How to Sell Clothes You Made

Three Parts:Building Your BrandMeeting Basic RequirementsDoing Business

For the crafty entrepreneur, selling the clothes you make is a great small business option. You can quickly scale such an operation up and take advantage of the limitless possibilities offered by the world of fashion. Thinking closely about the kind of brand and the type of business you want to establish will make the sales process proceed smoothly.

Part 1
Building Your Brand

  1. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 1
    Evaluate market factors and identify your target market. Various factors can affect how well you sell your clothes. Who is your competition, locally and nationally? Thinking about what styles and articles of clothing you want to offer, and comparing them to what others offer, will help you find a niche for your clothing line.[1]
    • Trying to sell t-shirts in the dead of winter can be a challenge. Try to change your clothing lineup seasonally to keep up with relevant consumer needs. Apart from online sales, always sell clothes that are appropriate for the climate where your consumers live.
    • Having a well-defined market is crucial for success, especially in the small business world where you lack name-brand recognition.[2] Ask yourself who your customer base is, and who you believe it could or should be.
    • Collect information on the demographics buying your clothes. Think about your customers’ race, age, income level, education level, and family status.
    • Equally important is an understanding of your target market’s cultural attributes (psychographics). What are their personalities like? Their sense of humor? Their values, interests, and hobbies?
    • Use this info to craft clothes that will appeal to consumers characterized by these lifestyles and behaviors.
    • Do not exclude groups who do not fit your ideal customer criteria; rather, make those who are most likely to be interested in your clothes a priority when advertising and conducting brand outreach on social media.
  2. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 2
    Establish a brand name and logo. These are the most basic elements of your brand. Your brand name should be short, catchy, and memorable. Your logo should similarly be simple and be easily reproducible from a consumer’s memory. A logo is a symbol which represents your brand. Think of Nike’s swoosh, or McDonald’s golden arches. These are instantly recognizable logos, and provide consumers with a visual representation of the company and its values.
    • A detailed, ornate logo (perhaps it includes cursive script or lots of filigrees) implies sophistication and class.
    • A clean, minimalistic logo (Apple’s apple with a missing bite), in turn, will inspire a sense of modernity and practicality.
    • Good logos are distinctive and stand out from the crowd. [3] Consider a variety of options before settling on your brand name and logo. Once selected, it can be difficult to rebrand.
  3. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 3
    Create a vision statement for the business. The vision statement is a road map for where you want to go in the future. How will selling clothing be different for your business in a year? In three years? What markets or stores do you want to expand into?[4] A vision statement can be broad (“We will continue to grow and build our customer base”), or it can encompass specific steps (“In six months, we will open a new location, and in ten months we will ship our products to new markets in L.A. and southern California.”) Think about your business’ future and how you can best get there.
  4. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 4
    Create a mission statement for the business. The mission statement, in contrast with the vision statement, is an expression of your more day-to-day, short-term purposes.[5] A mission statement should be pithy and succinct. Consider Google’s mission statement: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”[6] Straightforward and uncomplicated, a mission statement should comprise only a single sentence. For a clothing company like yours, a mission statement might read: “Our mission is to provide functional, comfortable outerwear for men and women.”
  5. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 5
    Create a brand ideal for the business. Your brand ideal is the larger goal behind selling your clothes. Everyone wants to make money, of course, but it is important to think beyond the monetary aspect of selling the clothes you make. Whatever you do, identify how your business is giving back and changing your community for the better. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s good business, and people will respond positively to a thoughtful mission.[7] For example:
    • Are you promoting women’s rights through affirmative messaging on your shirts?
    • Do you use only ethically-made dyes and materials in your clothes?
    • Do you use the business to teach textile skills to ex-cons or other marginalized groups?
  6. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 6
    Be consistent with your brand. Keep your styles and iconography focused and unified. Do not, for instance, create ten feminine dresses with flowers on them and then one pair of military boots with metal studs coming out of the heels.[8] This runs contrary to your clothing line’s identity and will confuse consumers.

