If you have a passion for fashion and customer experiences, starting a clothing business might just be your next business venture.
Whether you want to start an online clothing business or a physical shop, we have you covered.
We put together 44 clothing business ideas, provide specific examples of how they came up with their idea, and show you how much they're making today.
Here they are:
Start a custom printed apparel business
Rishi Narayan started Underground Printing, which sells custom printed apparel and is making $3,000,000 revenue/mo.
My childhood friend, Ryan Gregg and I started the company in 2001 when we were sophomores at the University of Michigan. I learned about starting small businesses from my father, a professor of chemical engineering at Michigan State University who was also an entrepreneur. When I decided to pursue a degree in chemical engineering at Michigan, I assumed that learning about entrepreneurship would be part of my ChE degree. So in Ann Arbor, I was looking for an outlet for this entrepreneurial spirit. It wasn’t long before Gregg and I started a dorm-loft building business. Gregg, a civil engineering student, designed the lofts and I would sell them. Unfortunately, I soon realized that this enterprise would keep me active only for one week in September. I knew I wanted a business that I could pursue the other 51 weeks of the year.
It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.
We considered some other products we could sell on campus to our fellow students. In our sophomore year, we decided to start a t-shirt business—after all, everyone wore t-shirts and we had a little experience making t-shirts in high school. We named the company that we ran from our dorm room, A-1 Screenprinting, so our company would be first in the phone book. In 2003, we purchased a screen-printing business in Chelsea so we could increase our production capabilities. We thought that the company’s name seemed like a better fit for our company’s style, so we officially changed our company’s name to Underground Printing.
Start a wood sunglasses business
Cory Stout started Woodies, which sells wood sunglasses and is making $250,000 revenue/mo.
I studied Economics at the University of Florida but the real education was scalping football tickets outside of the stadium. I really learned my lessons on those streets...
For example, there were a lot of characters I learned to deal with. The ticket street hustlers are really really sharp dudes. They would always ask to see my tickets, and make me offers on them.
Pick something that you’re going to enjoy selling/talking about nonstop.
Start a shirts that start conversations business
TJ Mapes started RIPT Apparel, which sells shirts that start conversations and is making $200,000 revenue/mo.
RIPT Apparel was created by myself and two of my oldest friends, Matt Ingleby and Paul Friemel.
We grew up together in Bettendorf, Iowa. Matt and I played on the same pee wee baseball team and Paul and I played in a pop-punk band together for many years. We all attended the same high school and later college at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
After we graduated college, we found ourselves spread out for a few years but ultimately all ended up in Chicago.
Start a streetwear business
Trent and Matt started Empire Skate, which sells streetwear and is making $120,000 revenue/mo.
My business partner Trent came up with the original idea for Empire. The store was set up in a derelict mall that was in the process of being renovated. After a few months of trading and a falling out with his initial partner, I bought into the business as we set up a store on the street outside the Mall. Trent and I had become friends at high school and had plenty of good times skating and hanging out since.
Trent Left school aged 16 in 1997 and headed straight to Wanaka for Back to back snowboard seasons at Treble Cone and Whistler, Canada 97/98. Surfed with the Bra boys for the summer of 99. Surfed and skated with the Pauanui crew summer 2000-2001. Hung out at the Surf Shop Most days with Simon Avery and Smurf. Loved the Surf/Skate shop life, took a few notes. Then in 2002 went to the Chatham Islands for a job as a Commercial Cray Fisherman. This was the perfect job to save some cash which would be used to get the business off the ground.
Get your community behind you. Ask them for feedback on products and ideas. Think big, but start out small. Unless you have a huge budget for starting out, be prepared to compromise on solutions.
Start a fun socks business
Taylor Offer started FEAT Socks, which sells fun socks and is making $100,000 revenue/mo.
Well, I've always been an entrepreneur. During my undergrad studies at UMass Amherst, I started three different companies on campus. I started a company called Shack Shirt in my junior year, where I would sell customized t-shirts to fraternities and sororities.
On my first day of senior year, I met my co-founder, Parker in an entrepreneurship class. In the class I was flexing on my success from Shack Shirt, when Parker approached me explaining he also had a custom apparel business selling lacrosse uniforms. He told me he did over a million in sales. I was astounded.
We did this for the rest of senior year and ended up selling 20,000 pairs of socks.
Start a cowboy boots business
John James started Country Outfitter, which sells cowboy boots and is making $100,000 revenue/mo.
Acumen Brands was founded on January 1, 2009, at the height of the financial crisis.
