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your home biz – planned or accident?

BellaGabriella | Posted in General Discussion on

I wanted to start a children’s clothing business, but after reading some of your posts I don’t think that would be a lucrative way to go. My original idea was things – quilted handbags, tote bags, small home dec items in a “Quilting Arts” mag style, and maybe artsy cloth dolls, Patti Culea style.

My questions are:

Did you plan to start your business or was it an accident?

How long did it take you to get established, meaning, bringing in substantial money?

Did it take longer and take more of your time than you thought?

How did you find out what would sell where?

I’m a little blue right now and could use some support – or a cheer or two – because I really want to supplement my income with my own business.

I will welcome your thoughts, opinions, advise, and warnings.

Nancy

Replies

  1. kbalinski | | #1

    Did you plan to start your business or was it an accident?

    I have an embroidery business I run from home.  It's paid itself off, and gives me fun money to support my fabric and pattern addiction.  A planned business venture, as I really had to decide if the investment in the right (expensive) machine was worthwhile.

    How long did it take you to get established, meaning, bringing in substantial money?

    It's been a year and half, but I wouldn't call it substantial money.  It all depends on how seriously you get involved.  I have a full-time career, so I do the jobs that come to me through word of mouth.  The jobs come in spurts, I'll have a month of nothing, then I'll get slammed with 3 big jobs at once.  Never know if it's going to be a boom or bust month, but like I said, if I really pursued the business more, I'm sure it would be different.

    Did it take longer and take more of your time than you thought?

    Yes, I had no idea of the learning curve involved with computer editing software: learning how to use it, and then the time it takes to customize designs for clients.  It took a lot of the fun factor out of it.

    How did you find out what would sell where?

    I work at a high school, and my husband is a firefighter, so I knew I had a wealth of business at my fingertips between sports "spirit wear" and duty uniforms.  I learned a lot by attending a sewing expo, where I learned more about running a sewing business, as well as other sewing techniques that I could use to broaden my products.  Lately I've been looking at Etsy to see what's out there, and what's selling.

  2. GailAnn | | #2

    I am capable of doing this myself, but for many, many years, I have sent my husband's shirts out for laundry and ironing.  Some may say, "Bad, bad wife!".  I knew they were done in a timely fashion, and done properly, and I didn't have to worry about them.  There are just lots of things I would rather do than wash, startch, and iron 100% cotton work shirts!

    Last Friday, our laundry raised their prices to $2.50 a shirt on hangers, $2.90 a shirt folded and banded for travel!

    I'll be re-thinking my laundry duties, soon, but I also think there might be an opportunity for someone to start a little business here...............It takes me 7 minutes to (spray startch) and iron a shirt,  I'm not very good at it, and I don't use liquid startch.  So roughly 9 - 10 shirts an hour...........

    I ran a custom dressmaking business until about 1988-9, when much of ladies' clothing became so casual, it was very difficult, for me, to make a living in dressmaking.  For a while I did Historical Reproductions, and while that was more lucrative, there wasn't a very big market in our area, at the time,  I worked, mainly, for our State Historical Sites.

      Where I could earn decent money was in mending, and re-styling of formal wear, but again, it was not my work of choice.

    Here is what I'm thinking, for whatever it is worth.   Children still need special occasion clothes, and I do think parents are willing to pay a fair price for very nice things.  Christening, Flower Girl, First Communion, Quincenerea, Sweet 16, Christmas, Easter, holiday and matching outfits for benchmark or family photographs, even Halloween costumes, these are only a few suggestions.  Perhaps there might be a market along some those lines, in your area.

    Also a close friend of mine is successful in making custom draperies, but that takes a drapery board and quite a large workspace, as well as time and transportation to take measurements, do consultations with decorators, and hang the finished products.

    Gail

    1. damascusannie | | #3

      I sort of fell into my quilting business. I happened to show what I was doing to some fellow sewing machine collectors and it just snowballed from there!

    2. BellaGabriella | | #4

      Gail, that was my thinking as far as children's clothing. In fact, most of the sewing I have done for family members have been flower girl gown (DD) altering bridesmaid gowns, maternity maid of honor gown (sister) and most of my children's costumes when they were younger. Right now I am finishing up a dress for my daughter to wear to a wedding this Friday, NEW LOOK #6800, view A&G, out of light blue sparkly satin-type material. Sooooo pretty!

      Unfortunately, my stash doesn't include formal wear to make for samples, mostly cottons as I went through a quilt and cloth dollmaking frenzy, which hasn't ended yet. :)

      My thoughts now are more artistic after reading "Quilting Arts" and I've ordered "The Art of Fabric Collage". I'm drifting toward quilted tote bags, small home dec items, baby quilts, car quilts and pillows, diaper bags, maybe cloth dolls, clothing and their accessories. I live in NH and there are many quilters here so I have to be different. I know I should pick one, but I get bored with the same thing and have to switch the mix. I hope this won't be bad for a part-time business.

      Nancy

      1. damascusannie | | #5

        Don't try to limit yourself geographically--the internet is a great way to do business. I wouldn't HAVE a business if it weren't for the 'net. My niche market is sewing machine collectors and there are certainly not nearly enough of them locally to support even the smallest quilting business.

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