When last we spoke with Cecily Habimana, she had just raised $11,700 on Kickstarter to manufacture the latest collection for her fashion line, Simply Cecily. We caught up with her last week and she told us that she just showcased some of her spring/summer designs at DC Fashion Week. So, it sounds like things are going pretty well, which is much-deserved after 10 years of work.
Fashion is everywhere. If we’re not out shopping for ourselves, we’re looking what other people are wearing on the red carpet recaps we find online. Or we’re watching shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was only a few weeks ago, and if you couldn’t get a front-row seat on the catwalk, you may have participated in Fashion’s Night Out. The ladies living the high life on reality TV (or trying to give off the vibe that they’re living large) have handbag, swimsuit and various fashion lines. Or they’re dressing themselves while we sit on our couches and critique.
No doubt there are many people out there who have a creative streak and want to start a fashion line of their own. While it’s glamorous and fun, fashion is big business. Labels like Prada and Michael Kors, for instance, are public companies, answering back to investors and global financial onlookers. But even Miuccia and Michael had to start somewhere.
For Habimana, the start was custom work. “It might be a good way to start so people will know your style,” she says. Even though she began with one-off custom pieces, she still participated in fashion shows. “You can start small and stay small for a while,” she adds.
As evidenced by her Kickstarter campaign, another thing that Habimana needed was capital. Besides the money she raised through the campaign, Habimana says that she and her hubby have been investing their own money into the business. To start, Habimana suggests $25,000. Her budget also has to take into account trips to Africa to purchase materials (her designs are based on African fabrics). If you want to manufacture, that’s a cost you have to factor in. Or if you want to open a brick-and-mortar store, that’s a separate budget. Habimana wants to stick with online sales and sales through boutiques.
“The first normal thing that a business student would do would be a business plan,” she says, describing the first step after one decides they want to start a fashion design business. She decided to forego the plan-making stage. “I would’ve had to postpone the launch of the line until next fall if I did that.”
That’s another necessity for getting started — knowledge of the fashion calendar. Habimana started the company this past January and knew she’d have to have samples for Spring/Summer 2013 by July. “Know what the fashion industry calendar looks like because it’s all mapped,” Habimana advises. Indeed, all you need to do is check online for the various fashion shows and you’ll know exactly when the buyers and the press will be looking for the new season’s offerings.