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Domain Knowledge

When I decided to start a career in fashion and quit my job, I actually didn’t have any clue as to what to do and how to go about it. I struggled through various models and learnt everything the hard way. This uncertainty about the steps to take and the efforts involved is the reason most women are not able to start their businesses. Before I talk about what takes to start a garment’s fashion business let me talk about a few models of fashion businesses. There are several models of doing business in the garment fashion micro-niche eg:

  1. Fashion Retail – you buy from another seller/wholesaler and sell at a profit margin

  2. Curated stock in exhibitions – You curate a unique collection and sell at exhibitions

  3. Customized Stitching from home – Take custom stitching orders from home, get them stitched and hand it over to your customer

  4. Customized Stitching Boutique – Same as 3 but from a store front. Can also keep pre-made designer outfits which are unique to your style or as per choice of your local clients

  5. Online Store – an ecommerce site

  6. Manufacturing and starting your own label – sell on your own ecommerce site or on aggregators like Amazon, Flipkart, Meesho etc. Can also approach bigger stores like D-Mart, Shopper’s stop etc.

 

To be honest it doesn’t take much of financial investment to start an entry level fashion business in customized stitching of designer clothes. Having said that, there are other more important ingredients that are required for it and are helpful to scale and sustain in the business. Let me list down the ingredients of this dish of GARMENT’S FASHION BUSINESS. What one actually needs are as follows:

  1. Courage: I still remember how it felt when I was starting off. Didt have much clarity about doing business, about getting clients not even enough clarity about what I really wanted to do. Yet I didn’t have a choice but to start as had already made up my mind and wanted to give it a go. My family’s support and belief in me gave me the courage to start. There are over 582 million entrepreneurs in the world. If you want to become one of them, you have to start somewhere. And, sometimes that “somewhere” begins with mustering up the courage to start a business in the first place. On finding the courage to start a business, Baruch Silvermann, CEO and Founder of The Smart Investor, said: “It is never going to be the perfect time to start a business. If you constantly keep putting it off, you might regret that decision for the rest of your life. Countless massive businesses have been started during the worst recessions. Start now by taking that first step.”

  2. Faith in Universe and Belief in Self: I agree to the fact that starting a business isn’t easy. It needs a lot of passion, determination and purpose. I also agree to the fact that if your desire is strong and if you are truly passionate about it then the UNIVERSE will conspire for you and make it happen in the base way possible. Always have that faith and take the leap. Having said that, belief in self is very important as well. If you want to start a business, you have to have confidence in yourself. You might not be totally clear about your business idea. But trust me you will keep getting clarity as you progress along the way. As the famous Chinese proverb says "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". Also as Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.

       As you continue in your journey you will start attracting like-minded people who will help you in your journey and             also might add clarity. Initially it might be a bit slow but over a period of time you’ll start understanding the direction         you want to head. Also don’t shy away from learning about your business model, domain etc. Keep investing in                 yourself if you want to keep growing.

      Think about your business idea and what about it excites you the most. Think if it makes you happy? How does it               solve your ideal customer’s needs, desires and pains? Ask yourself these questions to keep getting clarity and get           to the bottom about why you love your business idea and what makes you confident about it.

   3. Domain knowledge: Domain Knowledge is extremely important because of something called the Dunning–Kruger  effect. Without domain expertise, you might think that you see an obvious solution to a problem in someone else’s domain to which they are oblivious. But in 99% of the case, the “solution” turns out to be a dead-end for reasons that would have been obvious to someone with domain expertise.

Entrepreneurs with prior knowledge of a given domain are alert to opportunities in that business environment.                  Knowing the Domain thoroughly helps with the requirements accurately along with exploring new areas for the                customers.

So what is Domain Knowledge? It is specialized discipline or field, in contrast to general knowledge, or domain-               independent knowledge. The term is often used in reference to more general discipline, as, for example, in describing a software engineer who has general knowledge of programming, as well as domain knowledge about the pharmaceutical industry or an entrepreneur who has general business knowledge and the specialized knowledge of fashion design, architecture, accounting etc. People who have domain knowledge, are often considered specialists or experts in the field.

 

    4. Willingness to continue learning: You are passionate about something and want to start a business in that direction. As mentioned in the previous point domain knowledge will always give you an edge. If you don’t have it already, then gain that either from some institute or working under a professional who is willing to teach you along.

If you have the domain knowledge but don’t have business skills and knowledge then you need to learn that to be a successful entrepreneur. I’m not saying that you have to pursue a lengthy degree course or major in these but a basic and working knowledge will help you fast-track the process.

For me I needed both. I am a software engineer but am passionate about art and fashion. To enter this field and be able to do justice not only to my clients but also to self I first did a three year course in fashion design. I’m not from a business family and didn’t have any knowledge about running a business. After starting and running the business for quite some time I realized that something wasn’t right and I needed more knowledge about how to scale and grow my business. That’s when I did a course on business skills.

Being a software engineer my technical abilities were strong so was able to set up the website etc. a bit faster. The knowledge in all these areas helped me set up brand Rahasya.

 

        5. Customer management Skills: This is a very important skill that you need if you want to start a fashion boutique. It’s very important for all businesses but boutique being a specialised area of custom stitching needs this to the max. Several people management trainings that I had while in corporate jobs helped me tremendously with this. Those trainings had taught me how to handle objections, acknowledge problems, complaints and pain etc.

Because of this knowledge many customers preferred our services over others’. They would actually mention that I was more professional and that I understood what they actually wanted.

Honing the skills of a good customer manager can help you satisfy your customers to build and foster long-term relationships. When you excel and commit extra work into a customer’s order, it may help clients see you're eager to help them throughout their buying journey. This can allow you to further relationships with your clients, so they may become lifelong customers

So these are few things that one needs to start a fashion boutique. If you feel that you need domain knowledge or knowledge of boutique business starting from set-up to scaling then do join my TEN day course on Fashion Design. Click on the button below to join.

What Takes to Start a Fashion Boutique

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