5 important tips to keep in mind when starting your own footwear brand by Omar Bailey

When launching a brand some of us may have more of a head start than others, however from my experience there are still some basic fundamental things to keep in mind that will always prove to be handy. 


Know your cost.


Have a target production cost for your product in mind. Don’t wait on the factory to give you a price, you set the target and force them to build you a great product for the price you are asking for. They will try to meet your target and if they cannot they will let you know and you cross that bridge if, or when that time comes. 


Real trumps everything.


Have your own material swatches ready to send to your development factory. I tell designers all the time describing your materials, emailing photos or pantones to a development factory for your samples is just going to be a waste of time. If your kick-off meeting to start developing your footwear collection is not going to be face-to-face then you need to ship physical material swatches and color references to your development factory. This will go a long way in the end and save you a lot of time, headaches and money. This will also increase your chances of getting back a decent sample that you can actually use. 


Disorder vs Order.


Hire a freight forwarder!!! Freight forwarding is by far one of the most pain in the ass and complicated parts of logistics. I stupidly handled my own sea freight order once from China to Miami thinking I would save a few dollars. Although it was a good experience for me to understand all the steps that it takes to get a container of shoes imported into the United States my advise is to hire a professional, there are plenty of services that specialize in this. There are too many things that can go wrong and the risk is not worth reward…spend the money and hire someone. 


Be about it.


Have your kick off meeting with your development factory face to face, in person no matter what. Call me old school but I feel like a meeting like this has to happen in person. What you may not realize in the moment is that your development partner will have more respect for you than you realize and your relationship will be stronger because of it. Meeting face to face shows your commitment to your brand and shows your development partners that you are serious. To be honest, if you don’t have the money to travel to your development factory then you probably shouldn’t be trying to launch your brand. 


Keep your mouth shut.


Don’t tell everyone that your launching a shoe brand period!!! Keep this a secret for as long as possible. Timelines don’t exist in footwear development and is not something you can plan around because you never know when something will go wrong no matter how simple you may think the shoe is. The moment you start telling people that you’re launching a brand is the moment you no longer manage your own expectations, and once that happens you start putting unnecessary pressure on those developing your shoes which can lead to critical mistakes requiring more samples, more corrections and before you know it you have a major problem on your hands. I know you’re excited to share the news and you want the entire world to know about your brand. My advice is just wait until the development sample is confirmed and you have it in your hands, then you can tell as many people as you like. 

Omar Bailey

Founder / Designer of Omar Bailey Footwear

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