How to start a Tailoring Shop – 10 point checklist

If you love sewing, nothing like managing a business related it. A tailoring shop – sewing clothes or altering them on your own or managing other employees who will do it for you is a good business idea for anyone wanting to start their own business and continue doing something they love – handling clothes and fabrics.

Over a hundred thousand people google for cloth alterations and about one million for a tailor every month; out of that someone must be from your area in need of a good quality tailor. You can be that one.

Related : Checkout the other 40+ business ideas related to sewing.

how to start a tailoring shop

The opportunities for a sewing shop include generalised as well as specialised tailoring shops that specialise in bridal clothes, or bespoke suits or party dresses or only dress costumes. You can specialise in making kids’s  dresses ( communion and other party dresses) with beautiful embroidery or make custom fitting pants for guys

A simple checklist for starting a tailoring business.

1.Make a business plan for your shop

For any business, a business plan is the first thing you have to make. A business plan will include most of the things you will be doing 6 months , 1 year and even 10 year from the start of your business. But first of all you have to decide on the type of garment you will make, or alter or your area of specialisation.

You may be staying in an area where people prefer to wear mostly ready made clothes and they are not bothered about the fit of the clothes. In this case you have to target cloth alterations . In which case you will have to ensure that the volume of alterations will be enough to justify a separate rented space. If a shop is not viable you will have to limit your operations to a room in your house.

Write down the overhead  expenses you will have to incur in starting this business and create a detailed plausibility study as to whether a shop will be a profit making business.The expenses will include rent, office supplies, tools and equipments, insurance,maintenance expenses like electricity, telephone, accountant or other professional assistance if using. 

Study the rates charged in other tailoring/ cloth alteration shops around you and decide on yours. Check out how many business you will get realistically every month. Calculate the money you can make. Compare this with the expenses you will be incurring and this will tell you the feasibility of the business

2. Get the necessary training

This could be business training or sewing training

Even if you have been sewing for a long time you will not know some of the tricks and techniques only privy to the experts in this business. This can be learned by joining an already established business which is doing the same job as you plan to. If they do not want to hire you as a manager or a tailor you can join as an assistant or even a non paid employee – you need the experience not the money at this stage

If you feel not so sure about your sewing you can get the necessary training from a good sewing school near you. A few months of training can make you an expert .

A business owner who knows the technical aspects of sewing cannot go wrong in running it well- even if you do not plan to sew in your business.

3. Decide how much fund you need to get started and how to get it

Consider expenses like rent, employee salaries, equipment, other running expenses

Decide how you will get the fund – you can get a bank loan especially for women entrepreneurs. Cooperative credit societies will give loan for starting small businesses like yours. If you have an asset you may pledge it if other avenues are not open.

The best way to fund your business is to ask your relatives or friends for a loan. If you can convince them of the profitability of your business they can give you some loan at a lower interest rate and at a lower risk. But do not let business and money come between relationship. Many a relationship has soured because someone lend another money and that one didn’t (Or couldn’t) return it.

4 Decide on the location of the business

Location can be one of the main determinants in the success of any business.

A tailoring shop or clothing alterations store is best located in a residential area. If you are located in an area with mostly business offices you may struggle to get customers. If you have a mall with heavy footfall of women this may be the best place though the rent may be high and you may end up with lose.

A small place in residential complexes maybe the best place to start this business. The advantage of this business is that this can be started out of a very small space ( say 200 sq. feet)

5. Decide on a name

This is a very personal thing. Like naming your kid. Many people name their shop after their own name. eg Ted Tailors. Or after something they love – Butterfly design tailors. Find an appealing name ; Sound it with your friends and family. 

6 Get the legalities right

Consult a knowledgeable person for the legalities involved in starting a small business in your area. Register your business.

Open a bank account; You will need a current account with overdraft facilities. The bank may ask for your registered documents and tax number ( Social Security Number , Permanent account number etc)

You will need to maintain the necessary books like Cash Receipts Journal, Cash Disbursement Journal, Check Register and keep files for advertising, office supplies and miscellaneous operations

For nittygritties like this which can go above your head ( for me it does) you may need to talk to an accountant. 

7. Get the equipment needed

The minimum requirement in a tailoring shop is an industry grade sewing machine and an overlock / serger machine.

The home sewing machine would not do for professional sewing though small alterations from home can be done for clients with these. The home machines are mostly made for only a few hours of continuous work and this is not how much you will need the sewing machine for. Check out this post o the 20 different types of sewing machines to know what equipment you need to start a sewing/tailoring business.

You need a big table for cutting and storage shelves for storing fabrics patterns and other sewing tools. Checkout these posts on the sewing tools and embroidery tools you will need for various purposes.

Donot splurge too much on the interior of the shop but you will have to ensure that the customer who comes will be comfortable in the layout of the store.

