JUST START: STEPS TO STARTING YOUR ONLINE BOUTIQUE

It seems that one day Fashion Nova was an unknown company, and the next the name and business was all over your social media screens. Well, I noticed it too. I noticed how quickly the fairly new fashion empire took the world by storm. I looked over the ads, the website, and everything else concerning Fashion Nova, and I came to this conclusion. Are you ready for this?

The founders of this fashion company did something many people fail to do: START!

Fashion Nova is definitely not the only company to start something amazing. I have done the same with SHIFT StyleHouse (you know I wasn’t going to leave SHIFT out of this). I did the research, went through my own corporate retail experience, and I jumped. I started the thang. I wasn’t sure how it was going to all unfold, but I knew I couldn’t sit around wishing and waiting.

So, now I’m sharing with you 10 steps to start your online store.

  1. Choose a business entity. This is the title in which you will operate to the government, both locally and federally (you know...for taxes and such). This step includes obtaining your business license from your state office. Tip: Choose a broad name for this entity. You may want to add multiple names under the broad name.

  2. Secure a domain name & social media identifiers. Complete the research to ensure the specific name you desire isn’t in use by another company. Tip: This is a great time to have a comprehensive trademark search completed by an IP attorney. My recommended IP Attorney is Ticora Davis of The Creators Law Firm.

  3. Obtain a seller’s permit and a FREE EIN. Some states will require you to obtain a seller’s permit or business license to buy merchandise from wholesalers. The free EIN makes your business an independent entity with a “life” of its own. Tip: Having both a business license, seller’s permit, and EIN should cover your bases for working with vendors. Check your local government business agency.

  4. Find quality inventory. Begin this step by building relationships with vendors, locating reputable trade shows, and doing your homework. Choose what you’re going to sell. Are you selling clothing, shoes, and accessories? Just clothing? Are you selling a look which includes all three? Tip: Start with 10-12 quality, unique pieces for your boutique.

  5. Hire a photography and grab your friends. Great photos will heighten your visual appeal to your customers and enhance your online brand identity. Tip: For the first photoshoot, ask your friends to help you model the pieces you ordered from #4.

  6. Identify your brand identity. Know how you will attract your ideal customers using colors, aesthetics, tag lines, logos, and other brand identifiers. Tip: Use this to help you stand out, not fit in. It’s okay if your brand looks starkly different than the norm.

  7. Choose an ecommerce platform. There are several options for online commerce from Shopify to Squarespace. You will need to research and compare which platform is best for your business.

  8. Identify your target market and your ideal customer. Your target market is a larger, more far-reaching group of people. It may be women between the ages of 25-40. Then, identify your ideal customer. This may be mostly 35 to 40 year olds who are mothers who wear comfortable, chic fashion with a bold pop of color. Tip: Speak to your ideal customer in your marketing, not your target market.

  9. Begin marketing before you launch. Social media is a great tool and should be used to the fullest. However, building a following outside of social media is essential. Start and end your marketing with emails. Tip: Use an email marketing company such as Klaviyo or Mailchimp to build your email list.

  10. Launch and Review your analytics often. Set your website to PUBLIC, and start selling. Tell everyone about it. Then, review your data. This is the only way you’ll know if your business is running effectively. Look at your numbers daily to identify where you can improve your strategies and processes. Tip: Sign up for a data analysis system to help you make sense of the information.

If you’re looking for a 1-stop shop program to help you build your fashion business, check out Breakout Fashionista.

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