From doctor to entrepreneur
At that time, I already had well over decade of ecommerce experience. I founded my first ecommerce business from my college dorm room in 1995, and the proceeds from selling quiz bowl questions and study aids on the early internet financed my medical school education.
Start a state-inspired apparel business
Brian Wysong started Tumbleweed TexStyles, which sells state-inspired apparel and is making $93,000 revenue/mo.
Growing up, in Fort Worth, Texas, I have always had a passion for business, sales and fashion.
I loved getting the latest pair of shoes and making sure my outfit was top notch going to school. I also loved the idea of selling my ideas and trying to negotiate deals with my parents or friends. My childhood buddies would agree that I was a sweet talker, hard worker, highly competitive and a very disciplined person in life, athletics and work.
No one is really prepared to own a business. I had a marketing degree with work experience in the field of business and marketing. I was even a teacher of the subject matter. Those things helped me get started, but the day-to-day experiences and the process of trial and error has really been the true tale of our success.
Start a cotton underwear business
Marc Debnam started Stonemen, which sells cotton underwear and is making $80,000 revenue/mo.
Before Stonemen I was a fashion Photographer, specializing in swimwear and underwear.
I was inspired to create an underwear brand after briefly watching an elderly man doing stretches in short shorts and no underwear. His testicles were halfway down his thigh.
Write a business plan. Doesn’t have to be fancy. It will evolve but it also will give you the clarity to prioritise.
Start a men's rompers business
Justin Clark started RomperJack, which sells men's rompers and is making $60,000 revenue/mo.
Actually, it’s kind of a cool backstory...
In late 2015, I was just about to go to Medical School and shortly before, I came up with an app idea called Whiz Tutor. Whiz Tutor is similar to Uber however, is designed to help parents and students find local, on-demand tutors in their area.
We officially launched the store on July 10, 2017 and on the first day, I remember we did about $1,200 in sales. We were so stoked and have only continued to grow since then.
Start a clothing for travelers business
Johanna Denize started Clever Travel Companion, which sells clothing for travelers and is making $50,000 revenue/mo.
I have always loved to travel. In fact I met my now husband when we were both studying in Moscow. We are both from Stockholm, Sweden, where we had never met, even though we had friends in common. We were in our early twenties and decided to travel together. We went backpacking across Asia, and started out with taking the Trans Siberian railroad from Moscow to Beijing. It was quite an adventure and definitely not luxurious at all. This was in the early nineties and Russia had just opened up. I ended up getting things stolen from me on the train to my great chagrin as we were both poor students at the time.
Earlier, when I was 16, I had spent an entire summer delivering newspapers, starting at 4 in the morning, every single day. I had saved up to go to London. In London I had my money in my inside pocket, yet somehow a pickpocket got to me. I lost my entire savings in a matter of seconds (there were no credit cards in those days for kids). I was pretty devastated.
After these incidents I tried all the regular travel safety stuff, such as neck pouches and money belts, but they were just not any good. They are cumbersome, sweaty and just not doing it for me. I have spent many nights in hostels fretting about my stuff - at 17 I went to Greece with some girlfriends and we stayed in these funky hostels on the roof of a house. It was basically just bunk bed after bunk bed and a shower room. People had their stuff stolen regularly - there were no lockers, nowhere to hide anything. So we walked around with all our money and passports on us at all times and we slept with our bags in our beds. It was exhausting trying to make sure everything was safe all the time. For years I had this idea of making better travel safety gear but life got in the way: university, work, etc.
Start a premium children's clothing business
Ahyoung Kim Stobar started Joah Love, which sells premium children's clothing and is making $39,000 revenue/mo.
After graduating with a degree in Fashion Design at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising), working at fashion brands and designing costumes for TV and film, I began developing product for the Wayans Bros., where we created intellectual properties for kids and teens.
I started JOAH LOVE with my friend Joy, who was a photographer. Joy was a mom of three and felt that there were no cute clothes for kids - so we saw a unique opportunity in the market.
The name “JOAH” was born out of the first two letters of our own names, which was especially fitting; in Korean, it also means to like something, a perfect way to start our brand.
Start a curated shopping service business
Nelli Jeloudar started Bundleboon, which sells curated shopping service and is making $35,000 revenue/mo.
Bundleboon is my first business, in fact, I never wanted to become an entrepreneur.
When I graduated from college in Copenhagen, I started working for Pandora Jewelry where I quickly found a passion for customer experience and the importance of it.
