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29 January 2024 • Resources

How to start a lingerie business: 11 Essential steps for success

How to start a lingerie business: 11 Essential steps for success

Lingerie is a booming market in the fashion industry. More and more lingerie designers want to embark on the adventure of creating their own brand, driven by the diversification of models and women's desire to feel both comfortable and confident in all circumstances. If you want to start a business but have no ideas, launching a lingerie line is certainly an option with lots of potential that you'll want to consider.

Starting your own lingerie business may seem like an ambitious project, requiring organization, passion, and a lot of energy!

If you want to create your own lingerie line, there are a number of things you need to consider. First of all, you need to decide on the type of lingerie you want to sell. There are many different types of lingerie, from everyday bras and panties to sexier items. You'll also need to choose a name and logo for your company, as well as set up a website and social media accounts. Once all this is in place, you can start marketing and selling your lingerie!

Have a lingerie business in mind and wondering how to create your own lingerie brand when you're a new entrepreneur? Don't panic. We've put together a short guide to the 11 essential steps you need to follow to start your own lingerie business!

Starting a lingerie business FAQ

Who invented lingerie?

The history of lingerie goes back to the time of the corset: before the 20th century, women's silhouettes were marked by several types of fashion techniques, either to enhance them or to conceal them.

Lingerie as we know it today has its roots in the late 19th century, thanks to Hermione Cadolle, who created the first bra prototype, still close to the corset of yesteryear. A turning point in the history of lingerie came in 1910. The corset gradually disappeared, to be replaced by the girdle and the bra.

In 1913, Marie Phelps Jacob came up with the idea of tying handkerchiefs together with ribbon to make her lingerie more discreet under her dress. She received a patent for this bra in 1914. Then, in 1918, the short, legless panty appeared. Since the 1910s, lingerie, as with anything in the fashion industry, has continued to change, develop, and innovate, for all styles and body types.

Why do women buy lingerie?

There are many reasons why women might buy lingerie. It could be for a special occasion, such as a wedding or anniversary, or simply to feel sexy and confident. Some consumers buy lingerie as a gift for their partner, while others treat themselves to a new set. Whatever the reason, lingerie is often seen as a luxurious, personal item that makes all kinds of women feel beautiful and strong.

How do you design a lingerie line and get it made?

There are several ways to have your underwear made: you can either approach international factories that can create models at affordable prices for the end customer, or you can call on sewing workshops directly in your specific location.

Depending on the type of items you wish to market, some materials will be more technical than others, requiring specific know-how or machinery. The better quality the materials, the greater your chances of entering the luxury market.

In addition, to gain maximum market share, produce models for all sizes, from the smallest to the largest. All these elements will help you decide which design team to turn to.

Luxury or affordable, how do you set up a lingerie business?

Regardless of the type of lingerie you wish to sell, the process of launching a lingerie business involves hard work and preparation. In this section, we provide you with 11 steps to help ensure that you start off on the right track, putting you on the path to success!

1. Choose between franchising and creating your own brand

These two models are different: when you want to create your own lingerie line, this implies that you need to develop your own brand.

However, some entrepreneurs prefer to try their hand at the business through a franchise before launching out on their own.

This is because starting up with a franchise limits the risk of losses: you don't buy your own stock, which belongs to the franchise, you benefit directly from the aura and image of the chosen brand, and you don't have to worry about the presentation of your boutique or the company's overall marketing strategy.

However, the downside with this type of business is that you're completely dependent on the brand you work for: you can't customize your business to suit you, you don't receive all the profits but only a percentage of sales, and above all, you can't launch your own line with your own products, your own decisions. Also, you can't launch your own ecommerce site: any orders buyers may place with you will be linked to the parent company's site.

Starting your own lingerie line is therefore incompatible with using a franchise. At the center of your boutique or ecommerce site, you'll still be able to sell models from lingerie brands that are closest to your vision, but the choice is yours and yours alone!

2. Perform market research

As with starting any kind of business and becoming a business owner, the most important thing for entrepreneurs is to perform accurate market research. This competitive analysis is essential to understand all the characteristics inherent in your market, its strengths, weaknesses and threats, as well as the buyer's profile and needs.

How can you launch a brand if you don't know who to sell to? The law of supply and demand is clear: the entrepreneur offers a product if they understand the demand made by a specific audience wishing to respond to a problem.

Performing market research is a great way to draw up a portrait of your field and the typical consumer you wish to reach with your offerings. The more precise the market research, the easier it will be to identify the parameters of your field and thus develop a solid brand in your target market.

