A guest blog from ICE member Carly Thompsett, the founder and director of clothing company, Anaphase.
1. Use their logo as first print and expect the business to take off
Most brands will design their logo and have it printed or photoshopped on a t-shirt to advertise. As you are a clothing brand that has just appeared out of nowhere, people aren’t going to buy some random company’s logo and wear it with pride like Nikè. Doesn’t matter how good you think it looks, it won’t be your ‘thing’ that jump starts your business.
2. Over price things to make it look desirable
When people ask me for advice on how to price their items, every single person without fail as said ‘I make it more expensive so people think it’s worth it’. I’m sorry but that isn’t how it works and it isn’t how people think. ‘Oh a t-shirt that has a random companies logo on is priced at £22, I must buy it’. With this, people do get told different information like, you can always come down in price but can’t always go up, yes that is true but you’re also a customer so think about what you would do.
3. Lie about how long the business has been running for
This again is a common one. I don’t know why people think this is a good thing to lie about because it is an odd one. People don’t care how long your business has been running for if you have the items people want to buy, if you have the right stock it would be the least of your worries too. I’ve had a 24 year old ask for advice on how to get a good brand when his new business was ‘started’ 3 years before his own father was born. Don’t blatantly lie, it’s telling your customers you think they’re stupid.
4. Design designs that they like and not asking what the customer wants
We are guilty of this, when we first started we had 13 designs out and we loved them, but they weren’t selling. People would say ‘maybe people don’t like them’ and of course I took it to heart because I loved them. Then one day it hit me, I’m not my customer, just because I like them doesn’t mean everyone will, so I did some research, I asked people questions, what kind of things they liked etc and then came up with 5 designs that are now popular. You NEED to do research to start up a business, you need to know what’s out there and what people want.
5. Buying followers to look more credible and no tweets have any attention
This one is a bug bare of mine. Clothing brand accounts that have 15,000 followers and higher and their tweets have no interactions at all, that makes it obvious that you’ve just bought followers to look like a bigger company. You need to bring your own customers and followers in, you may need to start using hash tags so people find you, but don’t give in to buying followers, it isn’t worth it and again makes your customers feel you think they’re stupid enough to believe it.
6. Lying about who they’re sponsoring to get their brand out there
This is normally a common one when someone doesn’t ask for advice but wants to try show off, so says things like ‘I know someone who knows Harry Styles who says they’ll give him my t-shirt’ or ‘I know someone who knows the manager of a football club and said I can advertise for free around the pitch’, these people are usually lying because they would have done it already, it’s to make them or their business look better; which a lot of people can see through the lies. Even if their ‘friend’ does actually know someone famous, that said person may not like the shirt, may not like the design, may think it’s cheeky, may think it’s rude, may have no intention of helping a small business out. You can’t rely on someone with cred to help you out, a lot of people had to do it them selves, so can you.
7. Not have a website and just use social media
I see a lot of new brands just have one social media page which usually are twitter or Instagram. I feel it’s one of those because it’s easier to lie to strangers then it is to people you know. The best way to get your company out there is by using all ways possible. So create a Facebook page and add your friends, create a website and post the link everywhere. A lot of potential customers will sit and watch you, watch what you post, watch how you say things and something will pop up that they like and they’ll buy it. Constantly remind people that you are there, how many times have you gone into a website, thought oh I’ll come back on pay day and completely forget. It’s what your customers do too, so my advice on this is to get as much coverage as you can.
8. Ask advice then tell you they can do better and fail
People ask us a lot of advice on how to do things, although I don’t like to give out a lot of answers to what could be my competitors I will guide them in the right way to find the answer themselves but what I dislike a lot is how some people want an easy ride and get aggressive when you don’t tell them straight up. We had to work it out on our own, so why can’t you? You can ask any company for advice and they don’t have to answer you at all, so do not get aggressive to someone for not wanting to give away their secrets. These kind of people will also then try and make you feel stupid by saying ‘well I have 25,000 followers on twitter and they all like it and 20,000 on LinkedIn and I’ve had nothing but good things’, if all those followers were real you wouldn’t be asking me for advice.
9. People thinking it’s easy to set up a brand
People think it’s really simple and easy to set up a clothing brand. Wrong, it’s incredible hard and you have to be dedicated. It takes a lot of time and planning to start it up, then you have to make a name for yourself and get stock etc. Clothing brands seem to be popping up everywhere at the moment and that’s because people think it’s a walk in the park until they start up. The better research you’ve done the better your business will be.
10. Find honest people who will give you honest feedback
The thing I find with some brands is they get their friends to advertise, there is nothing with that BUT they give out stock for free to these friends and that’s the only reason friends are interested. If friends and family members won’t pay to purchase your stuff to help promote you, you need to do more research on what to sell. If people will only advertise you or promote you if they don’t have to pay, then find new people.
11. Don’t spend money on things you don’t need
This will seem harder because we all think we need things when in reality we could have worked without it. There will a time in a few years and you’ll look back at money you wasted on something that you’ve never used and kick yourself. We all do it, but when starting up make sure you make lists and work our prices and make sure you really need the things on the list.