Fashion or Hobby?

By Najla Burt, Creative Director and Cynthia Burt, Vice President DUR DOUX An Emerging Fashion Label

The first thing to contemplate about is: “Do I really want to run a business or do I want to just share the joy of my fashion passion with family, friends and community?"

Often times people are mistaken in the belief that in order to be happy, they need to pursue their "passion" or hobby.

Instead of confusing passion, hobby and career, it is suggested that people focus on finding a purpose—finding ways to leverage your passion/hobby combined with strong skill sets to fill a need in the world. Notice that we chose our words carefully—'Fill a need, 'Not solve a problem. Filling a need means working towards something that people believe is useful to others, which may or may not solve a problem in the strictest sense.

Runway shows, beautiful people, fun parties, flights of creative fancy – what more is there to want from a career in fashion? A reality check: it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.

Running a fashion business means packing boxes at 2 am, steaming clothes over and over again, and pouring through receipts with an accountant will become part of your routine. In fashion you will likely spend "less than 10% of your time “designing", while the rest of the time you will be managing production, sending clothes to magazines, dealing with suppliers who want their money (now!)

Having a fashion business requires tenacity, endurance, and unwavering commitment. Not to mention exceptional skills in coordination and organization. Managing to get all of your raw materials (fabrics, trims etc) all to your manufacturer at the same time to start your production and then sending it all out to stores in different corners of the world (each with their own customs procedures) in only two months can be a nightmare, even for those with great forward planning and troubleshooting skills.

All of this is to say that one of the key drivers of success in fashion will not be Passion but your entrepreneurial skills and your commitment to running a business.

In order to be successful, you must think of yourself as a CEO morning, noon, and night - fashion designer second. A CEO is a manager of people, finances and processes. DOES THIS FEEL LIKE A HOBBY TO YOU?

You may assume that having completed design training, there are no skill gaps. However, the design process in a business often feels very different to that of the design process in school, where you don’t have to worry about things other than the product.

Apart from mastering the design process, something that a smart designer should do is to find a business partner they can trust, who brings different skills and connections to the table. Equally important in establishing a fashion business is finding money. Funding is imperative to setting up your business. You can be a brilliant illustrator or master seamstress with a good business concept, a fantastic team of workers, and all the energy in the world, but without funding it will be difficult to get up and running; not to mention sustain.

There is one crucial thing WE strongly recommend is that you write down as you contemplate, hobby or business:

What is it about your business that will be unique/where do I hang (vis a vis similar fashions)?
Why will people choose to buy your product over someone else’s?
Be very clear, certain that you know these things: Is it the design, the price, the value or the dream that people are buying into; what is motivating the customer.


By: District Vy