I’m not sure I ever expected to be starting a sewing business. However back in January of 2018 that’s exactly what I did! It was a slightly rocky start but things have started to get pretty consistent now. I mean, I’m not going to get rich any time soon. But it should fund my PhD years if I work hard enough!
Sewing has always been in my blood, three out of my four grandparents did it either for a living or as a hobby. It skipped a generation in my parents, but it seems that the bug bit me when I was young! I took up quilting at the age of about 14, where I learned from Usenet groups on our family computer.
About five years ago I got into LARP, which meant I had to make my own costume. It’s a familiar story to many in the hobby. Plenty of people sew for pleasure, and plenty sew because they can’t afford to purchase custom kit from elsewhere. It was out of this hobby that starting a sewing business became a possibility. But it was officially finishing my Masters by Research that spurred me on to find a way to continue working for myself.
I see lots of posts on sewing groups where people are struggling to sell the things they design and make. For that reason I thought I’d pull together all the posts I’ve made on the subject. Hopefully it’ll help a few people out! You can also see my page of favourite sewing resources and businesses!
This is the story of how starting a sewing business picked up and became a real, viable income stream for me. It talks about how I had to put quality first and spend some time concentrating on branding and photography. This gave me an image that suited the customer I wanted to work with. I also discuss my (lack of) advertising and the way that word of mouth referrals can really make a difference.
Within sewing and quilting groups on Facebook you’ll often find people asking about starting a sewing business. Fed up of seeing disparaging comments about how “nobody values handmade” I put together some thoughts in a blog post about finding your sewing niche and turning that into a business.
I’ve often seen people asking on various Etsy (and other) Facebook groups if blogging is out of fashion or if it can really help you grow your business. The answer is that of course it can help you grow your business – you just need to know how to approach it!
Taking photographs of what they sell is the bit that many people find the hardest. It should really come as no surprise – photography is a skill that needs to be learned like any other and product photography is on of the more specialised niches. Knowing that most people can’t afford to dedicate part of their home to be a photography studio (let alone buy loads of expensive equipment) I’ve discussed my preferred natural light setup which just uses a window and some clever hacks.
This post isn’t directly related to sewing, but it draws on my experience from my other freelance work which is writing for online spaces and magazines. A really great way to find new buyers is to get your products featured. Many outlets will be reaching people you would otherwise struggle to find. Sending press releases might seem like something other people do. But in our increasingly digital world it can really pay off if you get bloggers and influencers writing about your product.