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Tailoring as a Lucrative Business

The three basic needs of every human being are food, shelter and clothing. The earliest appearance of making cloths or dresses (by Eve according to the scriptures) resided in the quest of woman (and later man) to cover her (or his) body and to feel some comfort. Nowadays, people wear different clothes for different occasions and identities. They also choose clothes by following their aesthetic sense and the fashion trend. Any normal person would definitely want to wear clothes around town to engage in his or her daily activities e.g. meetings, shopping, beach, work etc. Cloths are therefore an essential item, which everyone needs to have.

A Tailor can be referred to as a mason and a Fashion Designer an architect; therefore fashion design is a form of art. To work as a designer, you should have an artistic and creative personality. You also have to be good at drawing and able to express your ideas in sketches. You must have some special skills for combining colors, tones and shades. You also have to be able to work with fabric and use textiles in a creative and original manner. Fashion designers have a good visual imagination and are able to think in three-dimensions and put their ideas into garments.

Tailors, dressmakers, seamstresses, and fashion designers are terms that are often used interchangeably, to refer to people who make clothes. There is a very fine line between what a seamstress and a dressmaker do and what a tailor or fashion designer does generally.

Tailoring is the art of designing, fitting, fabricating, and finishing garments. The word “tailor” comes from a French word—tailler—meaning “to cut”. The Latin word for tailor was sartor, meaning someone who patches or mends garments; today, the word “tailor” generally refers to someone who creates custom men’s clothing. Usually, a tailor will work more with suits and coats and even fancy dresses such as ball gowns. A tailor needs to have a strong understanding of fabrics, patterns and stitching techniques, they need to be adept at hand and machine sewing, and they must be able to make alterations, as well as produce clothes from scratch.

Dressmakers make dresses. They don’t get other to do their work for them, although they can have assistants. Most dressmakers use commercial patterns and alter them to suit the client.

Seamstress is often regarded as an alternative for a dressmaker, but historically, a seamstress was someone who could sew, but didn’t necessarily have the technical skills to create custom garments from scratch. Traditionally, sewing use to be a low paying career, teetering just above the poverty line. But when combined with design skills, it can become highly specialized and move into high paying segments.

There are 2 main market segments within the mending industry. People with very little money want a seamstress to extend the life of their clothing so that they don’t have to go out and buy new expensive clothes. There are also people with lots of money who prefer the luxury of designing custom clothing and don’t mind spending money to do so.

Fashion designers attempt to design clothes, which are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. They consider who is likely to wear a garment and the situations in which it will be worn, they have a wide range and combinations of materials to work with and a wide range of colors, patterns and styles to choose from. Though most clothing worn for everyday wear falls within a narrow range of conventional styles, unusual garments are usually sought for special occasions such as evening wear or party dresses.

Tips on starting a Tailoring, Fashion Design (or Clothing Line) business:

Salient Questions you need to ask yourself before venturing into the tailoring or fashion designing business:

  • Do I have the passion and motive for this venture or business?
  • Am I ready to start?
  • Who will patronize my work?
  • What part or niche in this industry do I delve into?

You start by enrolling in a fashion design institute Learning from professionals will equip you adequately or enroll as a pupil to a tailor for those who just want to start a tailoring business. Apart from learning how to handle the sewing machine and how to cut cloths, you’ll be able to invent new designs and styles that might end up making you a fashion celebrity. This training can last for a year or more.  Look for a good fashion institute and enroll or an experienced tailor to learn the trade.

Fashion designers have to be aware of the fashion market requirements. You should be interested in fashion design history, new trends, and in art, you should also visit art galleries and interact with all kinds of artists whenever the opportunity presents itself. A designer should also have some knowledge and experience of tailoring (cutting, sewing etc.) and fabrics.
The fashion industry is a rapidly changing one; trend come and go just as the thoroughly understand your customers and their taste. You must possess the ability to foresee trends, months before it hits the market. Most importantly, you must be creative and flexible in your tactics.

Venturing into the Tailoring or Fashion Designing Business, Consider the following:

The Garment industry is a very lucrative and profit oriented business but needs a lot of skill, passion, hard work and patience to succeed. You also need the necessary skill to excel in this fashion business. If there’s a major determinant of whether you’ll succeed or not, it’s the level of your ability and creativity.

Your niche area-: The first factor to consider is the type of clothes you want to start making. Clothing business is very broad; you have to first decide on a niche first.

