Your fashion startup to-do list

July 20, 2016

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You can search the Internet for business startup tips until your face turns blue and still feel uncertain about where to start. Believe me, I have a stack of business articles that I printed off with every intention to read them and they’re still just a stack of unread articles.

To save you time and to give you maybe that little “baby step” you need to get going, I’m keeping this short and sweet. Here is your e-commerce fashion startup to-do list. It’s not super comprehensive but it’s pretty close. At least, it’s all I needed to keep on track.

I wrote out each task on a piece of paper and taped them to my office wall under their appropriate category in a rough order of importance. As I accomplished a task, I took the paper down. It was the visual motivation I needed to keep going, stay focused and stay on track. I hope it does the same for you.

*Note: you may have more or fewer categories and tasks than me and that’s A OK. This is a guide for you to mold how you want. Some of these tasks only apply to Canadian businesses and other tasks depend on which province you live in.


  1. Write business plan (I found Futurpreneur’s online template a life-saver)
  2. Apply for funding if needed, check out some small business financing options in Canada
  3. Figure out your type of business, i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation
  4. Business NUANS name search and name registration, as required
  5. Trademark business name
  6. Register business
  7. Get HST/GST number
  8. Copyright
  9. Purchase accounting software
  10. Setup expense tracking sheet and other financial documents
  11. Get an import/export license for your merchandise


  1. Subscribe to Shopify or another e-commerce platform service
  2. Buy template
  3. Copyright website
  4. Add necessary apps for business operations
  5. Create a content plan to know what kind of content you’ll have on your site
  6. Create a site map to know where to put this content and how to organize it
  7. Setup your site’s pages and navigation based on your site map
  8. Fill in pages with necessary content
  9. Get text copyedited and edited
  10. Get legal text reviewed by a lawyer, i.e. Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, Shipping and Handling
  11. Ask friends to test the site before it goes live


piste 1

  1. Brainstorm about your brand, what your company values, its strengths and weaknesses, your vision, mission and value proposition
  2. These elements will help you create a visual identity for your brand
  3. Logo design, read up on my awesome experience with design firm Quatre par Quatre
  4. Copyright logo once finalized
  5. List all possible branding collateral you’ll need, i.e. business cards, e-mail templates, packaging
  6. List all online branding assets you’ll need, i.e. social media thumbnails, banners, online ads, Instagram images, designer logos
  7. Get a design firm to design your logo and collateral if it’s in your budget
  8. Source packaging and shipping materials
  9. Order collateral and materials


  1. Contact college internship programs
  2. Fill out internship application
  3. Interview candidates
  4. Create to-do list for intern
  5. Create task tracking sheet with due dates


  1. Write content plan (based on your brand, what language will you use to speak about your business and to speak to your clients? Who are your clients and what do they want? What words will you use and not use? What is the personality of your brand and how will it shine through in your content? How will you showcase your content? How will you promote it?)
  2. Write marketing plan
  3. Write social media plan
  4. Write pre-launch strategy based on previous plans
  5. Setup social media accounts
  6. Build your e-mailing list


  1. Research designers
  2. Get a wholesale number
  3. Contact designers to ask whether or not they wholesale, if they have a minimum order or not, do they need a deposit, etc.
  4. Choose your designers and write up contracts for them if they ask
  5. Order samples
  6. Visit with designers, view collections in person if possible
  7. Place orders
  8. Upload products to your online store, including SKU codes, product descriptions and sizing chargs


  1. Hire a photographer
  2. Hire hair and make up
  3. Choose models
  4. Plan look and feel of shoot
  5. Find examples of look and feel to share with photographer and models
  6. Find a location
  7. Email models shoot information, photos of poses you want
  8. Edit photos and upload to site


  1. Setup Canada Post account
  2. Link Shopify account with Canada Post app
  3. Input shipping material sizes
  4. Confirm shipping rates for national and international shipments
  5. Design shipping labels if needed
  6. Buy shipping supplies
  7. Do a trial run with local and national deliveries

And that’s it! Well, not that’s it, but you know what I mean. Remember, this is just a template to get you started. Some of these tasks will be done at the same time. I wrote a range of months on each sheet to give me a visual idea of what I had to do and when. Good luck!


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