How to Start a Clothing Business Online

How to Start a Clothing Business Online

If you have ever dreamed of starting your own online business, now might be a perfect time to do it. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in several ways, including the ways in which people shop. More and more people are turning to the web to shop for everything–from clothing and groceries to car parts and office supplies. While there is already a lot of stiff competition out there, there is always room for new online businesses. This is especially true if you are thinking about diving into an in-demand market, such as the clothing industry. 

Selling clothing online is an excellent way to turn a profit, and getting started is easier than you might think. Whether you are searching for a side hustle to earn some extra cash or you’re dreaming of ditching your regular job in favor of running your own business, reselling clothing online could be the solution you’re looking for. Keep reading to learn more about how to start a clothing business by buying wholesale

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Crunch Some Numbers

Unfortunately, the old saying is true: It takes money to make money. 

The good news, though, is that starting an online clothing store costs way less than opening up a brick-and-mortar boutique. Still, it is crucial to take a close look at the finances before you dive too deep into launching your business. 

Decide on how much you can afford

First, get real with yourself about how much money you personally can invest. If you’re like most people, you might not have enough cash on hand to fully fund the launch of a new business, and that is completely okay. It does mean, though, you need to consider where the rest of your start-up funds will come from. Think about whether you’ll apply for a business loan, use credit cards, find a business partner or come up with another method of obtaining the money you need to get started. Considering your situation, you may even be able to get the funds you need through a crowdfunding campaign. The money you need is out there. It’s up to you to determine how you’ll secure it. 

Even if you are starting small, certain expenses are unavoidable. You’ll need to cover the cost of things like licenses and permits, advertising and marketing expenses, branding expenses and infrastructure expenses. You’ll also need to pay for wholesale merchandise to resell and cover the cost of your website. Keep in mind, too, if you plan on hiring people to help you, you’ll need to ensure starting wages are included in your start-up costs. 

Doing the math is one of the most overwhelming–and often frightening–parts of starting a business. It’s also one of the most vital. While it isn’t always necessary to invest thousands of dollars (or more) into a new business, there is almost always a certain degree of cost involved–especially when you plan on selling products. Crunching the numbers and figuring out how much you’ll need to spend and where you’ll get the money from prevents a lot of future stress. 

Woman selling shirts

Develop Your Brand

As we mentioned above, there is a lot of fierce competition in the clothing industry. That doesn’t mean, though, there isn’t room for new businesses. The key is building a business that stands out and draws the attention of consumers. And the best way to make your business stand out is by developing a strong brand. Your brand is essentially your biz’s face to the world. While your logo might be the first thing you consider when you think about branding, it is far from the only element of a successful brand. It also includes things like the colors and fonts you use on your website and social media profiles, your URL, the way you package your orders and even the way you communicate with current, past and prospective buyers. The words and phrases you use in your business communications could even become a part of your brand. 

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Because your brand plays such a huge role in setting you apart from your competitors and enabling you to grow a successful online business, it is worth dedicating some serious time to. Think about what types of products you’ll be selling, who your ideal customer is and what need you can fulfill for them. Consider your personal “why” for starting your own business, and think about how you can work that into your company’s identity. 

Now is the time to fully put down on paper what your business is all about. You may be eager to dive into selling products, but trust us, taking the time to first develop a strong brand will help exponentially in terms of ensuring the long-term success of your business. 

Take Care of the Legalities of Starting a Business

If you’re serious about starting an online business, several legalities need to be taken care of. Handling these things can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to ensure they are taken care of before you launch your business. It is always smart to consult with a business attorney for specific legal advice, but there are a few general things that typically need to be done when starting a business. 

Register your company

The first step is deciding on a business structure. When starting an online clothing store, you’ll likely want to set your business up as either a limited liability company (LLC) or a sole proprietorship. There are, of course, other options, but these two are the most common for new online business owners. 

Next, you’ll need to take care of filing the paperwork required for operating a business legally in your area. While starting an online business typically requires a bit less paperwork than opening up a brick-and-mortar store, you still need to make sure you’ve obtained the proper permits and licenses before you start selling. You also need to register your company which you can do by filing a DBA (doing business as) certificate. 

Since you are entering the fashion industry, you’ll likely need to purchase and resell wholesale clothing. While some wholesalers–including ShirtMax–don’t require buyers to have wholesale licenses to purchase things like bulk white t-shirts or wholesale hooded sweatshirts, many others do. 