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Production-: You will have to decide on how you would be producing your clothes. Would you outsource to another company or would you employ tailors to sew them for you? Would you hire designers to create unique designs for you? What about marketing?

Finance-: How much will it cost you to start a clothing line? How would you get funding for your business.

  • Do you have all the capital you need to start your clothing line?
  • If you don’t, how do you plan to raise the needed funds?
  • Do you have a good credit rating to be able to borrow money from financial institutions and if you don’t, what is your back up plan?

Location-: You also have to carefully consider the location where you intend to set up your business to determine if it’s the right one for your business.

Competition-: Do you have what it takes to compete with the existing brands?

Tax-Policies-: Are the tax laws in Nigeria favorable for your business?

Rent-: Are costs of renting a business premises in that place favourable to other places?

Suppliers and customers-: What is your relationship to your suppliers and customers?

If you are able to answer these questions in the affirmative or positive direction, then you are ready to start.

Starting a Clothing Line

  • Get in the right mindset
  • Understand the fashion industry
  • Write a business plan
  • Build a Brand
  • Register your trademark
  • Create a bank account for your business
  • Design your Clothes
  • Find a Manufacturer
  • Advertise your clothing line
  • Register a domain name and create a website
  • Talk to retailers
  • Develop affiliate programs
  • Manage your business

Your sewing kit should contain the following items as a Tailor or Dress Maker:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Embroidery Machine
  • Weaving Machine
  • Needle Threader
  • Assorted Sewing Machine Needles:
  • Extra Bobbins for Sewing Machine: Having extra bobbins means that you won’t have to re-wind your bobbin each time you switch thread colors.
  • Regular Presser Foot: A regular presser foot is suitable for most sewing projects.
  • Walking Foot: A walking foot is needed when sewing heavy, thick or stretchy fabrics.
  • Zipper Foot: A zipper foot will make attaching zippers much easier.
  • Fabric Scissors: Fabric shears are used to cut fabric only. Using them to cut paper will dull them and make them unusable.
  • Embroidery Scissors: Embroidery scissors are handy to have close by when sewing. Their small size makes it easy to trim loose threads.
  • Paper Scissors: Paper scissors should only be used for cutting paper (such as patterns).
  • Marking Pencils or tailor’s chalk: Fabric marking pencils are made of a special lead that will disappear after being washed.
  • Straight Pins: Straight pins are used to hold two or more pieces of fabric together as you sew.
  • Seam Ripper: used to carefully takeout stitching errors.
  • Seam Gauge Ruler: Also called sliding gauges, they are used to accurately mark seam widths, or other short measurements.
  • Measuring Tape: Use your tape measure to take body measurements, and measure lengths of fabric.

Other items are:

  • Assorted Hand Sewing Needles: Hand sewing needles come in many different lengths and thicknesses. The size you use will depend on your project and preferences.
  • Iron & ironing board: An iron uses very high temperatures (and sometimes steam) to press fabrics flat and remove wrinkles. An ironing board provides a safe surface to iron on.
  • Ruler: A ruler is often easier to use than a measuring tape for small measurements. It also can help you draw a straight line if needed.
  • Thread to match your fabric: Different fabric types and weights require different types of thread.
  • Pencil & Paper: Used for making notes, and creating patterns.
  • Pincushion: Many tailors find it easier to keep their pins in a pincushion, rather than a box, as they can be grabbed quickly and easily. Pincushions come in many shapes and sizes. Tabletop pincushions sit on your table, while wrist pincushions are attached to your wrist like a watch.

To market and sell your designs:

  • Racks: There are different types of racks that you can use to display your products in a boutique or at home.
  • Slat wall: To hang clothes on the wall to save space.
  • Mannequins: Mannequins are better for displaying clothes and attract buyers because they are able to see, to an extent how the clothes would look in reality.
  • Hangers: Select high quality hangers. Also consider investing in customized hangers with your brand name on it as a way to promote your business.
  • Labels and Tags: You would also need labels with your brand name on it and price tags.
  • Packaging materials: Packaging goes a long way in advertising your business, using a branded paper-bag will sell your brand.

Tailoring and fashion designing are as lucrative as its products and the unavoidable nature of its usefulness to every human being cannot be overemphasized because clothing remains ever important for protection, adornment and for fashion. Skill is important in the practice of tailoring and fashion design. To be a Tailor, Dress Maker or Fashion Designer involves sewing or producing designer’s clothes for men, women and children.

You can also check other business ideas here

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