Part 2
Meeting Basic Requirements

  1. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 7
    Review relevant laws. The Federal Trade Commission sets rules on how clothing manufacturers and importers distribute and produce clothes.[9] There may, in addition, be state, local, or municipal laws governing the production and sale of clothing. Consult a lawyer well-versed in business law before selling your clothing.
  2. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 8
    Establish an organizational structure. This means designating who does what. What are each person’s responsibilities? Who do they report to? Create a hierarchical chart detailing each person’s name, position, and a brief outline of their duties.[10]
    • This may seem like an unnecessary step when dealing with a small operation consisting of you and a few friends, but to be successful it is important that everyone know what is expected of theme. When your firm grows (which may happen faster than you think it will), you will be able to assign new duties based on what jobs you know need filling. Finally, being able to present an organizational structure to potential investors or business partners will ensure you come off as slick and professional.
  3. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 9
    Establish your legal foundation. This means deciding what kind of business you want to be. In almost all cases, you will need to take formal action to declare yourself as a business for tax purposes and obtain the requisite licenses and permits through your federal, state, and local business agencies. However, the specific process for registration and formal declaration of your business varies from state to state.[11] Secretary of State offices are usually the place where you can officially register you business.[12]
    • As an unincorporated sole proprietorship, you do not have to take any legal action to form your business. . Sole proprietorships are easy to form, run, and dissolve. However, they can be dangerous because by working alone, you may have a heavy burden to bear. You will also find it difficult to raise capital if you want to expand.[13]
    • In a partnership, two or more people share ownership of the business. There are three kinds of partnerships:[14]
      • General partnerships are business which divide profits and losses equally among the partners.
      • Limited partnerships offer different degrees of control of the company to different partners depending on their level of investment. They also protect partners with limited liability.
      • Joint ventures operate as general partnerships, but only for a limited time period or a single project.
    • Corporations are legal entities owned by shareholders. This kind of business is usually reserved for much larger and more well-established businesses, and have complicated tax structures and legal requirements.
  4. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 10
    Affix a care label. Care labels tell the consumer how to clean and care for the clothing. If you’re using premade shirts, and simply applying your design or logo to the shirt, you will not need to worry about the care label since the original manufacturer already applied one. However, if you are making clothes out of whole cloth, you will need to design and attach a care label.
    • Gloves, hats, suspenders, neckties, belts, and shoes do not require care labels.[15]
    • Clothing which is reversible may have a temporary care label attached to it along with the pricetag.
  5. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 11
    Affix a content label. The content label describes where the clothes were made and what materials they contain. For instance, a content label may read “Made in the USA. 50% cotton, 50% polyester.”
    • Always be honest and accurate when labeling your clothes, and check relevant content label laws. Some states require that a “Made in the USA” label only be used when not only the clothes, but all the materials that went into them such as buttons, thread, and cloth, were also produced in America.[16]

