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No money? No Clients? …No Problem!

In business as in love, it is not always the individual with the ‘deepest pockets’ and the best connections that wins. In most cases, it’s the individual who applies their imagination and creativity that wins the deal or the girl. Starting a creative business of any kind with no money can seem like a daunting task, regardless of what industry you might be trying to break into.

Despite the challenges you will have to face on this journey, a lack of money or a lack or clients need not be an impediment to your pursuit of this lofty goal. With these five essentials in mind, you should be well on your way to securing your first client with absolutely no money in the bank!

Label DNA

Before you call all your friends and family to tell them you are finally starting your very own fashion label, you need to understand your label’s DNA. What kind of clothes will you make? What type of clients will you cater to? What is your style? What sets you apart from other fashion labels…what is your DNA?

Many aspiring entrepreneurs do not figure this out at the very beginning and then find themselves swept from corner to corner by the various fashion trends constantly emerging. Your label DNA lets the world know what you are about. Are you an eco-friendly fashion band? Do you specialize in street wear? Are your clothes only meant for A-list Africans or are they meant to make the hard working career woman feel powerful as she chases her dreams?

Your label DNA tells you and all your potential clients what your brand actually stands for, thereby setting the tone for the type of clients you are likely to attract.

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The fashion industry is cut-throat, with more and more brands coming into the industry, not just in your country, not just in Africa…in the world! With all this competition, an entrepreneur must have what the Jews call ‘chutzpah’, which roughly translates to audacity, nerve, supreme confidence. You must be able to stand by your choices- especially your creative choices- even when only one person gets it.

The biggest fashion trends were not started by shy and timid people or the companies they run. The world’s trends are started by those that a willing to tap into the very core of their beings and dig out bold ideas, radical ideas, ideas that the rest of the world has to catch up to. Think Levi’s denim jeans, Chanel’s ‘little black dress’ and others that gave those then tiny brands, the chance to truly contribute to the world. With no money and no clients, a brand with a little chutzpah can go a long way in carving out its very own piece of the delicious fashion pie that is up for grabs.

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Guerilla marketing

The concept was first promoted in 1984 and has never had more significance than in the 21st century with all our smart phones and social media platforms. Never has there been a time where the small, barely recognized fashion label can give huge and well-established brands a run for their money.

Guerilla marketing is suited to small brands that do not have the financial resources to create expensive advertisements for their products. Guerilla marketing is all about creatively gaining the attention of your target audience with bold and most times unconventional marketing strategies that cost close to nothing. This will mean going against the grain and catching your target market by surprise through your clever marketing.

It might cause you to step on a few toes, maybe a few people will instantly dislike it. One thing for sure though is, you will become the talk of the town which will eventually ring the cash register. Like Oscar Wilde once wrote, “There is only one thing in world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” The recipe for a perfect guerilla marketing strategy; little or no money, a fresh target market and a tonne of creativity and imagination.

Social media

The age of social media platforms is upon us and it would be remiss to ignore what a great impact setting up a social media page for your fashion label can have on your growing business. However, a note of caution must be given at this point; when setting up and running a social media page for your fashion label, it is very important that you have a clearly defined strategy.

Your social media strategy includes all the things you will ‘post’,’ like’ or ‘reblog’ as well as those that you will not include on your professional pages. Your fashion label’s social media pages are an extension of your brand DNA, in fact, they help communicate your brand DNA more effectively, they re-enforce the lifestyle and mindset that your fashion label promotes through the clothes and accessories you create.

With a lot of creativity and no money, you can set up a page for your fashion label that will see you rise from zero followers to thousands, or even millions of followers by staying true to your brand DNA and being creative with the content that you put up on the page. No money down and yet you can be assured of scoring a few great clients if this responsibility is handled with care and precision.


The lack of financial resources or clients at the outset poses a challenge but doesn’t render the situation hopeless by any means. The lack of the required skill set, however, can mean that even if an individual found themselves with a huge reserve of financial resources and zero competition, one is not guaranteed of success.

To build a successful fashion label from scratch requires creativity, determination, flexibility, foresight, the ability to effectively handle resources and the ability to understand and work with different types of people. All these skills are essential at the very beginning and though difficult to master, can be developed through years of practice.

There is no substitute for skills in the realm of entrepreneurship and this is especially true in the cut-throat fashion industry. You must be able to take an honest inventory of yourself to discover in which areas you might be lacking and then start taking steps to learn those skills.

Starting and running a fashion label with no initial capital and no clients is not impossible for anyone with the right amount of focus and drive. With these few ideas in mind, you too can be able to jump start your business and watch in amazement as what once seemed like very little, turns out to be all you really needed! No money, no clients…No problem at all!

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