Recent generations have lost the art of sewing. While the skill comes easily to many people, to others it is a mystery. Those who cannot sew are forced to purchase ready-made clothing and visit tailors to alter their clothing appropriately. If you have the space, talent and time, sewing can be a successful home-based business. Take some time to plan the details of your business idea and you might be on your way to a second career.
Decide on the services your business will provide. You might want to focus on alterations or creating pieces of clothing from scratch. You might be able to teach classes at local schools, fabric stores or privately. You might also be contracted to mass produce items for local businesses. For example, a local jeweler may require unique bags or pouches in which to place her creations and might hire you to produce several on an ongoing basis.
Set up your sewing space. If you already have a sewing area with space to store materials and to cut, press and sew fabric, you might just need to expand your space. Set up your room in a U-shape, with your ironing board along one wall, machine along another and cutting table along a third. Place drawers under your sewing table for notions, supplies and business records. Make room for a portable clothes rack to hang completed and in-progress pieces.
Decide on the prices you will charge. Research other businesses in your area that provide similar services and make your prices competitive. If you must charge more than the competition to cover costs, advertise the quality of your work and your ability to produce unique pieces according to the customer's specifications.
Find a customer base. If you are already involved in a sewing community, word-of-mouth promotion of your services is a good place to start. You can also ask to advertise your services at a local fabric shop and perhaps enter an agreement with them. They might be willing to allow you to hold classes in the store for free in hopes that the students will purchase their materials from the store. Creating a website and advertising in community newspapers is another option.
Register your business name and obtain licenses and permits. Decide on the legal structure of your business first and then fulfill all the legal requirements for the business. Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration's website for more information and for links to requirements for your state.
Write a business plan, outlining the objectives and goals of your sewing business. The plan should include what you're selling and to whom. Include details of start-up costs as well as projected income and cash flows for the coming year. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a business plan template on its website. Even if you do not require external funding to start your business, developing a business plan gives you guidelines for your business to follow and allows you to assess the financial health of your business as it unfolds.
Catherine Lovering has written about business, tax, careers and pets since 2006. Lovering holds a B.A. (political science), LL.B. (law) and LL.L. (civil law).