How to Start a Handmade Dog Clothing Business

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The pet market represents a lucrative industry, with reports indicating that U.S. consumers spend over $50 billion dollars (and counting) on pets annually. Making homemade dog clothes can be a great way to earn money doing what you love, but if passion alone was the key to success, we'd all be rich. You need to have a strategy while setting up your handmade dog clothing business in order to balance your finances and stay afloat.

Mapping Out Material Expenses

If you're thinking about starting a handmade dog clothing business, chances are you've already made some one-of-a-kind outfits for your own dogs. Therefore, you know what goes into making them.

Now, it's time to break out the calculator and do some math. How many small outfits can you make from a certain amount of material? How many medium, large and extra-large outfits can you make from that same amount?

Next, add up the cost of all the other supplies you use to make the clothes. If you can sew 10 small-sized outfits with a single spool of thread, divide the cost of the thread by 10 to determine the per-outfit cost. Consider buttons, zippers, velcro and the like and then add it all up to figure out your expenses for each type and size of outfit.

Factoring in Your Time

Next, calculate how much time you spend making an outfit. If it takes you three hours, you need to determine what your time is worth. Do you want to make at least $15 an hour? Then you'll need to tack on $45 plus the cost of materials to price the outfit.

If this gives you a price that seems quite high, look for opportunities to reduce expenses by either sourcing your materials wholesale or at a substantial discount. You may also want to try streamlining your process to speed things up. For example, it may be quicker for you to cut and pin material for three outfits at once rather than taking a single outfit from start to finish.

Don't Forget About Taxes and Registration

Even solo operations need to register with the local commerce authority. Register your small business in order to avoid fines and back taxes later on. Work with an accountant with experience helping self-employed individuals so that you can set aside the proper amount for taxes with each transaction.

A good rule of thumb is to set aside 30% of your income for taxes due to the self-employment tax, in which you pay both as an employee and an employer. Factor this into your budgeting plan so that you can charge enough for your handmade dog clothing in order to make sufficient profit.

Connecting With Buyers

When you aren't busy sewing handmade dog clothes for clients, you should spend time actively marketing and advertising your business. No one can buy from you if they don't know you exist. Because your items are handmade, you are eligible for an Etsy storefront. However, diversify your web presence by also exploring avenues like eBay, Facebook, Instagram, Craigslist and your own website.

Handmade dog clothing also represents the perfect type of item to advertise locally. Set up a booth at pet-friendly events (work this into your budget, of course) to talk to local pet owners and consider talking to locally owned pet boutiques and groomers about displaying either your clothing or your business cards.

Securing Startup Expenses

Starting a business from scratch can be tough financially. You might begin your handmade dog clothing business as a side hustle that you work on in your spare time, but that doesn't leave much time or money for marketing. In order to give a fledgling business the full attention it deserves, consider devoting yourself to it on a part-time basis with a startup loan to help with expenses.