Starting Online Fashion business? Here's how to do IT (Part 1)

Bollywood Begum started as the outcome of passion for the movie industry - Bollywood. My daughter's passion. When she was in school, in order to pass Grade 11 students needed to complete a project which was close to their hearts. We attended the briefing one December night in 2016 and on the way back from Abby's school, we had a long discussion on what she should do since she loved Bollywood and fashion equally. The first idea of Bollywood Begum was born - Bollywood themed fashion.

Bollywood itself ranged from glitter to fantasy. It is an industry that had produced movies from multi genres - Fantasy like Krishh to Chicchore to RAW. But Bollywood is all about being bold because it took a lot to make it to the top, fighting casting couch challenges to the mafia that controlled the industry. So, to us Bollywood represented boldness while preserving tradition. With these thought firmly formed, the subsequent eighteen months saw the idea transform into a full-fledged business. This was how we did it:

  1. Name of business - we played with many possible names, just too many but none seemed right. Bollywood Fashion House? BollyFashion? and many more. In the end we decided on Bollywood Begum. Why? Everyone wanted to be the Begum (Queen) of Bollywood. There were many queens in Bollywood - Madhuri Dixit, Neetu Singh, Priyanka Chopra - to name a few. Then, the debate was on whether it is Begum or Begums. Trust me, the confusion lasts till today. One Begum or many Begums? Eventually, Abby decided on Begum - single. In our business, she would be the only Begum. Tip: Think of a catchy name, a name that people can remember and one that reflects your business and the essence of it. In the ocean full of fish, you need to standout among other species to attract customers.

  2. Genre - no kidding, this is important. Why would you want to sell what everyone was selling? That's called Red Ocean strategy. We went blue - yeap, we chose IndoWestern as genre. What did that mean? It is Indian fashion in western design. Check out our products, you would not have seen similar ones elsewhere. Tip: To stand out among the general fashion genres, you need to choose or build one that is different in every way. We were not the only ones who chose this genre, there were others but we focused only on this, while others had IndoWestern as part of their collection. We did not mix with other genres, so our designs were and are unique and unsimilar to others.

  3. Logo - most people think that they do not need a logo when they begin a business, but trust us, you would need one. The logo must reflect your business/genre. Our first logo was done in house, so it was a little amateurish, but we had a logo. The re-branding logo was done by a professional designer and it did cost us around RM1K. Tip - logo is a must but the first one can be self-designed. There are many sites on the Net where you can build a logo for a small fee. We used Tailorbrands. Our first one cost us USD37, outright purchase without options for editing. We did not choose the option for editing because we thought the logo was complete. Much later the argument of Begum or Begums surfaced and it was too late to settle for single Begum; we started as Bollywood Begums :)

  4. Tagline - we figured that we needed to tell people about why we were different - Handmade IndoWestern is our tagline, because our designs were IndoWestern and they were handmade. Taglines should say everything about your business in one or two words. Tip - you can describe your business to your friends and ask them to suggest taglines as they `see' your fashion. The tagline blended well with the genre and logo, that eventually our branding became very strong. Some people, especially drop shippers begin fashion business by looking at the potential income, build temporary websites and finally give up after a few months. In fashion, regardless whether you are a dropshipper or real online fashion house, the consistency of branding is important and the above four form the first layer of foundation.

Is good branding all that is needed to build a business? We will see more in

Part 2.

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