If you’ve found your way to this page, you’ve realized that dressmaking makes a great hobby, but can be a very real and significant part of your livelihood, too. Everyone dreams of being their own boss, and of providing a valuable service to others that’s enjoyable. Dressmaking for people within your community can be a great business opportunity for you, if you’re willing to work for it.
If you’re just getting started as a pro, there are some tools and knowledge that you should consider investing in. These will help you to avoid common beginner mistakes, and to ensure that your services are superior to those of your competition. Besides a reliable sewing machine, think about a good set of shears (standard and pinking), some good reference books or a subscription to some trade and hobby magazines, a cutting table, a good iron with an ironing board that fits your available space, some rotary cutters, a bunch of good pins and needles, a professional-grade seam ripper, and if money is no object, consider grabbing a serger – you’ll be glad you did. They say the clothes make the man – but the tools make the clothes, so this is important stuff!
Once you feel confident that your work is at the level that you’re willing to charge for it, you can start advertising. Place ads in the paper, hang fliers, post business cards around town, and make use of social networking and internet directories to get the word out and to showcase some examples of your work. The communication technologies available today can make the difference between a customer’s passing interest, and really getting their attention – do everything that you can to stand out as a pro – because that’s what you are, now.
Home dress making business growing pains
With home dressmaking businesses, the sky is really the limit. With a little word of mouth and a little marketing, you can grow your business to provide all the work you can handle. Design some unique products, get a friend or two to wear them around town, and post pictures on the web – then wait for the orders to roll in. The more unique and eye-catching your work, the more likely you are to be able to drum up good business, so keep it professional and wearable, but not too hum-drum.
I don’t want to make your home dressmaking business sound like an automatic home-run, though. There’s a lot of hard work required in order to really make your business sing. High-quality, unique products and top-notch, well-priced work will be two of the main priorities you’ll want to set out from the start. Explore styles, colors, fabrics, and niches to find the one that you can call home.
There’s a lot to be said for custom work, so long as your skills are pretty adaptable to different needs and styles. Custom dressmakers make clothing for folks who want very specific garments to reflect their personalities. Becoming a successful custom dressmaker, custom designer, or custom genre garment maker will always challenge your creativity, but also pulls in top dollar customers. Custom dressmaking for weddings, for example, is one narrow niche that could easily keep you busy every day for the rest of your life, if you’re able to bring in the customers.
You need not limit custom work to garments, either. Custom dressmaking might include pillows, bedding, quilting, table mats, drapery and all manner of interior design elements. On that note, it’s a good idea to touch base with local interior decorators when you launch your home dressmaking business. The ability of an interior designer to custom order a locally-made piece that will complement their layouts and designs makes them look incredible to their clients, and may create a regular customer block for you.
Pricing is an important element as you launch your business. Obviously you can change your pricing schemes whenever you like, but doing this too frequently will make you look amateur and flaky. Don’t be shy about making a profit. You can calculate your costs in all manner of ways, though one common approach involves a formula along the lines of:
material costs + 25% material markup + time required to finish the garment * a reasonable professional hourly wage
Don’t be shy about calling up competing businesses and asking about their pricing. If they mistake you for a potential client… so much the better.
As you can see, dressmaking as a business opportunity may take away some of the simple charm of sitting home, making garments for friends and family, but if you manage both your time and your business well, you’ll find that you can make a good living from home, providing people with a valuable service. Set things up right from the start, and you can avoid a lot of growing pains and build yourself a thriving dressmaking business.