Don’t quit your day job before you have validated your concept. Run it as a side hustle, until you have enough knowledge, customers and resources to go all-in. You don’t have to have a lot of money in the bank when starting off.
Start a aviation-focused apparel business
David Lombardo started ATC Memes, which sells aviation-focused apparel and is making $34,500 revenue/mo.
Ever since I was a kid, I have been interested in aviation. For most of my youth, I was obsessed with video games; specifically simulation games. I was borderline addicted to Microsoft’s Flight Simulator and the online WWII dogfighting game Fighter Ace. It was these two games that really got me into flying. I thought I wanted to be a pilot, and it was all I dreamed about. My parents purchased me a few intro flight lessons at the local flight school, and the first time I was able to actually control an aircraft (with an instructor, of course!) was at 12 years old. I still remember that moment and image very clearly. We were in a shallow bank over Saratoga Lake. “Ok, it’s your airplane!”, the instructor said.
But eventually, somewhere between the 6th and 8th grade, I had discovered the world of music. I would later become addicted to the consumption and creation of music, to the point of it becoming literally everything I did outside of school. I listened to everything I found, and also tried to learn everything I could about the art form. I played guitar and drums, and I was even doing session work for local musicians who had asked me to play on their demos and albums. It was pretty cool for someone of my age. Nonetheless, I still wanted to be involved in the aviation world, but I didn’t want to give up music. Being in a band meant being a pilot would be difficult.
I would say the most important thing is to start small and conquer a small niche before expanding; set realistic goals.
Start a bearded ski masks business
Jeff Phillips started Beardo, which sells bearded ski masks and is making $30,000 revenue/mo.
I suppose I get my creativity from my Dad and Grandpa. They both were always looking for ways to improve things and generally just liked working with their hands. I’ll never forget the day my dad designed a ‘can crusher’ so that our recycling didn’t take up so much space. He never wanted to put it to market or anything like that, but just wanted it for himself. When he saw that someone had released one a few months later and was probably making millions on it, he was pretty annoyed!
Like Dad and Grandpa, I am constantly thinking of crazy inventions and edits around the house to make life simpler. It’s not something I can turn off, so I started writing my ideas down in a journal. I guess it was just a matter of time until one of us went into mass production with a crazy invention!
The Beardo came about organically and out of sheer necessity.
Start a recycled trunks business
Evan Waldenberg started Junk In Your Trunks, which sells recycled trunks and is making $25,000 revenue/mo.
My background is in media and advertising; prior to this, I worked for three years as a consultant working on organizational design and strategic sales strategies for legacy media brands, digital media brands, and ad-tech firms.
It was definitely pretty interesting stuff and was an awesome gig, but I felt so distant from the fun marketing and branding side of things (AKA why I gravitated toward advertising in the first place) and so I got a little burnt out after grinding there for a few years.
I’m the type of person that has always had a million ideas for things I want to do (ideas for businesses to start and otherwise) and I had saved up a little bit of cash and had no real-life responsibilities so it felt like the right time to test myself and see if I could put some of these ideas to work.
Start a niche wedding dress business
Vivian Chan started East Meets Dress, which sells niche wedding dress and is making $25,000 revenue/mo.
My co-founder, Jenn, and I met and became best friends during our freshman year at Yale. After graduation, Jenn had started her career at Google before working at several smaller startups and then joining a coding bootcamp. I started my career in education and nonprofits before joining an early stage startup that was later acquired by Facebook. Around this time, Jenn and I started working on the concept that would later become East Meets Dress.
When we first started, we had no experience in fashion, e-commerce, or entrepreneurship. We simply had our own experiences as consumers.
The idea for East Meets Dress (EMD) originated from Jenn’s personal struggles when she was looking for a modern version of the cheongsam, a traditional Chinese wedding dress. She wanted to wear a cheongsam for her wedding tea ceremony to honor her parents and heritage but finding a modern design that fit her aesthetics turned out to be near impossible. At the time, her options were limited to suspicious onlines sites or stores in Chinatown with poor service and a narrow selection. Ultimately, Jenn resorted to custom making her cheongsam at a local tailor. I was her Maid of Honor and we both felt that Asian-American brides shouldn’t have to be confined to low-quality options or scouring Yelp to find the one tailor who could make a quality cheongsam from scratch.
Start a sweat-free shirts business
Jeff Schattner started Lawrence Hunt , which sells sweat-free shirts and is making $20,000 revenue/mo.
