Validate Your Fashion Product or Biz Before You Launch
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Validate Your Fashion Product or Biz Before You Launch

The “Will it Work?”Fashion Product Feasibility Course
4.0 (2 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
5 students enrolled
Created by Adila Cokar
Last updated 4/2020
English [Auto]
Current price: $13.99 Original price: $19.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 3 hours on-demand video
  • 14 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Market Research & Analysis For A New Fashion Product or Biz
  • no course requirements

Got an amazing idea but not sure if it’ll be profitable?

Get data-backed validation before you invest the big bucks.

Perfect if you:

*Have an amazing idea on how to impact the fashion industry

*Are ready to overcome the feeling of being stuck or frustrated

* Want to hone your niche

* Are looking to lock down your manufacturing costs and pricing model

* Want certainty that your products will sell


You would never get in a bath without testing the water, so why would you launch a product without first assessing how hot or cool the market for it is? No matter what size or type of business you run, performing market research is critical to your overall success. Determining everything from sales and marketing to product development serves as the foundation of the entire business strategy.

Research also informs the creative process. The insights you get from your research can influence your actual product design, as well as pricing and marketing strategies.

Ultimately, the goal is to find a niche, prove your product can sell, and fill the demand.


Step by step, here’s the process we go through with you. At the end of it, you’ll have a targeted business strategy that’s based on cold hard facts rather than on feelings.

  • How to identify a viable business idea, niche and create a targeted strategy;

  • How to analyze market research to minimize the risk;

  • How to confidently make business decisions to generate growth;

  • How to price, cost and manage budgets to plan for profitability;

  • Insights into actual product design and marketing strategies.


  • Smart Goals Worksheet

  • List Of Dee’s Favorite Trade Shows

  • Competitor Matrix Template

  • List Of Government Sources

  • Royalty-Free Images Resource List

  • Target & Wholesale, Retail Cost Calculator Cheat Sheet

  • Trend Forecasting Cheat Sheet

Who this course is for:
  • Fashion designers, entrepreneurs, no experience required
Course content
Expand all 24 lectures 02:52:15
+ Introduction
1 lecture 06:42

Hi! I'm super excited to join you on your journey to building the next amazing biz. Just a quick video on what to expect:)

Preview 06:42
+ Market Research
4 lectures 40:00

Understand The 5 W's of Research- What research is. Who does the research. Why we are doing the research, who does the research, and what we want to get out of it.

WHY Do Research?

Successful brands start the process by doing a significant amount of research before adopting a product into their offerings. Ultimately, the goal is to find a niche, prove it can sell, and fill the demand. startups selling fewer items will minimize risk, improve manufacturing efficiencies, and help manage reasonable budgets. Starting with one to six designs will help maintain control while streamlining the process of growth. I recommend not offering more than two colors for any given style or product. This may seem small, but there is a lot to manage and juggle, especially if the product comes in multiple sizes.

Never underestimate the importance of market research. Not bothering with market research is an easy way to condemn your business vision to an early grave. No matter what size or type of enterprise you run, performing market research is critical to your overall success, as it serves as the foundation of the entire business strategy, determining everything from sales and marketing to product development. Research is essential to the creative process. The insights you get from your research data direct you to actual product design, as well as pricing and marketing strategies.

Typically, when entrepreneurs hear the phrase "market research," their thoughts immediately go to competitive research, since it helps to see how they measure up to others within the marketplace. While researching competitors is an important aspect of market research, it's not the only aspect.

Target market research, or the collection of data regarding customers' preferences and behaviours, is also essential. Understanding the target consumer will ultimately help you to address their problems so you can design better products that "speak" to consumers.

As long as consumers have problems, they will always shop for solutions. People will always look for better, faster, and smarter ways to accomplish everyday tasks. And fortunately for many entrepreneurs, there is still much room for improvement in many existing products. The biggest challenge for most startups is finding these painful problems and coming up with solutions for them.

Using a combination of research methods can help you create a targeted business strategy that's based on cold hard facts rather than on feelings. Ultimately, research enables you to confidently make business decisions, that will, in turn, generate growth.

Market Research; It's Not Just For The Big Boys (Or Gals)

For good reason, big brands pay big bucks for private research companies to gather and interpret data. These corporations rely on these research companies for comprehensive information and analysis of consumer spending and shopping behavior, so that they can design customized solutions and drive better business decisions. Careful examination of quality research ultimately reduces risk. In addition to businesses that provide customized solutions, many of the more prominent brands use third-party market research companies, such as WGSN (World Global Style Network), who are paid upwards of $10,000 yearly for memberships. The same information is accessible to all their members.

NOW… I'm not suggesting paying for all this, especially when you can do it at a fraction of the cost. In fact, the research should be both collected and analyzed by the designer. Getting your hands dirty is the best way to drive better business decisions. (Whatever you do, just don't get any of it on the garments).

Forbes magazine famously notes that 90% of startups fail. Nine out of ten! What?! Now that is a hard stat to swallow. Cold statistics like these, however, are not intended to discourage you, but to encourage you to work smarter.

Forbes reported the top reason that startups fail is: "They make products no one wants."1 A careful survey of failed startups determined that 42% of them identified the "lack of a market need for their product" as the single biggest reason for their failure. If you're going to spend your time making a product, then spend your time making sure it's the right product for the right market."

If you have an idea, great! Research it! Wouldn’t you feel a lot better being able to validate an idea before you invest the big bucks? The research will confirm your key startup assumptions and give you actionable insights into how to price, design, and select every component that goes into each product.

When To Research?

Research is not a "set it and forget it" activity. Researching the target audience and analyzing the competition are activities that you need to do before you start a business, and then on a daily basis once you've got everything humming along.

By conducting research on a regular basis, you can keep up with the dynamics of the economy. You can also adjust to new regulations and technological breakthroughs.

Part of being prepared with market research is avoiding unpleasant surprises. Intuition and experience can be helpful at times, but research and facts often paint a more accurate picture of what is happening in the market.

Pre-launch: The data collected before launch helps you analyze who the target market is and if it is big enough to support your fashion business. You want to learn what consumers need. Most importantly, are you solving a problem? Scope out the competition. What makes you different and how can you have a competitive edge over them?

Post-launch: Ongoing target audience and competitive research will help you find more customers. The data collected will help you implement insights that attract repeat business. Existing businesses must still gather and analyze research for insights into successful marketing campaigns to offer new products. Are the various ways they promote something you can do?

What Are The Types Of Research?

Ready to become a research nerd? When conducting market research, you should gather two types of data: primary and secondary analysis. There are various methods of collecting each one.

