January 2023: Fashion Sewing Business Book

The Colorado Chapter of ASDP had a topic change when our scheduled speaker got caught by the many air travel cancelations over the holidays.  Instead of the scheduled talk we started on our backup plan: to work our way through ASDP member Angela Wolf’s book “How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Design Business.”  Below are some of the high points in our discussion of the first chapter.

Not glamorous – People often think that working in the Fashion business is glamourous: lots of drawing and creating.  As Angela writes, this is often only 10% of the job.  Bookkeeping and doing taxes must be done but are rarely enjoyed.  Hiring someone for a few hours a month is an excellent solution.

Support – Support from family is very important.  They must respect your odd work schedule, and chores at home that are not done because you are busy.  Fittings are often required at times that work for clients but may interfere with family time.  And clients may be late or not show on day scheduled.

Income – The income in the beginning is rarely enough to support a family without a second job, whether part-time or a spouse’s job.  It is often a lot of hard work with limited income.  Many of our members grew from sewing for free or nearly so to charging enough money to make a decent wage (e.g., charging the equivalent of $10/hour initially for friends to $50/hour for professional services). 

Personality – Angela has lists of traits for an entrepreneur and a quiz of personality traits.  In our discussion, isolation can be a stressor because you are working long hours by yourself.  Being able to adapt to changing tasks and client requests can be frustrating but necessary.  In terms of time management, we identified solutions for different personalities: the buddy system to check your progress, computer-assisted lists like Google Calendar and Todoist).  These lists might include all tasks for the day or what to get done by the end of the week.  One popular idea was to set a personal deadline to be done by Friday and then take Friday afternoon as time for yourself.

How we got started – We went around the meeting and talked about how we got started in this field.  We all started young by sewing for ourselves. Several of us had formal training in field, including college degrees or apprenticeships. In the process, we all started sewing for others and started charging for our services.  Some started businesses when children were young.  Others had non-sewing careers and turned to the field later in life after a major career change.  And a recuring theme was to increase our fees to reflect our skills and self-confidence.

We plan to continue working through Angela’s book, one chapter at a time.  To be added to the mailing list for our chapter’s Zoom meetings, contact Pat at colosewingpros@gmail.com.