We see budding designers and start-up brand owners gleefully starting up their labels with big dreams on the horizon and near-future goals. It looks like designing, making, launching and selling out.

Simple process. Achievable goal, right?

So why do SO many fashion businesses fail?

The largest contributor to small business failure was plain old financial mismanagement. It’s a broad term, and encompasses a lack of business experience, cash flow issues, starting out with not enough capital, lack of budget framework, and overuse of credit.

Among failed small businesses, 12% had inadequate, inaccurate, or non-existent business records. This is a direct result of poor management.

11% of small businesses fail due to sales and marketing problems (don’t rely on posting to insta as your only form of marketing!). This covers things like insufficient advertising and poor promotion, inability to cope with seasonal factors, and little understanding of the competition.

General economic conditions account for 12% of failed small businesses, which means we can probably let go of covid19 as a reason for poor sales.

There are other causes as well that can contribute to the failure of a small business, but generally, it’s a combination of a few different problems. Despite those stats (any historical research was almost redundant when we consider the disruptions of recent months with a pandemic to deal with) we’ve seen many companies are pivoting or reconnecting with their supply chains, making tough decisions – for example, about ROI at store level – and ramping up online channel services.

When COVID-19 hit there was a real shift in everything. The market became unpredictable and businesses went under – but not ours.

This is how we prepared offensively and defensively against an unpredictable market.

1. We looked at the positives and negatives.

2. We responded to how our world was changing with new in-house protocols.

3. We continued to work remotely without clients as a team.

4. We analysed the market shift for eCommerce and manufacturing capabilities.

5. We created planning worksheets and ebooks for everyone.

It might sound like a lot but that’s what we had to do to be heard and to be relevant. The world was changing and our audience’s attention shifted. We moved with them to be present when they needed us. If we can do it then your business can do it too. Businesses fail when they don’t stay relevant and forget who they serve in the market.

Every day we meet new budding designers and fashion business owners (start-up and scaling) who are as passionate about business as we are. The difference between those that succeed and those who fail? Focus, agility, and consistency. Instead of getting lost in the chaos of start-up life, here are a few great sources of inspiration — no matter what you’re creating right now — to keep you on track.

These three stories feature people who created something great and took the long, winding road to get there.


This CEO went from tech industry project management to fashion start-up

Sallyanne Astille is one of our all-time greats. If you missed it when it was first released (or haven’t read the case study in a while), make time to do it today. Her story is a crucial reminder that success has nothing to do with your speed, and everything to do with your intuition and perseverance. 

An e-book hit that took five years to write

If you’ve ever wondered how the world’s most popular fashion brands do their work, snap up Start Up and Stand Out. It’s a great read based on the last five years of in-house process, drawn from big company protocols and adapted to start-up foundations to help you scale. It’s a fascinating look inside the complexities of creativity and how to commercialise your vision.

Download your copy now!

Remember, speed or perfection straight out of the gate shouldn’t even make it onto the list of things that matter. But do you know what should?

Your voice. Your cashflow. And most importantly — Your actions.

Aim to take small steps forward every day. Because if you don’t work every day to develop your unique brand, the world won’t have the ability to take note of your efforts.


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