People often find ways to turn their hobbies into side businesses or even full-fledged enterprises. Quilters are no different. Unfortunately, in today’s climate, starting any money-making venture is a risky proposition. Not surprisingly, more entrepreneurs fail than succeed. While such an experience can be a learning one, it can also be a huge ego bruiser and expensive. That’s why it is vital you have some sort of a plan and understand where you want to go and how you want to get there before you announce you’re open for business.
There are infinite pitfalls you’ll need to sidestep if your quilting business is to be one of those that rises above the others. Though we can’t cover them all, we can point out some of the larger ones that will sink your ship almost immediately upon setting sail. Like any start-up, yours will demand your time, energy, and commitment. If you aren’t willing to put in the effort, you’re going to need to temper your expectations.
Pitfall 1: You’re Not Really Ready
Yes, the thought of making extra money or real money as a quilter sounds appealing, but you have to understand what you are getting into with complete clarity. If you’ve quilted a small number of quilts, chances are this idea of turning your quilting into a business may be relatively new to you. You may be in what we’ll call the “honeymoon phase.” While quilting seems fun to you now, you need to ask yourself if this is really something that you are passionate about.
Are you fully aware of the amount of work you are about to take on? Are you going to get bored and tired from the labor involved? Do you have the time to take on multiple projects? In short, are you a quilter, or do you just like to sew a lot? Do you truly enjoy the quilt making process and have the quilting supplies that you need?
Pitfall 2: Your Rates Can’t Be the Same for Every Job
Some jobs are going to take much longer than others. There are numerous factors to consider, including exactly what each project entails. So, how will you charge your clients? You have several options:
- Charge by the hour
- Charge by the square foot
- Charge by the project
These certainly aren’t the only options. Regardless, you are going to have to decide what to bill your clients for your services.
Pitfall 3: Your Clients Need to Have a Largely Positive Experience
Face it. At some point, you’re likely going to find yourself in a disagreement with a client. The fault may not lie with you. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. Ultimately, the onus of making your interactions with clients largely positive is on you.
Know that sewing groups are largely niche communities within communities. They are close. They share their experiences, good and bad, and client criticism spreads like wildfire among prospective clients. Even during the times when you are in the wrong, you have to work to make things right…to an extent. There will be instances when you simply have to let go and not be afraid of a client who isn’t able to be satisfied. Don’t make yourself a victim repeatedly. Find a solution that you think is equitable and implement it. When you need to walk away from a client, have the guts to do so and take the high road when you have to discuss what happened with others.
Pitfall 4: Remember Your Quilts May Not be Local
As a quilter, shipping costs may not be top-of-mind. If you aren’t careful, boxes and postage or shipping fees can certainly put a dent in your profits though. You know that shipping is expensive. Your clients know that, too. Simply be honest and upfront about what the shipping costs are, and clients will more than likely be accepting.
Pitfall 5: Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Sew
You know the commitment that it takes to properly create a quilt. Each quilt is an individual work of art, and you need adequate time to properly complete a masterpiece. Don’t overload yourself. Set and keep conservative deadlines that allow for potential mishaps. That being said, don’t be afraid to take on jobs that will provide you with revenue. Just understand that once a client puts their trust and faith in you, you owe it to them to keep your word. By rule, even a great quilter should not have more than two quilts going simultaneously. Focus your effort and get the job at hand done.
As stated at the outset, there are infinite things to consider when starting any business. Staying clear of these pitfalls, however, is definitely a good beginning to you becoming a professional quilter. For those just getting into quilting and those who are seasoned veterans, companies such as Arteza offer a wide array of quilting supplies to meet your needs.