Sewing may sound archaic to some, but for any who have tried their hand and made a hobby of it, it’s clear that there are a host of emotional, mental, and financial benefits. Maybe you started with hand-stitched alterations, steaming clothing, learning how to thread a needle properly, or prolonging and upcycling clothes with new patches or buttons.
Soon enough, you’d invested in your first sewing machine, expanded your sewing lexicon and stitching skills, and perhaps began creating little gifts for friends and family members—and what a rewarding sense of accomplishment!
Now, with your creative juices flowing and your skills honed, you want to start your own sewing business. This is when a hobby becomes a profession, and although superior craftsmanship is still on the agenda, there are a host of other things to be considered when taking this leap. Below are the five big mistakes to avoid when starting your sewing business, to help ensure a successful launch and a prosperous career for years to come.
This first point can’t be overstated enough. It’s great to have a wealth of vision and excitement when it comes to products and services you want to offer but overlooking the business aspect of running a business is all too common for artistic individuals. The amount of logistics involved in a business venture of any kind (yes, even sewing) is far greater than most people anticipate. It may seem incredibly daunting at first, but with some proper planning, it’ll all be right in your reach.
You’ve likely heard the phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees,” and this adage applies here; be sure to organize your overarching plan, rather than just focusing on individual products. Consider a one-year, three-year, and five-year plan. Research your market area, any competition you might have, and how your distribution will work from start to finish. Take notes of all pricing along the way in order to create a realistic budget outlook.
The second mistake entrepreneurs tend to make is paying too little attention to advertising options. In the sewing business, it may be viable for you to advertise your products in your everyday life, whether you’re wearing them out or using them functionally, but relying on this alone will likely not drum up enough business to sustain a livable yearly income. Businesses tend to take some time to get rolling, and that time will be twice as long and twice as stressful without a marketing strategy.
Utilize social media to the fullest; create some anticipation leading up to the release of your products to the public. It’s great to have a room full of goods for sale, but if no one knows they’re available, you may become discouraged rather quickly. Create an advertising schedule that includes all of your online and local outlets, as well as a timeline of announcements, teasers, and photo-blasts to be released. Exposure is crucial for your new sewing business success.
NARROW YOUR NICHE
Another mistake that new sewing entrepreneurs tend to make is offering too much, creating too much product without demand, and/or only offering what they love to make. When sewing is a hobby, you have the liberty of picking and choosing what you feel like creating. If you really love to make vests, you can make them all day, gift them, sell some, or wear them yourself. As a sewing businessperson, products need to suit consumers—not the other way around.
Through the research of your planning phase, you should be able to get a grasp on who your target market is and what they like most, or what they’re missing. Although you may one day have the freedom to create whatever you like for a loyal fanbase, most people are not going to go out of their way to purchase a product they don’t see a need for, even if it’s immaculately crafted. Keep your target customer in mind and distance yourself enough from the process to consider what they will want and be willing to compensate you for.
Even the most prominent companies undergo re-branding of their logo, fonts used, websites, and merchandise over time. Looks absolutely do matter when it comes to consumers feeling inclined to support a business. Be sure that the colors you choose for your company business material and logo are ones that will scale well over time and send across the right message for your sewing business.
If you are certain you will only ever be creating accessories for teens, brighter colors may be acceptable for your business’s look; however, if you plan on or even might expand into a demographic of folks who are not likely to be drawn towards neon green and hot pink signage, avoid it. If you plan on creating items for men, women, children, and even animals, think about what colors will appeal to this whole market and still look sleek ten years from now.
Simplicity is also vital. Clever wording and puns can be a great gimmick, but if they’re not incredibly easy to understand, you may lose business over a complication that has nothing to do with your goods. Select a company name that isn’t going to cause any confusion with spelling or meaning and be sure that your website’s domain name is equally easy to spell and remember. If you have a great pun you just can’t let go of, consider using it as part of your slogan, rather than in the brand name, itself.
THICK AS THIEVES
For many of the above decisions, it’s a smart idea to get a second opinion. Be sure to protect your new sewing business by allying only with people you know you can wholeheartedly trust. Trying to procure advice from your competition or asking the opinion of those who may not have your best interests at heart could lead you towards making poor and misguided decisions. Try to strike a balance between supportive and honest, so that your feedback is as useful to the success of your business as possible.
As always, measure twice, cut once!