This is probably the most asked question I receive from you guys. I’ll have to admit that sometimes people ask me, literally, “how do you do it” and to be honest- I don’t have a good answer and don’t feel right guiding someone through it step by step. Why? Because in my opinion, there is no step by step guide. Whatever books and articles that are out there most of the time just share the person's stories and advice. Not only does everyone have their own business endeavors, but the cold hard truth is also that some people are just not capable or have the strength of running their own business. It comes with a lot of dedication, commitment, work, courage and takes a lot of time.
My two favorite quotes ever are from Walt Disney- “The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.” and “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” If you’re serious about starting a company-engrave those two quotes in your mind. Remember to look at the bigger picture and don’t give up when something goes wrong. I’ve gathered some tips that I’ve learned from doing this for the past 5 years.
You don’t need an in-depth business plan. Keep it simple and straight to the point. I’ve met a lot of people that told me they’ve been working on their business plan for months and I think to myself “you could have used that time to actually start your business.” Now some of you may think that’s wrong or risky, but all you really need to get it going are the basic details (a name, logo, the idea, look and message behind the brand) and to find the right product with the potential for serious profitability. Once you have the basics figured out, the rest will come with time and actually operating it.
You don’t need a lot of funding to start. Not everyone has enough money to get their startup company off the ground. The truth about me is that I started because I needed more income to do what I wanted to do. I graduated high school with no previous job experience since I spent most of my time on the internet running my Tumblr and Twitter accounts and had no future career plan. At that time I only applied to community college and had absolutely no knowledge of running a company. I just knew that I wanted to sell my idea and stuck to that.
The first time I started, I bought around $50 worth of leather string and strands of pearls at Michaels Arts and Crafts. I made around 10-20 chokers to start, and I remember profiting around $200 my first time. I sold it all on Tumblr with a PayPal button (no website hosting payments), bought bubble mailers, made them all in the comfort of my bedroom and shipped them all myself at the post office. I also remember using actual stamps my first time. I knew that I didn’t have much to start with, so I tried to use minimum resources to get it going. I quickly grew that and expanded my products and business.
You don’t need to start with a 10 piece collection, a full hosted website, or large inventory. You can start off small and collect some cash to do what you really want to. Or, if you are able to, you can ask a family member or loved one to invest in you as well. You could also sell some of your old clothing on free apps such as Poshmark, Depop, or even your Instagram and get your payments sent via Paypal, Cash App, or Venmo. There are so many resources now that can help you than there was back then, and since there’s a lot of companies and reselling products on the internet is pretty normal now, people are much more open and trusting to send payments this way. You can also save up some cash with the job you have and use those savings to launch.
Get all the backends ready for your launch. This means a couple of things:
First off, the online stuff- a brand name, social media accounts, domain, and website design. Stick to a simple name that sounds catchy or something that has meaning to you. Check if the domain and social accounts are available and if not, figure out some alternatives you can do by adding words such as: shop, brand, label, etc.
Next, figure out how you’re going to start marketing. This can be as simple as telling your friends, doing giveaways on Instagram, and tagging/messaging random followers. Once you’ve established a comfortable amount of customers and followings, I suggest you learn about other forms of marketing you should do- SEO, email marketing, influencer marketing, blogging, social media (Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest), and many more that you can expand later on when you’re company is live.
Last, make your company legal. Once you launch and things are running well, quickly figure out your business structure and decide where to form your business. I saved this step for after you launch because it does cost a bit of cash to make it legal. You can then file your business formation papers and set up your finances, sales tax, and other requirements you need to run your business the right and safe way. Luckily there are a lot of online websites to help you with this, you can also contact someone with more experience to help you out.
Find the perfect product and how you’ll source them. Now, there are many options you can go to creating your own product.
The first step is to know what you want and create the design. Photoshop and actual drawings will really help you with this step. Once you are happy with your product, you’ll need to get it made. Luckily we now live in a time where you can practically get anything you want to be made with a few clicks. Google will seriously be your best friend for this. Let’s say you want to create some water bottles and have them sourced in the USA. Just search: Custom water bottle manufacturing companies in the USA, Water bottle suppliers in the USA, etc. You’ll see an unlimited amount of links that will lead you to what you’re looking for. Just get in contact with the suppliers and show them your sample images.
