Sewing Business Advice

I just thought I’d ask for some advice here since this board is used by so many people with so many different experiences and I’d like some advice.

We moved to the city we currently live in this past June. In July I put a small letter sized poster in the window of our front porch and 3 flyers up in various sewing stores. I also posted to a Home School Network in this area.

Essentially I have been offering a small mending business. I do most of the work while you wait. I charge very little for my work and there was no cost to me in setting up the business as I use my home sewing machines.

IN the past I fell into doing custom sewing work but that is not, in my opinion, a good place to make money sewing.

Anyhow, since July I made over $800. When you consider I charge $2 to sew on up to 3 buttons you’ve brought with you, $10 to hem a pair of dress pants, and so forth, that is a lot of customers. 90% of them are people who walk in off the street. We are in a great location for this kind of business.

My husband and I have been looking into buying two additional machines that would make two of the main sewing jobs I have much easier. The cost would be just under $1000 plus 14% tax.

We thought then that we would consider advertising so that we’d pay off the equipment very quickly. One of them is a special machine for hemming dress pants and helping me with the Curtain Sewing I do. Essentially this would really, really cut down the amount of time I do on these projects, by over 60%.

Anyways… what do you think? I love the fact that I do this right in my home, well on the front porch. I love the fact that I have so much control over this business and don’t have to met company guidelines and such that I had with my Tupperware and Scrapbook businesses. [they closed because we moved and I lost my clientèle]

Part of this would likely involve having to register this business. Right now I was just planning on claiming the profit as a personal income.

I’m just not sure I want to make this any more ‘official.’:teehee:

Good for you! I was in some form of sewing for profit for many years and you’re right, repair/alterations is the most profitable. I would privately check into what is required for licensing with your local county government for sure. I’m not familiar with taxing in Canada but in the States it is wholly a pain once you’ve registered your business.

I did alterations at home for many years and was able to hide most profits because it was cash mostly and cashed any checks at the customer’s bank. Obviously, my business was not our main form of income but it did help tremendously with groceries, extras and raising children. However, the lack of showing income on taxes did not allow me to write off any expenses and that was the main downside. I could not openly advertise for fear of taxation and that kept me from reaching any growth goals.

So, answering your main concern: If you want your business to grow by advertising and being able to write off expenses like machines, thread, home office space, bookkeeping, etc… you need to register it and be upfront with the whole tax thing. This will also give you far less to stress about.

Hope this helps… Mary

And by the way, I still get to enjoy sewing as an income but do it for our boat business as an upholstery seamstress.

That was great.

I put out a message to some Accountants in the family. My brother is one but… he deals in millions of dollars for a Construction Company so I’m not sure how much he can help me. But I asked some friends as well.

The husband has been really pushing me to do this, and is currently out looking for workspace for me. Either that or he’s buying the machines… that wouldn’t shock me.

Anyhow, thanks for the personal experience. I posted some pictures of the most recent sewing project I’ve done in my blog and I believe you can access it from my profile here.

The best job I ever did was my best friend’s wedding dress. We ordered Silk from Italy for that dress and I have to say it was the most stressful sewing job of my entire life… the thought of messing up that expensive fabric left me in pins and needles :wink:

I’ve had a sewing business in the past. It sounds like you are going about this in the right way. It’s absolutely awesome you’ve got such a great location for walk-in business and a place to separate the business from your home.

One thing I learned - alterations make you a lot of money, custom sewing appeals to your creative side. Use the alterations to generate most of your income and only take on custom sewing you know you will enjoy. Too many people have unrealistic expectations of what a seamstress can do. :wink:


LOL! Yep, like fitting a size 22 behind into a size 16 pattern! :teehee: And although it can be done with extra work and patternmaking, they will not see why you charged them more!

So true! The size thing is the biggest shock! That’s why I always insist on being in the store for fabric and pattern purchases! I take the measurements, grab the pattern evelope and never let on what size they really are!

Well, we talked with a small business accountant, we’ve got basically till $30,000 before we have to be concerned with taxes and government paperwork. However, there might be better advantages for us to take on the paperwork because the business is located in the house and because I would likely be able to regain all the federal taxes I pay for my supplies.

And I’ve been talking with someone, right now informally, about designing some postcard type cards to place with certain business and friends and family and customers. Something big enough to not get lost but not too large that it gets stuffed into recycling because it becomes annoying.

I’ve also set up some informal polls with people to find out what they would pay for certain mending jobs. I’ve checked out the competition in the Mall to see what they charge and I come under their prices considerably so I’ve decided to up my fees.

And the husband bought me the additional machines, I received a phonecall last night to custom make a series of curtains for someone who just finished an addition to their house. Since I still have almost all of ours to do as well, the husband felt that I’d basically have so much use for the blind hemmer I may as well have the machine now!

Blindhemmers are wonderful!! Great husband! Another area of good moneymaking is monogramming. I’m not talking about the whole, fancy embroidery thing but simple lettering for baby gifts, towels, etc… most of the newer model home machines have these setups and they are quite nice when done. Just another thought… watch us, girl, we’ll be moving in next door and enjoying your fun! I sure do miss the freedom of my own money. I “work” for my husband and son-- big mistake… more like a gopher!

Hi Songbirdy!
I am self-employed so I am also a “business”. The information you got is the same as I got too: before 30 000$ a year, no need for you to register, but you might want to do it to claim GST/PST on things you buy. I think you should try to calculate how much supplies you would need in a year and how much you could gain by registering.

From what I understand however, if you do register your business for GST/PST, then you MUST charge the taxes, regardless if you are under the 30 000$ limit or not. This will increase your prices, and increase your paperwork as well (you know how government paperwork is… not fun!). If you have to hire an accountant to make sure everything is in order, that might eat up all the benefits of registering - so make sure to factor that in as well.

Good luck!:hug:

Thanks Iza, that is a great point!

The other thing I did was to adjust our insurance policy. I know they are getting really particular in our area and if you have the slightest business use on a home computer or in my case, sewing machine, they have been denying claims. It wasn’t too much to insure things properly and I just don’t see the point of risking not being able to replace my machines even if I use them for both home and business!

I now have to decide if I want to pay $200 to have a business flyer designed. That includes printing of 200 flyers and then I own the design so I can print off the rest for just printing costs.

The thing is in the past (just this past week even) I get asked for a business card. I am thinking a postcard sized ‘flyer’ might be a decent way to go. Not too small to be lost in the paper clutter on the fridge but also not too large.

And I’ll own the images she designs for me and I could incorporate them into future advertising and such not…