Also known as a tax ID, resale ID or seller’s permit, a wholesale license allows you to purchase merchandise at the best possible prices from certain wholesalers. This license is also what enables you to collect sales tax when you make sales. 

While not required by law (typically), you may also want to consider investing in insurance for your business. Having insurance could provide a vital safety net if you ever have a customer sue. The right insurance will also cover your merchandise, business tools, equipment, etc. in the event of theft, a fire or another problem. 

Choose an Online Store Builder

Unless you already have experience as a web designer, using an online store builder is usually the best way to get your eCommerce site up and running. Builders have come a long way in the last few years, and they make it possible to create beautiful, functional online stores without any coding knowledge or experience. 

There are several online store builders to choose from. They come at different price points and offer different features, tools, etc. The one thing they all share, though, is that they enable you to list your products, sell them and collect payment through an online payment processor. 

Shopify quote

Shopify is the leading eCommerce website builder, and it is widely regarded as one of the best. It’s affordable, loaded with features and easy to use–even for absolute beginners. Other popular options include Wix, Weebly, BigCommerce and Squarespace. Most website builders have free trial options, so check a few out to determine which one best suits your needs. 

While you’re trying them out, consider how easy or difficult the interface seems to you, how easily you can add and remove products and product categories and whether it’s easy to get help if you need it. Also, check out the templates and other design features to make sure it will allow you to create a site that matches your vision. 

Ultimately, you’re looking for a builder that provides a perfect balance of affordability, ease-of-use, features and customizability. With the right builder, you can get your website up and running quickly and start making sales without breaking the bank. 

Once you’ve settled on a builder, decide which plan will best suit your needs. Most builders offer a few different plan options to help make running an online business easier and more profitable. If your budget is limited, there is no shame in starting with the most basic package. If you have some money to invest, though, consider going with a premium plan with additional features well-suited for your business. 

General Rule

Set Your Prices, List Your Products and Start Selling

At this point, you’re ready to start diving into the selling part of running your online clothing business. First, establish prices for your products. Coming up with a pricing strategy is something often more difficult than business owners expect, but it doesn’t have to be. As a general rule, setting your selling price at about 30 to 50 percent more than your wholesale cost will allow you to turn a profit. 

If you’re struggling, pay attention to how much your competitors are selling similar products for. You shouldn’t feel like you have to sell your products for less in order to make sales, but determining the average selling price for products like your own gives you a solid jumping-off point. Consider perceived value, too. While pocket t-shirts wholesale can be purchased for just a few dollars each, the ones you are reselling may have a much higher perceived value if they have been customized or are marketed as providing a solution to a common problem. 

With your prices established, it’s time to start adding your products to your online storefront. If you choose the right builder, this step should be pretty straightforward. You will likely be guided through a process of adding a title, description, photos, pricing and other relevant information. Take the time to write good titles and descriptions and take great photos. In the online space, people can’t physically touch and examine products before making a purchase. Instead, they rely on what they can see on a screen. This makes good photos, descriptive titles and detailed descriptions vital. If you’re having a hard time taking clear, visually appealing photos or writing catchy titles and awesome descriptions, consider hiring help. Investing in a photographer and/or writer costs a bit upfront, but doing so can significantly increase your sales. 

Shirts on hangers

Build a Solid Online Presence

Once your store is up and running, you need to make sure people are finding it. One of the best ways to do this is by developing a strong online presence. Social media is a powerful tool for businesses, and both Facebook and Instagram are great ways to build awareness of your business and drive people to your website. 

Use your social media profiles to showcase pictures of your products, tell the world about yourself and your brand and make potential buyers fall in love with what you are offering. Interact with your followers to build relationships with them. Use your online profiles as a means of connecting and engaging with people–not just sharing constant promos. Today’s consumers want to buy from real people, not corporations. If you can make your audience feel like they know you and want to support your dreams, you’ll start making sales. It’s that simple. 


Starting an online clothing business requires dedication and hard work. Like any business, it typically requires a bit of trial and error, but once you figure out exactly what works for you, the possibilities are virtually limitless. Whether you’re hoping to earn some extra spending money or dreaming of building a brand that changes the world and allows you to live the life you’ve always imagined, embarking on a journey as a fashion entrepreneur could be a perfect solution. 


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