Primary Research

Primary research is original information gathered through your own efforts to respond to a specific question or set of questions aimed at your target customer. Sure, you can hire a market research company, but, if you truly want to gain an understanding and strategize, better to get your hands dirty. You can gather your data via surveys, focus groups, and a multitude of other methods from past, prospective, and current customers.

Secondary Research

Secondary research is data that's already compiled and organized for you. It involves gathering statistics, reports, studies and other data from organizations such as government agencies, trade associations, and your local chamber of commerce. It also exploits existing resources like company records, surveys, research studies, and books, and applies the information to answer the question(s) you are asking.


First, it is essential to establish clear goals for the market research activity you're about to undertake. What do you need to know and why? Establish clear objectives for gaining insight into shopping behaviors, product attributes, demographics and more.


Let's say you want to develop innovative products that make it easier for working moms to contribute to a healthy planet. Your research goal, then, is to understand how they live their lives, so that you can respond more effectively to their needs with informed and inspired design solutions. For example, AppleCheeks Diapers, featured on Dragons Den, created a reusable diaper for the modern parent. Sew, what sets them apart from the others? Their diaper features a unique envelope design, similar to a pocket diaper, but with NO NEED TO TOUCH THE DOO-DOO. The absorbent inserts come right out in the wash!

Or, try this example. Suppose you've had a great idea for a product, something that is so amazing it's bound to capture the hearts and wallets of consumers everywhere. You've designed a children's pant that "grows" with the child's age.

The goal here: determine whether there really is a market for your design.

Example: how big is the market? (I need to know this so I understand how much $ I can make)

Who are my competitors ( I need to know this so I can figure out my niche)

Not only do you need to prove there is a market, but the product itself may also need fine-tuning. Perhaps you may need to use a closure that the child him/herself can alter without the help of an adult. You may also need to research both the child as well as the person with the wallet: the parent

After establishing your goals, the next thing you've got to figure out is who you're going to study. Are these current, prospective, or past clients? You may choose to select people in a specific group of consumers, age, sex, or other demographics.

Going back to the example of the eco-moms, you would choose to not only to gather information on the moms but on their nannies as well. Women based in higher income areas are the focus. (this is a rough idea of who u think you want to research)

Develop a strategy and select techniques you will use to gather data. Gathering a sufficient amount of both types of data will give you a better overall insight to the market and to verify if there is indeed a market for your product. You may not only need to use multiple methods but also several reiterations of one method. For example, you may decide to hold focus groups, conduct surveys, and talk to both group members and survey respondents in person.

Market Research Methods

1. Primary: (you collect information)

2. Secondary: (gathering existing data)

Preview 03:47

Establish Your Niche

You can't be everything to everyone. A niche market is a specific segment of a much larger market. Any market can be divided into smaller parts based on particular interests and demographics. It should be comprised of a tight, clear range of products sold to a tightly focused target group. Let’s say your market is babywear, your niche could be socially responsible moms or working mammas to be. From there it is easier to design products specifically for their needs.

Seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? After all, wouldn't it make more sense to go for a significant, broad market share? That's what a lot of first-time designers do: they spread themselves too thin by trying to appeal to everyone at once. Unfortunately, you can't compete with Wal-Mart (at least, not at first). You are just not producing a high enough volume of product to justify buying and selling at lower prices. When you try to appeal to all consumers, you have no brand identity, and it's very likely you will fade into obscurity. When you try to be all things to all people, no one notices you. Period.

There are so many options of a product flooding the market. Every product category from sportswear to promotional products is brimming with options and choices. Why would someone give you money? Understand, and watch competitors very carefully, not only to seek inspiration but to carve a niche for yourself. If you’re not offering something unique or doing it in a different way, your customers will have no reason to buy from you. If you give people enough reasons to buy your products, sales will flow. Think about what need or demand is not being satisfied. Where is the hole in the market, and can you fill it?

Narrowing your focus and not trying to be all things to all people can help you establish a stronger business reputation. When you have a tight niche, your outcome is more likely to attract consumer attention. A niche market allows you to define who you are marketing to, which makes it easier to speak to them. The media will also have a great angle for giving you press, in turn helping drive sales.

Standing Out In a Crowd

A narrow, tight niche sends a clear message about what your company does and represents. Consumers want simple, not complicated. Make it easy for people to understand what it is you do and why they might need you. Let’s say you design unique aprons with funny quotes, customers might perceive you as “the funny apron lady.” They will remember exactly where to go when they need an apron. Offering unique products will be what sets you apart from your competitors. Once consumers test your product and trust your company, it will be easier for you to introduce new products into the marketplace.

Examples of successful companies and their claim to fame:

  • Anyone can make a pair of blue jeans, but Levi Strauss & Co., founded in 1853, made the first blue jeans.

  • British Luxury Brand, Burberry - founded in 1856 - originally focused on outdoor apparel and is known for their trench coats.

What have you found through all the research you’ve collected? What is your niche?

How To Find Your Niche

“True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ―Helen Keller

Do you know you why? The purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do? To really communicate your message to your customer, incorporate your “why” into your designs. As author Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” I highly recommend reading Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. In his book, Sinek studies the thoughts, actions, and communication styles of the world’s most influential leaders. Sinek concludes that great leaders “inspire people to act” by giving them a sense of purpose or belonging. In other words, a call to action.

I'd totally recommend buying the book. For most people finding your why takes time. Watch the video to learn more.

What can you tell me about your why? Remember if you're not sure, it okay! Remember you can come back to this assignment anytime.

How To Find Your Purpose
+ Primary Research
7 lectures 01:02:56

customer avatar is a fictional character that represents your ideal prospect. When completed, it will help you understand the motivating beliefs, fears and secret desires that influence your customer's buying decisions. Your customer avatar will help you fine-tune your marketing efforts and help you understand why some products sell better than others. It also helps expose important gaps or conflicts in your marketing messages of which you may be unaware. This one exercise can lead to a dramatic transformation in your business.

If you sell to businesses, include what industry your customers are in, how many employees they have, how much annual revenue they generate, etc. If you sell to consumers or end users, include relevant demographic information such as age, education, household income and family status.

Please note: The information on this section will continually be updated so remember to go back to it whenever you discover something new. Keep this information handy to help people you work with to better understand your customer.

Answer each question so that your customer avatar as real to you as a living human being.

1. Think about your ideal customer.
-Lives where?
-School attended?
-Household Income?
Think of the general physique of your customer, how do you want the item to fit them?

For business to business customers:
-Who do they sell to?
-Annual revenue?
-Number of employees?
-Number of years in business?

2. Now flesh out the personal details. This will help you better understand your customer prospects and dramatically improve your marketing efforts:

-How many years in the current position?

