How to Start a Plus-Size Clothing Business

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If your goal is to start your own business, choosing to make it a plus-size clothing business could net you a nice piece of the $22 billion sales pie seen by that industry each year. With American's growing obsession with food—and continued battles with weight gain—the plus-size market's projected growth of 15 percent through 2014 would motivate many entrepreneurs to get on the bandwagon.

Things You'll Need

  • Large dressing rooms and mirrors
  • Sufficient operating capital for at least a year
  • Attractive and friendly plus-size sales staff

Know your competition in the area. You can do this by looking through the Yellow Pages of your telephone book under "Fashion," "Plus-size clothing," or "Clothing" to see what plus-size stores are operating in your city. Call these stores to see which brands of plus-size clothing they carry and sell before you contact plus-size clothing manufacturers and retailers yourself.

Select an empty retail store that fits your plus-size clothing business needs and meets your business goals and financial budget considerations. Do this by spending time throughout the week and weekend driving around the city, observing foot traffic of shoppers near stores for rent in shopping centers and elsewhere. Then set up a meeting with the store or building owner—or their management company representative—for a tour and possible lease discussion. But don't sign anything yet.

Contact plus-size clothing manufacturers to inquire about scheduling an appointment to meet with them and view their product lines. Ask if they will be attending any trade shows or apparel mart events in your area in the near future. You can access manufacturer's names and contact information through the resource links provided below.

Consult with your personal banker for a business loan. Unless you have a considerable amount of savings to use toward your new business expenses, you will need to meet with your banker to discuss a business line of credit or loan. At this scheduled meeting, you will need to be armed with all the information you have gathered thus far (desired store location, annual lease cost expense and time length, building improvements needed, manufacturer relationships created—and anticipated initial inventory cost and profit margin to be realized—and a repayment plan for the loan being sought.

Hire a business attorney. You will need one to represent you professionally and to review your approved business loan, your new store lease agreement and any inventory purchasing contracts you wish to make before you sign on any dotted lines. Pay attention to any recommendations your lawyer makes regarding the need for changes to contracts that would serve your interests more or better protect you in the event of a dispute.

Tips & Warnings

  • Important criteria to consider in the selection of your new store and its location: a lack of proximity to other plus-size clothing stores; the likelihood of high traffic from plus-size clientele frequenting other businesses nearby; maximum length of store lease required (no more than one year is best, initially, with the ability to recommit for same rent amount and longer period of time at end of first year); the availability of parking for your customers; and the ability to expand dressing room size---or make other changes---if needed.
  • Thoroughly vet any potential staff you plan to hire by contacting all prior employers and references given. When you are not in the store, these employees will be representing you to your customers, and affecting whether your business succeeds or fails. Make sure they represent you, and your customer and business objectives, well before you hire them, because it is harder and more complicated to fire a bad employee than it is to not hire them in the first place.

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