Considerations when hiring a freelance apparel consultant or designer.

I wanted to write this blog to create some big understanding surrounding how much fashion designers should be getting paid, and why its important to understand its relationship to cost of living.

Question 1: I want to design my own products, but how? Technical Skills

The first thing people do is... You as a founder need a person well versed in practices, process, art, science, math, finance, law, trade, and etc. An apparel consultant such as myself have decades of experience that can save you a lot of mental energy. Also a lot of money in the long term. However many people feel a person of this caliber that usually has 2 collegiate degrees, and decades of skill should make $15.00 hr. This is not a livable wage for states like NY, California, Dallas, Florida and more. Yet, if you look through platforms like upward, craigslist, and style careers you find this to be true. So some essential things to consider when hiring a designer is the following.


  • Can they wear a multitude of hats in the workplace?

  • How much do I know about making products and the laws behind trade, safety, and etc?

  • How much do you know about the pattern and development process?

  • How technical is my product?

  • What is the cost of living for a freelancer vs. a W-4 employee?

  • Do they understand color theory?

  • What is the art background?

  • How much experience do they bring to the table?


Often times I find companies want a designer for 20 hours a week and yet, they don't want them to design for any other company. This is really an unrealistic approach to solving your need. Its important to have confidentiality agreements to safeguard your company. Designers are very good at being able to adhere to the confidentiality of a company.


Question 2: What are the fees a freelancer faces?


Most freelancers actually pay a higher tax rate than W-4 employees. They also have higher insurance rates as a result of the position. So its essential to know that if a freelancer is charging 45.00 hour they have to pay about 30% tax and about another 10-20% in fees from technology subscriptions, financial fees, hardware, and supplies to health insurance. This means they usually are bringing in about $20-$25.00 hour after all is said. When they travel the expenses usually drive up the hourly cost. For example Forbes magazine and Goldmann Sachs have calculations to help freelancers with travel fees. A person who normally charges $45.00 for remote work will charge $105-$120.00 an hour for travel locations. This can cover any risk for changing tickets, missed flights and the need to work on just the one account during the duration of the visit. Below is a list of costs for yearly subscriptions that freelancers face annually for tools needed to design. The scale of pricing depends on many variables in the package that is being purchased. Some companies offer a freelance designer a lower price as they are a small company.

1. Adobe creative suite-($600-$1280)

2. Pattern drafting software: ($2500-$25,000)

3. Textile designer software: ($4500-$20,000)

4. 3D programs ($600-$50,000)

5. Finacial platforms that allow for payment: ($120-$500)


These fees add up and its helpful to have you the client understand that the price a designer makes is based on the cost to run the business and help you at the same time.


Question 3: Cost to live.


Think about what it costs to live in the region a designer lives in or you live in. 15.00 hr. for designers is not a livable wage. They usually will have college loans they are paying back, while also trying to pay higher rents and save money for a home or family. It's perfectly okay to ask a designer about what kind of costs they have to live. In the past I have even had an accountant submit forms to employers to support the asked salary. In each case the review was always surprising to the hiring personnel, and made sense to the reality of what it takes to live. Often times people are asking for exactly what they need or even less.


Plan Accordingly


Hopefully when you are writing your business plan to start a company, you will add this into what it will cost you to start. Often times this a fee that people don't plan for because they think they can learn it quickly and that things will be easy. Unless you know the landscape, it is quite the opposite and takes years to learn. Mistakes are costly, even more costly than paying for the right skill sets in a freelance designer. Sometimes even paying a consultant for just advise is a helpful tool to getting your business going in the right direction.


If you are wanting to start an apparel company and want to understand the landscape and costs a bit more, feel free to contact us for a consultation. Follow the link to set up an appointment: Contact us