-Current salary?

-How many jobs held during the course of their career?

-Political views?

-Religious views?

-Personal interests or hobbies?

3. Go deeper. Think about a typical day in the life of your ideal customer prospect.

-Favourite music bands?

-Favourite web sites?

-Source for breaking news?

-Source for industry or business news?

-What social media platforms? Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or other social media platforms?

-Personal goals?

-Family goals?

-Business goals?

4 .List at least 3 problems your ideal customer is having that makes them an ideal customer for your business?

5. What is the worst thing that could possibly happen to your ideal customer if their problem isn't eventually solved?
-How would this make your customer feel?
-How might their boss react?
-What would their friends think?
-What could happen to their career or personal lifestyle?
-What could be the financial consequences?
-What could be the professional consequences?
-What could be the personal consequences?
-What is your customer secretly afraid of?

6. What is the best thing that could possibly happen to your ideal customer if their problem is solved?
-What would their “perfect solution” look like?
-What is it that they really want, more than anything else?
-What would they be willing to pay almost anything for?
-How can your product or service match up to your customer's real needs and desires? How can your business help solve your customer's problems? What is it that you are trying to provide your customers?

Preview 09:22

Surveys: Uncover Answers To Specific, Important Questions

Surveys have proven to be vital in gathering useful information. Although it seems simple enough, it's important that you craft a well thought-out survey to ensure you don't waste precious time and money.

Going back to the first steps, ask yourself: what do I want to get out of this? What's more, conduct some preliminary research to help you come up with research questions that will give you insightful results.

What questions about your audience will help you create a product that will need not just simply want? What is keeping them up at night? What are there problems?

Prioritize these groups of questions and ask the most important ones first. You don’t want to overwhelm your customers with a long questionnaire.

If you need to create a separate survey - to better understand a separate issue-you can. Each group of questions can make up an individual survey that you can send by email at different times.

Whether you’re hitting a growth spurt in your business, just getting started or about to launch a brand, think about your customer’s experience and gear your questions to aspects that affect their journey with you.

The following are examples of questions you can include in your survey if you want feedback on product design. You can create some design sketches or give photographs of samples. Use these as a guide and get as specific as possible for your brand.

  • What was your first impression of this product?

  • Would this product solve your problem (or) how could this product make your life better? (Choose which question relates best to your product)

  • Would you buy this product?

  • What is the first thing you look at when you purchase this type of product? What matters most?

  • Is fabric important to your decision- is so what do you look for?

  • Would you be willing to start using this right away?

  • What might prevent you from using this product?

  • Would you be willing to pay for this product now, or would you wait for updates before purchasing (if applicable)?

Below are some tips on constructing the survey:

  • Keep it short and brief

  • Keep the questions straightforward and easy to understand

  • Make sure the questions are in the right order

  • Avoid using compound questions (two or more questions in one)

  • Make sure the questions can be answered

  • Keep it clean and visually appealing

  • Use open-ended (freely write) & close-ended (check mark fields) questions appropriately

  • Use clear response scales. (Response scales assess the level of agreement or disagreement with a statement, or their satisfaction with experience, using numbers or words)

  • Avoid using leading questions - a question that prompts or encourages a desired answer. This can frustrate respondents and skew your survey results. Some examples of leading questions include things like "You like wearing cotton to lounge in X, don't you?" or "Why do you like wearing cotton X more than polyester?

Before we go out there and ask questions, Lets map it all out. Create a short survey that reflects on your goals and information you want to obtain. And remember to keep it short and sweet.

Here are steps on how to create a survey, using Google Forms. (You can also watch a video here.)

STEP 1: Set Up a New Form

  1. Go to

  2. Click Blank or Blank Quiz .

  3. A new form or quiz will open.

Step 2: Edit and format a form

  1. You can add, edit, or format text, images, or videos in a form.

After you’ve created the form, you can choose to save form responses in a new or existing Google Sheet.

Consult Google’s Doc Editor Help for tips on editing and saving your form.

Step 3: Send your form for people to fill out

The next step is to send out the form!

More online survey tools:

Survey Expression


Survey Gizmo


Create a survey using Survey Monkey Or Google Forms. Pre-test the survey to determine its effectiveness. Go through the survey with a non-biased person and ask them what they think the questions mean and how they feel about it. Do not tell the respondent it is a pre-test. What kind of issues did you face when conducting the interviews? After you have gone thru the survey with someone, create a list of issues that you found testing your survey and update and make changes to the questions in previous questions.

Offer an incentive. Offering an incentive can significantly increase your response rate, though it can also skew your data, possibly getting feedback from unqualified respondents and, of course, eating up your budget. But by choosing a relevant and enticing incentive, you can safeguard both your budget and your data quality. Make sure you consider your audience when selecting an incentive. Discounts, free shipping, gift certificates, and other items are a great way to promote future purchases, and get them excited for when the business launches!

Hit the ground running. Send out the survey to at least 25- 50 respondent. You can email people or post the survey on facebook groups, your personal Facebook page or LinkedIn to get feedback. Provide a link to the survey below.

Finally, review and analyze results to obtain amazing insights. What were your findings? You never know what information you will dig up and which way it might steer you!

How many people did you interview and how did you find people to survey?

Digging Deeper With Surveys

Conducting An Interview

Both questionnaires and interviews, a mixture of both is always the best way to go to gain insights.

Listen To Consumers

"Follow your passion and success will follow." Probably not the first time you've heard it, right? It feels so good to think about, doesn't it? A life spent doing what you love (and making oodles of money from it, if you're an entrepreneur).

Well, it is the worst business advice I have ever heard! And it's particularly disastrous in the fashion world, where designers tend to create products that they think everyone will buy but are actually just products they would want for themselves. Being able to do what you love requires developing products that sell.

Listening to and understanding your customers is critical. Solving problems is key. Your message will resonate with your chosen market and turn customers into fans who will ultimately buy products and rave about them. Just follow Lululemon's example.

Here’s an example of a company who listened to their target market:

Lululemon is an athletic apparel company that focuses on high-tech quality yoga clothing. Back in 2000 when the company opened for business, no one offered quality products for active women. The company has achieved success using a niche marketing strategy, targeting a narrowly-defined market segment: a mid-30s, high income, health-conscious yoga practitioner. Lululemon has expanded its business by understanding its target market values and providing customers with a strong sense of authenticity and community. The company began a movement in yoga clothing where the founder relied on feedback from yoga instructors to optimize Lulu's apparel. As of May 2016, the value of the company was at $1.15 billion dollars.2

Listen To The Sales Rep

Fashion isn't a desk job. Get out there and see the state of the world for yourself! While buyers and company executives will give you good intelligence, the retail sales associates who work on the front lines at the store can also be valuable in painting a vivid picture of how your product performs on the shop floor. They are talking directly to consumers.