I’m a CPA by training and have worked in Finance my entire career, but my passion has always been in problem-solving and coming up with new business ideas. The idea for Lawrence Hunt came to me while I was a friend’s outdoor wedding during a sweltering 90-degree day. I wanted to enjoy the wedding, but all I could think about was how uncomfortable I was in my dress clothes, sweating my *ss off.
I went back to google to see what was on the market. This was around 2013 and the only options were traditional dress shirts that felt nice, but awful for hot/sweaty situations, sweat-shields (never wanted to try one), undershirts (even hotter), and these performance dress shirts like your lululemon/Nike long sleeve golf shirt. I got a few of the other performance dress shirts, and they were good for sweat, but they weren’t great for all body types, with a more silky look. And for someone in finance that needed to look professional, or for formal situations, they were not ideal. I needed something that combined the best of professional wear with the best of performance wear. And so...Lawrence Hunt Fashion was born.
The Lawrence Hunt design
Start a overalls business
Kyle Bergman started The Great Fantastic, which sells overalls and is making $17,000 revenue/mo.
At first, I was really just trying to solve a personal problem - Sweatpant overalls didn’t exist, and I wanted a pair. I’ve always loved overalls for reasons I can’t really explain. Perhaps it’s the fact they’re a little unique to wear...yet functional and practical.
Normal sweatpant overalls did not exist online after a quick google search, nor in any stores that I visited. So I made them.
Anyways, a friend actually sent me a BuzzFeed article about a novelty pair of sweatpant overalls they looked like denim overalls but were made of a sweatpant material. I said to myself, “Man, I would never wear those...but regular sweatpant overalls I would 100% rock!”.
Start a hand crafted watches business
Steve Christensen started NOVO watch, which sells hand crafted watches and is making $16,000 revenue/mo.
I am a watch fanatic! Ever since I was a young boy I’ve loved watches. During a summer job, after failing to find a cool new watch to buy, I told my friends I was going to start my own watch company and I did!
It seems the best way to attract customers is the story. Customers are smart and if the story isn’t authentic they’ll see that.
My goal was to look at new unique ways to tell time and approach the watch world differently. For the next few semesters and throughout my masters program I would sit at the back of the class drawing designs, emailing people from China and sending money to unknown people in hopes I would see my ideas turn into reality. When I finally got my first products, I was hooked. Entrepreneurship in the watch world my dream and I was standing at the foot of it.
Start a navy clothing business
Erin Hornyak started navyBLEU, which sells navy clothing and is making $15,000 revenue/mo.
I am 46 years old and I am married with 4 teenage children. I have spent the last 10 years raising my family. Over the last few years, I had been searching for my next career move. I explored many different options. Since I had 9+ years of experience with owning my own retail and manufacturing company, it felt right jumping back into entrepreneurship!
There is no perfect time to start a business. You have to be willing to take a risk.
I have always been a huge fan of preppy, classic clothing and accessories! One morning while flipping through my Instagram feed, this idea for navyBLEU popped into my head! Why not create a site with all of the things that I LOVE with the color navy! I called my husband immediately and pitched my idea to him. He was supportive from day one. I quickly booked a ticket for my first apparel market trip and began plugging away at my business plan. I knew I did not want to get back into brick and mortar (I had two retail locations in the Boston area with my last company). With eCommerce moving at lighting speed, I felt this was the right business model for navyBLEU.
Start a shoelaces business
Jason Flores started Laceez, Inc., which sells shoelaces and is making $14,000 revenue/mo.
When our daughter Savannah was young and struggled with fine motor skills, tying shoes was a very time consuming and frustrating task. So Sarah got some elastic and made a homemade version for her shoes. When we realized how well they worked, Sarah made a pair for my Adidas and we saw that these are in fact very practical and we decided to turn it into a business.
At the time Shark Tank was a very hot new show, and although we thought about it, a competitor with a similar concept happened to beat us to it, so we went another route.
As far as background, we didn't have much experience with manufacturing, but I did have a background in business, wholesale and art design. We were able to build off of that enough to create a new business.
Start a padding inserts business
Jocelyn Thompson started EPIPHANY LA, which sells padding inserts and is making $12,000 revenue/mo.
I graduated from USC in 2010 and struggled to figure out what I wanted to do in life. I found myself working at Hulu, in a digital sales role where I crunched impressions into excel sheets all day and wasn’t happy.
I had a friend’s wedding around the corner, and we were going to the Virgin Islands on a cruise. I prepared for the trip by purchasing several new swimsuits and I wanted padding enhancers to put in my swimsuit tops since bikinis are notorious for providing thin, flimsy liners that offer no support or shape.
