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1. How much does it cost to start a small clothing line?

How to start a small clothing business from home [2024]

Updated Jan 15 2024

If you've always dreamed of starting your own clothing business, then now is an easier time than ever before to get started. Rest assured that starting an online clothing business doesn't have to involve high overhead costs or even expert fashion design skills.

While there are numerous ways to set up your own clothing company, we'll walk you through a business model to help you start your own fashion brand with minimal startup and operational costs. Running your own clothing business online does take some effort, but it can also be a great way to earn extra income doing something you enjoy.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • The print on demand business model makes it possible to start a clothing business without purchasing your own fabric, inventory, or printing tools.

  • Starting a clothing business from home largely comes down to creating a solid business and marketing strategy.

  • Partnering with a print on demand company can leave you free to focus on the design and marketing aspects of running an online clothing store.

How much does it cost to start a small clothing line?

With the right business plan, it's possible to get your own small clothing business set up and running for well under $1000. Although you can technically get started for free, you may want to set aside around $500 to invest in paid marketing and freelance designers.

How is it possible to start a clothing business for so little? It all comes down to the print on demand model used by Gelato.

Gelato offers a variety of high-quality clothing that you can customize with your own designs and offer in your online store. When a customer places an order, Gelato will take care of everything from creating the product at one of over 100 local production sites to shipping it to your customer.

Unlike traditional business models, print on demand makes it possible to start a clothing business without ever having to worry about ordering the wrong amount of inventory or shipping out orders. Read on to discover more about how the print on demand business model works and how to get started.

How to start a small clothing business from home step-by-step

While it's now easier to start a clothing line than ever before, the importance of a solid business model can't be emphasized enough. Selling clothing items can be a very competitive market, so be sure to invest the time in the following steps to give yourself the best chance of starting a successful business.

1. Research the Market

market research

In order to break into the fashion business, it's important to know what's trending. Luckily, there are several great ways to find ideas for your new clothing brand.

The first is to delve into the fashion world right from your own social media accounts. You may even want to start separate accounts specifically dedicated to your clothing company on sites like TikTok, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.

Make it a point to follow everyone from your favorite clothing brands to online clothing boutique owners. When you follow other small clothing businesses, you'll begin to get an idea of the types of clothing they offer and what pricing strategies they use.

You can also use free tools like Google Trends to see what types of clothing and fashion brands people are currently searching for the most. Our latest search for "clothing" revealed trends like "happy vibes clothing" and "italic clothing," both of which you could incorporate into your own clothing brand designs.

2. Determine your niche and target audience

One of the most important considerations for your clothing line business plan will be figuring out your target market. Your target customers are the type of people most likely to be interested in your online clothing store.

The more specific your target audience, the easier it's going to be to figure out what types of clothing will appeal to them. To find your target market, begin by asking yourself questions such as:

  • What are their demographics? In other words, how old are they, where do they live, and what types of interests do they have?

  • Do they share any of your own hobbies and interests? If you love pets and animals, for example, you might consider starting an online business that sells clothing geared toward other pet lovers.

  • Are there any gaps in the online clothing industry that you could fill? In other words, are there things that your market research revealed that no one else is selling? If so, this can make for a great unique selling point (USP), which is basically something that sets your business apart from others.

If you already have an online following, take advantage of your audience's advice by running surveys or social media polls that ask what types of products your followers are interested in. Asking about everything from their interests and hobbies to their favorite fashion line can yield valuable clues.

3. Build your brand identity

building identity

No matter what the size or nature of a company, developing a brand identity is an important part of any business model. First, you'll want to create a business name for your online clothing store - preferably one that's both memorable and relevant to your chosen niche.

Next, it's time to come up with your own label or logo, which can be a really fun part of bringing your business idea to life. When creating your logo, make sure that you choose a typeface, font, and color scheme that reflects the personality of your brand.

If you choose to use multiple colors, make one of them your brand's core color and ensure that the others complement it well. Just avoid going overboard here because using more than two or three colors can get overwhelming and make your logo harder to read.

Keep in mind that your logo will become a core part of your clothing business, so it's not an area where you want to cut corners. Canva offers a great free logo maker, but when in doubt, you may want to enlist the help of a graphic designer.