Another key individual is the person selling wholesale to shop owners. Wholesale reps take original pre-production samples to sell to retail buyers at major market centers in wholesale showrooms and trade shows and sometimes go on the road. They take pre-orders for all styles, typically only the styles that have enough quantity to move forward into production. Products that did not do well are canceled.

Try to schedule a meeting to talk to a sales rep at their showroom. Tell them about what you are working on. Ask questions, seek advice. Encourage them to speak candidly about what is and isn't working (and also what's missing). They can give you invaluable information that could help you immensely with your new products. Be sure to start these relationships as often as possible.

How to craft user interviews for breakthrough insights

In the research phase of any design, product or business idea, one skill that’s paramount is crafting good questions for your user interviews. Face-to-face interviews with your users and potential customers are one of the very best ways to get the deepest insights to inform your design, and the questions you ask must be carefully staged in order to get to them.

Keep your research goals at the forefront of your mind as you craft your questions – what do you want to know, or what are you trying to prove/disprove?

Unlike questionnaires, you get to speak to them and hear what they have to say and how they feel. The more you understand how a consumer feels- the easier it will be to brand, sell and create a business that your target market will gravitate to.

Have them tell a story then dig deeper

Having participants tell a story instead of simply answering yes/no questions, enables you to unearth interesting topics that can be further drilled down on, such as emotions, context, outcomes, etc. It also can make the participant more comfortable because it puts the ball in their court – when they’re telling a story, they’re right where you want them: in the driver’s seat of the conversation.

Preparing for User Interviews

Then you will need to create a script to ask questions from (unless you are doing a contextual interview in which case you may still create a script but are likely to wander off-piste from that script a lot during the interview).

Some tips for your script include:

Make sure you begin by explaining the purpose of the interview – what are you trying to achieve?

  • Also, explain how the person’s data and any data you collect will be used from the interview.

  • Try to keep leading questions to a minimum. A good question is “Do you use instant messaging?” rather than “How often do you use Snapchat?” The former lets you explore what the user actually does. The latter presupposes that user is working with Snapchat and that’s the extent of their instant messaging activity.

  • Keep it reasonably short. If you read the script aloud and it takes more than 10 minutes to read… it’s probably too long. Interviews should, ideally, be less than 1 hour long and the majority of the time spent should be the interviewee talking and the researcher listening.

Don’t forget that scripts are a guide, not a bible. If you find something interesting takes place in an interview and there are no questions, on the script, to explore that idea… explore it anyway. Feel free to amend the script for future uses.

When scheduling your interviews, it’s a good idea to leave 30 minutes or so between each interview, it gives the interviewer some time to make additional notes and compile their thoughts while everything is still fresh in their mind.

Prepare a script to interview 3-5 target customers, and if possible a couple of sales reps.

Gathering Qualitative Data Through Interviews


WHAT: Focus groups are a powerful means to evaluate services or test new ideas. Similar to a face to face interview, only you collect your research from a group of people who answer questions about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, idea, or packaging. Often, one of the best ways to get inside the minds of your consumers and understand their likes and dislikes is to physically show samples or pictures.

WHEN: You should hold your focus groups before you launch your business and before any other new product launches or concepts. You can conduct focus groups at any time during the product life-cycle.

WHY: Feedback gives vital insights into new product designs and solutions (especially before you invest the big bucks).

WHO: You should carefully select participants of the focus group for useful and authoritative responses. Typically, 6-8 people participate but are aware: because they share their reactions in front of each other, dominant individuals within the focus group could skew the feedback you get. Somehow there always seems to be a diva in the crowd.

Do you remember that one smart-alecky kid in high school who would always ask annoying questions in class mostly for the attention? Or that one friend who has an opinion on everything no matter how little they actually know? Fun fact: focus groups can sometimes attract those kinds of people. They're actually being asked for their opinions for a change! If you can learn to manage the divas, you can limit their ability to sway the group.

Let's say your target customer travels on a regular basis. You may want to incorporate easy-care, easy-to-wear fabrics in the design of your new product. Thoughtful use of psychographics will help you develop not only the messages and campaigns for your promotions but also products that specific customers want and need.

HOW: Below is a set of questions to help you prepare for an effective focus group.

1. Identify the primary objective of the meeting. What do you hope to learn?

2. Carefully develop five to six questions to answer over the course of an hour. Remember no leading questions. Wherever possible, show and test physical samples or provide photographs. If you have nothing to show, store-bought samples may work. This is your opportunity to have people try on your products and provide real-time reactions.

3. Offer incentives, such as gift certificates, as extra motivation for people to come and participate. What incentives can you offer?

4. Plan to record the session with either an audio or audio-video recorder. Map out what tools you will use and test it. What tool will you use?

5. Try to find a moderator with some skill and experience in running and controlling group sessions to help you. If not you can always ask a friend to help you. The moderator should try to balance the feedback given by everyone in the group.

6. Plan your session: date, time, place, refreshments, etc

7. Carefully select and invite 6-8 persons that fit your target market.

8. Set the tone of the session from the start, this is very important. Set the mood by introducing yourself, the objective, and the agenda. Conduct the focus group. After the focus group is conducted, you will need to review and analyze the data for insights. If necessary, you may need to hold another focus group. Some things to think about:

  • Did you discover any problems customers face that you can help solve?

  • What patterns emerge? What are the common themes?

  • What new questions arise?

  • What conclusions seem true?

Develop & Improve Ideas With Focus Groups

Now that you have a feel for your target market, you will also want a good picture of which companies offer similar products to you. The number and quality of competitors are good indications of whether or not your niche could be lucrative. Why do they buy from your competitors? What's something that their favorite brands are not doing that they would want?

Best Practice: Don't compete with your competitors on price, especially if you are ordering small quantities. There are just not enough profits for you when ordering minimum quantities. Believe me, fast fashion isn't the game you want to be playing.

Watch this video on how to do it.

Identify and Gather Competitor Research

Everyone needs an excuse to go shopping, right? Well then, look no further! Understanding what's currently happening in the market as a whole involves shopping at a variety of retail stores and researching competitors. If you design crib sheets for example- scope out the baby market, find every possible outlet for a consumer to purchase babies’ clothes.

A market is a general category, such as men's, bridal, baby, women's fashion, etc.

A target market is a well-defined customer group to which a business wants to sell. Sew, if you design crib sheets than your target market is expecting moms and baby mamas.

Why Do I Need Retail Therapy? (Half Kidding)

Shopping the market will help you to analyze trends, merchandise products, use colors, and explore new ideas. Shopping is research, and research is essential to the creative process, offering a wealth of free information on a market.