Market research is going to help you to start to identify your direct and indirect competitors in the fashion industry, check out other ecommerce business examples that inspire you, gain a clear idea of which products are already on the market, which propositions work, and which are aimed at a more confidential clientele.

For your part, you'll then be able to see the stakes of what's already in place and choose where to position your business, in which niche, for which particular audience.

3. Decide on a business name

Deciding on a name for your new lingerie business requires a blend of creativity, strategic thinking, and practical considerations.

Start by brainstorming business names that reflect your brand's identity, values, and the unique qualities of your products. Consider your audience and what would resonate with them. The name should be memorable, easy to pronounce, and spell.

As you'll want to stand out from competing businesses, verify that the business name you have in mind isn't too similar to existing brands. Check for trademark availability to avoid legal issues.

It's also important to be sure that the domain name and relevant social media handles are available for your online presence. You may want to test the name with potential customers to gauge reactions and confirm that it aligns with your brand image.

4. Pick a business structure

Choosing the right business or legal structure for your lingerie business is crucial for legal and tax purposes. The best option for your business will depend on your location, as business structures vary around the world.

For example, common business structures in the US include the following:

  • Sole proprietorship: simple but offers no personal liability protection.
  • Partnership: similar to a sole proprietorship in simplicity but involves two or more people.
  • Corporation: offers liability protection but is more complex and subject to double taxation.
  • Limited liability company (LLC): combines liability protection with tax benefits and flexibility.

During the process of picking the best structure for your lingerie business, be sure to consider factors like the level of personal liability you're comfortable with, tax implications, potential costs, and the complexity of management and operations. You may want to also take the time to consult with a legal or financial advisor to make an informed decision tailored to your specific needs and goals.

5. Create your business plan

Once you've identified all the players in your target field, you'll be in a position to assess the needs of your upcoming business. The next step entails creating your business plan for your future online business idea.

Creating a business plan for your new lingerie business is vital, as it will serve as a roadmap, guiding you through each stage of establishment and growth. This document is going to help in defining your goals for your lingerie business, ideal customer, unique selling propositions, and competitive strategies to aid you in differentiating your business from other lingerie businesses.

A quality plan includes a market analysis, product descriptions, marketing and sales strategies, and a clear financial plan with projections. To create an effective plan, the market research you've just completed to understand industry trends and customer needs will come in handy!

Be sure to be careful with your financial forecasting, considering costs, product prices, and revenue streams. While it's certainly possible to start a business with no money or a limited budget, it's important to be realistic with your calculations and present information clearly and accurately, especially if you plan on obtaining financial help from banks or other investors.

In addition, outline clear operational strategies and milestones to track progress. Don't hesitate to regularly revise your plan when needed, as this ensures adaptability to market changes and business growth.

6. Make your own models or order them

To create your own lingerie brand, you need to find the pieces that will appeal to your target customer. For this step, you can either start to make them from scratch using meticulous, professional craftsmanship, or you can order products from unique manufacturing companies.

It all depends on your skills, your know-how, and your budget for your future brand in the fashion industry: being able to create your own designs from scratch will require more commitment, time and money, at least in the short term. In fact, while you're building up your first collection, you'll need to tie up your income and resources in order to build up your stock. Conversely, buying pieces from manufacturing partners will enable you to sell your items directly and start your business without having to wait, keeping in mind that manufacturing costs can vary depending on the manufacturer.

It's up to you to decide which type of garment(s) you want to sell. In addition, by creating your own products, you'll have total control over the materials you use, so you'll be able to charge the prices you want on the market. If you'd like to get started without any initial training, check out schools in your specific location and online to find out about taking a course in fashion design.

7. Plan your graphic charter and logo

You've probably already thought about the style and elements you'd like to use for your future brand. The whole graphic and visual aspect of your brand needs to be thought through and crafted with the utmost precision.

Your brand is unique, as are your products: your visual identity must be just as unique.

Within your graphic charter, you need to analyze the businesses competiting with yours, determine the visual style that suits your vision, and identify the graphic elements you want to add to your store, whether physical or online.

Your logo must also be one of a kind and representative of your brand: it'll be everywhere in your communications and on the labels of your collections!

Whether it's through colors, fonts, or even your website design, the graphic charter comprises the totality of the visual elements that make up your brand.

To help you put together all the elements of your logo, you can find inspiration around you, check out social media networks like Pinterest, start working on accessible platforms like Canva, and so on.