4. Decide what to sell


Now that your clothing brand is starting to take shape, it's time to decide what types of clothing items you'd like to feature in your store. Your market analysis research, audience feedback, and target market considerations should all provide helpful hints about which items will sell the best.

Additionally, you'll also want to consider where your target market lives and what purpose your clothing is designed to serve. For example, if you want to launch a clothing business featuring surf designs for a target market that's based in Hawaii, then tank tops may sell better than hoodies.

5. Select a print on demand provider

print on demand provider

If you decide to go with the print on demand business model, then it's time to select a great print on demand partner. Some of the perks of this type of business plan are that you won't have to worry about making large bulk orders from a clothing manufacturer or printing your own designs.

POD providers make it easy to start an online clothing business because they only print products after they have been ordered and even take care of delivery. Some of the things you'll want to look for in a good POD partner include:

  • Pricing

  • Customer service

  • Number of shipping locations

  • Commitment to sustainability

  • Commitment to high-quality clothing in a variety of different materials and colors

  • Integration with major ecommerce platforms and marketplaces

At Gelato, we've worked hard to ensure that we're a top POD provider by featuring high-quality clothing with a focus on sustainability. All our products are responsibly sourced, and we use over 130 production partners to help cut down on carbon emissions.

6. Design your clothing line

clothing design

Now comes the fun part - creating the designs you'll feature in your clothing line! Draw on all the research you put into exploring ideas for your clothing brand, with a focus on current fashion industry trends that are relevant to your target market.

Sketch out your designs and create digital mock-ups, or hire a designer to help bring your ideas to life. Don't be afraid to experiment with different colors, fonts, and design placements, but be careful of including too many!

Using too many colors or design elements can make your fashion brand come across as overwhelming. Whether you're selling t-shirts or zip-up hoodies, focus on creating trendy yet concise designs that are relevant to your target market.

Before you launch your clothing line, you'll want to order samples of your clothing to see how the designs look in person. Once you're fully satisfied with the final product, take high-resolution photos that you can upload to your online store.

7. Choose a selling platform

selling platform

Now it's time to decide where to launch your clothing business by selecting an online selling platform. There are plenty of different options, each with its own unique pros and cons.

Your own website

Launching a clothing business on a website you created with a tool like Wix can be a solid way to go if your site already has a following. If it doesn't, however, then just keep in mind that you'll likely need a marketing budget for things like search engine optimization (aka SEO) and paid advertising.

Social media platforms

With the right business strategy, creating a storefront on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can help you reach a larger following quickly. Taking the time to build an online community around your brand can also help foster customer loyalty.

Unless you already have a wide following, just be prepared to invest in paid social media advertising in order to build an audience. Additionally, keep in mind that while positive comments are great, you may also have to field a fair share of negative comments and trolls.

Ecommerce platforms

You might also choose to go with an ecommerce platform like Shopify or WooCommerce, but be sure to do your research before committing to an ecommerce website. For instance, it's important to realize that Shopify charges a monthly subscription fee, and WooCommerce relies on knowledge of WordPress.

Ecommerce marketplaces

You might also look into an eCommerce marketplace like Etsy. While Etsy comes with the perk of an established following, it also presents the challenge of more competition for your online store.

8. Set up your online storefront

setting storefront

Once you've created your ecommerce website account or added any necessary ecommerce plug-ins to your existing site, it's time to get your online clothing business up and running! Try to score a domain name that aligns as closely with your business name as possible to make it easy for customers to find you.

Then customize our storefront to match your brand identity by using:

  • The logo of your clothing business

  • Your brand color scheme

  • Unique messaging that conveys your brand identity

Be sure to use a layout that's both visually appealing and easy for customers to navigate. You want to ensure that your visitors enjoy a great customer experience each time they visit your online clothing boutique.

9. Add clothing products to your store

adding clothes

Before you can start a clothing business, you've got to have clothing to sell, right? Now it's time to begin uploading high-resolution photos of all your products!

If you choose to use models, then be thoughtful about your audience. For instance, if your target market is made up of middle-aged suburban women, then avoid exclusively featuring younger women who look like they just stepped off of a runway in Milan.

