Alexander Wang x Judith Lieber clutch. Photo: @judithleiberny/Instagram

Alexander Wang x Judith Lieber clutch. Photo: @judithleiberny/Instagram

When we interview designers about how they got their brands off the ground (which we do frequently), one of the most common things we hear is that it cost a lot more money than they ever anticipated — so much more that they might not have even started their brands had they known beforehand. And that’s not just to launch, but also to keep the brand afloat.

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While getting a big order from a major retailer might sound like a good thing for a fledgling brand, it means the brand has a short time to somehow produce that inventory and hire the necessary employees without any money upfront. Direct-to-consumer brands have their own financial challenges, having to come up with the funds for everything — inventory, an e-commerce platform, distribution, marketing and much more from the get-go. In the first few years, most brands lose money rather than turn a profit — it’s why so many emerging brands shutter despite initial buzz. I’ve even heard of accountants advising designers not to start a fashion business if they or their families aren’t independently wealthy.

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