Industry professionals purchase products and take photographs as ways to research the market, get inspiration, and collect physical samples for reference. Designers compare styling, price, fit, and quality, tirelessly shopping both the domestic and international markets.

Buying store-bought samples and taking pictures will also help communicate the design features and direction to everyone in the manufacturing process- from the pattern maker, sample sewer and technical designer to the factory.

Purchased samples can be:

  • Used as an aid in research to discover trends

  • Used to aid in the development of tech packs for silhouette designs, stitching, or fit

  • Given to factories, pattern makers, or sample sewers as a guide for construction or stitching details on a design

  • Given as a standard for sourcing fabrics, trims, and embellishments

  • Used as inspiration for mood boards

Where Should I Shop?

Get inspired! Explore everything from vintage and thrift stores, chain stores, and boutiques to high-end stores and luxury brands. In doing so, you will discover unique construction details: trims, materials, prints for styling ideas, and other innovative products that can inspire you to design new products. Vintage and thrift stores are a great resource for finding unique details and cuts that can be incorporated into designs.

Keep in mind that consumers and markets are very different around the world. For example, New York styling is as different from Los Angeles as Tokyo is from Milan. Designers reinterpret these ideas to fit their target market.

1. Make a list of some of the places that you can go visit. Explain why to want to visit these places.

How Do I Shop The Market?

If you see a product that sparks your interest, buy it to serve as a reference for materials, construction, fit, styling, and anything aesthetic. The apparel industry refers to these products as store-bought samples. The intention of buying samples is not to copy. If you’re in it to copy a design exactly, you will come out extremely disappointed. Exact replicas almost never happen; and why would you want to copy? You will profit by finding a niche.

Below are some questions to consider to help better understand your competitors or the overall markets - strengths and weaknesses.

• What types of products are they offering?

• What types of fabrics are the products made from?

• What are their quality standards?

• At what price point are their products sold?

• Where do they market and promote their product?

• Which of their social media posts, showcasing a product, is the most successful?

• How is their customer service?

• Where do they sell their products?

• What products are selling fast?

• How big is the company? What are their general sales, revenues and employee figures?

• Check out the care label: where is it made?

Please Note: Give Yourself A Shopping Allowance -set aside a budget for sample shopping and try to stick to it. You can easily get carried away with overspending if you don't set a budget before your shopping trips. If the product is out of your budget, take pictures. Remember that these images may be added to tech packs and mood boards to help clarify design direction.

Online Searches

Consumer sites such as Pinterest and Instagram offer some critical insights into what is trending.

1.Let's say you're considering running a type of print, fabric, color, style, or garment shape. Just compare the number of images and repins that you find on these two platforms.

2. You can also search via hashtags to see what comes up. Designing crib sheets search #cribsheets #babybedding

3. You can make great use of Pinterest analytics to get a better understanding of your customers once you launch your products.

4. Etsy is also an awesome website to scope out what is trending. Check out your competitor's shops and see which products sell the most.

Here are a few other websites to check out:

Polyvore & Lookbook

The Culture Trip

Cotton Incorporated


Physically go to the stores you’ve selected as well as find images online.

Please take pictures from your store visits as well as purchased samples. Upload the images into the folder on your computer. Remember this is something that can be done throughout the year and is done always to keep on top of what’s going on in your market.

Using your research

Now that you’ve shopped the market to expand your knowledge, ideas, and resources, consider the following when planning, designing, and developing your own product:

  • Can you solve a problem?

  • Can you design a product that fills a need?

  • What is missing in your desired market?

  • What can you do better?

  • Why would someone give you money?

How To Shop The Market

If you've never been to an apparel trade show, then you're missing out on a goldmine of information on what's happening in the industry. Trade shows are the foundation for apparel and wholesale buying. They are scheduled at specific times during the year for brands to sell to wholesale buyers. They happen all over the world and are usually organized by category: children's, men's, gift, women, etc. For example, the Dallas Market Center has the Gift and Accessories Show at the end of March. Most brands typically sell in January, February, the spring months, July and August, and the Fall.

The Holy Grail of all apparel trade shows is MAGIC, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brands from all over the world showcase twice a year, catering to over 14 categories, from footwear and women's to accessories and sourcing, and more. You can check out this show as well as other held by UBM fashion here.

Most trade shows offer educational seminars that are absolutely worth attending. Walking the show allows you to see what booths are hot, what's new, and what competitors are currently selling in the market.

It's quite likely that the shows you want to attend may not be on while doing this. In the meantime do some research into shows that would be great for you to see. Check out our directory. If you search online on your target market or product category, also and find its not on our list please let us know!

Write down the shows you want to attend and the dates. Set-up a reminder to register.

Conducting Qualitative Research At Trade Shows
+ Secondary Research
6 lectures 24:53

Secondary Market Research

Secondary research comes from third party market research firms. The information is already compiled and organized for you. While secondary research is less targeted than primary research, it can provide valuable information and help you answer your research question(s). It also enhances any primary research that you've already done supporting your idea.


1. It can help prove that the business idea is viable.

2. Many providers offer accurate and detailed reports on consumer trends and competitors that can help you better understand your customer base.

3. Third-party market research can look at all of those "impractical" questions that may not be specific to you but can provide greater context, such as assessing the economy as a whole rather than smaller groups.

4. The data can also lead to unexpected and new discoveries.

5. Taking this route involves less cost, time and effort.


1. Secondary data sources provide a vast amount of information, but it may not all be relevant to what you're looking to have answered. It has been collected to answer different research questions or objectives.

2. The quality, timeliness and reliability of data provided are not in your control. You have to carefully evaluate the information that market research provides, and determine how current and credible it is.

Sources Of Secondary Data

If you're a startup, you will do well to seek out these sources, organize and apply the data to the specific project, and then summarize and analyze it all in a way that makes sense to you and your audience.

To get you started, I've compiled a few of my favorite secondary research resources and website addresses. Search online and visit your local library as well. Keep in mind: the Internet may not always offer reliable sources and complete information (I know what you're thinking: ‘Thank you, Captain Obvious", but it's still worth remembering!). And, as they say, incomplete information is dangerous. Start by dropping by a local library and asking the business librarian who is trained in the use of research sources. They will be happy to get you pointed on the right path.

Best Practice: Avoid making the mistake of conducting only secondary research and neglecting primary market research. Although secondary research is essential and time-saving, doing the legwork of primary research provides you with, up-to-date insights and also a better perspective of the market. Furthermore, primary market research is the only way to understand your customers' values, psychology, attitudes, lifestyles, and interests. After all, they're your target market and isn't it best to learn about them yourself? In any case, both research techniques are valuable, and you should make use of them.


