Do you enjoy sewing and want to create your own dressmaking business? If this is the case, then we are excited to tell you that you can turn your creativity into a lucrative business. Creating your own business is rewarding, but it’s not easy.
Most business owners can agree that the first year is the hardest. However, if you’re conscientious in your work, you will find yourself in a much better position for achieving success.
Starting a dressmaking business is much more than just sewing some fabric together and selling your creation, though.
In order to start a dressmaking business, there are certain steps you must take. The first would be to look for the best online learning courses in the dressmaking niche.
There are other steps that will be reviewed shortly. In this article, we’ll give you some insight into what it takes to begin your dream as a dressmaker.
Step 1: Researching Your Target Market
Before you do anything, it’s important to find out whether or not there’s enough demand for a dressmaker where you live or plan to do business.
This can be an extremely competitive service and economic conditions can surely affect it. There is definitely a high demand for one-of-a-kind dresses, but there are alternate sources individuals can use such as:
- Competing dressmakers and designers
- Bridal stores
- Vintage designers
- Clothes hire business
- Catalog clothing companies
- Online retailers who specialize in designer wear
Some, if not all, of these are going to be your top competitors, especially if you’re in a large city area where these services are widely available.
You should take a look at existing dressmakers and clothing retailers to establish their prices, target customer, range of clothing offered, how long made-to-measure items take from beginning to end, and all services these companies offer.
The result of this investigation will help you get a good idea of your services and any voids in the market that you may be able to fill. It can also give you a good idea as to how much people are willing to pay for your services.
Why Choose You?
This is a question you have to ask yourself. Why will somebody choose your business over others? You have to ensure there are enough customers who will choose your business rather than purchasing their clothing somewhere else.
You may find that there are no dressmakers that offer a made-to-measure dress for a special occasion or for larger ladies. You must always put the quality of your work as a top priority so enough people will talk about it and get the word out in the open.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a fat bank account, you’re going to need to obtain funding for startup costs, materials, labor, etc. Here are some simple ways you can obtain some funding.
Use Your Own Capital
Funding may or may not be an issue for you. One of the best ways to fund your business is to use your own capital. Utilizing your savings may seem like a disappointment, but it does come with its advantages:
- Your business is yours and not the banks
- You don’t have to share or give away ownership
- No debt is acquired
- You don’t need to bring on additional partners
If you really need some money in a pinch, you can utilize a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
It’s a popular way for new business owners to obtain funding. This method involves funds from many individuals rather than one large investor that could cost you more in interest.
A microloan is a small business loan of only $10,000 or less. This will help get your business started. You may have to do some research regarding microloan options in your area since there are so many to choose from.
If your credit is good enough, you can take out a personal loan rather than a business loan. If you have credit cards you can also borrow against them. However, there will be interest and tax implications with this method.
Do The Paperwork
Most people know this, but before you can operate any business from home or storefront, you need to obtain permits or add to your homeowner’s insurance.
Your state may require you to obtain a license or numbers so you can charge sales tax. Your starting point would be to get in contact with your local small business association or other government agencies.
What do your customers want and like? This is a question you have to ask yourself. Your customers are going to depend on the focus of your business.
Are you going to offer high-end clothing for affluent clientele or are you going to target a wider customer base by offering services to customers who are looking for more affordable services? Or maybe you’re going to offer a specific type of attire such as bridal wear.
In addition to those, you could also consider offering your customers a mobile service to repair their clothing or measure them or providing nights and weekend consultations.
Figure Out Your Terms and Conditions
Since you’ll be spending much of your time on materials each time you make a made-to-measure or commission item, you won’t be able to sell the item if the customer chooses not to pay for any reason.
This is why many dressmakers ask for a down payment before the fabric is ordered and work is started. You could ask for a 50% down payment with the balance due at the time of completion.
You must also think about what’s included in your price. Can a customer change their mind once you’ve started the work without the price raising? What if your customer has a weight fluctuation between the fitting and the day they need it?
If you offer self-measure to customers for mail orders or internet commission, you should make it clear in your terms and conditions that you can’t accept returns due to inaccurate self-measurement.
Discounts and Special Offers
Many dressmakers and seamstresses offer their customers a discount if they want you to create several items of clothing at a time. This actually saves you time costs because you only need to do one measuring session.
Offering a discount to repeat customers or even to build up your customer base is a great idea as well. Additionally, you could opt for a discount if one customer refers you to another or comes back for another item within a certain period.
Promote Your Business
Word-of-mouth isn’t always enough sometimes, even though it’s highly effective in gaining new customers. There are also several other ways you can promote your business and establish loyal customers such as:
- Use radio or newspaper advertisements
- Launch a website with your prices and services
- Make your online details available in a directory
- Use social media to promote your business
- Print cards and leaflets
- Create a label to sew into your designs
- Give your customers a free accessory with a large order
- If you have a storefront, make sure your window displays are eye-catching and changed frequently
- Create unique packaging with your logo
There you have it, folks. That’s how to start a dressmaking business. You can use these methods whether you’re using a shop or your home. However, if you’re using your home as your business base, you will need to make sure you’re following zoning and local residential laws.
Many areas won’t let you run a business out of your home if it adds traffic to a quiet area. Be sure you have all of your ducks in a row before you open your business so you can avoid any issues along the road.