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Everyone dreams of loving their job, but many people eventually resign themselves to a career they can tolerate and save their passions for their free time. Some entrepreneurs, though, find a way to turn their hobbies and skills into side businesses and eventually can quit their day jobs. With the right plan, sewing is one of these hobbies that can potentially lead to a profitable business. Before making a dollar, finding clients or even naming the business, the most crucial step is organization and planning.
Choosing a niche
After making the decision to start a business, specialization is key, especially at the beginning. Determining a precise niche allows a business to better target future customers and to become an authority in that single area. Owners can look to their skill sets and personal experiences to help direct this decision.
For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a growing demand for tailors and dressmakers, so starting a clothing adjustment service is one feasible option. Other options include the following:
Some entrepreneurs take a different approach offering classes in person or posting tutorial videos online to teach students how a sewing machine works as well as more advanced techniques. Many times, these owners also run a blog which provides further monetization options.
As the business grows, it can start to expand into other areas, but early specialization helps prevent overwhelming the owner and assists in targeting clients.
After narrowing down the services offered, the next step consists of a series of decisions that create the business plan. Entrepreneur, an online authority on business, emphasizes the importance of this step to plan every detail from pricing to marketing strategies.
This allows the owner to determine whether to hire any employees and where business activities will take place. As business owners quickly discover, there are many unexpected start-up costs including a business license and insurance, so budgeting early for these helps inform long-term economic projections.
After finalization of the plan, the process of finding initial customers begins. Having an online presence is essential when looking to maximize profits, and today, there are many online sites that assist business owners with setting up a website and opening social media accounts.
From here, offering services for free or at discounted prices earns some much-needed publicity, as does inviting each customer to post reviews and share their experiences on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Partnering with local clothing stores, dry-cleaners and laundromats is beneficial to both parties; one possible arrangement trades a referral for a commission.
In whatever way a business gets publicity, owners must keep in mind that it takes time and some adjustments along the way to gain traction and actually make a decent profit, but it is possible to make a decent living sewing.
Abby Glassenberg did just that when, after struggling to barely make a profit selling cloth toys, she transitioned to selling patterns so that her customers could sew her designs. She started by selling the pattern for a stuffed cloth duck, and after she sold four in two days, she realized that she could finally earn a sizable income from her craft.
Just outside of Chicago, Illinois, in South Elgin, Chris Dahl also built a business based around her love of the trade. After working other jobs for many years, she started offering classes out of her home where students could come learn how to sew. She offered different levels of classes teaching everyone from children to senior citizens. She gained publicity when she began teaching for a local community college and other community centers. Eventually the business outgrew her home, and in 2016, she rented a separate location for her classes. In doing this, she discovered a new niche with many of her students asking her to teach them to sew costumes for role-playing games and comic conventions.
Learning the trade from his seamstress mother, Aaron McLellan took a different approach when applying his craft to business. He and his wife opened North End Bag Co. in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where they design and sew bags on their sales floor. They want their customers to understand the care that goes into creating each piece. It took a few years before they could quit their day jobs, but they have since expanded to a larger location and make a good living.
Whatever direction entrepreneurs take their sewing businesses, now is an exciting time to start. Online platforms such as Etsy and Amazon allow sales worldwide, and social media helps owners engage with large audiences. With the proper planning, passionate work, and enough time, profits will come, and entrepreneurs truly can make money doing what they love.