As an Amazon Prime member, my first thought is always Amazon. I went online and ordered about 5 pairs of padding inserts from 5 different companies because I wasn’t sure which would look best, so I wanted to try them all. When they arrived I was so disappointed. The inserts all looked horrible. Many of them had thick edges, so they were extremely obvious under my thin swimsuit. Some of the inserts were pointy and had unnatural shapes, and most of them were only offered in two sizes (small/medium) or (medium/large) and neither size fit me.
Start a boutique clothing business
Gia Paddock started Boutique Rye, which sells boutique clothing and is making $10,000 revenue/mo.
My backstory has absolutely nothing to do with what I am doing now, but that is what makes us so unique. I went to college for education and became an elementary school teacher. I taught 4th grade for three years. However, I knew that was not meant to be my “forever” job.
Something I have always enjoyed was shopping. I mean what girl doesn’t have this as a hobby?! I had always thought it would be amazing to have my own boutique and get to wear new clothes almost every day.
I started thinking about this crazy idea when I got pregnant with my son, Riley. I knew I didn’t want to teach forever and this was my way out! During the summer I quit teaching, I got a job at a local boutique just working part-time, and it was here where the wheels starting turning for this idea. I saw how much I loved going into work every day and how much I enjoyed helping others pick out outfits for different occasions.
Start a sustainable swimwear business
Steph Gabriel started OceanZen, which sells sustainable swimwear and is making $10,000 revenue/mo.
In 2009 I packed up and went travelling on a one way ticket overseas. I had no idea how long I was going to be away for or really where I would end up, all I knew is I had to go. I ended up being away from home for 3 years!
From hanging out with elephants on safari in South Africa, to snowboarding mountain peaks in Canada and cruising South America in an old Volkswagen, I eventually ended up on a tiny little island in the Caribbean, The Cayman Islands.
Start NOW! Follow your passion and not a trend, because when times get tough you will want to give up if your not living and working your truth!
Start a style accessories business
Eric Morton started Cuff Style, which sells style accessories and is making $10,000 revenue/mo.
Cuffstyle LLC was founded by myself, Jason, Chris, and Carl.
Carl came up with the original concept while trying to solve a very simple problem he was having. He loved playing acoustic guitar, but shirt sleeves always seemed to get in the way while he was strumming. He would typically fold his shirt cuff up just enough to keep it out of the way, but the cuff would constantly fall back down while he was playing. He wanted a way to keep the cuff held back, and he thought cufflinks would do the trick. Unfortunately, he didn’t own any French cuff shirts, so he started to improvise, and thus the idea was born.
All in all, we believe the key to success in business is not being skilled in any specific technical area, but rather being skilled at networking, managing, and motivating people.
Start a niche clothing business
Shaden Abushaera started HeraCloset Online , which sells niche clothing and is making $10,000 revenue/mo.
The idea I had in mind when starting HeraCloset
People have become impatient and want quick results from everything in their lives. This is because of all the gadgets and rapidly advancing technology that have engulfed our lives. Customers want high-quality service that is efficient and does not waste their precious time. It is this thinking that gave birth to the concept of HeraCloset in my mind.
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
Start a gym apparel business
Elgin E. Mones, Esq. started Infinite Elgintensity Gym Apparel, which sells gym apparel and is making $8,378 revenue/mo.
I decided to capitalize on my newfound YouTube popularity by selling workout clothes to my fanbase of lifters and other fitness enthusiasts. I was working full-time as an attorney, so I needed someone to print apparel and fulfill the orders for me. Law school barely prepares lawyers for law practice, let alone the clothing business, so I asked a fellow Youtuber how he got started. He got me in touch with the owner of an established fitness apparel brand for production and fulfillment, and they both taught me how to run the business, from setting up my Shopify store to streamlining order fulfillment.
If your competitors beat you to an idea, think of a complementary one that won’t get you into legal trouble.
Most of my apparel designs complement my YouTube content. For example, my “ZERO” design is based on a 2012 video in which I chanted “ZERO" to mock a crossfitter for cheating his reps during a pull-up record attempt. I’m a well-known opponent of the fat acceptance movement, so I made the “Plus-Size Model” to suggest that chubby dogs like pugs are the only ones deserving of that title. By basing shirt logos on my own content, I make money on that content twice: first from ad revenue, and again from apparel sales.
Start a womens apparel business
Susie Q Aranda started Garage Gym Barbell Apparel, which sells womens apparel and is making $7,000 revenue/mo.
