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How to Start a Lingerie Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Lingerie Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$4,350 - $9,600

Revenue potential

$91,000 - $450,000 p.a.

Time to build

3-6 months

Profit potential

$55,000 - $137,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

If you have a strong sense of style and a hint of naughtiness, this could be a fantastic time to start a lingerie business. The global lingerie industry is set to expand by more than half by 2027, offering great opportunity for the bold, creative entrepreneur. You could work from home to start, but with determination and a bit of luck your sexy designs could soon be in the closets of women around the world! Step aside, Victoria’s Secret.

But before you start designing your lovely lingerie products, you’ll need to sew up some business knowledge. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide will give you all the entrepreneurial know-how you need to get your successful lingerie business off the ground.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a lingerie business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you. 

Pros

  • Get Creative – Design your own slinky, sultry lingerie
  • Flexibility – Run your business from home, work on your time
  • Good Money – Markups on lingerie are high

Cons

  • Quality Production – Finding a reliable, affordable manufacturer can be a challenge
  • Crowded Market – You’ll compete with major lingerie brands

Lingerie industry trends

Industry size and growth

lingerie industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the lingerie industry include:

  • Lingerie with jewelry accents and bold colors are popular right now.
  • Comfortable lingerie is also in demand, made with stretchable, soft fabrics.
  • Inclusivity is a hot new trend, with designs for all body sizes and shapes.

Challenges in the lingerie industry include:

  • Constantly changing tastes create inventory management issues for lingerie businesses. If you order too much inventory you can end up with “dead stock” that won’t sell, but if you order smaller quantities, you’ll pay higher prices.
  • Many small independent lingerie businesses are popping up, creating even more competition in the market.
lingerie industry Trends and Challenges

How much does it cost to start a lingerie business?

The startup costs for a lingerie business range from $4,300 to $9,600, assuming that you will sell online from your own website or an online platform like Amazon or Etsy. Costs include lingerie line design software and your initial inventory, and this assumes you will not be opening your own lingerie shop to start. 

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Lingerie design software$300 - $500$400
Initial inventory$2,500 - $5,000$3,750
Total$4,350 - $9,600$6,975

How much can you earn from a lingerie business?

Prices for lingerie vary based on the item and materials, and price markups from manufacturers’ prices also vary. These calculations assume your average item will sell for $25, with a profit margin of 60%.

In your first year or two, you could work from home and sell 10 products a day, bringing in more than $91,000 in annual revenue. This would mean nearly $55,000 in profit, assuming that 60% margin. As your brand gains recognition and you get repeat customers, sales could climb to 50 products a day. At this stage, you’d rent a commercial space and hire staff, reducing your margin to 30%. With annual revenue of more than $450,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $137,000.

lingerie business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entering the lingerie market. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Skills and creativity to design lingerie that stands out in a crowded market
  • Finding a reliable manufacturer to partner with

Related Business Ideas

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a lingerie business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research lingerie businesses in your area and online to examine their products, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the market is missing a lingerie brand for plus-size women, or custom bejeweling options.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as underwear or bedroom lingerie.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products or services

You should come up with several designs that you want to sell and decide if you want to specialize in a particular product line, like bra and panty sets, bedroom lingerie, or cosplay. 

How much should you charge for lingerie?

Your prices will depend on the item, and your material and time. You should consider your manufacturing costs when determining price, as well as market prices for similar items.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be broad because men and women of nearly all ages buy lingerie. You should spread out your marketing to include sites like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a packaging facility or even a store. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
lingerie business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Lingerie Brand Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “lingerie” or “intimates”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Seductive Secrets” over “Bridal Bliss Lingerie”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Lingerie Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: A brief summary of your lingerie business plan, highlighting key points and goals.
  • Business Overview: An overview of your lingerie business, including its mission, vision, and the problem it aims to solve.
  • Product and Services: Detailed information about the lingerie products and services you will offer, such as types, quality, and special features.
  • Market Analysis: Analysis of the lingerie market, including target customer demographics, size, trends, and growth potential.
  • Competitive Analysis: Examination of your competitors in the lingerie industry, including their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting and selling your lingerie products, including pricing, distribution, and marketing channels.
  • Management Team: Introduction to key team members, their roles, and relevant experience in managing a lingerie business.
  • Operations Plan: Details on how your lingerie business will run day-to-day, including suppliers, manufacturing, and logistics.
  • Financial Plan: Financial projections, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, and profit margins for your lingerie business.
  • Appendix: Additional information, such as supporting documents, market research data, or legal documents related to your lingerie business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to lingerie businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your lingerie business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a lingerie business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept. 

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a lingerie business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your lingerie business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as LS Retail, Vend, or Retail Pro, to manage purchasing, inventory, designs, and invoicing.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

Marketing

For your lingerie business, the marketing strategy should focus on showcasing the quality, style, and comfort of your products. Highlight your range of sizes, inclusive designs, and any special features like eco-friendly materials or unique styles. Emphasize the confidence and empowerment your lingerie offers to customers.

