Have you ever wanted to start a small business from your home?
Are you creative and are just itching to earn your own income using your talents? But have little idea of what to do or how to get started? Well, you have come to the right place! In this article I will take you through the WHOLE process of getting started with a sewing business and grow that business into a highly profitable & a highly full-filling business; right from your home.
Grab your cup of tea and read on – this is a long post – and rightly so, because business advice should be easily understandable and easily actionable – for You.
1. Benefits of a home based business
For the sake of this post, let us assume you are a woman/mom who has to (and loves to) take care of the home and be there when the kids need you. You can’t think of a full time job – atleast not in the next few years – and you are someone who might not be comfortable to sit in office all day too! – aren’t you? The main advantage of having a home business is that you don’t have to go away from home for long time periods of time. If you got kids to take care of or parents to look after, or if your favorite TV show is aired in the noon – there are good enough reasons to be home! And who says you can’t earn from home?
This post will show you how.
Here are some benefits of starting a home based tailoring business:
1. Stay Closer to Home
2. Be your own boss
3. Dealing with women only, if you choose
4. Good revenue – never ending actually as long as people wear clothes!
2. How to get started
Getting started with a sewing machine is really easy.
You would need:
1. A Sewing Machine:
Usha & Singer are well known sewing machine companies in India. Do not get those fancy ones which have all these settings to get embroidery and the like. Get a simple machine with the basic settings – look for a motor operated machine that can do a straight stitch and a zig-zag stitches (the sales man WILL try to sell you those fancy ones, don’t get them during the starting phase of your business – why? because they are extremely delicate to use and maintain). Since you are a beginner, you need a machine that is strong, sturdy and is forgiving.
2. Threads & Supplies:
You also need threads of various colors. I would suggest get a few colors of threads & lots of black & white. Once you start stitching, get the threads that match the fabric.
3. You also would need a tailors chalk, a tape measure, a good scissor and a scale.
Where to learn
There are three ways to learn stitching:
a. Take a course
Most of the ladies tailors near your home will be willing to teach you the basics – as long as you can convince them & pay them enough. But be VERY careful to select the tailors that actually stitch well, give a demo garment to them for stitching and see if they do well. Just make sure they don’t perceive you as direct competition – else they will not be willing to share their information! Some institutes also offer professional coaching – if you can find one nearby, try one.
b. Buy a book
There are ample of sewing books in the market today. The famous ones are from Zarapkar & Rapidex. These books are a good start once you know a little bit about stitching. Learning from books is is lots of fun, but requires a lot of time and dedication. But do buy them – they act as a good reference.
c. God bless Youtube!
Yes, we said that. You can learn almost anything from the internet now-a-days. There are many good channels that teach you how to get stared with stitching and sometimes these are better than learning from tailors! Start with simple tutorials like stitching a bag, etc and then take up the bigger projects.
How to master it!
Stitching, like any other task – needs practice.
One important thing that I would like to stress here is: Just choose one. Choose one type of garment to begin with, don’t try to learn everything! Stitch just sareee blouses, or just salwars. It is easier to start with one, get really good at it and then move to another. Yes, even if the clients ask for it -master one type of garment and move to another. You will be amazed at the number of variations a garment will have. 🙂
Initially, just stitch for yourself. You are your best model. Keep practicing till you find the perfect fit. Fix those loose sleeves and droopy shoulders. You garment should fit you like a second skin – that is the measure of a good tailor. Once you are happy with yourself, find your closest female relatives – mom, sister, whoever – and offer them free stitching. Anyone would take up that offer. If they don’t trust you yet, just get the materials by yourself and offer the stitched piece to them – our aim here is to see if you can stitch well for other body types / shapes and learn how to use your measurements and knowledge correctly.
Once your relatives are happy with the fitting (again, it should be a perfect fit – so perfect that they should bribe you(and pay you) to stitch their next garments) After this step, look out for a really thin lady and a really healthy lady – and stitch for them free of cost. Just like last time – we are testing our new skills here. Once you get this right, you are ready to rock baby!
3. How to get customers
Things to do Offline for your Tailoring Business
Put up a road facing board on your home. Don’t just write with a pen on a cardboard piece, put love and your creativity into it – make it stand out. All the ladies who see that board should feel like becoming your customers! Lights near or on the board are even better.
b. Make the right first impression
What does a customer see when she walks into your store? Take a guess, what should she see? That is right – she should see lots of social proofing. That means if you stitch blouses, she should see lots of ‘customers’ blouses hanging in a corner ready to be delivered (even if they are your own blouses, for the time being). This makes the customer feel comfortable & think – oh there are so many people giving their blouses to her, she must be good!
c. Don’t DON’T price low. Ever.
Remember the times when you used to loathe and hate your tailors for charging you a lot of money? Well, forget them. Don’t ever price low on your services. You can always give a ‘reduced discount rate’ but you can’t raise your price higher – if you do, the customer is gonna say bye! Plus, you are going to spend your time doing this, so it better give you something in return.
