1. COME UP WITH A GOTTA-HAVE-IT ITEM
Diane von Furstenberg did it with the now-ubiquitous wrap dress. Tory Burch had her Reva flats. What's yours?
2. DEVELOP THE DESIGN
Good news: You don't need a degree from Parsons to succeed here. Sketch your ideas on paper as best you can, or ply an artsy pal with free food and drinks so she'll draw it for you.
3. MAKE A PROTOTYPE
You'll need one to show potential buyers. Warning: Prototypes aren't cheap—prices vary widely depending on your materials. Hit up MakersRow.com for referrals.
4. SOURCE YOUR MATERIALS
You'll likely do some serious legwork to find fabric stock that meets your budget and creative needs.
5. FIND A FACTORY
How else will you mass-produce your goods? (Try MakersRow.com—again!—for options.) Be explicit about what you want, and do some comparison shopping. Adjust your startup costs accordingly.
6. FUND YOUR BUSINESS
Your options: savings, credit cards, loans, or investors. (Hi, Mom!) Try Kickstarter and crowdfund your venture.
7. SELL, SELL, SELL
Open a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce site. Or ride the coattails of established players and set up shop on Etsy.