory as you go through the process.

EIN Numbers are like a Social Security Number but for your business entity. This can cost $160-220 in NYS and is a 5 minute process. This is necessary for getting tax cuts and for your business to be accountable for its taxes.

Here is the URL to apply for your EIN#.

This URL is a guide to everything you need to know about business entities.

This is the URL to register an LLC in NYS.

FINANCING

One of my greatest lessons in life: Stop spending your own money.

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Save some of your own cash of course but I know how long it can take to save what you actually need to start your own business and still provide for yourself with your personal wages.

Finding investors, raising money from your community using gofundme.com, or start selling with something small and use the profits to finance your greater endeavors. There are also hundreds of grants available for small businesses via a quick google search, especially for women and people of color. Where there is a will there's a way, but you have to start.

@ElevateTheCollective, @Artbinges, and Forbes are great resources for learning more about finance & other important life things that I personally use for advice.

PRODUCTION & PRODUCT LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT FOR APPAREL

In the simplest way, here are the steps to getting your designs into production.

CFDA is an amazing resource for finding the right factories for your ideas.

Have sketches of what you want with detailed Tech Packs you could give a factory so they have an idea of what you want. Many factories are willing to work with emerging designers and will help you refine your ideas.

This can be very expensive and just the sample production for one style can start at $450 for contemporary+ brands looking to manufacture somewhere like NYC. Of course, there are alternatives like hiring freelancers, doing it yourself, or working overseas. This is an important step however that you really don't want to skip to make sure that your ideas are translating properly.

Starting out can be tricky if you don't have any background. LIM is a fashion business school, so I thankfully have plenty of knowledge on this already. I plan on going over these in more depth in the future but here are things you will likely need and can research more on if you are interested in starting a clothing company.

  • Assortment Plans

  • Style Sheet

  • Cost Sheets

  • FOB & YDS Sheets

  • WIP Charts

  • Color Palettes

  • Style Names & Style Numbers

  • Vendor References

  • Mood Boards

Google Drive is my favorite tool at the moment for organizing and keeping these documents while I do not have access to more sophisticated databases/programs like Yunique PLM or RLM for Product Development and PLM purposes.

PRODUCING A PHOTOSHOOT

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Set: Make sure you plan for any and all equipment you might need! Sometimes that means bringing pins, clips, hair and makeup tools, photography/video equipment rental, a backdrop. Always over prepare.

Crew: Think about who you need on set based on the nature of your project. Photographer, Videographer, Set Assistants, Stylists, MUA & Hair Stylists to name some of the more commonly necessary people on a set. Make sure who you are hiring are prepared and able to work with your models (Can they do a black woman's hair? Can they style all sizes? Can they capture people of color well?)

Contracts: Make sure you have written agreements for the usage of your materia. Is the model's face being captured? Is there nudity? Is the model under 18? Always get consent forms

Schedule: I can not stress this enough. Schedule your shoot to down to the minute if you have to but try your best not to waste anybody's time or go over the amount of time you might have booked in a studio space. Be prepared and know what you are trying to capture so you get exactly what you want out of all your hard work. Preparing a mood board and a shot list is a great way of communicating to the producer or photographer exactly what needs to be captured.

Topics: fashion business, tips, business, Starting a business

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