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How to Start a Sweater and Cardigan Knitting Business

Do you want to start a sweater and cardigan knitting business? If YES, here’s a complete guide to starting a sweater and cardigan knitting business with NO money and no experience.

A sweater and cardigan business is one business that can be started in any part of the world and the owner of the business is able to penetrate the world market once the design is good and it meets a need in the fashion market. Everybody whether old or young have need for a sweater or cardigan especially when the weather is cold.

One good thing about a sweater and cardigan knitting business is that entrepreneurs can start their own label from their homes on a small scale and service a customized market like schools in the neighborhood.

The bottom line is that there is always a ready market for manufacturers of sweaters and cardigans. All a designer needs to do is to ensure that he or she carves a niche for his business and builds their brand name to be accepted beyond his/her city of operation.

One thing is certain, once you are creative, you will be able to come out with unique styles. Another important factor that counts in this line of business is the brand name of the line. Once you are able to secure a good name for your sweater and cardigan knitting business, you can then hire experts (graphic artists) to help you create a compelling logo for your brand.

You can start your sweater and cardigan knitting business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes an internationally recognized brand.

Steps to Starting a Sweater and Cardigan Knitting Business

1. Understand the Industry

Sweater and Cardigan knitting companies are part of the Apparel Knitting Mills industry and players in this industry basically knit and manufacture underwear, outerwear, nightwear and knitting fabric. Firms knit the fabric and then manufacture apparel; knit apparel directly from yarns and fibers; or knit, manufacture and finish the industry’s products.

Please note that knitted apparels is different from cut and sew apparel products, which are generally manufactured from broad woven fabrics purchased from textile mills.

A recent report published by IBISWorld shows that the revenue for the Apparel Knitting Mills industry has declined over the past five years. The decline in revenue is in line with the industry as a whole, which has been contracting for the last decade as more clothing manufacturing is done in low-cost countries abroad.

Per capita disposable income growth over the past five years has helped offset further losses for the industry. In line with declining revenue due to lower production levels, profit margins for industry operators have also declined during the five-year period as companies fighting for business undercut bargaining power. Industry revenue is expected to continue its decline over the next five years.

Please note that aspiring entrepreneurs who intend coming into the Apparel Knitting industry may have difficulty establishing operations within this industry since it produces largely homogeneous products. Successful industry operators rely on their outsource contracts, which permit them to provide low-priced knits from low-labor-cost countries.

Large volumes of low-priced competing imports place additional pressures on domestic operators to keep prices low and offer new, innovative knitted products. New entrants may not be able to secure such contracts. Small apparel knitting mills also have difficulty in obtaining accounts and establishing relationships with downstream wholesalers and retailers.

The Apparel Knitting Mills industry is indeed a thriving and viable business in most countries of the world. Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, the Apparel Knitting Mills industry generates over $528 million annually from more than 102 registered and licensed apparel knitting mills scattered all around the United States of America.

The industry is responsible for the employment of over 2,437 people. Experts project the industry to grow at a -5.5 percent annual rate between 2012 and 2017. The establishment in this industry that has a dominant market share in the United States of America are; Fruit of the Loom and Hanesbrands.

A close study of sweater and cardigan knitting business shows that the business exhibits low barriers to entry. The industry is highly fragmented because there are smaller sweater and cardigan knitting shops that cater to a market niche of consumers, such as schools in the neighborhood.

The industry will continue to blossom because when the weather is cold especially during spring and winter, people would need sweaters to stay warm. From all available statistics, it is safer to say that the industry is growing steadily despite competition.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own sweater and cardigan knitting business could be that the business is easy to set up and the startup capital is indeed affordable; you can actually start your own sweater and cardigan knitting business from the comfort of your house.

All you need to do is to create a space somewhere in your house. The apparel knitting mills industry is growing and there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to launch their own business.

The advent of computer and computer software brought leverage in the apparel industry. Designing sweater and cardigan can be conveniently done with the aid of software, and a designer can reach out to the world market by putting up his products for sale online.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

When it comes to knitted apparels generally, there is no restriction to the market demography; the market cuts across male and female, young and old and just everybody on planet earth. Knitted Apparels are required by human from birth until they die which is why there are sweaters and cardigans for newborn babies and school children.

3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On

When it comes to apparel knitting mills, there are no clear cut niche idea because most players in this industry are known to engage in knitting outerwear, including shirts, shorts, sweaters, pants and gloves mittens, hats, mufflers and other apparel products.