Garage Gym Barbell Apparel has been a journey starting with me personally. Some of us have that “one day” where we wake up and decide we are ready to make a life change and never look back. My “one day” came 8 years ago. Very unhealthy, overweight and desperately needed to get myself healthy; I set a goal that I would lose weight and be healthy and never looked back. From that moment I have stayed the course and made that goal something that my business was built around.
Some of the things I accomplished in my personal journey; yoga instructor, Zumba instructor, Crossfit level 1 & 2 certificates, NASM personal training certificate. My biggest accomplishment was getting California State records in the United States Powerlifting Association for a 341lb squat and a 419lbs deadlift at age 44 years.
Start a short sleeve button downs business
Steve Radke started Short Steve Button Downs, which sells short sleeve button downs and is making $5,000 revenue/mo.
My backstory took a turn when I started this because I was working in commercial real estate and had no experience in the apparel or fashion industries. The abridged version is that I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. I went to college at Villanova University and upon graduation in 2013, I took a job in Baltimore with a commercial real estate investment advisory firm.
I have no background in apparel or fashion, so I did what any millennial with a question does, I Googled it. I typed in ‘How to make a shirt?’
I lived in Baltimore for four and a half years before moving up to New York City in June 2018 to work for a commercial real estate development firm that constructed the building next to Katz’s Deli. In September 2018, while working my full-time role in real estate, I came up with the idea that would become Short Steve Button Downs. From there, I legally formed the company in January 2019 and quit my job in real estate in May 2019 in order to pursue this full-time.
Start a boxer briefs business
Krystian Frencel started Bunch of Animals, which sells boxer briefs and is making $5,000 revenue/mo.
In late 2014, I came across a very unique underwear brand from Australia, Stonemen Underwear. I think I found them on Instagram.
What really drew me to the underwear were the seamless prints which looked like pieces of art sprawling across like a painting on a canvas.
Start a luxury swimwear business
Amanda Freick started AmandaLouise, which sells luxury swimwear and is making $5,000 revenue/mo.
My journey is an interesting one. I’ve spent my life as an overachiever. Valedictorian in high school, an electrical engineering degree in college, quick promotions in my career… always running, no, more like CHASING, what I thought was my dream.
Through some key relationships, and A LOT of self-work, I’ve found that most of that was just noise. Do I love my job? I love my WORK. I love connecting people for the greater good. I love finding the positive spin on things. I love creating something that helps women feel amazing.
It’s taken a while for me to realize that the things that light me up do not come in a specific form. They are realized in my “day job”, in my “side hustle”, and everywhere in between.
Start a eco-conscious clothing business
Brandon Dendas started IndieGetup, which sells eco-conscious clothing and is making $5,000 revenue/mo.
As many innovations begin, IndieGetup was created as a by-product of a creative pursuit.
I’ve always aspired to start my own company, instinctively I assume because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Throughout college, I always looked for positions and internships at smaller companies, where I would have direct exposure to the owner. These companies gave me the opportunity to understand the full interworking of a business.
Start a wedding accessories (for rent) business
Brittany Finkle started Happily Ever Borrowed, which sells wedding accessories (for rent) and is making $5,000 revenue/mo.
As far as my professional background, I went to Cornell University and studied Fiber Science Apparel Design - a degree based mostly in actual fashion design and construction.
I have three older sisters, and from the age of 12, I always helped plan their weddings. My one sister became engaged while I was at university and asked me to make her wedding dress. That was far too much pressure for me, but I offered to help shop with her.
When I saw the poor quality and construction of the gowns, I was horrified. All women deserve to wear quality products on their wedding day. Charging thousands of dollars for such poor construction was terrible!
Start a premium robes business
Evan and Jackie Streusand started Highway Robery, which sells premium robes and is making $4,200 revenue/mo.
We are Jackie and Evan Streusand - a married couple, living in Austin, Texas. (When not robe-ing) Jackie works as an interior designer for SLIC Design. Evan has owned and operated a sustainable women’s shoe brand called Fortress of Inca since 2010. Highway Robery was the inevitable outcome of our combined powers - Jackie (design + production) and Evan (business development + marketing).
Early in the summer of 2016 we took a road trip out to west Texas and spent a few days taking scenic drives and lounging around. There were a pair of colorful robes in the place that we were staying and naturally, we put them on. For the better part of the next few days they didn't really come off. We ate in them, we drank in them, we yada yada'd in them, and we slept in them. We had a great time and eventually we came back home to Austin.
That first $7,000 is all we have ever put into the business. We have grown it organically since then. As they say, slow and steady wins the race.
