Do you want to start a longarm quilting business? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to start a longarm quilting business with no money and no experience. If you intend starting this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you.
You need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to get all the information you need before you can legally open your own longarm quilting shop. You can start your business from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising.
20 Steps on How to Start a Longarm Quilting Shop Business
Table of Content
- 1. Understand the Industry
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Business
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
- 7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
- 8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
- 17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 18. Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
Quilting is a long-time tradition and in the United States, it can be traced to the arrival of slaves especially from Africa. Longarm quilting businesses offer a unique set of services, assisting hobbyist quilters with the parts of their quilts that require a special, larger machine, called a longarm machine and frame. Many longarm quilters will also sell their own artistic creations, accepting custom work when a customer comes to them with an inspiring piece.
Quilting business has continued to experience steady growth over the years due to the fact that quilters continue to come up with unique designs. Computer aided designs and unique software has really impacted the industry positively. In the United States, per capita disposable income has increased steadily in the last five years, many thanks to increase in employment.
The truth is that as disposable income increased, consumers have been more willing to increase spending on discretionary services in order to customize the fabrics and other related materials. Going forward, revenue is expected to continue to increase. Manufacturing output will continue to increase, which will inspire demand from consumer product and fashion and clothing outlets.
A close study of the quilting business shows that the business exhibits low barriers to entry. The industry is highly fragmented due to the fact that there are smaller quilting shops that cater to a market niche of consumers, such as consumers that want to personalize their fabrics.
The quilting business will continue to blossom because more and more individuals, and businesses are beginning to realize that somehow, they would need the services of quilting shops to help them customize their fabrics and other related materials. From all available statistics, it is safe to say that the industry is growing steadily despite the competitive nature of the industry.
Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own quilting business could be that the business is easy to set up and the startup capital is indeed affordable. You can actually start your own quilting business from the comfort of your house, all you need to do is to create a space somewhere in your house.
Over and above, longarm quilting business is indeed a profitable line of business and it is open for any aspiring entrepreneur to come in and establish his or her business; you can choose to start on a small scale servicing a community or on a large scale with several outlets in key cities all around the United States of America.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographics composition of those who require the services of longarm quilting shops is not restricted to small quilting shops, individuals and those who are into the sale of fabrics and clothing, but also corporate organizations, businesses, religious organizations, and households.
So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your longarm quilting shop, then you should make it far reaching.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
It is important to state that there are no niche ideas when it comes to the longarm quilting business, because every player in this line of business produces different designs that suits their market or customer.
When it comes to styles, a longarm quilting business may decide to adopt any of the under listed;
- Foundation piecing – also known as paper-piecing – sewing pieces of fabric onto a temporary or permanent foundation
- Shadow or echo quilting – Hawaiian quilting, where quilting is done around an appliquéd piece on the quilt top, then the quilting is echoed again and again around the previous quilting line.
- Ralli quilting – Pakistani and Indian quilting, often associated with the Sindh (Pakistan) and Gujarat (India) regions.
- Sashiko stitching – Basic running stitch worked in heavy, white cotton thread usually on dark indigo colored fabric. It was originally used by the working classes to stitch layers together for warmth.
- Trapunto quilting – stuffed quilting, often associated with Italy.
- Machine trapunto quilting – a process of using water-soluble thread and an extra layer of batting to achieve trapunto design and then sandwiching the quilt and re-sewing the design with regular cotton thread.
- Shadow trapunto – This involves quilting a design in fine lawn and filling some of the spaces in the pattern with small lengths of colored wool.
- Tivaevae or tifaifai – A distinct art from the Cook Islands.
- Watercolor quilting – A sophisticated form of scrap quilting whereby uniform sizes of various prints are arranged and sewn to create a picture or design. See also Color – wash.
- Thread art – A custom style of sewing where thread is layered to create the picture on the quilt.
The Level of Competition in the Longarm Quilting Line of Business
Surviving in the business world as a quilter who owns a longarm quilting business requires more than your expertise but also how to network with key people that matters; decision makers that can decide who will get a quilting contract or a business deal.
The level of competition in the longarm quilting business to some extent depends largely the location of the business and of course the area of specialization. If you can successfully create a unique concept for your business, you are likely going to experience little or no competition.
But over and above, there are several longarm quilting shops scattered all around the United States. So, if you choose to start your own longarm quilting business in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competition. Besides, there are larger longarm quilting companies that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for clients.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Business
Here are some of the most popular longarm quilting shops in the United States of America;
- Keepsake Quilting
- Undercover Quilts from the USA
- The Quilting Grounds
- Grandma’s Attic Sewing Emporium, Inc.
- Cambridge Quilt Shop
- Gotham Quilts
- American Quilting
- The Cotton Patch
- Chalet Publishing
- The Quilted Crow
- Main Street Quilting Company
- Hancock’s of Paducah
- Penney’s Quilt Shop from Missouri Star Quilt Co
- Everything Quilts Inc
- Fabric Shack
- Gruber’s Quilt Shop
- BERNINA Sewing Center & Quilt Shop
- Calico Basket Quilt Shop
- Rosie’s Calico Cupboard Quilt Shop
- Northern Hearth Quilting & Sewing, LLC
If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.
Longarm quilting business is not a green business, as a matter of fact, you will come across several longarm quilting shops when you drive through town. So, if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of the quilting materials and tools needed to successfully run the business.
If you are considering opening a longarm quilting shop, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of renting a shop facility and equipping the facility but also on branding and building a robust business network. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust business network, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. Basically, you should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement.
If you are looking towards starting a longarm quilting business, you would have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get longarm quilting business franchise to buy. It is a business that is open to all and sundry as long as you have the required quilting skills.