Trade publications are geared to people who work in a specific industry. Magazines and newspapers provide media kits to prospective advertisers. Media kits offer valuable data and demographic stats and research as well as market calendars. Published articles give insights into the industry.

By now you should have a good idea of what your market is. Let’s say you specialize in boys’ clothing. Check out Earnshaws ( trade publication catering to businesses in wholesale childrenswear.

Just Style

Fiber To Fashion

Women's Wear Daily

California Apparel News

Apparel Magazine

Eco Textile

The Sourcing Journal

Sportswear International

Make a list of list of relevant publications related to your business model. You can do a Google search also.

Preview 04:00

Government Agencies

Government agencies offer an invaluable source of market research and give most of it away for free. You will find information that can help you improve and make informed business decisions. Almost every country publishes population density and distribution figures in widely-available census tracts.

The government provides the following and much more:

• Demographics & population censuses

• Statistics

• Trade data: Import/export & global trade data

• Industry sector data

• Trends in the industry


Demographics explain "who" your buyer is, while psychographics explains "why" they buy. Demographics treat customers as a part of a larger group, whereas psychographic analysis views each one as an individual. Demographic information includes geographic area, age, income, race, gender, and education level. It also provides shopping habits, marital status, number of children, and other information about consumer characteristics.

Let's say your target customer predominantly lives in hotter climates. If that's the case, heavier fabrics such as wool won't make sense. You'll want something lighter that allows the wearer to stay cool.

Fashion startups gather demographic information on the target market, which affects all the choices an entrepreneur makes in developing a marketing and business plan. As a designer, the more you understand your customer, the more successful the outcome of the design (namely, the more units you'll likely sell).

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

The NAICS classifies business establishments to collect, analyze, and publish statistical data. It was developed jointly by Canada, the US, and Mexico to describe economic activity. The NAICS industry codes define establishments based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged. You can browse NAICS by sector or use the keyword search to identify relevant industries.

For example, Women's, Children's, and Infants' Clothing and Accessories Merchant Wholesalers fall under NAICS code: 424330. For this specific category, it differs for Canada and falls under 414110.

IBIS Research offers market reports by industry (NAICS).

Other sources where you can find valuable statistics:

Statistics Canada,

Industry Canada and

U.S.Census Bureau

Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration

Contact the government for support on collecting relevant data. Find demographics, statistics and other information related to your business model.

Obtaining Data Through Government Agencies

For the most targeted and current industry information, you cannot overlook trade organizations and trade associations. There are thousands of associations for businesses, and they have a vested interest in tracking their respective industries. You can find valuable information on what is and isn't selling, as well as trends in the industry that can further help you create a successful brand and business. Networking at events held by these organizations can also keep you on your toes and help build your tribe. Most have membership costs.

Just to name a few:

Fashion Group International

Retail Council of Canada

Fashion Business Incorporated

Business Of Fashion

Canadian Apparel Federation

Council of Fashion Designers of America

Best Practice: Get onboard with all websites that cater to your market by subscribing to their newsletters and following them on social media. Doing so is an easy way to keep current in the industry. Create a separate email account, so you don't feel inundated with emails.

Do a google search and put together a list of associations that would be relevant to your business model.

Learning From Trade Associations & Organizations

A trend is a direction in which something (ideas, products, values) tends to move in a way that affects culture, society, or business. Tracking trends are not just about looking at fashion but also looking at demographics, behaviour, technology, lifestyles, and current events.

Forecasting services can be the eyes and ears of product developers. For a fee, Fashion Snoops, WGSN, Pantone, and other forecasting service companies perform much of your market research, such as traveling to out-of-reach retail outlets and attending trade shows, so you don't have to do the legwork.

Subscription-based trend forecasting services are typically costly for startups. You may need to be resourceful: again, subscribe to newsletters, visit blogs, follow social media or dig around the corporate brand websites to access free information.

Although these services can be invaluable in understanding what is "hot," consider designing classic pieces that have a longer shelf life. Trends mean that styles become outdated. As we talked about in Part 1, smaller orders with higher quality standards take longer to manufacture, and it's challenging to turn inventory around quickly. If your products become outdated, they will be harder to sell. Creating classic products with a longer shelf life will help grow your company.

For many designers, being eco-conscious also means designing quality-driven pieces that can stand the test of time. With that said, if you're more interested in making pieces that people will always desire and therefore live as staples in consumers' closets, then steering clear of trends or fads might seem the right way to go. Seasonless, year-round products will also give you the much-needed time to create and sell your products. You'll feel less pressure meeting delivery dates and deadlines.

Regardless, if the products are sustainable, it's important to understand the market's general direction. What is developing or changing to help ensure the best outcome of the design?

WGSN a free newsletter offering valuable information. Their Tumblr consists of a wide variety of images that are either re-posted or curated from their own forecasts. Students in fashion programs have limited access.

Trend Hunter



We Connect Fashion

Fashion Vignette

Trend Stop

Pantone Incorporated


Best Practice: Regular scanning of a variety of media and well-chosen trend forecasting resources helps to mitigate the risk of poor design decisions. Make it a daily habit to flip through these resources so you can stay up to speed.

Insights Through Trend Forecasting Companies

Check out local colleges and universities with fashion programs. Their libraries have valuable sources of information. You will find a large selection of reports, business plans, books and much more about the industry and information specific to your market. Speak to the librarian, they always have research tips up their sleeve. It may be possible also to access their online portal.

*Golden Nugget: Many college business or fashion marketing departments have students who are eager to work in the "real world," gathering information and doing research for experience or little cost. Also, some government programs offer tax credits or subsidies that help with the hiring process. You can contact the appropriate department to find students looking for internship placements: generally, any work they do is evaluated and used towards class credit.

Check out local colleges and universities with fashion programs.

Collecting Data Through Colleges & Universities
+ Number Crunching
3 lectures 18:12

Whenever I meet a designer-entrepreneur, I get asked one question more than most: “Dee, how much will it cost me to get my stuff made?” The truth - which I hate to tell them because they’re so hopeful for a simple answer - is that there's no universal formula to accurately calculate an estimated cost, especially for a customized product that you’ve designed that hasn’t been made (yet). In reality, your customer sets your prices, not your manufacturers or suppliers. A better approach to figuring out your costs is to work backwards, starting with what the market will pay, to find your prices, and go from there.

