If fashion is your passion, then there are plenty of ways to turn it into a career. You don't have to be a model or a well-established designer to make fashion pay; the possibility of turning your fashion sense into entrepreneurship is far more real than you might think.
Only a select few will ever make it to the runway, but plenty of fashionable startup opportunities await. They all take hard work and a great eye for fashion, but most have very small startup budgets. Here are five startup ideas for the entrepreneurial fashionista.
Fashion event production
Putting on a fashion show is no easy feat. Fashion event producers works with designers and models to help put together a show, and may even help coach runway models.
"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, founder of Nolcha, a New York-based fashion event production company.
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 mus,t as well as a printed portfolio. Networking through industry websites is also essential, she said.
Before you embark on this career, you should understand fashion shows, 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.
Fashion business coaching
This business is ideal for someone with a corporate background who wants to make a move into fashion. 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.
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 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, director of career services at the School of Visual Arts.
"You can start a blog on your own while looking for job, and it doesn't take a big outlay of cash," Wojak said. [See Related Story: How to Turn Your Blog Into a Business]
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.
Fashion public relations
Do you love to talk your favorite designer brands up to friends and family? Are you always searching for the latest fashion news and sample sales? If so, you might consider starting your own fashion public relations business. Fashion PR is a difficult field to break into, but with the right skill set and connections, you can help designers and other fashion businesses get noticed by the media and fashionistas.
In an article on PR Couture, entrepreneur Jonathan Leger writes that there are several key components to success as a fashion PR professional. You must first be able to create a strong brand for your clients to differentiate them from other designers. You must also know how to work with fashion editors to get magazine placements, and with models and celebrities to get your clients' work in the public eye. You should also have a keen understanding of media trends and be able to prove the value of your work.
As with any PR job, Leger noted that fashion publicists have to be ready to put out fires and handle any crises that arise from unhappy clients, models or editors.
Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.