The footwear industry is always thriving in the United States and beyond, thanks to the never-ending demand. New technologies and designs emerge every few months, with manufacturers trying to invent stylish designs that are comfortable and appealing for the shoemaking process.
Anyone creative enough to design shoes that appeal to the public can start a shoe line. If you are a shoe enthusiast thinking of starting a shoe line, you may need a few pointers. In this article, we will discuss the things you need to consider and what you need to do before starting a shoe line.
Here are a few tips that will come in handy if you are thinking of starting your shoe line.
Like any other business, you should devise an elaborate plan to increase your chances of success. To do that, you first need to understand the footwear industry.
Generally speaking, the footwear industry is quite competitive. However, the demand for shoes is largely influenced by fashion trends. This means that newbies with hot new products can easily make a name for themselves.
There are two main categories in the footwear industry; athletic and non-athletic footwear. The athletic shoe category makes for 30% of the total sales. However, two brands dominate this category, i.e., Adidas and Nike. This makes the athletic shoe category quite competitive.
The non-athletic footwear category includes various types of shoes, including dress shoes, casual shoes, work shoes, house slippers, and boots.
Before starting a shoe line, you need to decide the types of shoes you want to produce. Note that footwear manufacturing is more complex than garment manufacturing, and most times, the manufacturing process takes a lot of time.
Your target audience is the people you’re planning to sell to. It could be young women or professional men and so on. Identifying your target audience is a defining factor in ordering the right inventory that will sell.
You need to know the age, gender, and annual income of potential customers. By doing so, you’ll figure out how to make your shoe line profitable.
You need to conduct market research and identify the different types of styles, price points, and materials your competitors use. This way, you will know what is trending and things you can do to stay ahead of your competition.
The experience you give your customers should also be better than the one your competitors give them. Conduct a survey to identify what will give you a competitive advantage.
Have a detailed plan of what your shoe line will be like, then start implementing the plan step by step. The supply chain will involve design, manufacturing/ shoe production, packaging, and transportation for your shoe line.
Since the shoe-making process requires several different materials, you have to develop a tech pack detailing the materials that your production team will use. Additionally, you need to come up with different shoe designs for your shoe line.
A tech pack will give your manufacturer all the details they need to make your shoe design. The type of shoe you are designing and its function will determine your tech pack’s information. Important information you need to include in your tech pack is;
While selecting the materials, consider the durability, weight, and stretchiness of the fabric. It would be best if you also considered how comfortable you want the shoes to be.
You can be as creative as you want, but always have your target market in mind. It would be best if you came up with designs that will be appealing to your target market. Once you have your designs mapped out, it is wise to engage with a trusted development and manufacturing partner. If you are unsure about the materials to use, ask your manufacturing partner for recommendations. Since manufacturers interact with different materials in the shoe factory, they can advise you on which materials would work and which ones wouldn’t.
Once you are satisfied with your tech pack and designs, you can send them to your manufacturer for production. As mentioned earlier, the production process can take a long time regardless of the types of shoes you are manufacturing if you are working overseas. Therefore, you will have to be patient. There are a select few innovative companies like COMUNITYmade who are designing, developing and producing premium shoes in the USA, who also offer consulting and manufacturing services to other brands.
Your footwear brand is what will set you apart from your competitors. The stronger your brand is, the more customers you are likely to get. It would also be best if you started marketing your brand as soon as possible. This way, your potential customers will become familiar with your business before you launch.
Since you already know your target market at this point, go out of your way to make the brand visible through printed ads and social media.
Establishing a business entity is crucial when starting a shoe line. It would be best if you established a corporation or LLC. By doing so, you protect yourself against any liability in case someone sues your company. You’ll have to pay a small fee for registration.
Since a shoe line is a business like any other, you also have to register for federal and state taxes. Your shoe line will be taxed depending on the business structure you select.
Additionally, you need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits. If you don’t, you will end up paying hefty fines or even losing your business altogether. Before starting a shoe line, research the permits and licenses you will need.
To protect your assets, you need to open a separate business bank and credit account. In case someone sues your company, you won’t risk losing your assets.
You should also make a point of building your business credit. This way, you can easily finance your business when the need arises. Note that business credit accounts offer higher credit and great interest rates.
It would be best to get insurance for your shoe line to protect your company from any losses. Consider getting a general liability insurance cover for a start because you may be unsure of the risks your business will face.
After you finish setting up your shoe line, you have to launch and promote it. By promoting it, you will build your brand identity.
Note that the shoe industry is unique, and shoes tend to sell more in physical stores than online stores. The reason for this is that most people prefer trying on pairs of shoes before buying. Therefore, you should consider having a trade show where people can participate by trying out your shoes and meeting wholesale retailers who will potentially stock your shoes.
Additionally, it would be best if you established a social media presence. Be active in promoting your shoe line on social media platforms. You’d be surprised at how many people purchase the shoes simply because they saw them trending on social media.
If you do everything right, your brand will develop with time. Remember to make a point of incorporating new features in your shoe line so that it stands out from the rest.
Good customer service and meeting customer demands will also go a long way in promoting your shoe line. Your customers will only come back or recommend you to their friends if they have a good customer experience.
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