Additionally, make sure you include detailed descriptions of each product in your clothing line. Highlight everything from the type of fabric used to sizing, materials, and any other relevant information.

Including relevant keywords in both your product titles and descriptions can go a long way toward achieving a higher rank on search results pages, so be as descriptive as possible without going overboard. Last but not least, you'll want to price your products appropriately, configure payment and shipping options, and create a clear refund/return policy.

10. Promote your online clothing business

promoting clothing business

If there's one thing that can make or break your online clothing business, it's how much effort you put into promotion. No matter how innovative or trendy your clothing line may be, it won't do much good if nobody knows it exists!

Advertising efforts should be a core part of any business plan and utilize a variety of different approaches. While it's certainly possible to advertise for free, paid advertising can help get your clothing line in front of your target audience much faster.

Here are some marketing strategies that can help get the word out about your online business:

  • Create dedicated pages under your business name on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

  • Use social media to connect with fans, potential customers, and other people in the clothing industry.

  • Share posts, run paid ads, and look into influencer marketing.

  • Focus on the platform where potential customers from your target audience tend to hang out the most.

  • Use tools like HootSuite or SproutSocial to schedule regular posts.

  • Use website sign-ups and social media contact forms to build an email list and create a newsletter using a site like Constant Contact.

  • Use your newsletter and email marketing lists to share news about anything from new clothing designs to promotions or discounts.

  • Creating contests where subscribers can win free t-shirts or other prizes is a great way to keep your audience engaged

While it can take time to build an online audience, it's also one of the best ways to launch your clothing store to success. By developing a solid business structure and marketing plan, you'll be selling online in no time.

Build an online clothing store easily with Gelato

hero image

The print on demand business model makes it easy to start a clothing business from home without having to invest a great deal of time or money.  At Gelato, we enable global creators to produce and deliver their products anywhere through our network of local production partners and entrepreneurs. 

We empower local communities to produce what their local communities need. As a merchant, your products are automatically fulfilled - no need to manage inventory or make up-front investments. Because more than 85% of products are made locally, delivery times, costs, and carbon emissions are greatly reduced.

Get started on your own clothing line with Gelato today! With a network of printing providers in 32 countries, we make it easy to start a clothing business right from your own computer.

How to start a clothing business FAQ

What is the first thing I need to do to start my own clothing business?

To launch your own clothing business, you must first develop a compelling idea. Find your niche and understand your target audience before you set off on your selling journey. Next, spend time working on your concept and establishing your brand. These are the stepping stones to building a strong brand that will distinguish it from others further down the road.

Do I need a license to start a clothing business from home?

Yes, starting a clothing line legally will always require a license. Depending on where you establish your business, you may have to acquire certain licenses, such as a permit to sell and collect tax, along with an apparel registration certificate. You should also consider filing to become an LLC or S corp, acquiring business insurance, as well as acquiring any necessary licenses for a brick-and-mortar establishment if you intend to sell your clothing from a physical store.

How do I name my clothing business?

Choosing a name for your clothing brand can be tricky, but you can come up with a suitable name with a few factors in mind. First and foremost, you should use a name that reflects your brand identity and resonates with your target audience. Next, you can use your own name to create a more personal connection with your customers. Alternatively, you can do online research to get ideas or use online business name generators to find a unique brand name.

Can I put my own label on clothing?

Yes, you can put your branded label on wholesale clothing as long as the wholesaler has no issues. This is called private labeling or white labeling. In this practice, you buy clothes in bulk from a wholesaler, put your private labels on them, and then resell the clothes online or offline under your own brand name.

Are clothing businesses typically profitable?

As with any business, a clothing business demands hard work and dedication. If you have a business plan and the right resources to execute the plan, you can make profits (averaging between 4% and 13%) and succeed in due course. Remember, making steady progress is the name of the game.

Do I need a business plan to start a clothing business?

While many people would say a business plan isn't necessary for starting a clothing line, we recommend creating one as it offers a blueprint for your business so that you do not lose sight of your vision. Moreover, a business plan assists in planning your suppliers, tracking your goals, and mapping out a general growth plan for the long-term success of your business.


Next steps

Start a clothing store with Gelato