The Business of Sewing

The Business of Sewing
The ever-changing demographics of the U.S. workforce provide ample statistics that more and more women make up a larger percentage of the U.S workforce today than ever before and women-owned business enterprises account for nearly 42% of all U.S. businesses according to data collected from the 2020 Census.

There are several important things to consider. What kind of sewing do you prefer to do? Do you prefer to sew home décor items such as draperies, curtains, pillows and duvet covers? Do clothing alterations and garment repair appeal to you? Do you have a good sense of color, texture, and current fashion style? Do you possess an understanding of the construction and characteristics of specific fabrics, such as variability, durability and utility? Sewing men’s, women’s, or children’s clothing your preference? Bridal sewing?

Decide on what your own particular niche will be, based on your sewing skills and level of knowledge for your particular area of focus. This is the age of specialists. Concentrating your efforts on a particular area of sewing will allow you to be an authority; your familiarity with your particular sewing arena will allow you to develop new, cost and time efficient ways of performing and executing your sewing projects; you can demand higher prices for your work based on your focused expertise as you become known for your work.

Let others know that you're starting a sewing business and ask if you can sew something for them, as a sample or perhaps at a negotiated price, in order to get some honest feedback on the quality of your work. Keep a journal on how much time you devoted to consultation on the proposed sewing project, time in acquiring perhaps, patterns, fabric or sundries necessary to the project, actual sewing time, any difficulties you may experience in completing the project, what you learned and what you might do differently next time.

Keeping a journal on your sewing project helps not only to organize but will help when you determine what you will charge the general public for your sewing time, skill sets, knowledge, and of course materials.

Search out your competition and see how they advertise their sewing service in your local area. Even word of mouth can generate business. Have you thought about what you would charge for your services? Undercharging as well as overcharging can have drawbacks. Try to come to an equitable middle ground.

Write a business plan even if you are not seeking outside financing as a way to bring focus to your thoughts on your proposed business. The U.S. Small Business Administration has some good thoughts on creating a business plan.

Who will you sell your services to? How will you let your proposed client base know you are in business? In other words, how and to whom will you market your sewing product?

What local (zoning restrictions) and state (permits) requirements are there to start a new business? Even a home-based business, at a minimum, can register a business name with their state for a few annual dollars.

What financial resources will you need? What will be your startup costs? (Local business name registration, business cards, flyers) as well as recurring costs such as sewing machine and serger maintenance.

Are you comfortable with technology? Will you create a website? Will you use social media to promote your sewing business? What economic relationships will you establish with your customers and suppliers? Will you need to consider packing and shipping costs? Refunds and return policies?

Are there advantages to owning a home-based business? Absolutely.

Set your own hours; doing something you enjoy doing, start earning right away, the ability to mix family and work responsibilities; the rewards of self-determination and independence; increasing personal fulfillment; and setting and reaching personal goals.

Are there disadvantages to owning a home-based business? Absolutely.

Disadvantages fall for the most part into the category of opportunity costs, or the trade-off costs associated with the actual choice or action taken and a desired choice or action. Such costs may be lack of guaranteed employee benefits; many competing roles and responsibilities such as producer, promoter, bill collector, customer service representative; loss of home space use by family; interruptions; lack of self-discipline; little opportunity to delegate tasks to others; long hours of solitary work.

As we continue in the 21st century, technology and market forces have allowed for the exponential growth of home-based businesses - the business of home sewing is no exception.

Starting Your Business in 10 Steps from the U.S. Small Business Administration

Sew happy, sew inspired.

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This content was written by Cheryl Ellex. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cheryl Ellex for details.