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Talking Business: Starting your own brand? Follow this checklist first

Gillian Mead is the founder and creative director of ethical fashion brand Araminta

Gillian Mead is the founder and creative director of ethical fashion brand Araminta

Gillian Mead: “Don’t think that running your own brand will be easier than working another job”

Are you taking the plunge and launching your own fashion brand? It’s the dream of many but in reality it’s the most challenging thing you will probably ever do. Learn what to expect, how to succeed and avoid the pitfalls. I recently launched an ethical fashion line called Araminta, and through my journey I have picked up many tips:


  • Do read as much as you can about how the industry operates and how to run a business.
  • Do build industry contacts. Ask for advice and feedback. People in fashion are passionate and knowledgeable.
  • Do know your target customer and how you will capture their attention. Customers are smart, savvy and loyal to other existing brands. Why would they divert their loyalties to spend their hard-earned money with you?
  • Do build a strong online presence. Start a blog with high-quality content before the launch of a brand in order to build up a social media following. It will be easier to spread your message if you already have a fan base.
  • Do know how to manage your finances. Keep records of receipts and invoices. Keep a cash flow and projections of garment costs and profit margins. Think carefully about price points.
  • Do find a business partner. It will be very challenging to go it alone. But don’t rush your decision. Find someone that you wholly trust and that you believe has irreplaceable and complementary talents.
  • Do make time for a hobby that re-energises. Come back to work focused and filled with creative ideas.


  • Don’t start a brand until you have a clear and unique brand vision that sets you apart from everyone else.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of product quality.
  • Don’t think that this will be easier than working another job. You will be working harder than ever. Think 80- to 100-hour weeks.
  • Don’t underestimate the need for a strong marketing story. There are an estimated 1.4bn web pages out there, so how and why will people know to look for your site?
  • Don’t rush into partnership with suppliers. Visit potential factories and make sure they are on the same wavelength with your vision.
  • Don’t go to Asia for production: minimums are too high, quality is often lower and import duties and shipping are extortionate.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Thierry BAYLE

    Gillian, I could not agree more on many of the points you highlighted.
    Focusing on the business side of Fashion and Retail for 20 y, I think we are forgetting to create Business Designers.
    Having a business partner is therefore essential.

    On this topic, a mistake I have seen is the Designer believing that this partner will have the right answers on ALL opportunities or challenges.
    You call 6 months later and the company is closed as that had no retail experience and they tried to guess it / did not challenge the business partner. For me it is alright to have 2 people in the close circle if the skills and experience are complementary.


    Thierry BAYLE

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