How to price you ask? Just answer this one question – if you had one salaried tailor working for you full-time & you had to pay his salary, rent, electricity bills, your salary and make profit – would you still charge what you were going to charge? Maybe not.
Things to do Online for your Tailoring Business:
Once your customers keep flowing there are couple of things you should do to start building your online presence. You may not get any customers online initially, but we are laying the foundation for that. Keep calm & carry on!
a. Build it yo!
Build a Facebook Page, a Pinterest Page & start a whatsapp group. You don’t need a website as of now. Name your business (yes, you can call it a business now) – make sure it has relevant terms in it (like tailor). Go to this website fiverr, get a logo and a facebook cover designed. They cost only $5 that is around Rs.300 – Your business has got to look professional. There is no second thought to that.
b. LIKE Me!
When a customer is in your store, ask them to like your Facebook page. It may sound creepy but be honest. You need to start creating a fan base. Maybe even offer them a discount for doing so! After that, once you deliver the blouse, add the customer to your whatsapp group too. There is no faster way of reaching a woman than whatsapp!
c. Post pictures
Post pictures of the blouses you made – and the blouses you want to make (get these from pinterest) – post them regularly on whatsapp and FB. Don’t just say, hey look I made this! Say – “Thanks <customer name> for choosing us to create your blouse for you. Hope you like it.” and for blouses you find on pinterest say “We would love to create this for you. Who wants one of these amazing <garment name>?” – These are sure fire way to get you likes, replies, customers & repeated customers – after some time, not on the first day!
d. Create a Facebook Store
Once you get the hang of managing and regularly updating your Facebook page, we would suggest you create a Facebook store. Now don’t panic. It is very easy and affordable. The advantages of having a store on the FB page makes it easier for your ‘fans’ to become your ‘customers’. For starters I would suggest Shopify. It allows you to add a tab called ‘Store’ on the FB page. All you have to do is upload images and give them a price. Rest everything is managed by Shopify. They have a free trail too.
4. How to get repeated customers & referrals
From the very beginning, you got to give incentive to your existing customers to get in new customers.You can do this by:
1. Giving discounts for every new referral
2. Give one on one discount – for example Rs.100 of on stitching cost for the 2nd blouse, etc
Get creative and see what appeals to your customers – and do that more often.
5. How to outsource
Be very careful during this stage of your business when there are too many orders and too little time. The best way is to get 1-2 tailors to work for you on a monthly basis. This is better than saying no to your customers or outsourcing the blouses to other tailors nearby. You might lose your reputation if the other tailor ruins the blouse.
6. Good Additions to Tailoring
So what do you do with those 2 extra tailor you hired when the flow of customers is not so well? Fire them? Nop! Here are a few ways you can start making some extra income when you have some time on your hands.
1. Teaching classes to other women who want to learn tailoring (remember, someone taught you too)
2. Include a maggam worker in your team – if you are creative enough, you can do wonders together.
3. Try creating ready made clothing and put it on display for your customers to buy from! Just make sure your keep the word “Sale” or “Discount” on them.
7. Using Online Channels
Your online presence is as important as your offline shop. Keep updating your Facebook page, Facebook Store, whatsapp regularly and make it interesting for your visitors. Also, use quikr, justdial & olx to list your services.
8. Need sudden bursts of income?
Try participating in exhibitions. Giving “sales & offers” on your services also will increase the flow of customers. We need not mention it, but festival time is the best time for tailors!! Make good use of it.
9. Time to move to a bigger place?
You have your business all set up, running and profits coming. Do you feel that you are ready to take it to the next level? Is your business ready to move from your home to its own ‘home’? There is only one person who can decide what you should do with your business – and that’s YOU.
10. Next Steps
If you decide to take your business to the next level, now is a good time to start trying out new garments to stitch & sell more ready made stuff. Like designing? How about create your own boutique? You already have a loyal & raving fan base right? There is nothing stopping you now.
11. Traits required during ALL the steps above
I wish you all the very best in your business.
But things don’t (read never) go as smoothly as this article says. There will always be the “no customers today” days, there will always be “mother-in-law nagging your for your flop business”, there will always be “blouses that were ruined”. The question is “Are YOU strong enough?”
Here are a few final advices I’d like to leave you with:
1. Never stop – Or as Kiran Mazumdar Shaw once told me – “Just stick to it. Don’t give up”
2. Don’t be afraid to fail – what if the business fails and all your friends laugh at you? Well, fu*k them. You are still better – because atleast you tried.
3. There will be challenges – be ready to face them. Even better – welcome them. They always will teach you something.
4. Embrace guilt. If you are a woman (& mom) – you will feel guilty.
When you are working you will feel guilty that you are not taking good care of kids / husband and when you are cooking you will feel guilty for neglecting your business. All you have to know that IT IS OKAY. It is okay. You are doing your best with what is available to you and no one can question you – why? because you are giving your best. Feeling guitly? Just tell yourself that it is okay and move on.
Oh, and take yourself out for shopping and gift yourself.
After all, you are worth it!
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Love & Blessings & All the best
So, what is stopping you from starting a business? Tell us and we will try to help!
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