A separate space/ room with a closable door is necessary as a fitting room. This privacy is a minimum requirement for a professional shop. But this can be done away with, in a less professional set up where extra space is impossible. Some tailoring shops manage with a separate cubicle made with detachable side walls and a curtain in the place of door

Sewing is messy and the cloth storage is even more. Ensure that the customer who come to your shop doesn’t see the clustered shop and get the wrong impression. A curtain strategically placed can help. Or get big storage shelves which can be closed

A dressing form ( mannequin), collection of lining materials and sewing trims are extra supplies which can add value. You also need bags for delivering goods. Most professionals will have name labels which are attached to the finished goods.Business cards are a necessity rather than an option

8 Get the employees needed for the business

If you have decided to start small you can sew for the clients yourself. When you get more work you can hire employees; first on a part time basis and then full time. Some tailors who are working in other shops maybe willing to come to your shop on a part time basis.

There are also tailoring shops operating by hiring women who work from home. They are given piece rate ; when work is there it is send to their houses and they complete it and send it back to the shop. The tailors can be hired more cheaply this way because the women can work from home.

You will have to be extra vigilant that the work is up to your standands.Most of the time the cutting will be done at the shop and only the final sewing is done at houses. Sometimes ony embroidery work and or hand sewing parts are given out.

But you may have already decided that you will have permanent tailors and cutters and you will be managing and not sewing .

When hiring tailors and cutters to get the good ones you may have to give them piece rates which are mostly on the higher side. If you get fresh tailors without much experience you may have to give them the necessary training to ensure that they sew professionally.The small work involved in sewing like attaching hooks and hemming are given to assistants who are hired for lesser pay

Conduct detailed interviews with sewing tests . Inspect the work for best dressmaking practises and good finishing.

In this industry quality work is the most important thing.

If you compromise on the quality of sewing, that will be the beginning of the end of your business

tailoring shop business

9 Decide on a service policy for the shop

A rude response or two by your employee to a valued customer can end your business prematurely. A written customer care policy manual is important. This will ensure that everyone in your business knows how to behave with customers and how to react to their sometimes rude demeanour.

I have felt put off by behaviour of staff in some of the shops I have been to and maybe they didn’t know that they are offensive and will be losing a customer because of their attitude. Getting the employees in on the ‘customer is king mentality’ is important from the day one  for the success of your tailoring business

One important thing with a tailor shop is adherence to a strict timely delivery. If you cannot make/alter clothes on time you shouldnot take the order or commit on the time.

A disappointed customer can badmouth about your business resulting in a lessening of orders.But that doesnot mean that they are allowed to take advantage of you.

Get the policy of your shop clear and written in the bill or somewhere visible in the shop so that your customer is aware of your shop policies like ‘no extra alterations after 2 days of taking the product from the shop’ or ‘ we will keep the product for 15 days from the date of completion and no more’ etc

10 Marketing your tailoring business

Word of mouth is the best marketing for a tailoring shop. If you have satisfied customers you may not even need a marketing policy. They will market for you by way of good words to their friends and relatives.

When starting new you will need to let people know that the shop is open and services are available. Printed pamphlets which can be dropped in the postboxes of localities or inserted inside newspapers are the best marketing for local tailoring shops. You can print posters to be displayed in apartment complex notice boards

After a point you may want to expand into related businesses like drycleaning pickup center or dyeing or boutique or monograming. This growth will bring more revenue to you without much additional expenses

If you have the space you may also start peripheral businesses like a boutique or a sewing school. Checkout the posts How to start a Boutique and how to start a sewing school business for these ideas.

It takes a lot of guts to start any business. When you bring that business to the success point nothing can beat it. It is great feeling being able to take your business to success and grow it to a level where it can sustain you. Go ahead.  Make that leap with faith and courage.

Do share the post if you like it 🙂

Checkout this post on the 13 rules you should follow when running a home based business.


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Comments 62

  1. Hi , Could any body can help me to establish small factory of cloth stitching, embroidery and etc,(readymade garment), the same i want sale it in India and abroad.
    This is my idea, Please suggest(help) me what to do for the same. Basically I am accountant. Please reply on email ID.

  2. I am planning to open a tailoring and embroidery outlet in Bangalore, need suggestions for the same and also for appointing tailors , please provide contact details. Also what could be the budget to start in a small way and then progress further.

    Sunder Rajkumar
    Mob: 9886763913

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      Hi Sunder
      Budget would depend on the area you wish to operate, the rent involved; the tailors you wish to employ, the machines you want to purchase etc. There are people who operate tailoring shops with a sewing machine or two. It is all personalized. So making a business plan on your own calculating all the costs involved yourself will be the best course to take. Best wishes

  3. Thank you for such an encouraging blog. According to research in current 2 to 3 years the demand of Tailoring service rapidly improved. The People are showing more interest towards tailoring clothes because of the good fitting quality. To start a tailoring shop online as well as offline will be a very good idea at this era. We can take the example of YourTailor Which is a Ladies online tailoring service provider based on Bangalore and it very much appreciated by the customer with in the less time period due to it’s best service quality.

  4. Hi, i need to start a garment tailoring,but how can i get tailors from delhi and bombay?
    Here in our place we don’t have enough tailors. They need to shift to our place and work.Can someone help me out with this?

