So You Wanna Be the Next Big (Insert Dream Here)? 3 Things You Need to Know
By Bianca S. Watts
I’m a lawyer who loves fashion. I love seeing beautiful, well-made, and well-fitting pieces put together with a beautiful shoe and accessory. A thoughtful ensemble tells a story. It is walking art. Historically, and unfortunately, Sacramento is a market that has experienced difficulty drawing higher end brands. Thus, travel to San Francisco and Los Angeles to find those once in a lifetime, to-die-for pieces was a must.
But to my surprise and excitement, Downtown Sacramento is developing a burgeoning fashion industry. Artists from all over the world are looking to Sacramento as a growing and viable market to develop and sling their creative wares. Now is an incredibly exciting and perfect time for budding designers to put pen to paper and start the process of turning their dreams into a reality. You’ve made and sold a few pieces that the lucky purchasers adored. You’ve got your designs (or menus) ready. You know what materials you want and need to create your pieces. You’re ready! Let’s do this!
This is the moment when caution is key. It’s easy to get so excited about the prospect of someone (better still, LOTS of someone’s) wearing your stuff (or eating your most exciting dish) that you lose sight of this universal truth: it takes more than hard work or a great idea to launch a successful business. Opportunities can come with land mines for the unprepared, and ignorance is anything but bliss when it comes to starting a business. There are a lot of steps in the process that need to be considered and followed if want to sell lots of shirts while keeping yours.
This blog is the first in a series on getting your new business off the ground. I’m here to give you some advice about getting started, from a lawyer’s perspective, broken down into bite-sized pieces.
Here are three things you will need to know to start your business:
- Trademark Your Brand – You’ve got the perfect name for your line. And the perfect logo. You’ve even come up with a brilliantly creative slogan. You can’t wait to pitch the line to investors and/or retail stores! But before you do, you need to trademark your wonderful ideas. Be sure to apply for trademarks for your brand name, logos and slogans. The first step in the process is to be sure that no other individual or business beat you to the brand name you’ve set your heart on. Otherwise, if you plunge ahead with your brilliant brand name that already has a registered trademark, you will be sued. OUCH.
- Form Your Business – Once you’re ready to get started, you will need to form your business. But you will find that there are a number of types of business entities (from corporations to limited liability companies to partnerships), and each type has unique requirements and offers unique benefits. You will need to determine which entity is right for the needs and goals of your company, fill out the appropriate paperwork and file the appropriate fees to get started.
- Find the Best Location and Terms for your Space – If you’re going to create and sell your stuff to hungry Sacramento consumers, you’re going to need a place to make and merchandise it. You will need to find retail storefront property that meets your location desires, size, and budget. Once you find your dream location, you will need to sign a lease. But before you sign the lease, you will need to review it and make sure that the terms and conditions are favorable to you. And if they’re not, you will either need someone to negotiate those terms for you or walk away and find something else. This process takes time. Don’t rush it.
If your head is reeling a little bit after reading this, don’t worry. You’re not alone. This is plenty to think about for now. More to come!