It’s great to have a passion and a dream. The only problem is when everyone else has the same passion or dream! If Instagram hashtags are any indicator, jewelry and fashion design are very popular interests and aspirations. And why not? What can be more exciting than not just being able to make a living off of your passion but also thrive and be celebrated for your own designs? While competition is fierce, all is not lost.
Here at Alamode Fashion Jewelry, we have been behind the scenes for over 30 years supplying, designing and manufacturing fashion jewelry for customers ranging from the largest department stores to small mom and pop boutiques. While not nearly as many startups rocket to success as ones that quietly wither away, here are the three initial questions that all successful fashion jewelry startup brands have to answer before they can find their way.
- Are you an influencer or an aggregator?
Do you want people to follow you or do you want to be a follower? While this may seem like an obvious and loaded question, there is no right answer here. In fact, it could be argued that fashion brands that aggregate and can communicate the latest trends are more likely to be financially successful that brands are completely forging new ground. The reason for this difference is simple: a brand that condenses the latest and greatest has a preexisting, built-in audience, while the alternative will have to start from scratch. Of course, an aggregator rarely reaches the heights of notoriety of a unique fashion brand built from the ground up. The good news is you are not locked into one strategy. Many successful small brands have reached success after switching from one strategy to another. The risk is trying to do both and splitting your focus at being the best in your category.
2. Who is your customer?
Your answer to question #1 will help you determine this next question: who is your customer? The most common fallacy is that the bigger the market, the bigger the likelihood of success. In reality, the only thing you will find from a big market is immense competition. Instead, think small. Be the best (and ideally, only) choice that the potential customer will have when looking in your specific niche. Are you an animal lover? Be the brand with the cutest and most luxurious jewelry that matches your puppy’s collar and leash. Into CrossFit? Be the only jewelry that’s safe to wear during an intense training session. The key takeaway here is that the more focused the brand, the less competition and the better the likelihood of success.
3. What is your sales channel?
Another seemingly obvious question: where will you sell your merchandise? Well, it’s the internet of course!
Not so fast, are you going to start your own store? Are you going to build it yourself with Shopify or Squarespace or hire a developer? Are you going to list on an existing marketplace like Amazon or Walmart? There have been many brands that started small on eBay or Esty. Even Nasty Gal famously started as an eBay shop. The problem with these channels is the same as all of the other difficulties listed above: competition. The old mentality of “make a great product and put it out there” no longer works. There is simply too much noise on the internet and you as a small startup will be quickly buried.
Our advice is that while you have to be on the Internet no matter what, think of it as a means to reach your community rather than the other way around. Find your community first. For best results, start small and in the real world. Do people in your church love your tasteful accessories? Offer a coupon code to your congregation. Does your friend run the local farmer’s market? See if you can get a small table to sell your merchandise while promoting your site and brand.
Maybe your community is online. That’s even better! If you’re influential in an online forum or run a popular Instagram account then you’re set. But just remember, your online store should serve your community, not the other way around.
And that’s it! You have a long and fulfilling journey ahead of you. These are just the first few questions that you will have to answer on your path to success and Alamode Fashion Jewelry is always available to supply you beautiful products from our over 10,000 item catalog. We can also model, cast and prototype your existing designs or even just a sketch or image with our DNA Custom Design service. Drop us a line any time at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you!