Five Business Ideas for Fashion Fanatics

As fashionistas and sunglass-clad celebs flock to New York for Fashion Week, many a young designer dreams of his or her day in the spotlight.

Only a few will ever make it to the runway, but plenty of fashionable startup opportunities await. They all take hard work and a great sense of fashion, most have very small startup budgets. Here are five of them:

Runway coaching

No, it doesn’t involve frantically waving two little orange flags to guide a 747 to the gate. A runway coach works with designers and models to help put together a fashion show.

“You would help the designer with runway show casting and have an understanding of how clothes should be portrayed on the body and how the models should carry themselves,” said Kerry Bannigan, owner of Nolcha, a brand-placement and fashion industry education consulting firm based in New York.

Runway coaches also work with models to help improve their runway performance, Bannigan told BusinessNewsDaily.

While startup costs are minimal – you won’t need employees or even an office – you will need to do some heavy self-promotion .

“Relationships and referrals are key for this type of work,” Bannigan said. Business cards and a user-friendly website showing an online portfolio are a must as well as a printed portfolio, Bannigan said. Networking through industry websites is essential, she said.

Before you embark on a career as a runway coach, you should understand fashion show production, have the ability to work with the creative-minded people and be flexible enough to deal with diverse personalities, Bannigan said.
Income potential is based on the number of clients you have and how big they are.

“Ralph Lauren, for example, has a bigger budget than an independent fashion brand,” Bannigan said.

Fashion business coaching

This business is ideal for someone with a corporate background who wants to make a move into fashion.

“As a business coach, you are a constant cheerleader looking at the unvarnished truth of a designer’s business model and collection,” Bannigan said. A fashion business coach helps guide design firms in all aspects of running their business – from growth plans to everyday tasks such as invoice collection and bookkeeping . It also can involve coaching the creative designer on how to perform and interact in different business settings, Bannigan said.

Startup costs for a fashion coaching business are minimal, but earning potential is significant.

“Research consultancy services with established businesses can make six-figure salaries with constant clientele,” Bannigan said.

Fashion blogging

It might be hard to believe, but influential websites such as the Sartorialist and Racked debuted as small fashion blogs. They’ve since come into their own as industry thought leaders. And they sell lots of advertising.

Not too much investment is needed in a fashion blog – website development and hosting can be quite inexpensive – but it will require lots of legwork. Whether you’re stalking the city streets with your iPhone in search of fashionable photo ops or following the moves of leading designers, you’ll need to be tracking changing trends at every moment.

On the plus side, a fashion blog can be a complement to your existing job, said Angie Wojak, career services director at Parsons School of Design in New York.

“You can start a blog on your own while looking for job and it doesn’t take a big outlay of cash ,” Wojak says.

Photo styling

Photo stylists work with photographers to scout shoot locations, get clothing to shoots, buy furniture and accessories and generally make sure the photo shoot goes as planned.

It requires a good sense of fashion, an understanding of fashion history, and the smarts to know where to source your products, according to Sara Petitt, coordinator of the fabric styling program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, in New York.

Successful photo stylists can come from any background; they usually make their mark by doing a good job and gaining business through word of mouth.

Photo stylists can be paid hourly or by the project.

Event planning

While it may not be about fashion, event planning is all about creating a “look” that is conceptual, said Petitt.

“Event coordinators do everything from getting the tablecloths, flowers, musicians and making sure it all works together,” Petitt said.  “It’s sort of like photo styling and fashion because it involves color and concept and creating a whole atmosphere and ambience with an event.”

An event planner can start a business with almost no overhead, Petitt said. And you can expect to charge at least $100 per hour for your services.

In starting any of these fashion businesses, Petitt said, “you don’t want inventory you’re going to be stuck with. You want to sell something that’s conceptual.”