Home-Based Embroidery Business

by Sumera Khan
(Karachi)

When I decided to start my own business from home, there were several ideas that I thought about. The first one was the usual that most of the women do when they start their own business - garments for women - you can make all the clothes you want, a fun thing to do in itself and sell them at exhibitions in hotels or at home by invitation or newspaper ad and if the clothes don't sell, you can always add them to your own wardrobe! Sounds like a win-win idea. But when I looked around I saw tremendous competition as I learned that most of the women in our country (Pakistan) actually have garments as their most favorite home-based business.

So I looked around more and met a friend who wears the most fabulous yet simple embroidered clothes on lawn prints that made those clothes look ever so beautiful. She told me that the simple lawn fabric is too casual to wear while these days lawn suits come with very beautiful dupattas in Broche fabric or in chiffon, so adding a bit of embroidery makes them look really nice. Now that was a few years back when the designers had not yet started to add embroidered motifs on their designed lawn prints. I asked her how she gets her embroidery done. She told me that she buys fabric from one of the designers and gives it to the embroidery guys who have their own patterns and she gives the color combinations and they make it for her.

She also complained that it is quite a hassle to get the embroidery done as the guys who do embroidery are never delivering on time and at times she gets her fabric back after a wait of months on end - and that takes away the fun of wearing new prints in the same season. That gave me an idea...whay should I not start an embroidery business at home!

That was the start of my idea for an ideal business for me - custom embroidery services. I started looking for my resource base. Thanks to the technology of today, doing custom embroidery no longer requires very expensive machinery and can be done with simply a decent personal computer and a sewing machine with embroidery capability. The customer base for ones designs is literally limited only by ones own imagination and marketing ability. Everyone from lawn fabric to party and wedding clothes to other crafts people are interested in having items which reflect their interests and individuality.

Machine embroidery can be done on most fabrics and is the best way to customize clothing and decorative items. You can purchase designs which are already made and you can also design your own through the latest in digitizing software. Next I needed a couple of machines and a master who was ready to work on a salary and could work both at my house and also take material with him to make it at his house. As luck would have it, I found a very good senior master who wanted to work on a regular salary as he had some fixed expenses to meet on a monthly basis and the best part was that he lived in a locality where many women worked form their houses to whom he could outsource when required. That really was a very strong plus point as my little business would also give other women a source of income.

To get everything right from the start, I got down to planning. Starting your own custom embroidery business is easy if you follow a few standard small business guidelines. Here are just a few of them to consider:

The Business Plan

No matter what business you decide to start, you 100% have to have a solid business plan. There is no way possible to have a successful business venture without one. The best way to develop your business plan is to think about all of the variables which go into your unique business, and what your ultimate short-term and long-term goals are for the business. With all of this information, you can sit down and formulate a business plan without it taking you a lot of valuable time.

Licensing and Regulations

Depending on the city you live in, you may have to get a business license to have a legal home-based embroidery business. The way to determine what the local rules and regulations are is to call up your local Chamber of Commerce and ask them what you need to do. Engage a referred lawyer to help you in putting the documents together and name your business to get it started. Also get a Chamber's membership as it helps in more ways than one to network and participate in exhibitions.

Financial Records

The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep good business records from day one of your business. Start with the fees to get a business license, and start recording every single business expense that you have. By doing this as you go you will save both yourself and your tax preparer a ton of headaches come tax time. Good financial management is extremely essential for any business.

Setting Your Prices

The number one mistake many home-based sewing businesses make is to charge too little for their services. You need to make a living, and you need to be pricing your items and services accordingly. Whatever you do, do not sell yourself short! Ask a going rate for your items and services and expect that people will pay you what your time and product is worth. This allows you to work smarter and not harder!

Marketing

Marketing is simply getting the word out and letting others know your business exists. You can market online, through a press release sent to your local newspaper, flyers, brochures, craft fair booths, exhibitions, etc. Anywhere you come into contact with potential customers you can market your items and services. You can even do simple things like always carry business cards, available these days very inexpensively, and hand them out to everyone you meet as you go through your days.

As you can see there are a lot of things for you to consider when you are thinking about starting a home-based custom embroidery business. However, your business can be very successful and profitable if you take the time to make it so!

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