Creating a fashion brand is a dream for so many people, and since I started Bibevie, I’ve lost count of the number of people that have said “I wish I could do that”. You can! I’ve set up Bibevie with no experience of retail, fashion or clothing. The main thing to remember is that setting up a business is a process. Take it step by step, in a logical order, and suddenly this huge daunting task becomes just a series of easier jobs to do, one at a time. If I can do it, so can you."
How do you start setting up a childrenswear brand?
First things first, you’ll need an idea of something that’s a bit new, different or unique. The childrenswear market is so crowded, the trick is to find something that makes you standout. I got my inspiration for Bibevie after I realised I couldn’t find any outfits for babies that came with dribble bibs– everything was sold separately, didn’t match and the bib never stayed in place. Ducky Zebra’s founder, Sal, created her range of clothes when she realised that she couldn’t find gender-neutral clothes that suited her ethos of both kindness and confidence for both genders. Moon Kids Collective’s founder, Samira, wanted kids clothing with a simple, contemporary design, teamed with high quality and sustainability, that she couldn’t find on the high street.
You’ll need to work out who your ideal customer is. What do they care about? What do they buy? What’s their budget? Where do they shop and why? Who else’s ideal customer are they? Coming up with a deep understanding of your ideal customer is so important for everything you’ll do from this point onwards, so it’s worth putting in the effort early. And even better if you can meet them – run focus groups, questionnaires, talk to friends or acquaintances and test your ideas on them to see if they’d be interested.
I found it really helpful to be clear about what Bibevie’s values are. Since deciding on the values, it’s helped me to be consistent in my decision making, clear with my customers and it’s something that makes me stand out against my competition. For example, one of our values is “making kind decisions” – and this means that every decision will take into account the people it impacts, the environmental impact as well as the business impact. Once I had defined that as a value, it made it easy to shortlist factories, it helped with design decisions and it dictated fabric choices. My values really resonate with my target customers too, as they are values that they care about as well.
The other piece of the jigsaw is working out what sort of business you want to be. Are you aiming to be an e-commerce retailer, selling directly to your customers online? Would you prefer to go through a platform such as Not On The High Street, Appy Creations (a fabulous new platform for children’s products) or Kidly? Are you aiming to have your own bricks and mortar store, or is the target to get into wholesale and supply the big retailers like John Lewis? Perhaps it’s a mix of all of these things, or a progression through them. Once you have this idea in place, you’ll start to get a feel for what your costs might be, and what your margins need to be.
Things to consider when setting up a childrenswear brand
The next thing you’ll need is access to cash to get started – and for many people, this will require external funding. Starting a clothing line requires a lot of cash up front. To get this, you’ll need a solid business plan in place to show any potential lenders.
However, in order to get to a business plan, you’ll need an accurate idea of pricing. This is where I had to take a bit of a risk and invest in some early design work. It was a risk because I didn’t know at this stage that I could make what I wanted to make, for the price that I thought my ideal customer would buy it for. But it was the only way to progress, and you might find that too.
I created mood boards using Pinterest and Google to look for inspiration and examples, which I shared with my fabulous designer, Michelle from The Fashion Expert, so that we both understood the sort of look I was going for. My top tip here is to create mood boards that have both things that you do like, but also things that you don’t like – it really helps to create clarity. Michelle turned these into tech packs, which I then sent to factories to get an idea of pricing.
Once I’d received the quotes (which took a lot of time and many nagging emails and calls), I could turn this into a business plan. Your business plan should include a lot of detailed information about you and your experience, your target customer, the product and pricing, how you’ll run the business, your sales strategy, your marketing strategy, and detailed financial analysis. There’s loads of great information available online to help write a good business plan.
How to manufacture baby and children's' clothes
So you’ve got your cash, you know the plan – how do you start?
You’ll have already been speaking to factories to get your pricing, so the next step is to narrow down the potential factories that you want to work with. Regulation in childrenswear is very stringent, so you’ll want to make sure that your factory can comply with the regulations in whichever countries you intend to sell in – and bear in mind, they all have slightly different rules.
Once you’ve got a shortlist of factories, you can start sampling. This is where the factory will make a version of your product, based on your tech packs. It probably won’t be in the right material, but it’ll give you a feel for the factory’s quality and workmanship, as well as enable you to work out if the design is right. For Bibevie, sampling took us months. Covid didn’t help, but I also had high standards and knew exactly what I wanted the outfit to look like, so it took us a good few attempts to get the fit and cut exactly right.
Sampling will generally be done in one size, and then graded into sizes, which you can usually ask either your designer or your factory to do. Grading is tricky – as in all clothing, there’s no set rules for sizing in childrenswear. The best approach is to find a range of clothing that you like as a base point, and then tailor according to your design. For example, I’ve designed in longer legs for Bibevie clothing, with some cute turn ups, so that the outfits can be worn by tall and short babies and will allow room to grow.
Once you’re happy with a sample, you’ll have a final sample made up called a pre-production sample. This can be used for quality checking. I chose to have all of my samples independently tested in a UK laboratory to ensure their safety, but there are many options.
And when all this is done, you can go into production! This is really exciting, as you know you’re on a countdown to receiving your clothing, ready to sell. And it’s a great time to start a big push on marketing.
How to market your product
There are a million way to answer this question, and it will all come down to who your target customer is and what your business model is. Some top tips are:
-Think about where your target customer is searching for you and your competitors, and position yourself there, whether that be in magazines, parenting blogs, social media or other places.
-Use the time ahead of your launch to build an organic social media following, by posting updates on the journey and about what makes you unique. You can do this before you even have product photos!
-Get a great website, that’s mobile friendly and search engine optimised (SEO).
-Invest in photography – always important but particularly for e-commerce.
-Use all the free tools Google offers – Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, amongst others – to make sure you’re easily found online.
-Start connecting with relevant journalists and publications to get press interest.
And then you’re off. The most exciting part begins – you’ve put in the hard work to get a brilliant product, and it’s finally time to share it with the world. Good luck!
About Rhian and Bibevie
I’m Rhian, founder of Bibevie and Mum of one. Bibevie’s baby clothes with matching bibs concept was inspired by my very dribbly, tongue-tied newborn daughter and the realisation that every baby we saw wearing a bib was wearing it like a cape - superhero baby!
I was convinced there must be something on the market that recognised how important bibs are for dribbly babies, and made them better - matching the outfit instead of covering it up, staying in place instead of swinging around. My phone was full of pictures of my daughter with her wonky bib, but I couldn't find a single solution. So I invented one.
Bibevie clothes are:
Practical -- beautiful outfits with a matching dribble bib that safely clips in place, so it’s always where it needs to be.
Soft and snuggly -- using a gorgeous blend of bamboo and organic cotton for the softest, comfiest feeling clothes for baby's delicate skin.
Long-lasting -- designed to last and designed to grow to keep your purse feeling happy.
Ethically produced -- using ethically-made fabrics, in factories which care for their workers and doing everything we can to minimise our impact on the environment.
Mix and match -- any bib matches with any of our dungarees, so you can create your own signature style.
Check out our website for the full range – www.bibevie.com
Or follow us on social media: