Why would you want a business?
Well, if you’ve got children childcare is so expensive & difficult to get. If you can sew & you love sewing. Then there are a few options available. You can alter & mend other people’s clothes that gives instant cash flow. You can teach people how to sew. Now that won’t stop them bringing you their mending because they probably don’t know how to do it, or they don’t want to do it. You’re not creating your own competitors. You might be particularly good at dressmaking, helping beginners, cushion covers soft furnishings curtains.
“Lots of people love quilting. And if you’re into that. And can teach that you will have a steady stream of people who will come to you. Week in week out month in month out, possibly for years, which is great because you know what money you’ve got coming in. \nIf you teach sewing classes. You can decide what sort of thing you like to teach and have classes on that. Maybe specialise in soft furnishings. You can make cushion covers curtains, teach people how to alter these things. \nIt’s all stuff that people want to learn. And usually can’t find anyone to teach them. They may have started at school and hated the teacher. I find that’s very common.\n\nIf they go to a college for classes can be 20-30 people in a class, so the teacher hasn’t got time to help individuals. You’ve got to know what you’re doing to even be there! And it doesn’t have the social aspect of a small group. I found that small groups, start to talk to each other. Get a group of women in a room & they start to chat. They build friendships.
Then help each other with things outside of the sewing. This all helps with people’s mental health, which as we’ve we all know is very important. Somebody who’s shy, nervous about leaving the house is able to come to a weekly sewing group, where they know who will be there so it’s not scary. It’s not a big group so it’s not noisy. Then they can learn to sew and chat with other people. After they’ve been coming for a little while, they’ll probably be able to help the person sat next to them when they get stuck. And that’s how it works. It’s a natural progression. And I think that’s the best way to teach, I only teach small groups of 6 or less!
Why am I able to help you?
Well, I’ve run a successful sewing business for the last 8 years. So, plenty of experiences of setting up classes teaching different types of things, but also knowing the more legal side of things. Good old HMRC having insurance. All these things are necessary, but not difficult. I can help you with that. Also, I’ve been sewing since I was five years old that’s a good few years! Over the years I have set up 4 other businesses!
Do you need a venue?
You need somewhere to teach from, but it doesn’t have to be paid! Well, you can teach from home. If you’ve got a dedicated room that’s great. It’s possible to use the kitchen table or dining room table. But obviously it’s easier if you’ve got a place where you can leave stuff out, so for & against teaching from home. You don’t have to travel, no fuel costs, everything is at hand. So, it’s easy for you. If you’ve got children at home. They can be in the next room, perhaps the baby’s having a nap or the child that’s come home from school because they’ve, they’ve got a terrible cold or cough. You can look after them, and still be available to teach, which is fantastic because you don’t have to ask your employer for time off again. But there’s a couple of things you need to check is that obviously there’s going to be extra traffic coming to your house. Other places for people to park, or is it going to annoy the neighbours. Now, if you are teaching, during the week in the day. Then, most people will be out at work, so there should be plenty of parking spaces, which makes it easier. And, if they’re out there not know you are teaching anyway! If you’re going to teach from home. You need to do a couple of checks first. If you’re renting. Then, make sure it’s okay with the landlord. I know you’re not going to have hordes of people in your house but it is a good idea to check that it’s okay with them, because you don’t want one of your neighbours to say to your landlord did you know she’s running a business!
If you own your own home. but you’ve got a mortgage. Again, you’re going to have to check that the people who have given you the mortgage, are happy for you to run a small business there. Because what could in the worst-case scenario, they find out you’re running a business, they don’t like it, and they can demand the full repayment of the mortgage. So, I don’t know anyone that’s happened to it certainly hasn’t happened to me. But it’s something to bear in mind. Yes, you have extra people visiting your house. But realistically, they’re not going to be making a nuisance. It’s not going to be noisy there’s not heavy machinery, being used. So that your neighbours have no cause for complaint.
Venues for Rent
If you can’t teach from home it is possible to rent village halls, scout & guide huts. It does mean that you have to lug equipment about with you, but make your clients bring their own sewing machines (you might have to bring one in case they forget the foot or cable (yes it does happen!)
When I was living on a narrowboat so I didn’t have room on the boat to teach I used to rent a room, above a craft shop. This was great ‘cos if anyone forgot thread/machine needles/zips or other small items they were able to buy them downstairs, which gave the shop extra trade. I was even given a key to the shop so I could teach on a Sunday if I wanted. It is worthwhile going into a small shop & just asking if they know anywhere that you could use. But remember you must include the cost of renting anywhere in your charges.
Venues for FREE!
Yes, it is possible & most of my venues were free.
I would go into coffee shops& pubs & ask when’s your quietest time? Then would you like a half a dozen or so extra people in here buying coffee/cake. Sometimes places used to do breakfast for them. The owner would let me use the venue for free, ‘cos it was helping to fill the place on a quiet day. The locals would see us every week & sometimes ask if they could join the sewing. Now, you got to be brave enough to go in & ask! I know that’s not always easy, so I had to get over myself & make it work. This photo was taken at one of my free venues, a coffee shop in a garden centre!
At that time, I was living on a narrowboat, which was great. But there wasn’t any room to teach. I wasn’t earning enough to rent a premise, couldn’t afford to spend, £40,000 on another boat that was just for teaching! So, as I say, using places for free, was a very viable option. The only thing is you need to take all your equipment around with you. Now, I would get everyone to bring their own machines unless they didn’t have one, then I would bring one for them to use. The most important reason for using their own is that they learn to use their own machine because they’re all slightly different. For a beginner, it can be a bit unnerving to swap onto different machines.
You’ve done great in your lesson on somebody else’s machine, you go home and get yours out the cupboard, the dials aren’t in quite the same places so you’re not sure what to do. But it also means that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on sewing machines that you then have to carry backward & forwards from the car! You can use a trolley, which makes life a lot easier I used to carry a big box of tools and equipment as well. A good tip (which I learned the hard way,) always take a machine just in case somebody forgot to take their lead for the foot pedal. Always be on the lookout for venues. hobby craft will sometimes let you do a demonstration/workshop/small class in the shop on a Saturday. It’s also worth having a chat with John Lewis, as they may let you do a class/demonstration.
You will be able to get people to pay a small fee. But it will get your name out, you can advertise your classes. You can give them all business cards, take bookings for other events, people will gradually get to know you as the sewing lady & that’s good. Another idea for a venue is do you have a shed or garage in the garden you can turn into a sewing room. What about using a caravan? Obviously, you would need electricity, but it’s worth thinking about. Another idea is a camper van or small lorry/coach that you can kit out & drive to a place. So, you can teach from different villages, (a bit like the mobile library!) You would need a generator to run lighting & the sewing machines. There are loads of ways to make this work if you really want it to, just sometimes you must think outside the box!
Do I need a teaching qualification?
Not if you are teaching for your client’s personal enjoyment. What you can’t do is tell them what they need to do to pass an exam& gain a qualification! You do need to have public liability insurance. Obviously, you need to know your subject, be enthusiastic & friendly. Put people at their ease, You might already be a school teacher, but you have to remember people are coming to your class for a variety of reasons. Yes, they want to learn to sew, but also for social reasons. Get to know the class, but remember they are your clients not your friends & they expect to learn from you, so don’t let anyone take over, spread your time between all your clients. Acknowledge that people have different levels of experience, tell them that even though some are very experienced you will start at the beginning. If you are new to teaching tell them, they will want you to succeed. If you can’t answer a question, confidently tell them you don’t know & you will let them know at the next class. Speak slowly & clearly especially if the technique is new to them & be prepared to repeat how you do it, allow time for practice. Encourage students to practice at home. Give students confidence, praise their work & if necessary, show them how to make it even better. They come to your class not just to learn to sew, it might be to get out of the house, to make new friends, it might be the highlight of their week. You want them to keep coming back! Call them by name, smile, be considerate.
What Equipment do you need?
