Wondering how to start a tailor shop? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Tailor Shop Essentials
Tailoring is one of the world's oldest entrepreneurial professions. But today's leading tailor startup entrepreneurs are savvy and progressive business professionals who are willing to embrace developments in their trade and small business ownership.
No one learns this profession overnight, so you'll need to spend a significant amount of time learning how to create custom garments before you set up your shop. Once you feel confident in your abilities, you'll need to purchase basic equipment like sewing and overlock machines as well as thread, fabric and other basic supplies.
From there, the next big hurdle is space. Many emerging entrepreneurs launch tailor shops out of their homes or inexpensive leased space. Although it may seem like a humble beginning, a home-based business is vastly preferable to a long-term lease on space you ultimately won't be able to afford.
Becoming a Twenty-First Century Tailor Shop
At Gaebler, we're seeing a trend in tailor shop startups toward a greater integration of technology with traditional tailoring business activities. While many older shops are hesitant to embrace technology-rich business models, younger entrepreneurs are capturing market share by leveraging technology on multiple fronts:
- Distance Tailoring. Distance tailoring allows startups to expand their reach beyond the geographic limitations of the local marketplace. Customers perform their own measurements (with guidance) and place orders online. Although many tailors use this approach to take advantage of cheap labor overseas, it's possible to leverage a distance tailoring framework for a U.S.-based startup.
- Integrated Backend Solutions. Tailor shops are like any other SMB in the sense that there are multiple behind-the-scenes business tasks that must be routinely performed. With today's technology, accounting, billing, inventory, shipping and other software solutions can be integrated to create a highly functional and seamless backend system.
- Social Media Marketing. Social media resources like Facebook and Twitter allow tailor shop startups to convert satisfied customers to brand advocates. By actively engaging your customers on these and other sites, you can encourage positive conversations around your products and your brand.
To take your startup to the next level, we recommend exploring the Custom Tailors and Designers Association (CTDA). The CDTA is the oldest trade organization in the U.S., and offers educational resources and networking opportunities for professional tailors throughout the nation.
Business Plan Basics for Tailor Shops
You've been working on your tailor shop's business plan for a while now and you think you're really starting to make progress. You've covered your mission, your strategy and the financial chapter is top notch. But your business plan won't be finished until you've included material about your industry.
The absence of a thorough industry analysis may incline lenders and/or other external stakeholders to take a negative view of your company. Industry analyses are critical for contextualizing your startup within an industry setting.
To succeed, you'll need to be careful to avoid common industry analysis mistakes and to accurately represent your startup in an industry context.
How to Become a Local Success
New tailor shops must work hard to gain the support of their local communities. Compared to other kinds of businesses, tailor shops are highly local, i.e. they mainly market to customers in the local area. If local residents don't view your startup favorably, it could be difficult to achieve lasting success.
Take a Look at Competitors
Prior to launching a tailor shop in your town, it's a smart move to find out how many competitors you have. We've provided the link below to help you generate a list of competitors in your city. Just enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of tailor shops in your community.
If there's too much competition, it may be wise to consider starting the business in a less competitive marketplace.
Finding a Non-Competitive Business Mentor
Once you've finished assessing the competion, the next step is to learn as much as you can from somebody who is already in the business. If you think your local competitors will give you advice, you're being overoptimistic. Why would they want to educate a future competitor?
Fortunately, somebody who runs a tailor shop in a different city may be willing to share their entrepreneurial wisdom with you, given that you don't compete with them in their area. In that case, the business owner may be more than happy to discuss the industry with you. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
Where do you find a tailor shop entrepreneur that lives outside of your area?
It's easy. Here's a link you can use to find a mentor outside of your area.
Gaining Access to Tailor Shop Ownership
Some entrepreneurs buy existing tailor shops, while others plunge headfirst into a tailor shop startup. There are a lot of benefits of buying a tailor shop.
If you're on the fence consider this: There has never been a better time to acquire a tailor shop. The down economy has resulted in a glut of available businesses, many of which can be acquired for bargain prices.
Recognize that your chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur are much greater if you buy a franchise in lieu of doing everything yourself.
As part of your process in starting a tailor shop, you should assess whether buying a franchise could make sense for you.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you sell to tailor shops, this isn't the right place for you. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.