Besides starting a longarm quilting business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small – scale businesses which usually requires detailed groundwork before launching the business. With longarm quilting business, you should just try as much as possible to secure a shop cum production facility that is close to a major road and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your products and services.
Please note that most of the successful longarm quilting businesses around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own longarm quilting business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established longarm businesses and even small quilting shops who are offering same services that you intend offering.
The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on family and friends and also people in your community who can’t afford the high-end fees charge by established longarm quilting shops.
Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is economic downturn; if the economy is in bad shape, longarm quilting shops and the likes usually struggle to maintain their old clients or even win new client. So also, unfavorable government policies can also hamper the growth of your longarm quilting shop.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Generally, you can choose a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for your longarm quilting shop. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale longarm quilting shop especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood.
But if your intention is to grow the business and have chains of longarm quilting shops across the United States of America via franchising and opening online store, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.
Here is some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own longarm quilting shop in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Workers compensation
- Building/Property insurance
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own longarm quilting shop, you may have need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your unique designs or company’s intellectual properties.
So also, if you want to leverage on this business opportunity and also to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even operation concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
When it comes to longarm quilting business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to start the business. All you need is informal training that will give you the needed skills coupled with your own inbuilt craft and artistic talents.
On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to conduct your longarm quilting business, then by all means try and pursue such certification.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catches up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United States of America;
- Business and liability insurance
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a longarm quilting business can be cost effective especially if you choose to run the business from your home or from a small shop/kiosk in front of your house. Securing a standard shop, tools and materials and other sewing and quilting supplies are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital, but if you choose to start the business on a small scale, you may not have to source for fund to finance the business.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your longarm quilting business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
When it comes to choosing a location for your longarm quilting business, the rule of thumb is that you should be guided by the demand for such services. Of course, if you are able to secure a central location for your business, it will give people easy access to locate your facility.
It cannot be overemphasized that the location you choose to open your longarm quilting business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consist of people with the require purchasing power and lifestyle. If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility in a not too visible or hidden location because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business and perhaps giving direction to potential clients.
It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has a full grasp of the city.
Most importantly, before choosing a location for your longarm quilting business ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.
These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your longarm quilting business;
- The demography of the location
- The demand for quilting fabrics and services in the location
- The purchasing power of the residents of the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The numbers of longarm quilting shops in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community
- Traffic, parking and security et al
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
When it comes to technicality as it relates to running a longarm quilting business, there are no complex technicalities except for longarm machines and quilting tools such as Quilting Templates/Patterns, Rotary Cutters and Boards, Pins and Thimbles, Machine Quilting Needles, Fabric Markers or Ruler, Sewing machine, graphic software and social media management software applications et al.
You will also need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing a shop or production facility for your longarm quilting business, the size of the business you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice.
If you have enough capital to run a standard longarm quilting business, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your shop; when you lease, you will be able to work with long – term planning, structuring and expansion.
As regards the number of employees that you are expected to employ in other to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. On the average, you would need a Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Manager and Creative Director, and Longarm Quilting Machine Operators.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 7 key staff members to effectively run a medium scale but standard longarm quilting business.
The Service Delivery Process of a Longarm Quilting Shop Business
Longarm quilting businesses offer a unique set of services, assisting hobbyist quilters with the parts of their quilts that require a special, larger machine. Many longarm quilters also sell their own artistic creations, accepting custom work when a customer comes to them with an inspiring piece. Generally, quilting is done to create bed spreads, wall hangings, clothing, and a variety of textile products. Quilting can make a project thick, or with dense quilting, can raise one area so that another stands out.
Please not that if it is an individual or small business owner that wants to carryout customized quilting jobs, the above stated business process will not be followed. They are expected to bring their items to the production facility, bargain, make payment as agreed and then take back their jobs once it is completed.
Lastly, it is important to state that a longarm quilting shop may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated longarm quilting business process is not cast on stone.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
The fact that the entry barrier for starting a small – scale longarm quilting shop business is not too high means that there is bound to be more players in the industry no matter the location you choose to start yours. In essence, you must come up with unique marketing strategies if you must carve out a market for yourself.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your longarm quilting shop;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure / catalogue to small quilting shops, households, fabric designing related businesses and corporate organizations within and outside the location of your longarm quilting shop
- Promptness in bidding for longarm quilting contracts et al
- Print out fliers and business cards and strategically drop them in offices, libraries, public facilities and train stations et al.
- Making your first impression count positively to those patronize your longarm quilting shop for the first time
- Make use of attractive hand bills to create awareness and also to give direction to your shop
- Advertise your services in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business and products on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your longarm quilting shop
- Engage in direct marketing and sales
- Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your longarm quilting shop (when you blog regularly on key issues as it relates to your business, people would consider you an expert in the field)
- Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your longarm quilting shop; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
The factors that will help you get the right pricing for your longarm quilting business is to source for cheaper raw materials, produce in large quantities, cut operational cost to the barest minimum, channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your longarm quilting business brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will help you get the right pricing for your products.
As a matter of fact, if you are able to secure high volume quilting materials and good quilting tools and sewing machines; machines that are efficient to run and maintain, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.
So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.
18. Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
There is hardly any business that you will start that you won’t get some form of competition and quilting business is not an exception, hence, you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry.
Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to create easier and cheaper ways of tackling quilting challenges. Organizations and people will always run to you if they know that you have a better option especially as it relates to giving them neat and unique quilting designs at affordable prices.
Another strategy that you can adopt is to ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified, highly creative and know how to come up with neat and unique quilting designs.
19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.
If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).
20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your longarm quilting shop;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community – based events
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your longarm quilting shop
- Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- List your longarm quilting shop business in local directories / yellow pages
- Advertise your longarm quilting shop in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
- Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your longarm quilting shop is located.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo.