Entering the world of fashion doesn’t mean you’ll need to sell clothing or become a designer. If you are a fashionista with an eye for trends, starting your own fashion-centric business can be extremely rewarding.

This industry offers a number of business ideas for fashion lovers — from personal stylists and fashion consultants to savvy salespeople putting out catchy t-shirt ideas.

Top Fashion Business Ideas

In this guide, we discuss a number of excellent small business ideas and opportunities for fashionistas of all stripes. 

We’ve broken down each business to include startup costs, the skill level required to get into the business, and the earning potential for each field, to help you better determine what fashion business idea is right for you.


Leather Business Image

For those with retail experience, fashion know-how, and a love of well-crafted products, opening a leather business can be a fun and rewarding pursuit. It can also be a very flexible fashion business, lending itself well to online retail. A background in fashion or retail is a great advantage but is not required.

Startup costs will depend on the specifics of your business plan. If you plan to sell pre-crafted items from home, your primary cost will be developing your inventory. For those looking to open a storefront, costs will increase significantly by renting your space and keeping the shelves stocked.

Learn how to start a leather business.


Online T-Shirt Business Image

For a self-starter who enjoys keeping up with trends, a t-shirt business can be an excellent online fashion business idea. Business owners should have both creative and artistic skills as well as technical know-how when it comes to choosing the best printing techniques. Some previous business experience is helpful, but not required.

Starting an online t-shirt business can have very little overhead, especially with so many high-quality print-on-demand services out there today. Most businesses can get started with little more than a few great design ideas. Many choose to remain entirely online, but some of the most successful t-shirt businesses have expanded into the retail market as well. While most businesses will remain small, some of the most successful ones are bringing in annual sales of over $100 million dollars.

Learn how to start an online t-shirt business.


Personal Styling Business Image

A personal styling business is ideal for someone with previous experience in fashion, hair care, cosmetics, or a related field. While no formal training is required, an established network of potential clients can be very helpful in getting off the ground.

Fashionistas who already work in fields like broadcasting, cosmetology, or public relations will often have a leg up. You’ll also need to have excellent communication skills and enjoy working closely with people one-on-one.

Learn how to start a personal styling business.

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Plus Size Clothing Store Image

Whether you have experienced the frustration of finding the right fit or have a passion for making fashion accessible to all, opening a plus-size clothing store can be a great business venture. No formal education is required, but a background in fashion and/or retail can be a great asset. You may even consider taking the IAP Career College's Boutique Owner Certificate Course.

Startup costs can be substantial, with the average clothing boutique running between $50,000 to $150,000 to open. Space and inventory will account for the bulk of your expenses. To keep costs down, business owners should look for low-rent commercial space or consider specializing in a specific type of clothing to minimize inventory. Your business may remain small, but with a good deal of space to expand in the market, there is great potential for growth.

Learn how to start a plus-size clothing store.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services

And, use our free tools to help start your business:


Purse Store Image

A purse business can be a good fit for fashion-loving people with a variety of backgrounds. You may have a keen eye for the next trend or retail experience in purse and handbag sales. Others may be looking to design their own bags to sell. Those with experience in fashion and/or retail will have a leg up, but a passion for the industry is vital.

Startup costs are high, with the average business owner investing at least $50,000 to get started. You can keep costs down early on by beginning your business online, but will still need to put a good deal of money into obtaining a solid inventory. Once you open a brick and mortar store, the location will be an essential part of your success. If you understand your target market and find the perfect location, a purse store can be a very profitable venture.

Learn how to start a purse store.


Shoe Line Image

Starting a shoe line takes a good deal of vision and talent from a dedicated fashionista. Ideal candidates will have experience in both design and business management, to handle the many moving parts involved in designing, manufacturing, and selling shoes.

Getting a shoe line up and running will require a sizeable investment. A successful shoe line will require investing in high-quality materials and manufacturing. Costs will vary based on the types of shoes, the size of your operation, and your geographic location.

Learn how to start a shoe line.


Shoe Store Image

For shoe lovers not ready or interested in taking the plunge into design, opening a shoe store can be a great way to get into the business. Shoe store owners should have an excellent eye for fashion and a strong business sense. Choosing a niche area like athletic or dress shoes can be a great way to focus your business and shape it around your personal interests or previous experience.

Startup costs for a shoe store can be high. If you’re planning to open a franchise, you should expect to invest at least $10,000. When you take into account marketing and inventory, early costs can reach above $60,000, with high-end stores costing much more. There is, however, good potential for growth. While many shoe stores remain local mainstays, the most successful have become national or even global brands.

Learn how to start a shoe store.

Learn more about starting a business by visting the U.S. Small Business Administration.


Sunglasses Line Image

Starting your own sunglasses line can be a great way to break into the design field. The right owner will have an excellent eye for design and style. While no specialized knowledge is required, you should have a basic understanding of how your idea will go from concept to product. It is also important to follow safety guidelines for creating products with UV protection.  

Startup costs will vary depending on your location and the type and style of products you intend to design and produce. This is a competitive industry, so finding a way to create unique products and a memorable business will help you succeed.

Learn how to start a sunglasses line.


Sunglasses Store Image

If you are not interested in designing your own sunglasses but would like to tap into this market, opening your own sunglasses store is a great option. The ideal owner will have a strong eye for fashion and the ability to select inventory that sells. Previous sales experience can be extremely valuable as you begin to build your customer base.

Upfront expenses are largely dependent on your storefront location and the merchandise you choose to invest in. You can lower costs by running your business online or starting out with a small stand or kiosk before expanding into a larger space.

Learn how to start a sunglasses store.


Sewing Business Image

If you are a fashion lover with a talent for sewing, opening your own sewing business can be an excellent full or part-time venture. While this is best suited for those who already have a high skill level, there are a number of educational opportunities out there for fashionistas looking to learn the craft.

Because a sewing business can easily be operated from your home, the startup costs are generally fairly low. You may already have much of the equipment needed to begin and can integrate the cost of your materials into the price you charge your customers.

Learn how to start a sewing business.

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