The two options. One, they can bring their own or 2 you supply it, it will probably be a bit of both. If there’s anything particular they’re going to need. For instance, if they need a cutting mat and a blade for cutting something out. Then, if you’ve got them, great. If not, they’re going to have to bring them. But basic things like needles for their machines, keep a stock of them & charge for them! Some, different feet, they’re going to want scissors, cutting out so there’s some small scissors, tape measure, obviously their fabric, thread & any patterns. But you just have to decide how much of your stuff you want to use when I’m teaching at home, I’ve got everything there so if somebody hasn’t got something it’s really easy to just get my equipment out. If I’m teaching away from home, I do carry around with me a big box of tools and things that might be needed in the lesson. Because I want the lesson to go well, I don’t want them to say oh I haven’t got that. Then it makes it hard for them. For instance, if you haven’t got the right type of scissors, they’ve only got little embroidery scissors, but they will be some cutting out to do or you want to use pinking shares, etc. You want to have some needles for hand sewing. And so you need a needle threader. Just think of all the things that you usually use. If you can easily carry them around, then do so. As I said teaching from home, makes it a lot easier, but quite often they’ll bring their own little box of equipment that they like to use their favourite scissors. The pincushions, pins this sort of thing.
Can you make a living?
Can you? Yes, but you are unlikely to be able to replace a corporate wage. It might be possible, but I haven’t done it!
What I do have is a nice business, teaching people to sew, doing some mending &alterations, making stuff for craft markets, and having a more enjoyable lifestyle, I can pay the bills which is always good. What you need to build is a good client base who come back regularly, preferably weekly and you can watch their sewing journey. Now, for instance, my one of my classes is on a Saturday, I charge £45 for 3 hours. It’s a reasonable amount of money. But I get six people on that once a month £270 for 3 hrs work. Which still gives you plenty of time to with the family over the weekend. Also plan other things. Some of my other classes are cheaper, but this one is a good basic one that gets people able to use the machine. The trick then is to encourage them to come alongside your weekly groups. So, you have a regular stream of income. If they can’t commit to that, then suggest follow-on classes. Make a cushion cover, learn to put in zips, dress, or skirt making. Whatever will catch their interest, possibly mending, upcycling, refashioning, bag making. The list is endless.
Shortly I’ll be running a 4-week course so that you can set up your business, but more about that later. Now getting clients, marketing, networking using flyers, posters. Social media. Again, we will be going into that in detail in the 4-week course. But now, have a look on Facebook, see who else is on there, other sewing groups & classes. Look on Google & see who is nearby, have a look at their pages. If you’ve already got a Facebook page, fantastic you need one for your business. You must have a separate page for business. Facebook doesn’t like it if you don’t, and they will shut you
down. So that’s a very brief bit on marketing. Networking meetings, you can go to meetings where you can promote your business. I’ve had varying degrees of success. Some of them are B2B, then the sewing classes might not get a lot of clients. They’re more for the building trade, accountants & solicitors. Though they might want to use your mending services if you do that, they probably won’t want to have lessons. But it’s worth looking into to see who’s going. Women’s networking is probably a better place for you. Because they will at least be interested in what you’re doing. You can also, obviously, pay for adverts in magazines and newspapers now. I would happily use the little local magazines that come through your door they are for your area and advertise in them, a couple of reasons. They don’t charge you a lot. The main reason is people keep magazines
They’re going out to people who can easily travel to you. People keep magazines because they don’t know when they might need a plumber or electrician. They will also see your sewing there, and they might think, oh, I’ve got a pile of mending or oh I want to learn to sew I’ve got that machine sat up in the loft. So that’s good. What I wouldn’t use are the big sewing magazines. Unless you’ve got a physical shop. It’s expensive, they advertise countrywide & you need local people.
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I will shortly be running a 4-week course which will be drip-fed weekly, I will walk you through step by step of setting up & running your brand new business. It is always much easier if you have someone to ask & share your experiences with. Keep a lookout on social media as I will have a special offer for people who have bought my EBook. Talk to you soon.
Best wishes Maryanne x
“Disclaimer: The information contained herein is general in nature and for informative purposes only. It is based on the author’s personal experience. The author assumes no responsibility whatsoever, under any circumstances, for any actions taken as a result of the information contained herein.”Copyright wording: Copyright © 2020. [Sewing Seams Easy]. All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or shared without the express, written consent from the author.
Copyright © 2020. [Sewing Seams Easy]. All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or shared without the express, written consent from the author.