As a small business owner and representative for an overseas brand I understand how important it is to network with other people within your realm of business. Since I am a part of the clothing industry it is vital for me to connect with a variety of people that do photography, manufacturing, own clothing stores, and fellow brand owners to build a solid foundation of powerful friends that can come into use. At first, when I started my clothing brand I had no idea where to start or how exactly I would meet anyone important, but I knew I could use the internet to my advantage.
At the beginning my brand started off with just $500 to make a few t shirt and hat designs that we got made locally at a screenprinting shop. I took to the internet immediately after making some products using Instagram and Twitter heavily to gain a following. I started searching out other people that where interested in fashion and photography. I made couple of good friends who had start up clothing brands and did some photography work, I tried to link with as many as people as possible and even gave out some free clothes for exposure. After a handful of events locally and a couple of collections later I had joined a fashion forum where I would advertise my clothing and discuss with other brands in the business. The forums taught me a ton on what was considered good product and what exactly customers where buying, what they hated, and what they wanted to see in the future. I became a large part of the forum, responding and eventually giving advice for other people.
After about a year of screenprinting on t-shirts, hoodies and various other pre-made products I decided it was time to move on to making real clothing from scratch (typically called cut and sew). I searched the internet scouring every source I could find, looking for someone who could work with small numbers due to our lack of major funds. On the forums I came across an Indonesian clothing brand called Applecoast. I sent them email asking who made their clothes and they replied saying that they made their own products in house. After some emails later they agreed to make a small run of 24 buttondown shirts for us, which would lead into them producing all of our clothing items.
The owner of Applecoast and I became close friends. I offered to help their brand get into the American market so we decided to sign up for the Agenda Tradeshow, the largest streetwear tradeshow in the world. Applecoast got accepted and was the first brand from Indonesia to attend, I flew out from Kentucky and Applecoast from Indonesia to meet up in Los Angeles. We did well at the tradeshow and networked with a ton of people, but this time in real life as opposed to my normal internet link ups.
In the end, starting with the internet you can go so much further with business connections. I literally met one person who has changed my life forever and it has been extremely humbling. This is only the beginning for myself, but imagine what you can do. The possibilities really are endless.