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Advice on making Alterations business more lucrative

Flax's picture

I really think I just need a shoulder to cry on.  I have a somewhat successful home based alterations business.  I work on mostly bridal and formalwear.  I seem to have just enough work, but I would really like to make a decent living sewing.  Why can plumbers or computer repair men make decent money but sewing is too often viewed as a hobby.  I am talented and picky and do excellent work. Any one have a tissue and possiblly soem advice on makeing a better profit? 

stillsuesew's picture

My guess is that you are not (post #36249, reply #1 of 6)

My guess is that you are not charging enough.   You need to tell your clients up front that you charge $XX per hour plus the  cost of all notions involved and then give them a reseasonable questimate of time involved.  A few people may walk away but your clientel will grow with word of mouth on your good work.

How much do you want to make in a year?  If you want to work a 40 hour week and make $40,000/year divide by 2 ($20,000) and drop the word "thousand."  This equals $20/hour.    This works the other way, too.  If you are charging $8/hour multiply x 2 and add the word"thousand".  This equals $16,000/year.  

When i bought my little blind hemmer I cut my hem time by 80% but I did not reduce my price.  (something had to pay for the blind hemmer!)  My blind hemmer is for sale , by the way, I'm retired and will never hem another pair of black pants.

Flax's picture

your so right! (post #36249, reply #2 of 6)

I have been told that I am expensive and I have been told to charge more.  Hmmmph.  However I am located an hour away from a large metro and I cannot charge what people in the city charge.  But I think you are right.  I need to increase some prices.  I just this summer bought a blind hemmer that I have wanted for 10 years - I got so sick of hand hemming.  I just decided that it was worth the investment.  Thanks for the encouragement.  I sure wish we could unite all the professional seamstresses ...maybe I should start a facebook page....  oh well thanks again for the support!

HelgaPataki's picture

oops (post #36249, reply #3 of 6)

oops sorry

Sancin's picture

Do you advertise in places (post #36249, reply #4 of 6)

Do you advertise in places that may sell fabrics or clothing stores , cleaners ?   Have you got business cards that you can leave at businesses, have satisfied customers pass out? The more professional your posters or cards are going to give an indication of what your charges are. If you have a information sheet with how your fees are calculated it will help customers to understand.

i live in a city of about 200,000 and worked  with well dressed women before I retired. Most of them used dressmakers to alter their RTW purchases.  And one had to bribe them to get the name of their dressmakers - they feared they would then have to wait too long to get their own alterations done. 

Pattiann42's picture

Alterations (post #36249, reply #5 of 6)

You have no competition. 

Double your rates and it will probably still be less expensive than making several round trips to the city @ $4.00 per gallon for gas. 

stillsuesew's picture

Another thought.  I did (post #36249, reply #6 of 6)

Another thought.  I did alterations for a women's wear store as part of my work.  I would stop in almost daily, pick up the alterations and return them the next day.  There were usualy several things to do every  day.  This steady stream of work was a good part of my earnings.  And it also brought me new customers.  And one year I made some simple fleece hats and the store added these to their inventory.  I also did alterations at a men's wear store - a slightly different situation where they wanted me to do the work in the store.  But sewing = $.