Depending on your brand's positioning and your budget, you can also call on outside service providers to create all the elements that will make your brand an exceptional showcase. Shop around in your physical location and online to find communications and graphic design agencies that can accompany you every step of the way.

8. Create an ecommerce site to start selling your products online

To quickly get started marketing your lingerie business and products, there's nothing better than creating your ecommerce site.

But beware: depending on the solution you choose, the costs of launching your shop on the internet can quickly add up. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get started!

This is the case with open source ecommerce solutions: even if the promise is to make ecommerce 100% customizable, are you a computer whiz and completely bilingual in coding languages? If not, then you'll have to outsource this part of your business to an external company that will likely charge you a lot of money for the slightest modification to your website.

In contrast, by choosing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, based on cloud computing and turnkey, all the maintenance and technical management of your site is handled by the ecommerce platform.

For your part, all you have to do is add your lingerie products online and check that your graphic charter matches your brand.

With the WiziShop solution, your subscription includes over 400 ecommerce features and unlimited AI, starting from $40 per month and $1 for the first month.

What's more, WiziShop has made SEO its top priority: a solid foundation for search engines and over 50 SEO optimizations will be pre-installed on your future ecommerce website. 

WiziShop's aim is to make ecommerce accessible to everyone, which is why the solution offers all its customers complete ecommerce video training directly from the back office. Step by step, you'll be guided through the creation of all the important parts of your online business.

Do you have a question or a problem concerning your store? A team of expert ecommerce Business Coaches is on hand to offer you high-quality, personalized customer support and a rapid response.

What's more, Maia, your AI chatbot, is at your service and is available day and night to answer all your questions.

With WiziShop, you'll never be alone in your ecommerce adventure, and your lingerie business will always be a priority for our teams.

Try WiziShop free with a 3-day trial, then $1 for the first month, and start selling and earning money via your online store today! 

Try WiziShop free for 3 days


9. Decoration, shelving, identity: Create a unique sales space

If you wish to offer your products strictly online, you can go ahead and skip this step. However, if you dream of opening up a brick-and-mortar store to sell your lingerie creations and start your adventure in the fashion industry, keep reading! 

Just like the design of your website, the decoration of your physical shop will need to be thought through to accommodate your target clientele. 

In a lingerie shop, you'll need to think about specific elements that will flatter your customers: subdued, indirect lighting; a large, comfortable fitting area with several mirrors; simple display units to showcase the models you have for sale; etc.

For your part, as a shop owner, it's best to advise and listen to your customers, offering top-notch service, so as to meet all their needs. The lingerie sector touches on the intimacy of customers, which requires the retailer to make extra efforts to convince and adapt their offers to all morphologies.

Make your store the most beautiful showroom for your models, and support your potential customers in their in-store purchases as well as on your ecommerce website.

10. Market your new lingerie business

Marketing is a crucial step when starting a new lingerie business, as it builds brand awareness, attracts customers, and differentiates your products in a competitive market. Effective marketing strategies include creating a strong online presence through a well-designed website and active social media channels.

Be sure to take the time to return to the market research you performed earlier, consider what social media platforms your potential customers are most likely to frequent. 

Utilize visually appealing content that showcases your lingerie's unique features and resonates with your target audience. Engaging in influencer partnerships can amplify reach and credibility. Email marketing campaigns can keep customers informed and encourage repeat business.

It's essential to highlight your brand's unique selling points, such as quality, comfort, or inclusivity. You'll also want to avail of SEO strategies to improve online visibility and attract organic traffic.

If the costs to try paid marketing techniques are too high for your store at first, that's okay! In this case, it's best to start with free tactics to help you promote and sell your product offerings. Then, over time, once your business and budget grow, you can advance to paid strategies to take your store to the next level.

11. Expand your concept and add summer swimwear to sell

Having followed all the above points, there's no doubt that you'll be at the head of a successful lingerie company and brand! To take your entrepreneurial adventure in the fashion industry to the next level, you'll want to start to develop new ranges to offer and diversifying for your store, allowing your business to continue growing.

Many lingerie businesses also offer swimwear in the summer months: swimwear and beach accessories are excellent levers for increasing your brand's appeal and diversifying your consumer base.

Selling swimwear and swimwear products via your lingerie store also enables you to diversify your communication and add a special touch to your sales. It's up to you to create the most beautiful pieces to sell and find the best suppliers or manufacturing partners to produce the ideal beach product catalog for your growing lingerie business!

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