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      Hi Priyanka
      You will have to give enough compensation for tailors to shift from their place of residence. Or else you can train a person interested in tailoring.

  5. according to my dream this is the beginning of my success,i was looking for the person who can help me in my tailoring business planning but now God has answered my prayer

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  6. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I?d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don?t mind. Natually I?ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing

  7. i also really need to start my business as soon as possible, i will really need more information on how i will manage, it cause i want to be managing it were i have workers under me, i really want it to be successful so i will need your aid in this thanks alot for this great information.

  8. Wooowwww……. This is just what I have been looking for, been trying to draft some things on my own but this is really detailed. Thanks so much for saving me the stress of cracking my brain. Having a tailoring/ fashion design business where I manage and have employee is my dream. I also would love to have a space where I display some of my designs and bespoke. I am so glad you just removed some weight off my chest. Would love to have more of your help when I want to kick-start. Thanks a bunch.

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  9. hey boss, I am a fashion designer I read your page which enable to me to make a request, my request is nothing but the business plan please thanks.

  10. Hello
    Myself Suresh and I want to open tailor shop but I have no knowledge about stitching but I belong to textile engineering background and I recently work in spinning industry ( Vardhman yarns ) so plz guide me how to start shop and I also want to that this is my future business ….So plz guide me ……

  11. Hi mam,

    really thank you ,i am looking for business what i am doing ,if i do anything how its earn able ,but you gave now detailed tailoring work ,,thank you ,,i am new for this ..first how long i will join institute for tailoring and what i want to learn because i am living in small town ,,which population nearly 2 lakh people .so which specific can i learn and practise,like stiching ,cutting like that pls .,and my wife also enter this .so pls provide valuable comments

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      hi Raj,
      I hope you have a tailoring institute in your town. They will have a 6 month or so courses for teaching everything about tailoring – cutting, sewing etc. You can learn everything and then start your business or hire your own tailors. Best wishes

  12. Thanks… I have a tailoring business since long… But now I want to expand my business….. Kindly help me by sharing ideas how to I get my business

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      Tailoring is a local business – your best bets for marketing your shop are pamphlets distributed among local residents, offering discounts etc ; The best marketing tool is word of mouth – a happy customer can bring in 10 more. You can expand your tailoring business by starting a fabric store or offering specialized tailoring like bridal sewing or suit making or starting to make and sell sewn things in the shop. my 2 cents. Best wishes

  13. Wooowwww……. This is just what I have been looking for, been trying to draft some things on my own but this is really detailed. Thanks so much for saving me the stress of cracking my brain. Having a tailoring/ fashion design business where I manage and have employee is my dream. I also would love to have a space where I display some of my designs and bespoke. I am so glad you just removed some weight off my chest. Would love to have more of your help when I want to kick-start. Thanks a bunch.

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  14. Hi There,

    Thanks a lot for great article, It will definitely helps my new tailoring business, calling it, as my business involves the designing the blouse with embroidery and related services.

    Great suggestions, I will share with my tailoring friends.

    Thanks again.

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  15. Thanks a lot for taking time to write all about starting a new business which are basically jumping questions deep inside somebody’s heart who is thinking about starting something new… it surely was helpful. God bless u and God bless me to start a new business and make it a successful one.

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  16. I was running the same business almost for 15 years in Abu Dhabi with 15 TAILORS (All ladies). Due to some unavoidable circumstancec the same is closed before 3 years. Now again I am planning the same to start somewhere in Dubai location.
    My old staffs are ready rejoin with me anytime.
    Now looking for a financial partner to start the same business. After reading this message if anyone interested please contact 050 474 3242 after 4.30 pm 24/7.

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    2. Thank you very much. This has really encouraged me start my tailoring business. Look forward to more ideas and suggestions from you.

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  17. I really enjoyed this piece, it’s so encouraging. I will like you to mentor me.I actually I want to start tailoring materials business but I felt I should learn sewing first.whats your advice. Thanks

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      hi Bukola
      Sewing knowledge is a plus when you start your business, yes. Not too much in depth, but you should know what the customer needs even when he doesnot know it 🙂 I buy so many unnecessary things from the shop I go to because the guy there tells me it is needed. best wishes

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      That is one whole post 🙂 it is a great business – if you have the money for stock and a good locatiion without much competition and people passionate about sewing . best wishes

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  18. Thanks so much i am so glad to read the checklist .i want to start up a sewing business at home and am so confused of where to start. Cos ther is a sewing shop in my street and it belongs to my friend . she might thnk iam jealous of her to open mine too.plz i need your advise n this ..thanks

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      Hey, You should follow your dream. You can maybe concentrate on a non competitive niche in sewing ;But I bet that competition will do you friend good only – as it is for any business. – look at coca cola and pepsi If there is a demand you both will flourish – hope your friend will understand this. Best wishes

  19. Thanks a ton for sharing the amazing checklist. I am about to start a boutique. Could you please guide me with the business plan?? I will be very grateful if I get any assistance. Many thanks in advance.

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