Now that all sounds easy, right? I won’t lie- it’s not. Sourcing is one of the hardest things you’ll be doing in running your business. Finding an ethical supplier that will really choose quality over everything- is definitely not easy. It takes a lot of trial and error and contacting people and visiting factories. If you live in a popular city, try to find factories that are close to you so you could visit them and look at their fabrics and pieces they currently have. It’s not an overnight job and took me months and even years, to find the ones that I really trust to work with. If you’re dedicated enough, you’ll find the one. Samples also cost you money, since they’re creating only one piece, it could get quite expensive. That’s why doing this after saving up some cash will really help.
Once you’re happy with the sample product, you can then place an order with the inventory amount you are confident in selling, after negotiating rates and quantities with your manufacturer and get to selling!
Everything I’ve just mentioned is the few important steps you should take before seriously considering starting your business. I’ve had a lot of friends, family members or even people I follow on Instagram wanting to start a business but just did not know where to start, or more importantly, quit after a few bumps in the process.
You’ve probably heard a lot of entrepreneurs say that the best advice is to not give up right? Well, they say it because it’s true. That’s the #1 tip I have to give you as well. The only thing that will make your business bigger is true dedication and not giving up-- honestly.
Thank you for such an informative post! I have been researching and sourcing for months and have been gathering as much info as possible to launch my new brand, you are truly an inspiration to many young women, and with my dedication, heart and soul, I know my business turns into a success!
You have been one of my biggest inspos since day 1 of launching my jewelry business! I love that you have created such a great community with Crybaby. You are inspiring me to always work hard and I’m going to be paying part of my upcoming college tuition with my funds! Thank you for everything.
Thank you so much for the advice. I’m planning on launching my own swimwear brand and this has honestly helped me and opened my eyes. I love your clothing and your passion for your work!! You’ve inspired and motivated me from the beginning and i thank u for that!!
Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been dreaming of having my own clothing brand, but I’ve had no idea how to start. you are such a role model! This advice has been the most helpful I’ve gotten, thank you and keep doing all the amazing things you do! ❤️
Omg i was waiting this post so much thank you for sharing this tips kisses from perú god bless you 🌟🖤
I have been thinking about starting my own business so much recently! What a coincidence you have made this post. I will take it as a sign 💗 Thanks for sharing ☺️
Hi! Thank u for the super informative post! All the leg work that goes into getting a business running can be soo daunting but this post makes it seem a lil less scary 😌 I’m a business major and I’m always looking for insight from different entrepreneurs, your brand is one of my favs so I was SOOO excited to read this post! The business world can be intimidating but seeing another woman my age doing so well and having a positive, can-do attitude is truly inspiring. 🤩🖤 Keep it up!! Ily
I’ve always wanted to hear the backstory of how you started Stargaze/Cry Baby, thank you for sharing all your insight. You inspire me very much. 💛
I actually have been in need for some tips to start a business because I have been working on building my own business for tutoring kids/daycare!! I was struggling a lot especially because I have no background knowledge on business and I look at crybaby as my inspo since it’s more than just a clothing brand :) Thanks Esma love u!!
Thank you so much. I’ve been following your brand for a long time and my end goal is to launch a clothing brand as well. It seemed overwhelming (and it is) but this made me feel more confident about my future!
This is amazing! I’ve always thought about starting a business, but always thought about how I would start it. I love these quotes, and I will definitely save this post for later❤️ Still thinking about what my product and brand would be💖 thank you Esma🥰
This was helpful , I plan to start my own sticker business , I keep putting it off but reading this since I already have an idea and some of the designs picked out I should just jump in !
Omg thank you for this blog post!! I’ve been in the process of creating a business and ngl I’ve been heavily looking at crybaby as a framework because you inspire me! Completely struggling to create a name rn but your tips are helpful :)