For those of you who have dreamed of being a fashion designer, there exists a streamlined way of getting your foot in the door. We hear the phrase “it takes money to make money” all the time and in most cases that is true. In this article, however, I will show you how to start a shoe line with no money.
Technically you will need money to start your shoe line, just not yours. It’s called using the customer-funded business model. The basic concept is to get orders, people’s money, turn around and create and/or obtain and ship the product with that money. In this way, you can make a profit without having money to produce the product first.
Start With A Strong Foundation
The first thing you need for any business to be successful is a quality product. This is where AliveShoes steps in. They are located in Le Marche, Italy which is commonly called “The Shoe Valley”. Le Marche is one of the three most important footwear hubs in the world. Portland, Oregon (USA) and Wenzhou, China are the others. More than 2,000 industries and 30,000 footwear professionals work in “The Shoe Valley” including Prada, Gucci, Chanel, and Fendi.
AliveShoes will take care of all production and logistics for you. You don’t even have to worry about setting up an online store, payment processors or shipping. They take care of all the heavy lifting so all you have to focus on is designing and marketing.
AliveShoes’s motto is “Start small, aim big”. They want you to start from a simple manageable place, one shoe design, get it into production and sell some before you start your next design. In this way you don’t overwhelm yourself with too many designs, you can focus on one design then focus on one marketing campaign.
Set Your Goals, Understand Your Goals
Before you can set goals you need to know where you are coming from. Most people will fall into one of the following groups.
- You are starting from scratch and want to experiment with designs and bring your own products to reality.
- You already have a shoe line but you want to extend it in new ways.
- You already have a brand but are now ready to add a shoe line to expand your catalog.
Your journey may be slightly different depending on which of the three groups you’re in. However, each designer will follow a similar path: Design something cool, then launch it and reach your sales goals. As of this writing, you will receive $30 for each shoe sold. Your initial sales goals mapped out by AliveShoes are as follows.
- FIRST GOAL: Reach seven pre-order sales and AliveShoes will begin the production of your shoe line.
- SECOND GOAL: Reach 10 sales to unlock the free PR boost service to help increase your visibility.
- THIRD GOAL: Reach 50 total sales to unlock the BRAND boost service to help further propel your shoe business.
If you’re worried about where to sell your custom shoes you can start with the people you know. Identify a group of about 10 people among your friends, family, coworkers, schoolmates, customers, and peers. More than likely, your 10 ambassadors will become your first customers. When selecting them you should look for individuals with one or more of the following characteristics.
- Helpful and supportive
- Have a strong social following
- Fashionable and stylish
- Owe you something
- Work in large companies or popular industries
- Influencers and trendsetters
- Have influential friends
- Big spenders of fashion and lifestyle products
- Have already purchased from you in the past
Design Cool Shoes
Your goal is not to design shoes you like but to sell shoes to the world. This means getting people’s attention with a shoe that they want to buy and wear. Design a shoe with your customers and ambassadors in mind.
Design something that stands out. Don’t just create a shoe, think bigger, create a brand that speaks volumes about the people who would wear them. Strive to create something that is unique, bold and has a personality to give your shoes a limited edition feel.
Getting pre-orders is a very big step in your journey. To do this you definitely want to involve your 10 ambassadors. Selling to them can work in your favor 10 fold when they share your designs with their networks.
Have a story to tell, and tell it, authenticity is a key component to connecting with new customers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. Make it personal to people and help your ambassadors understand why you have selected them as part of your brand.
Tell more about the shoes, the benefits, sell your concept and ask people to share. Along the way, you should also communicate your success. When you get a new pre-order, celebrate and share it.
Get Your Shoe into Production and Sell
Once you have gotten your seventh pre-order your shoe goes into production. By this time at the very least people are interested in your shoe, your design and your brand to the point of reaching into their pockets and giving you money for it.
Your shoe is in production, now what? Now that you know how to start a shoe line with no money its time to expand your customer base to beyond your 10 ambassadors and initial customers. To help you reach out further into your market AliveShoes has a host of guides and tools.
How To Get Started
For more information on how to start a shoe line with no money and to actually get started, go to AliveShoes.com
John Robinson is the owner and founder of Riivue. He currently spends his days working as a web services developer at a technology company in Tupelo, MS. John at one time played a key role in directing and growing an Engineering firm and was part owner of a Drafting and Design company.