1. The Idea
You can’t force an idea to come, but you can take yourself to inspiring environments and put yourself in exciting situations where ideas are more likely to happen. We actually came up with ChattyFeet at a gathering with friends. It’s very important that you’re passionate about your idea because you could be spending years doing it! Once you find an idea that you can feel inspired by every day; you’ll know that you’re on to a winner.
How do you know if your idea can turn into a business? Speaking with people is really important to get a fresh perspective and desk research can help you discover if there are any similar ideas out there. Prototyping is an efficient and cheap way to test your ideas. We created a prototype for ChattyFeet by sketching a character on a sock using a marker pen. This helped us to experiment with animating the socks and develop the aesthetics of a design featuring character face.
3. Naming your brand
It took us a long time to come up with the name ChattyFeet to reflect the funny and quirky nature of the brand. It’s important to consider the sound of the name without the meaning. Does it flow well? Is it easy to pronounce? If you decide to take your idea forward, the name will be a word that you will use many times every day so think carefully about it.
4. Protecting your brand
Be sure to check if the website URL is available and run a trademark search to find out if your brand name is being used elsewhere. We checked if anyone was using the name on social networks too as having a name that can be used across all platforms is essential in creating brand continuity.
5. Finding a Producer
We believe that visiting the producer is a must to see their processes and get the confidence required to work together long-term. Each producer has a different minimum order quantity (MOQ). Aim to test your product by producing a small amount first. The process involves sending specifications for your product, receiving a sample, giving feedback and reworking until you get it right.
6. Selling online
Research e-commerce solutions and try to use an existing programme, such as Shopify, as this will save time and money. For our first two years of Christmas sales, we carried the packages to the post office ourselves, so find out about shipping costs, packaging and delivery times too. Richard Branson says you should find people who can do your job better than you, so when we had enough sales we found a fulfilment partner to help dispatch products.
7. Promoting your brand
Send product samples to press and bloggers who you think would be interested - it’s a great way to get coverage. We sent Kate Middle-Toe socks to British Vogue and they instagrammed a photo - amazing! Identify a trade show where relevant buyers will be attending in order to network, secure orders, and follow up every lead afterwards. Learning about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will help you to gain visibility in the search results so more customers can find you without the expense of advertising.
Kate Middle-Toe instagrammed by the British Vogue.
8. Selling to retailers
Put extra effort into writing exciting emails to buyers with key relevant details and 2-3 images. Make it short and punchy to tell them why your product is special, where it’s made, stores you sell through and any other achievements, such as design awards or press features. It’s sometimes tricky to find distributers so you can also consider working with sales agents who take a commission on sales.
Feetasso socks at Tate Modern Shop
9. Getting support
Starting your own brand is hard! We were lucky to get support from friends, family and even the government, taking part in a program about working with buyers called ‘Buying Vision’ and participating in the British Library Growth Program. Getting other people to reflect on your business is priceless. Ask for feedback from others and consider every offer of help – you might just get the valuable advice you need to make your business flourish.
10. Work-life balance
It’s tempting to work long hours when running your own business. Our advice is to celebrate success and don’t forget to go the park, meet friends, travel, enjoy good food and rest. If you do this, the quality of your work becomes better and you’ll enjoy running your own business more than ever. It’s not sustainable to work long hours for a long period and will damage your business and your health, so create a schedule and stick to it!
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