Is it a bad idea?(22 Posts)
I've recently set up a small business after years of friends/family telling me it is a great idea. Everyone I show my product to seems to be (genuinely) impressed and say what a great idea it is. However, sales have been slow via my website and today I went to a popular local village market and sold a grand total of 0 items. Is this a sign I Should give up? Or just keep searching for the right market place?
Imagine you are pitching this idea in the Dragons' Den. What objections would they have to it?
Sorry I didn't want to get into trouble with people think I was trying to get free advertising. I make and sell kits containing everything people need (e.g. Fabric cut to the correct size, pins, thread, etc) to make simple children's clothing (dresses). They are simple and aimed at completely unskilled sewers. I could post a web link to the website if that wouldn't get me in trouble? I'll try to attach an image of the finished dress
Good question imperial. I'll pose myself that question
I would be interested in this! How are they priced though? It may be that there are other similar established businesses e.g cloth kits that have cornered the market
I think that if people are into seeing they already have all the kit and if they aren't into sewing they would rather just buy the finished product!
Hmm. It's pretty. But is the problem that a competent sewer wouldn't need a kit and would presumably be inclined to want a particular pattern, fabric etc. However, a completely amateur sewer like me wouldn't have the confidence to assume they could make it even with a kit.
How about classes for beginners, or YouTube type tutorials to go on your website to help out beginners?
Also could it be an issue of pricing and where you're trying to sell? Someone who sews for pleasure presumably doesn't need to pay a premium for a kit and unless the kit is cheaper than the cost of a dress in a shop someone who doesn't sew for pleasure would just buy a dress.
They are all about the profit on DD. So they'd ask you:
1) Who's your market?
2) What evidence do you have that this is something people want?
3) How much does each item cost you in terms of materials and time?
4) How much can you realistically sell them for, bearing in mind the prices in Primark etc - if you don't know the answer to 4) and 5) they're not interested at all, even if they like the product
5) Where would you sell them?
I would think your main problem here is that people who sew anyway, won't buy it, because they would prefer to choose their own fabric and pattern from a much wider range. They usually enjoy the whole process of choosing and preparing.
People who don't sew might buy it as something to do with a child on a rainy day, kind of thing, but if they don't sew they are likely to buy all of their clothes from a shop.
One objection I'd have to it as a business idea is that you have to cut out all the fabric to specific sizes in advance. So what happens if someone has twins aged 5 and wants two sets, whereas you only have a 5 and a 6 left? They want it now and you couldn't supply it. The same goes if they wanted different materials.
And if you're left with something unpopular there's nothing you can do with it as it's precut into that shape, whereas if it was not cut out in advance, you could decide to make cushions or something completely different.
Thanks for all your responses, some good questions for me to think about. To answer a few: They are priced £20-24 per kit. I know people can buy ready made hand sewn dresses for this price, but I am aiming for the amateur craft market, ie people who'd like to sew but whom don't have a lot of time/equipment/experience and who enjoy the crafting process but are put off by the amount of kit or experience they'd need. Clothkits are the only real competitor who offer a similar product but their patterns aren't all ready cut to size.
There must be a pretty high profit margin on that, then?
Also, imperial, to answer your sizing question, I have a few in each size for the market I went to today but normally sell online so I can just cut them to order. They cost me about £9 on average to make (obv this varies as 6-12 months requires much less fabric than age 8.
Oh yes, of course, online it would be much easier.
I've always thought the best market for anything with fabric is the new baby market. That's when people are really willing to spend a bit extra. I would be looking at quilts for cots and prams, or cushions or bunting with matching curtains, that sort of thing. The problem, obviously, with a website, is a) trying to attract people to your site and b) managing to be competitive.
It's tough, isn't it?
I think one problem is thinking people will pay up to £24 in a market for one item. What was selling well at the market, did you notice?
I'm worried that might be my issue witwoo.....
I had an on line children's boutique approach me to ask if they can stick it but I've sold none!
Imperial - the market wasn't exclusively children's, so good sold very well, as did 'country' styled items such as boot pulls, etc.
How are people supposed to find you kits? How are you advertising it? What would they google?
Can you do something like you pick the fabric/buttons/thread from a selection and a pattern and we'll cut it out and send it to you?
yes, I can imagine that it's too 'easy' for someone who has a few sewing skills whilst being too daunting for someone who can't sew at all.
I'm presuming it needs machine stitching? If I was confident enough to use a machine on something I'd paid £24 I think I'd be confident enough to cut to pattern, IYSWIM? So would feel like I could just get the pattern and material and do it a lot cheaper.
And if I wasn't confident on a machine, I wouldn't buy it because of this, so catch 22 really - I'd be starting out with simpler things like bags and cushion covers.
I run a handmade business. I have not advertised to friends and family much because when I do I always get the same "ooh you're so talented" etc etc but no one ever buys. As it happens my business is extremely successful so I don't need the confidence boosts they give.
My point is, you will always get those closest to you saying what you do is amazing. It doesn't necessarily mean it's true. I don't mean that in a nasty way, but the only way you will know if you are good at what you do is research. See what others are selling (actually selling not just available for sale). I
t took years for my website to start getting regular sales. I started on eBay, then branched out to Etsy. Is your website legally compliant? Full name, address and contact number on there? Legal returns policy? Are your photos clear and consistent?
Persevere. When I first started I got maybe a sale a fortnight. Now I run four stores online with around 20 sales a day during quieter periods, 50 at Christmas time.
With regard to your actual product. I know a lot of people who make clothes for fun. They love the choosing on fabric, pattern and trimmings. They already have the equipment. To be fair, if you are prepared to invest in a sewing machine, spending a few quid of thread and pins is neither here nor there. I just cannot see a market for it at the price you are charging. By cutting the fabric for them you aren't really saving them much time, and if they mess it up they have no fabric left to do it again without buying a whole new kit.
I assume you are using your own patterns? You should be to avoid copyright issues. If you are, could you not sell your patterns instead? Can you teach? Run a sewing course?
I don't think that product will sell: price is very high relative to "naice" manufactured stuff and some people who just want to sew a little would probably go for something DC won't grow out of, like a blanket or toy.
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