Start a bow ties business
Paul Kaster started Crooked Branch Studio, which sells bow ties and is making $2,500 revenue/mo.
In 2015, I was given a wooden bow tie from a friend who knew I loved bow ties and wood. It would seem like the perfect pairing, right? Well, although I loved the idea, I was disappointed by the execution, and having build wooden side tables and cutting boards before, I thought that I could probably make a better one.
There are many theories of how to attract customers, but what I’ve seen from most successful brands is that instead of focusing on one, big thing to attract customers they instead focus on getting many, small things right.
After playing around with designs for several months, I put a couple wooden bow ties up on Etsy with what I thought was the very high (at the time) price of $40. The bow ties ended up selling within a week, and I realized that given the amount of time it had taken me to make one, it might be profitable to start making these bow ties more seriously.
Start a dress shirts business
Julian Samarjiev started DULO, which sells dress shirts and is making $1,233 revenue/mo.
We were aware of some companies in the US that have started to create formal wear from performance fabrics and were super interested in the product, but shipping costs and import duties stopped us from purchasing.
Both for me and Marin that idea somehow stayed in our minds as a product that we want to have and use, being fans of dress shirts, but not big fans of the hassle involved in caring for one.
There is no replacement for doing. I've been in Tim Ferriss binge listen mode, but at some point, the rubber needs to hit the road and you need to get your hands dirty. Otherwise, it's just productive procrastination.
Start a urban fashion business
Cotilda Makhumula-Nkhoma started Cotilda's Fashion Limited, which sells urban fashion and is making $1,144 revenue/mo.
Originally from Malawi in South-Eastern Africa, my sister and I helped our mother create wedding accessories for family and friends. However, it was not until 2001 at age 9 when my family and I relocated to the United Kingdom in Middlesbrough. We had to adapt to a different culture and blend in. This is where the inspiration of being of two cultures and two homes came to mind. #MalawiToMiddlesbrough
When you relocate to any area, you want to become part of the culture and not an outsider. In other words, you want to belong. But you do not want to lose who you are, your roots. Therefore, COTILDA is aimed at encouraging people to embrace who they are, not just blend in, but to create their own style, an identity that embraces culture and that is appealing to both African and Western markets.
From a young age, assisting our mother with wedding accessories is what got me interested in making clothing, but I did not pay much attention to this until I took textiles in school and creative fashion and enterprise in university. I then took a year out of studying to travel by working as an inventory stock taker, before gaining a Master’s Degree in Future design in 2015. Working as an inventory stock taker for such stores like Zara, Ralph Lauren, Pull and Bear added to my desire of creating my own clothing brand. Supported by Teesside University after graduating helped my business idea become a reality.
Start a shoes and apparel business
Drew McNamara started Creative Souls, which sells shoes and apparel and is making $1,000 revenue/mo.
I grew up with a learning disability. My disability is known as Auditory Processing Disorder. When people ask me a question or if I am learning something it may take me longer to process the material. The majority of the people who know me now would never have known I had a disability if I didn’t say it here. I had speech therapy starting in the first grade once a week, every week up until my junior year of high school when I was told that I had essentially overcome it and did not need the extra support anymore.
Overcoming my learning disability meant that I have learned to work around it. It’ll always be here, but I have worked hard to get to where I am at today. During high school, I was told by a school counselor that I would never get into my dream school which was the University of Illinois (UIUC). They said I should aim lower. I ended up attending the University of Illinois and eventually graduated with my Masters in social work from there as well. I have been told that I couldn’t achieve something, people didn’t always believe in me or give me the time of the day due to a disability. Fortunately, growing up I had an amazing support system that included my family, case managers, teachers, and many more.
In the 4th grade, I met an individual who has Down Syndrome. He was the brother of one of my friends on my baseball team. I became quick friends with him too. I remember wanting to be around him because he brought so much joy and excitement to the dugout. He truly is an amazing person and a friend of mine. Looking back now, I realized he impacted my life so much. I would go on to be involved with various programs like Buddy Baseball, Best Buddies, and Keshet. After high school, I knew I wanted to do social work because I loved working with people who have disabilities. After I graduated from college, I started working at an agency that provides services for people with disabilities.
Start a matching mom & baby clothing business
Rosalee Rester started Baby Wit LLC, which sells matching mom & baby clothing and is making $1,000 revenue/mo.
After having a baby, I realized that I did not want to be a full-time student working for a doctorate nor working full time at a dot com. I wanted to stay at home with my baby girl. My sister-in-law with 3 children had launched a successful soap-making business that I took inspiration from and was looking for something I could build a stay at home business out of.
