If you have a passion for sewing and similar crafts, you’ve probably thought about starting your own business and selling what you make.
There was an explosion of new sewing businesses during 2020 when many people found themselves out of work due to the pandemic or had more time on their hands to try new activities and hobbies.
But as with any new business idea, it takes a lot of planning and preparation to make it work. It’s not as easy as creating your products and then selling them- there are steps you need to take in between!
In this blog, I’ve asked those with a sewing and crafting business to share some of the things they wish they knew before starting their sewing business. I highly recommend taking their advice on board- it can save you lots of tears, stress and money!
Clever tips for how to start your own sewing business (or any craft business!)
Know what people want to buy before making anything
We all have favorite projects we love working on, but is anyone interested in buying that item?
Research your audience and know what people want to buy before deciding on what you will create.
Heather Paulsen from Heather Handmade:
“Make what you want, but also what people are looking for. This took me awhile to figure out because I want to make what I want to make, but I wanted to earn money. I learned SEO to find what people are searching for and based what I wanted to make off of that.”
I love Heather’s tip about using SEO to figure out what people are searching for in Google- this is a great form of market research! A great and affordable keyword research tool is Keysearch.
You can also visit local craft markets and see what other sellers have created and what people are buying at the craft markets. This will give you a good insight into what’s popular.
What people want to buy will change depending on the season and time of year. Christmas crafts are obviously more popular later in the year, and no one is interested in buying knits in the middle of summer!
Have a limited range of products at first
Once you know what people want to buy, you might be tempted to make everything and please everyone. But the danger in doing this is that you could be wasting time trying different things rather than honing in on one skills.
David Adams from Beginner Sewing Projects explains:
“Start with just a few items and do them well! I started off doing too many items and learned I had to focus on a few items that sold well and I could make well. Then slowly added more items.”
The great thing about doing this is that you can carve out your own niche and be known as “the shopping bag guy” or the “Christmas craft lady”. People will remember you for your niche skill and it will be a lot easier to market yourself and stand out from everyone else.
Learn how to price your products
This is one of the toughest things to do in any business, especially a product business.
There are many things to factor in- the cost of materials, cost of machinery and other equipment and your time, plus you want a decent profit margin to make running a sewing business worth your time and effort!
It’s very easy to undervalue yourself, as Jeana Marie from Surf And Sunshine explains:
“Don’t undervalue your time when pricing your items. It can be easy to fall into the trap of competitive pricing, but you may find that you are actually losing money when you do this! Value your time and create quality items. Your customers will thank you with referrals and positive reviews!”
There are always people out there willing to pay more money for higher quality goods and willing to support local businesses rather than chain stores.
When you focus on creating better quality products and actually pricing them higher as a result, you will be rewarded with customers who value what you do. Yes, you will have some who complain and think you are “too expensive”, but they are not your ideal target audience.
Cheap pricing tells the world that you think you are not worth more!
Want to learn more about money, worth and how to value yourself? I highly recommend any of the books by Denise Duffield-Thomas.
Join local business groups
Word of mouth is a powerful tool when it comes to growing your business.
Join local business groups and find local Facebook business groups where people get to share more about what they do.
Local business groups are also a great source of collaboration. You might connect with local retailers who can stock some of your crafts or even get orders from local business people looking to support others.
If there is a crafting group or association in your local area, find out how to join these. Connecting with like-minded people will help you grow and learn more. A rising tide lifts all boats!
Invest in your business
When first starting out, you’ll want to keep your overheads low. But once your cash flow starts increasing, invest the money back into your business to help it grow.
Create a proper working space in your home rather than sewing on your dining table and have good storage for all of your sewing accessories.
And once you’ve got a well-established business, hire others who can help you with your business- a VA to help with admin, a bookkeeper to manage your books and maybe another sewing enthusiast to help you create more products to sell!