How To Build Your Own Sweater Swatch Business
Creating your own sweater swatch business is a great way to build a business that gives you the freedom and independence you desire. However, building any type of creative consulting or freelance business is not easy. You need to have a firm foundation, unique product or services, and a great customer list to help give you consistent cash flow for your business.
In this article, I am going to teach you the basic building blocks for creating your own creative sweater swatch business.
We couldn’t cover every possible angle of the fashion sweater textile business in just one post! This article is part of a 6 part Fashion Knit Business Series. If you want to learn how to become a sweater textile designer or start your own service-based business you can check out the entire series at the bottom of this page.
What Is Your Super Power?
To have a successful sweater swatch business one needs to niche down and serve their audience in the best way they can. This means, that you will need to find what you are really good at and exploit that advantage. Such as, your superpower could mean specializing in a particular category of sweaters such as childrenswear or menswear designs. You might be an amazing intarsia designer and that is what you become known for! You might decide to become the number one expert on crochet or macrame. Specializing in a particular field will help you become known quickly in the industry as the go-to expert in that area.
I know it can be tempting, especially when you are starting out, to try to be all things to all people. But trust me! Once you find your niche, people will be seeking you out! Consider the following:
- What makes your designs or service unique?
- Are their enough clients in a particular area that is underserved whom you could service?
- Is this area something that interest you and you could see yourself designing for an extended period of time?
- Are there legs to expand?
Tips On Prioritizing Your Work Flow
Being a sweater swatch business owner means you have to wear many different hats. You have to be the designer, the salesperson, the accountant, the social media and PR person. The list goes on and on! And if you are just starting out it may only be you steering the ship.
So, how do you get it all done, and still make time for you, and keep it all under control without going crazy? You need a plan!
Start by making a list of everything you need to do. Then try to group the tasks together that are similar such as creating emails content, social media content, etc. This is called batching your work. Next, plot it all out on a calendar scheduling each batch of tasks for certain days. Perhaps one week you do all accounting, billing, invoicing, etc. One week you can do all content. Another week you schedule all appointments and make calls to clients. You will be surprised how much you can get done when you don’t have a million to-do tasks running around in your head to distract you!
Finally, consider any work that you can outsource to an intern or a VA (virtual assistant). This could be sending invoices, making the cold calls to schedule appointments, or creating social media etc. If the tasks are well organized and thought out, then either an intern or a VA should be able to do them in a short amount of time with little to no additional help from you. This will free you up for the work you love to do! Designing!
Build Your Online Presence
In this day and age, it is imperative that you have an online presence. The bare minimum would be a basic website that included a landing page, about you page, and contact form. The landing page should have examples of your work. Your “about” page should tell your story and gives a list of products or services you provide. It is very important to have a contact page so potential clients can reach you. A blog is another good way to engage with your customers. You can show trends in the industry, and give them a backstage pass to your work studio to see where the magic happens!
Many successful sweater swatch studios now have an online presence via social media. Their designer customers follow them via Instagram or Facebook. Having a social media presence is a great way to stay on the minds of your customers and show them a visual representation of your designs, and keep them up to date on possible trade shows you may be attending. Social media is also a great way to find new customers! See my post “How To Use Social Media To Network In The Fashion Industry.”
How To Build Your Customer List
Having a strong email list of potential clients is crucial to building a successful sweater swatch business. In this type of business, you are only as good as your last designs. This is why it is so important to constantly be building your list of potential new clients and keeping in contact with your existing clients.
Here are the top 10 ways to build a customer list:
- On your website, you absolutely have to have a way for people to sign up for your email list. This is called an opt-in form and can be easily added via a plug-in no matter what type of web design platform you use (WordPress, Square Space, etc). This is where organic traffic can find you and choose to be added to your list.
- When you have an appointment with customers in your studio, or when they come see you at a trade show, be sure to pass out a business card to each and every single person on the design team; not just the head designer. People move around in the fashion industry and you will want to stay connected to all of them.
- At the same time, be sure to ask every single person you meet for their business cards. This way, you are not leaving it up to them to come back. You can take the initiative in reaching out to these people in the future.
- Keep an updated contact card of yourself and your business via i0s or android. Be sure to include company name, address, contact info, and all social media profile names so that people can follow you. After you have collected peoples business cards do a quick follow up email and include this complete contact card. Make it easy for them! Now you are in their phone and easy to find.
- Use an email client such as MailChimp, MailerLite, ConvertKit, or ConstantContact to send newsletters and other types of email blasts to your clients. Many of these email clients are free until your list reaches a certain number of contacts.
- Build your own contact list spreadsheet. Don’t depend on LinkedIn as many people do not keep their profiles up to date. Keep a running spreadsheet with all contact information of your clients including the company they work for, job title, phone number, email, work address, etc.
- Add all new customers to your email list. This means every time you receive a new clients business card you need to manually add them to your email client so that they are on your mailing list. You also need to manually add them to your spreadsheet of clients.
- Create regular content to send out to your email list such as a newsletter, announcements of upcoming events or collections that might become available, or perhaps promotions you may be running. And be sure that every single email that you send out is shareable via a social share button.
- Connect with them on Social media. Just because I said not to rely on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you shouldn’t connect with your clients there. LinkedIn is actually the number one social media for connecting professionals used today. You can also connect and follow your clients on other social media like Instagram. Be sure to include a link to your website in your profile so people can contact you. Having a business Instagram account also allows you to have a contact button as part of your profile, so potential new clients can quickly message you!
- Consider taking part in a trade show such as Première Vision or Spin-Expo. This is a great way to meet new clients. Trade shows have many benefits. It offers a built-in audience with foot traffic potential. However, don’t rely solely on their network. Try to set appointments with clients while you are there. Attending a trade show in another city is a great way to get new clients in a new area that you would not otherwise be available to. Trade shows also may offer additional perks such as being on their online resource contact list.
Fashion Knit Business Series:
If you or someone you know is interested in working as a sweater textile designer you can read the entire blog series here. Learn what it takes to be a successful sweater textile designer, and how to start and run your own sweater swatch service business.
- What Is A Sweater Swatch Service Company
- How To Get Representation As A Sweater Textile Designer
- Top 10 Tips To Be A Successful Sweater Textile Designer
- How To Build Your Own Sweater Swatch Service Business
- Advice From Top Sweater Designers