Part 3
Doing Business

  1. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 12
    Open a business account. Unless you’re a sole proprietorship and linking your personal and business accounts (a risky move), you’ll need a business account. Once obtained, customers will be able to make checks out to your business and you can deposit them in the account.[17]
    • First, obtain a tax ID number. You’ll need a federal and a state tax ID number.
    • The bank in which you open a business account will need to see your articles of incorporation, corporate seal, and/or licenses and official registrations which prove you are the proprietor of a business.
  2. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 13
    Set up a merchant account for credit cards. A merchant account is a bank account which allows businesses to process credit card or debit card payments. Merchant accounts can only be established at merchant acquiring banks (also known as acquiring banks). These sorts of banks exist specifically to process credit or debit card payments for merchants.
    • A merchant account is easier to get after you’ve been in business for a while. Merchant account banks like to see that you understand your business, the risks you face, and can prevent or reduce fraud (especially credit card fraud).[18]
  3. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 14
    Use merchant services aggregators to make sales. A merchant service aggregator is a third-party service which provides the processing capabilities of a larger merchant account bank on a smaller scale. PayPal and Square are two of the largest merchant service aggregators.
    • PayPal processes payments to and from bank accounts and credit cards for both individuals and businesses. The service makes it easy to process payments online.[19] PayPal makes money by subtracting a percentage of each sale you make.
    • Square, similarly, processes credit and debit card payments for shop owners digitally and in stores. Unlike PayPal, they provide a credit-card reading device which can transmit data from a point-of-sale credit card for processing. The device easily snaps into many smartphones or tablets.[20] Visit to check compatibility with your device(s).
  4. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 15
    Set your prices. Use market feedback to set prices. Look at similar items of clothing from competitors and mark your clothing with prices within the same range. Mark everything clearly online as well as in direct sales through physical stores. Do not make up prices on the spot, or you will appear unprofessional and unprepared.
  5. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 16
    Sell online. There are a variety of online outlets through which you can easily sell the clothes you made. Ebay and Etsy are probably the most famous sites for purchasing clothing online through small producers.
    • Ebay is an online auction house. You can offer your clothes at a minimum price, and allow people to compete with each other to obtain them. Whoever submits the highest bid for a given item at the end of a designated time period will get the clothes.
    • Etsy is not an auction house, but rather functions as a distribution hub of custom-made goods of all kinds -- candles, magnets, art, scrapbooks, as well as clothing. Through Etsy you can distribute your clothes and reach new consumers easily.
    • Other similar sites include,, and All allow you to sell (and buy) independent clothing and apparel.
  6. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 17
    Sell locally. When you’re starting out, farmer’s markets and local festivals are a good way to go. If you want to get an official stall at the farmer’s market, you may need to inquire with the organization which hosts the market and pay a small fee. [21] Other local places that might be willing to carry some of your stuff include local coffee shops and cafes, which often offer local products for sale.
    • If even farmers markets entail too much formality for you, you can easily set up on a busy public street in many municipalities. Take your clothes and lay them out on a blanket or small foldable card table so passers-by can browse. Bring a chair, a good book, and a lockbox (to collect money and make change) and wait for business to roll in. You can even send out an email or social media blast in the form of “I’ll be selling skirts, shirts, and summer wear this Saturday at the corner of Third and Main. Be there!”
    • Find a good time to sell your clothes. Weekends and evenings are usually your best bet.
  7. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 18
    Promote yourself. Carry promotional materials -- business cards, flyers, or catalogs -- everywhere you go.[22] You never know who you’ll run into or when an opportunity to promote your clothing business will come up. Many local businesses, libraries, restaurants, and the like have community bulletin boards in their entryways. Ask to post a one-page flyer on these boards to increase local buzz about your clothes.
    • If you have a quality color printer and a decent graphic design suite like Photoshop, designing your own flyers and promotional materials should be easy. If not, enlist help from a friend proficient in graphic design and run a bunch of copies off at your local print shop.
    • Cultivate a social media presence. Use sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to show off your designs and newly-made outfits.
    • Get a proper website. There are lots of template sites like Tumblr and Squarespace which allow you to set up a professional website without knowing a thing about code. Alternately, you could enlist help from someone who is more familiar with web design to build you a website from scratch.
  8. Image titled Sell Clothes You Made Step 19
    Grow your business. As you become more proficient at what you do, take on apprentices and new employees so you can ramp up production. Enlist help from creative individuals with an eye for fashion to design new outfits and styles. Finally, as your business grows, you might want to consider opening a boutique of your own.
    • Do not make the decision to transition to a proper storefront lightly.[23] The associated costs -- rent, taxes, and utilities -- may make the effort more expensive than its worth. If you’re set on opening your own shop, take your time looking at potential spaces. Find one located in a high-traffic area that your target market can easily access.


  • If you are just a kid or tween, make sure you have an adult around at all times when selling.
  • Don't get discouraged if things don't sell quickly.
  • Have a separate email for your clothing business communications.
  • Wear your own designs. If you're out on the town and someone asks where you got that dress, let them know you made it, and hand them a business card.

Sources and Citations

  3. Designing Logos: The Process of Creating Symbols That Endure,
Show more... (20)

Article Info

Categories: Sales