I was looking for a book specific to starting a custom bridal and dress business and wasn’t having any luck. I already had a book called Sewing to sell, which I reviewed here, but it’s written for people who want to sew things like bags and aprons for craft markets and Etsy. It’s a good book, but it doesn’t serve my needs.
It seems that there aren’t many books out there about making and designing bridal gowns and the business of running a custom shop. I ‘ve bought all the books I could find and will be reviewing them. Most are used and out of print, but can be found on Amazon in their used book marketplace. It was on Amazon that I found the book called How to start making money with your sewing by Karen Maslowski– Use your dressmaking, bridal, upholstery, crafts and drapery skills to earn extra income from home. I bought it for three dollars, and when it arrived, I spent the weekend reading it.
I am so glad I bought it. It may have been written back in 1998, but the advice in it is just as relevant for today as it was then. It doesn’t have any information about online marketing, but as a blogger and social media savvy person, that’s easy enough to figure out for myself. What it did do was give me thorough information on the nuts and bolts of working on my own. This book walked me through all the steps I need to start up my custom bridal business. It also has lots of interviews with women who have started their own sewing businesses, including one with now famous couture expert Susan Khalje, who I took a week long workshop with a couple years ago.
Here’s a brief outline of the chapters:
- How to know if it’s time to turn your hobby into a business.
- Selecting the best specialization for your interests and hobbies.
- Equipping your business. Learn how to estimate your equipment needs and save money on start up costs. Insurance information and lots of information about sewing equipment.
- Maximizing your profits by learning how to price your work fairly for both you and your customers.
- Learn how to write a business plan for the future success of your business at the very beginning.
- Financing. Decide which start up method to use and how to know when to hire professional help.
- Successfully spread the word about your new business and develop your image.
- Using computers. This chapter obviously no longer apples to us today, but it was still fun to read about America Online, and about learning how to find sewing chat rooms! You’ve got Mail!
- The importance of networking and education and why continuing with your sewing education is vital to your growth.
- An appendix with examples of what to include in customer work orders, and on policy sheets.
It would be awesome if the author, Karen Maklowski would release a newly revised edition with some more updated pricing examples, but so far this book has the best information I’ve seen. There was so much great info; like make sure you have a policy about what to do should the bride gain a bunch of weight and the dress doesn’t fit anymore; adding on thirty percent to your fabric costs to the customer if you are providing fabric to pay for your overhead and gas to go and buy it; having a policy in place about making sure the client makes a preliminary deposit before you get started on a project.
Just lots of little things that I’m so grateful to learn about before I get started.