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How to start a niche clothing business in 2020
Today I’m going to share my story how I launched my 6-figure clothing business with 2 yards of polar fleece, that costed $25 .
Beginning a career in fashion starts with getting the right education
My journey into clothing design started very early during my high school years. From my very first sewing class, I knew this was the career path I will choose to pursue. Upon finishing high school, I took the first step and enrolled in the Fashion Design and Technology program at Kwantlen University in Richmond, B.C. I then went on to further my educational studies and to enhance my skills by attending the Fashion Design program and Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. I graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Arts Degree in Fashion Design.
I came up with the name “Punch Brand” in Ryerson when I was designing my year-end graduation collection. Over the years I had experimented in different lines for Punch Brand but it never really turned into a “real” business until 2005 when I attended my first comic convention. That’s when I came up with the idea for “crazyheads” hats.
Inspiration is all around us. You just have to look.
I was really inspired by all the creative and elaborate costumes. The fans attending these conventions like to dress up as their favorite comic book, video game or cartoon character. I was immediately drawn to the community and set out to figure out a way I could contribute to this distinct and colorful world.
I bought a meter of fabric and experimented with sewing a few kitty🐱 and bunny🐰 fleece hats. I signed up for the next comic convention, had no clue if anyone would buy my hats and SOLD OUT!!! I was surprised, jumping up and down for joy, and that’s when crazyheads was born!
Work in the industry to get real world experience
Prior to Punch Brand I worked in the apparel industry for 15 years and held various positions such as fabric coordinator at Club Monaco, technical designer for Dollhouse, product developer for Hudson’s Bay Company and product manager for Reebok. Although it was an amazing experience, I never really saw myself working for someone else. It was very suffocating and also there was a lot of job uncertainty. I was becoming more and more passionate about creating my own product line. A sudden layoff gave me the perfect opportunity to pursue Punch Brand full time.
It’s important to find the right niche
I’ve experienced so much growth since I sewed my first crazyheads hat (starting with only $25 worth of material and my own sewing machine). Here are some of the best highlights:
⭐ My business had allowed me to travel the world, exhibiting at over 100 comic/ anime related conventions and fashion trade shows.
⭐ I built my wholesale account base from scratch to over 80 active accounts and secured distribution agreements with national pop-culture distribution companies in US and Canada.
⭐ In 2011, I got a call out of the blue from Google Marketing. The Android team wanted custom Android hoodies and beanies made for their developers. I was then introduced to the Google campus merchandise buyer where we collaborated on several official Android apparel and accessories for the Google online and retail store.
⭐ My Android clothing was featured in the Google holiday videos for 2 years in a row.
⭐ In April 2014, I had the pleasure of pitching in front of the Dragons on CBC Dragon’s Den.
⭐ In November 2015, I successfully funded my first Kickstarter campaign.
⭐ In January 2016, I gave birth to my son Chase. I decided to wind down Punch Brand at the end of 2016 as I wanted to prioritize being a stay at home mom for 2 years. Making the decision to wind down my business was hard.
Punch Brand was my first baby and I ran it for 10 amazing years!
If you are looking for a fashion design business consultant book your call with me: https://calendly.com/glynistao/book-a-call