What Launching a Clothing Business is Like as a Stay-At-Home Mom
“How to start a fashion brand from scratch” is really a story about believing in yourself.
They say there is never a right time to start a business. Whoever “they” are is correct.
It was Mother’s Day of 2020. I was sipping champagne, scrolling through Pinterest and watching my son fish with his dad. The sun was shining and I was pretending, if only for a moment, that we weren’t living in a pandemic.
In retrospect, I was escaping the mask-mandated, terrified-to-touch-anything reality the way I know best — shopping.
As I welcomed the sunshine on my face and fantasized about a luxurious wardrobe that any good socialite would love, it hit me. I wanted to start a clothing business. And not just any clothing business — a business that would give women permission to reclaim the identities they lost through motherhood, divorce, a big move or other life-altering event.
I went home, got out my journal, and scribbled “VALT” (a play on my last name) in big, bold letters at the top of the page. I spent the next several months creating mood boards, conducting market research, and asking friends what their shopping pain points were.
I enrolled in online business courses to get clear on what I wanted my brand to stand for and the woman I wanted to cater to. I was a woman obsessed.
Then, just as momentum for my idea started to take off, I found out I was pregnant. And while being pregnant (or being a mother for that matter) shouldn’t deter anyone from carrying out their dream, the reality is that it does make it harder. But not impossible.
Instead of viewing my pregnancy as an obstacle, though, I looked at it like a business timeline. I have 9 months to figure out what I want to do, what I want to sell, and who I want to sell it to.
How I make progress on my business every day, with a baby on my hip
Fast forward 9 and some odd months later, and this is what my day consists of:
Opening up my laptop when my daughter goes down for a nap. Listening to business and fashion podcasts while I stroll her through the neighborhood.
Toting her around to fabric stores, boutiques, and coffee shops as I balance phone calls, emails, and zooms with designers and manufacturers.
In a way, having her with me all the time makes me more efficient as a business owner because I don’t take one free second for granted. In addition to seizing my work opportunities via her nap times, I set “me time” schedules with my husband.
Which brings me to my next point…
Having outside support is key
Here’s a hard-hitting fact for you: The majority of people don’t start the business they want to because they don’t believe they can do it. It isn’t about lack of money or resources, but a lack of confidence.
My husband (aka VALT’s CFO), is financially backing my business to get it off the ground.
Maybe getting a business loan or working with investors or starting a kickstarter is the financial support you need. For me, not owing anyone anything allows me to have full creative control without the stress of money hanging over my head.
And I’m not only talking about financial support, here. If you are thinking of starting your own business, you NEED support from your family, circle of friends, and community cheering you on along the way.
Advice to other aspiring womenpreneurs, mompreneurs, etc.
Utilize any and every free resource at your disposal. I still can’t believe that podcasts are free to listen to. Once you find the right ones, they can be SO valuable in giving you the tools you need to get going.
Online articles are great, too, as are social media outlets like Instagram and Pinterest, if and only if you utilize social media as a business tool instead of getting caught in a comparison trap.
Finally…Don’t let fear of rejection or looking unintelligent hold you back. Making mistakes along the way is the only way you’ll learn.
Email people you admire in your industry, and ask them how they got started. You will be surprised at how quick some people are to guide you in the right direction or provide a referral.
Reality TV shows like Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, Stylish with Jenna Lyons, and random fashion documentaries gave me so much inspiration on everything from design ideas to hiring the right talent to having the right attitude of starting a business, in addition to the other self-serviced education I received.
Above all else, believe in yourself.
It sounds so cliché, I know. But seriously, nothing will happen unless you believe in yourself enough to make it work. My granular tip for this is to get dressed every day. Meaning, something a few levels above pajamas and something that makes you proud to look in the mirror and excited to begin your day.
Thank you for reading!
Ashley is a Connecticut-based freelance writer specializing in mental health, wellness, and fashion. Her work has been featured in Forbes, POPSUGAR, Well + Good, Modern Mom Probs, and more.
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