The first step in any venture (especially the fashion business) is figuring out who your perfect customer is. This may sound strange. You might think the first step is developing a terrific product. However, you must always remember the only way a product makes money is if it fills a need for a customer. Otherwise, nobody will ever buy it, right?
This piece of information may sound like common sense, but a lot of beautiful products are made every year that go unsold because they met no need for any customers, and nobody wants that to happen.
So one of the best uses of time is to visualize your perfect customer from head to toe, as if you were writing a book or movie about that person’s life. Some questions you should be able to answer:
- Is this customer a man or woman? Remember that a product for children is purchased by an adult!
- What is the age of this customer?
- What is the customer’s job? What kind of hours does this customer work? What is this customer’s career goals?
- What is the customer’s hobbies? How does the customer spend free time?
- Who is the customer’s friends? What are those friends like?
- Where does this customer shop?
- What kind of car do they drive, if they even have one?
- What colors do they prefer?
- What is their family like?
Spend a lot of time and energy developing your perfect customer’s story, making them as real as possible. When your perfect customer feels as real to you as your best friend, ask yourself the toughest question: does this type of person exist in real life? More often than not, your answer will be “not really”. If your perfect customer is a 21-year-old girl who lives in New York City, works as a waitress, and buys Prada, the chances are you will not find many people like this in the world, certainly not enough to support an entire business. However, you will be able to find real people similar to your imaginary perfect customer! So the next step is to find where these similar people hang out, and observe how they live their lives for real. How do they spend their money and time for real?
You will figure out that this takes a lot of time and energy. This is why so many people who start businesses create products for their own friends or family. Who do you know better than your own loved ones?
It’s always better to spend time and energy on research before you spend money on starting a business. This way, you’re starting out with a realistic look at real people who spend actual money, and you can design your product around those things.