Even a simple T-shirt has numerous variables that affect cost: fabric quality, fiber, quantity, colors, styles, duty rate, the speed of delivery, supply and demand, sewing efficiencies, embellishments, trims...and the list goes on. Asking about the cost of a T-shirt is like asking for the price of a car. The make, quality, date, upgrades, delivery, the location of purchase, supply and demand, and other features all affect the price. There are so many variables. Just like buying a car, you have to work within your budget to determine what features you can afford (I mean, do you really need those fancy rims?).

When you contact the factory, especially when working offshore, they will ask, point blank, "What are your target costs?" Sew, you'd better be able to give them the numbers right away. If you don't provide them with these numbers, the factory has no idea what budget or quality standard to work within. It may seem a little backward, but the only way to ensure profitability is by knowing the retail price and target costs up front. Specific information must be provided to the factory to get initial estimates. After the samples are sewn, and fabric approvals are completed, the factory is able to give a more realistic quote.

Over the past ten years, I've found that there is no magic number for opening orders (that is, starting budgets), but a majority of my clients have allocated around $20,000 to $70,000 USD to cover all offshore manufacturing expenses to start. Before you pack your bags and leave, remember that you'll need to invest in your inventory. It's pretty hard to operate a business if you don't actually have the products. A quality team that produces a quality product will need compensation, including yourself, which requires a specific minimum volume.

Over the past ten years, I've found that there is no magic number for opening orders (that is, starting budgets), but a majority of my clients have allocated around $20,000 to $70,000 USD to cover all offshore manufacturing expenses to start. Before you pack your bags and leave, remember that you'll need to invest in your inventory. It's pretty hard to operate a business if you don't actually have the products. A quality team that produces a quality product will need compensation, including yourself, which requires a specific minimum volume.

Preview 05:43

This part begins by discussing how to uniquely position products in the marketplace and determine prices. It will also help you to walk backward through the process, to better understand pricing, target costs, minimum purchase orders, economies of scale, and budgeting, and to recognize often forgotten or invisible costs of shipping the products. We're going to start by talking about research on retail prices that will help you stay within your budget.

First, estimate how many products you plan to retail. Then, backed by your research, determine how much the customer will pay for each product. Be sure to select and design products that can be sold at higher price points. This will allow more room for profit per piece.

So why are higher-priced products critical to your success?

1. Bigger Profits: In the first example, the higher-priced T-shirt will earn you $112.50 per item, compared to $22.50 for the lower-priced product, when selling retail. The higher-priced product gives more margin to cover other costs, which will mean more profit for you. You will be more profitable and have a better gross margin. A gross margin is merely a measure of profitability: it quantifies the earnings or profit that’s left over after you subtract total product costs.

2. Better Quality and Service: The higher-priced product allows the factory to have a bigger budget to source higher-quality materials and suppliers, which will ultimately yield a better product. You're giving the factory more room to source higher-quality fabrics and the ability to get quicker service from partnering vendors.

3. Ethical Manufacturing: Ethical manufacturing is a significant concern for consumers. Lower, unreasonable prices often indicate that someone in the supply chain or the workers are not being treated fairly. In my opinion, the bad karma that comes from hurting overseas workers is never worth the few cents of savings per unit that you get from partnering with unethical partners.

Never sell yourself short by pricing low (and never sell your shorts for too low a price either - hehehe!).

Pricing your products is one of the most essential components in business planning. To run a successful business, customers must be willing to purchase products at the prices you set. The retail price must be high enough to cover the cost of goods (materials, labor, and expenses from the manufacturer), transportation costs, your own operational costs, and any marketing and administrative expenses you would incur to promote the product. Not only must the price of the product exceed your operating costs, but it should also generate suitable profits to drive business growth. Factor in discounts as well. Profit margins vary from company to company.

The fashion industry uses the following method to set prices: double the cost for the wholesale price, and then multiply the wholesale price by two for the retail price. For new brands, this can be very frustrating because it’s challenging to calculate estimates early in the process. For this reason, I recommend working backward. Instead of starting with a target cost or asking for a quote, start with the target retail price. It's much easier, faster, and will help you make better decisions. With the target retail price, you can estimate how much you are able to spend on each selected style. Please see the pricing success strategy below to help you.

Best Practice: If your products are competing on price with the likes of large chain corporations, rethink your strategy. Working on lower quantity orders (generally orders less than $200k) requires products to be sold at higher price points to be profitable.

List the styles you want to sell, a description and the retail price of each. (if you're starting out I suggest you do no more than 6 styles). The research that you've done should guide you into what prices you want to set- what is the most you feel the consumer will pay.

How To Establish Retail Costs

Establishing Target Costs

Good news! You determine how much you want to pay for products. The target cost is the amount you aim to give the manufacturer to produce the garment. The price typically includes everything from the fabric, materials, and embellishments to trims, labels, packaging, and production.

A target cost typically refers to more than the cost of the product. If your manufacturing offshore, duties are (16-18% on average) for apparel, and should not be included in your target cost to the factory. Delivery charges also vary and are not included. Both duties and delivery charges should be separate line items in your budget. The landed product cost includes delivery and duties.

Let’s say you start developing a product without a target retail price and you don’t give the factory any target costs. Without any specific direction, the factory will work with the easiest, cheapest and closest available fabric and suppliers to make the product. As a result, your final quote from the factory could have a low cost, but also inferior quality. Without a target price, the factory has no guide to help them the source.

As mentioned earlier, without target costs, it’s impossible for the factory to achieve your goals. It is also impossible to estimate profit. Bottom line: you set the parameters, and the factory will give you feedback on what is possible.

Fabric and materials make up a substantial portion of a product’s total cost. Giving the factory a target cost will help them gauge which materials and suppliers to procure within your price range. Negotiating a lower price will only give the factory a small budget to work with, sacrificing speed of delivery, quality materials, and craftsmanship. Remember, as with almost everything else in life, you get what you pay for, especially working on minimum orders.

If your working locally will need to consider that you are purchasing the fabric and will need to source fabric and have it sewn within that price

Pricing Success Strategy

Example 1: Let’s say you want to start a line of unique cut T-shirts, similar to a $150 jersey top from clothing chain Anthropologie. To estimate the wholesale cost, divide $150 by two (retail markup, ranging from a minimum of 2 to 2.5) for an estimated wholesale price of $75, and then divide that $75 by two (wholesale markup) to arrive at the estimated target cost of $37.50, inclusive of import duties. Another formula to estimate target cost is by taking 25 percent of your retail price of $150.

Example 2: Now, take the case of a basic, eco-friendly T-shirt line for adults, similar to a $30 T-shirt sold at American Apparel. You divide the $30 by two (retail markup) for the estimated wholesale price of $15, and then you divide the $15 by two (wholesale mark-up) to arrive at the estimated target cost of $7.50, inclusive of import duties. Can you manufacture and pay duties on an ethically-made quality product for $7.50, with low order quantities? Not likely.