During my final year for a master’s in psychology, I presented my findings at the WPA in Vancouver BC and during that trip, my ex-husband pulled me into a decal t-shirt shop called Bang On. For a good laugh, I put some rather adult designs on baby shirts to bring back to my friends with babies. Sonic Youth, Bowie & the Sex Pistols all landed on baby onesies.
The trip to Canada and my desire to launch a stay at home business collided and the idea was implanted. At the time I was hanging out in the SF art scene and wanted to put local art on baby tees. I also thought that parents my age wanted something different and would be very much into seeing their babies wearing their favorite bands and cool zine art. I settled on the baby t-shirt idea. It seemed so easy. All I needed was a heat press, the transfers, and a website. I also knew there was a dearth of cool baby clothing, even in SF and at the time the idea seemed edgy way and uber cool.
Start a swimsuit cover-up business
Joseph Panetta started BohoWrapsody, which sells swimsuit cover-up and is making $800 revenue/mo.
I first had this idea in 1996 - my wife at the time laughed at me for such a “silly concept.” The very next year, every woman on Manhattan’s Upper West Side was wearing a summer poncho. Had I acted when I had the notion, we’d have been in the right place at the right time.
Everyone loves their own idea. For this reason, we sought out people to poke holes in our concept - to break down the idea. We tested it with “ghost” product to see if it could work.
In short, we did everything right and still came up with a bad outcome.
Start a luxury streetwear business
Lachlan Sonter started DEAL WITH DEVIL, which sells luxury streetwear and is making $650 revenue/mo.
After I had finished High-School in 2016 I found myself applying for university (The University of Queensland) and getting accepted into an ‘Information Technology’ course in 2017, where I learned within the first year how to design and construct a website through basic HTML/CSS/JS scripting languages.
I believe there is a direct correlation between the effort you put into getting the product out there and the number of sales made.
The commute was less than ideal having to commit 3 hours every day to travel and the workload was piling up because I wasn’t passionate about the course anymore. This brought me to the end of 2017 where I transferred to a closer university and started a part-time study of Business. By the end of 2017, I had decided after feeling extremely lost and after having gone through problems with relationships with others and an ex-girlfriend I needed to find some sort of outlet to let the suffering mental state and residual emotion release.
Start a apparel and accessories business
Corey Rust started 37413 Gear, which sells apparel and accessories and is making $500 revenue/mo.
In 2017, I started to become friends with a guy whose name sounds like a 1970’s TV show police detective or an Indiana Jones-esque character. His name is Jack Blazer, and Jack is one of those kinds of people that can be very intimidating but has a heart made of gold. Ask anyone that really knows him, and I think they’d agree with that.
You worked hard. You sacrificed. And you made it happen. No one can take that away from you, nor should you let anyone take that away from you.
In early summer 2018, Jack was diagnosed with a form of cancer that was not only rare but ridiculous; as is all cancer. Jack was a Portland Police Officer, and I viewed Jack as the epitome of what a fighter is and should be and someone who rarely let anything defeat him. So, at the time and for a long time after, I optimistically looked at this as just another battle he had to fight and that he would win. I suppose many shares that view, when someone that is close and we care about, is diagnosed with something so terrifying. I wasn’t any different.
Start a yogi children's clothing business
Jennifer Coulombe started Sat Nam babe, which sells yogi children's clothing and is making $500 revenue/mo.
Sat Nam babe was born from a mix of learning about the injustices in the fashion industry during a class in business school and also completing my Kundalini yoga teaching training certification in 2015.
After researching the children’s wear industry and yoga industry in my graduate school library industry databases, both industries showed upward growth trajectories.
I felt confident that a socially conscious yoga-inspired clothing company for kids under six and babies could actually be a business.
Start a bridal, special occasion wear business
Melanie Newman started wanttheoryBridal, which sells bridal, special occasion wear and is making $0 revenue/mo.
I am currently in full-time work. I’d been feeling deflated. I needed something that felt like it was mine. Something that feels like it is giving me purpose. Something that will put a smile on people’s faces. I looked at mobility aids and wellbeing products. Before coming to the conclusion that wedding dresses and evening wear would be on my website.
Go for a product/s you believe in. If you aren’t inspired or feel positive about the products you are selling. You will find it so boring having to find the products and put them on your website.
We hope you enjoyed reading about entrepreneurs starting successful clothing brands!
To learn more about how to start a business, visit us at Starter Story.