When Kim Yakobi struggled to find clothing for her little boys, the idea for her fashion business was born. Kim had nearly two decades of experience in the creative industry as a hair stylist but had no idea how to start a fashion brand. She had books full of design ideas and knew what she wanted to do, just not how to do it.
After meeting Fashion Equipped three years ago, Kim has developed her concept into a fully-fledged collection, and now she’s preparing for the official launch of her very own fashion business.
What industry experience do you have?
My background is in hairdressing. It’s been my trade for 16 years now, so naturally, hair and fashion was always important to me. I have three kids (two are boys), and I found it very hard to dress my boys for weddings or nice events. I never thought that putting together an outfit for my kids would be so hard! So, I wanted to do something about it, and seven years ago, I came up with my idea. In the beginning, I had a business partner, and she managed the design side. Initially, we were designing casual wear for little boys, and we had a few samples made but looking back now, we had no idea what we were doing! Unfortunately, the business partnership didn’t work out, but I still wanted to be part of the growing kid’s fashion world. Given my limited technical and design experience, I struggled to take the first few steps on my own, but then I found Fashion Equipped three years ago at an expo. I was finally given the guidance I needed to start working in the right direction.
How do you define ‘smart business’?
Smart business is recognising when you need help with the things you’re not naturally good at. When I met Fashion Equipped and started working with Elizabeth and the team, my real journey began because I had accepted that I needed business help.
What struggles have you faced launching a business by yourself?
I struggled to work by myself in the beginning, because I didn’t have the skills I needed to move forward. From day one, working with Elizabeth and Fashion Equipped made me understand my brand better, pushed my research, refined my target market, and taught me where I stood against competitors. When I was introduced to Manuela, who looks after Product Sourcing, she helped to bring my story and designs to life. Mani helped consolidate my range and bring my USP to life, and I learned about all the details that go into a garment before even commencing a tech pack. When I was working by myself, I had no idea about the details, or how to move forward from an idea, but Mani taught me about the specifics, the buttons, stitching, belt loops – every aspect that I needed to create in order produce a coherent range plan and detailed tech packs.
What’s your top tip for launching a fashion business?
Find a consultant or a mentor, and make the most of their help and advice! Without Elizabeth and Mani supporting my idea and offering their business knowledge throughout my journey, I wouldn’t be where I am today. When Liz first told me about the ‘Start Your Fashion Business’ online course, I was unsure about it because I was already getting such valuable advice working one on one, but after meeting Alex, another student who was in the middle of the course – she changed my mind. She filled me in on how much she had learnt and how much she loved it, so I started!
Making the most of the available help on hand is what sets your business apart and helps you grow.
Another great tip for anyone launching a fashion business is to approach manufacturers strategically, and remember that the first one you meet doesn’t have to be ‘the one’. Mani has helped with my entire sourcing process, and she worked with several manufacturers along the way on my behalf until we found the right one. It’s been a huge relief having Mani as a mediator to help with communication and make sure my manufacturers are the right fit for my business.
Kim Yakobi is preparing for the launch of her children’s clothing label, and we’ll be sharing the news when it’s officially live, so stay tuned!