The profit margin is the difference between a product’s selling price and the cost of producing it. Selling your product at a higher retail price yields a better profit. For example, selling one item for a retail price of $150 will earn you $112.50 profit, versus a profit of $22.50 on a product sold at $30. It's crucial that you make enough profit to account for all the hard work and countless hours that have gone into your design. Example 1 is more ideal for businesses that want to grow while ordering minimum quantities.

In addition to selecting your ideal retail price, it is crucial to compare advantages when buying in bulk. In the example above, you will see that regular orders above the minimum will get you a better target price from the manufacturer. For minimum orders, target prices are usually divided by 2, while orders above the minimum quantity are generally divided by 2.5. In this example, we have a $5.00 saving per item. On orders of 1,000 pieces, that is a saving of $5,000. Who doesn't want some extra dough in their pocket? I know I do.

Use the diagram as a formula and pricing success strategy to help you estimate the target prices to give the factory.

How To Establish Target Costs
+ Product & Market Analysis
3 lectures 19:32

Analyzing The Research: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes

SEW… let’s take a quick breather. That was a lot. How are you doing?

By now, you should have gained an appreciation for the advantages of doing research. Maybe you’ve really taken it to heart and have already started some (or even all) of the steps that I’ve outlined up to this point. If so, that’s amazing! Good job!

Now, once you’ve got your data, what’s next?

When your research is done, the next step is to compile and review the information you have found. It’s time to analyze and begin to formulate a plan for running your business. There are many ways to evaluate research. You may find it beneficial to perform a SWOT analysis for your business. You evaluate your current position and compare it to future opportunities and risks. It’s worth taking the time to do this.

SWOT stands for "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats." You can perform a SWOT analysis for any company, product, place, industry, or person.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors within an organization that you have some control over, whereas opportunities and threats are external to your specific business, usually coming from a community or societal forces.

• Strengths: characteristics of the business or products that give it an advantage over others.

• Weaknesses: characteristics of the business or products that give it a disadvantage relative to others.

• Opportunities: elements in the environment that the business or products could exploit to its advantage.

• Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or products.

For example, strength may be that your products are premium quality with a no-money-back-guarantee policy. A weakness could be that the specific fabric may take a long time to manufacture. An opportunity may be increased demand for environmentally friendly products. A threat could be the recent global economic recession.

SWOT Template

What are some strengths (Internal origin- attribute of the organization) that you can think of which are helpful in achieving your objective?

What are some weaknesses (Internal origin- attribute of the organization) that you can think of which may prevent you in achieving your objective?

What are some opportunities (External origin- attribute of the organization) the business could use to obtain your objective?

What are some threats (External origin- attribute of the organization) that can cause problems for the business?

Preview 05:00

Computing Your Results

SEW… at this point, you should analyze all the research, data, and feedback you've collected. Once you have honed in on your niche, finalized your why, analyzed your market, researched your competition, identified your target market's need for your product, and listed your ideas for the types of products you want to develop, you move into the next phase of product development: choosing the materials you want your products to be made from.

In some cases, your target market may dictate what materials to use. For example, if your target market is eco-conscious moms-to-be, it's likely that they will opt for a sustainable and natural knit fabric that is soft for babies. Alternatively, your design may dictate the fabric. If you're a high-end dress designer, embroidered silks are a good starting point. If you're designing workwear, hand-crafted durable fabrics might be the right fit. Your research will guide you to the materials you might want to use.

Take a close look at your market and investigate consumers. What products do they want, but cannot find? What will they pay a premium for? Survival in business is directly related to a demand for that product.

Your product is likely to sell if you can answer most—if not all—of the following questions. Take some time to write up an analysis document addressing the following points.

• Can you solve a problem?

• Can you design a product that fills a need?

• What is missing in your market?

• What can you do better?

• Why would someone give you money?

Review all the research you've collected and put together an analysis of your findings. What is your niche, are you solving a problem what makes you unique? Do you think you can be profitable?

Analyzing The Market

A great way to materialize ideas is to create well-thought-out vision and mood boards. In this chapter, I'll show you how these boards help you to plan and provide an intuitive way to brainstorm, organize, and play with your research. Much like a business plan, combining the right images, colors, and text to tell one cohesive story is much harder than it seems (although, if you're anything like me, you'll agree that making a vision and mood board is waaaay more fun than writing a business plan). While a vision board visually showcases a business plan, and the mood board visually showcases the product direction, I'm a firm believer that using both will help you solidify your goals and bring them to life.

A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Dream

Vision boards, mainly in collage form, have traditionally been used by people to set goals and create their dream life. It is a simple yet powerful visualization tool that activates the universal Law of Attraction to begin manifesting dreams into reality. If you are a designer entrepreneur with an idea, a similar board can be made for your brand.

Much like a business plan, the vision board visually showcases the target market, mission statement, corporate culture, products, and showcases where you want your company to be five or ten years from now. You align your artistic direction with company goals and objectives, including achieving a company mission and balancing marketing goals with product theme and inspiration. You can add words to describe the brand to give a clear message to accompany images.

Creating a mood board is the same concept as a vision board. It's a design tool that will help you remain focused and consistent as your line develops. Even with one or two styles, it will help clarify your direction to bring ideas to life. It's also a great communication aid when explaining your vision to others (retailers, media, etc.). The board also helps your team understand in a snapshot the target market and your overall vision. This will carry you through design and production development, all the way to marketing and sales. Designers should create a mood board for each new order or every season.

You can use any image editing software such as Photoshop, or use photographs, text, as well as your own scanned, hand-drawn sketches to create the boards. You can use the images from shopping the market, inspiration, as well as take photographs of stitching details, trims, colors and fabric swatches. Adding text helps convey your marketing and product direction. Words like "new", "cutting-edge", "modern"— or my fashion favorites — "edgy", "romantic", and "sexy"— mean different things to different people. You can search on Pinterest to help you find images of your target market or theme. The processes of adding, removing, and editing images on the board help designers create a focused plan.

You can make small changes or completely change direction before spending a lot of time and effort on the actual design work. Furthermore, the mood board can help you stay in line with the original concept as you move into the project, thus saving money on revisions if you were to drive too far off track.

*Golden Nugget: By putting a vision board somewhere you can see it every day, you will prompt yourself to visualize how to bring your ideas to life and do it almost subconsciously.

Extra reading material.

1. Mood Board VS Vision Board: How to Get Ahead in The Fashion Business

2. 12 Tips for Creating Inspirational Mood Boards

Getting Your Ideas Onto Paper; Mood Board & Vision Board