Kickstart Marketing

  • Professional Branding: Your branding should convey elegance, sophistication, and inclusivity. This includes a visually appealing logo, professional product photography, and an aesthetically pleasing store layout (both physical and online).
  • Direct Outreach: Network with fashion influencers, bloggers, and stylists. Collaborate with local boutiques or complementary businesses (like bridal shops) for cross-promotion.

Digital Presence and Online Marketing

  • Professional Website and SEO: Develop an e-commerce website that showcases your lingerie collection with high-quality images, detailed descriptions, and sizing guides. Optimize your site for SEO to rank for searches related to lingerie, intimate apparel, and specialty lingerie.
  • Social Media Engagement: Utilize platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook to showcase your products, share styling tips, and promote body positivity and inclusivity. Engage with your audience through regular posts, stories, and responses.

Content Marketing and Engagement

  • Fashion and Lifestyle Blog: Share blog posts about lingerie trends, care tips, and how to choose the right lingerie. This can help establish your brand as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source in the lingerie industry.
  • Email Newsletters: Keep your customers informed about new collections, special offers, and events.
  • Video Content: Create videos showcasing your lingerie collections, customer testimonials, or behind-the-scenes glimpses of photoshoots and events.

Experiential and In-Person Engagements

  • Pop-Up Shops and Fashion Shows: Host pop-up shops or participate in fashion shows to introduce your products to a wider audience and create an immersive brand experience.
  • In-Store Events: If you have a physical store, organize special events like exclusive shopping nights, fashion styling sessions, or collaborations with beauty brands.

Collaborations and Community

  • Collaborations with Influencers and Designers: Partner with fashion influencers or designers to create limited edition lines or gain exposure to a broader audience.
  • Community Involvement: Engage in local fashion events, women’s expos, or charity initiatives to increase brand visibility and contribute to community empowerment.

Customer Relationship and Loyalty Programs

  • Loyalty Program: Implement a program that rewards repeat customers with discounts, early access to new collections, or special gifts.
  • Personalized Shopping Experiences: Offer personalized fittings or consultations, either in-store or virtually, to enhance customer service and satisfaction.

Promotions and Advertising

  • Targeted Online Advertising: Use digital platforms like Google Ads, Instagram, and Facebook to target potential customers based on interests, shopping behavior, and demographics.
  • Seasonal Campaigns and Promotions: Align your marketing campaigns with seasons, holidays, or special occasions like Valentine’s Day, offering promotions and themed collections.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your lingerie business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your lingerie business could be:

  • Sexy lingerie for all women
  • The most comfortable lingerie in the world – with sex appeal
  • Jazz up your intimates will custom bejeweling
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a lingerie boutique, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in fashion for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in lingerie. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a lingerie business include:

  • Packagers – package and ship lingerie items
  • General Manager – ordering, scheduling, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Lingerie Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Ready to get intimate and enter a hot market? You can start small, designing your lingerie from home and selling online. It doesn’t take much of an investment, and you can make good money that you can use to grow your business. Eventually you could open your own shop and then a chain of successful boutiques. 

You’re now armed with all the business knowledge you need, so it’s time to start your entrepreneurial adventure into fashion!

Lingerie Business FAQs

Can a lingerie business be profitable?

Yes, markups on lingerie are fairly high, so you can make a profit. The key is to design quality lingerie that will stand out in a competitive market.

How should I price my lingerie line?

You’ll need to markup your manufacturing costs by a good margin that will get you a healthy profit but also be aware of competitor prices. You want your prices to be high enough that you can make money, but not so high that customers won’t pay them.

How can I differentiate my lingerie business from competitors in the market?

To differentiate your lingerie business from competitors, focus on unique designs or styles, offer a wide range of sizes and inclusive options, provide exceptional customer service and personalized fittings, emphasize sustainable and ethical practices, collaborate with independent designers or artisans, and create a welcoming and inclusive shopping experience.

How can I ensure the comfort and fit of lingerie products offered in my business?

Ensure the comfort and fit of lingerie products by offering a wide range of sizes and providing professional fitting services to help customers find their perfect fit. Educate your staff on proper measuring techniques and sizing considerations. Source lingerie from reputable brands known for their attention to fit, comfort, and quality.

How can I ensure the quality and durability of lingerie products offered in my business?

Ensure the quality and durability of lingerie products by carefully selecting reputable suppliers and brands with a track record of producing high-quality items. Conduct quality control checks to ensure that products meet your standards. Consider customer feedback and reviews to identify any potential issues and address them promptly. Provide clear care instructions to customers to help them prolong the lifespan of their lingerie.

What are some ways to offer personalized and customized lingerie products to customers?

To offer personalized and customized lingerie products, consider the following approaches: offer made-to-measure services for customers to have lingerie tailored specifically to their body measurements, provide customization options such as color or fabric choices, offer monogramming or embroidery services for a personal touch, and create a collaborative design process where customers can have input on the design elements of their lingerie.

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How to Start a Lingerie Business