Some sweater and cardigan knitting mills are known to majorly produce sweaters and cardigans for schools and the military, and some are known to produce for a customized market as against producing for a mass market.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

Despite the fact that there are competitions at various levels in the apparel knitting mills industry, a designer who has carefully studied the industry before launching his or her business won’t struggle to break even. The idea is to choose a particular niche in the industry that is still open in your location.

For example, if you live in the United States of America, Canada and United Kingdom et al, starting a sweater and cardigan knitting business and hoping to compete with establish apparel knitting mills will definitely not be easy even if you have enough financial resources to sustain a robust publicity and promotion of your brand.

Somehow, you would still have to pay your due in the industry before your brand can be accepted. The easiest route to take is to manufacture cheaper sweaters, cardigans and other knitted products that may be needed outside the United States or you specialize in producing knitted sweaters and cardigans for schools and groups in your immediate community.

4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry

In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and general public than others. Some of these brands have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses, the quality of their products and the results they have achieved over the years.

There are several apparel knitting mills that started locally but have grown to become a global brand. Some of the internationally recognized labels are;

  • Fruit of the Loom
  • Hanesbrands
  • Arca Knitting Mills
  • Apex Mill
  • Brawer Brothers, Inc.
  • Beverly Knits
  • Brooks Woolen Company, Inc.
  • Cascade Woolen Mill
  • Claridge Knits, Inc.
  • CMI Industries, Inc.
  • Craftex Mills, Inc. of Pennsylvania
  • Dicey Mills, Inc.
  • Drapper Knitting Co.
  • Eastland Woolen Mill
  • Greenwood Mills
  • Harriet and Henderson Yarns, Inc.
  • International Woolen Company, Inc.
  • W Packard and Company, Inc.
  • Pendleton Woolen Company
  • Westbrook Spinning Company
Economic Analysis

The fact that there are over 7 billion people on planet earth means that there is indeed a very large market for the apparel knitting industry. For example, if everybody in the world owns a cardigan and sweater, it will translate to 14 billion clothes. Of course the average person can own far more than that.

If proper market research is done; a sweater and cardigan knitting company will not struggle to break even. The apparel knitting industry now rely more on mass market sales for them to make the kind of income that will sustain the business. The mass market takes care of a wide range of customers that cuts across both the rich and the poor.

In other to cut cost of production to the barest minimum, most apparel knitting mills in the United States of America now manufacture their knitted apparels (sweaters and cardigans et al) in Asia; it is far cheaper when compared to manufacturing in the U.S.

Most of the new sweater and cardigan knitting companies that are trying to catch up with the market ensures that they produce ready-to-wear sweater and cardigan using trends set by leading fashion labels.

What they do is that they see the direction of the trend as established by renowned fashion brand before producing their own versions of the original look by making use of cheaper fabrics and simpler production processes which can easily be done by machines.

They can comfortably sell such product at a cheaper price to the masses who can’t afford to buy the original which is often way too expensive for the common man.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

Any entrepreneur who wants to start his or her own sweater and cardigan knitting business do not have the option of buying a franchise as there is no franchise in the industry. As a matter of fact, it pays to start your own sweater and cardigan knitting line business from the scratch. You can choose to start small and serve a specific market segment and then grow as you so wish.

Besides starting a sweater and cardigan knitting – business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small – scale businesses which usually requires detailed groundwork before launching the business.

With sweater and cardigan knitting 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 tools within your disposal especially the internet to market your products and services.

The bottom line is that if you start your own sweater and cardigan knitting line from the scratch, you will have the opportunity to build your own brand and once it becomes well accepted in the market the sky is your limit.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

There is hardly any business venture that does not come with challenges and threats. Sweater and cardigan knitting business also has its own challenges and threats. One thing is certain, once the proper process is followed in setting up a business, overcoming challenges and surviving threats won’t be a major issue.

Some of the common challenges that a new sweater and cardigan knitting business faces are lack of fund to sustain the media hype needed to successfully sell the brand to the general public.

Other challenges are economic downturn, unfavorable government policies and the arrival of competitors within your market space, especially mass production sweaters and cardigans coming from China, Thailand and other Asian countries which are usually cheaper.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

When considering starting a sweater and cardigan business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow.

Generally, you have the options of choosing a sole proprietorship, general partnership, or even limited liability company for your business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale sweater and cardigan knitting business especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital and in a small community.

But if your intention is to grow the business and have clients across the United States of America and other countries of the world, then choosing a sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company or even general partnership will cut it for you.

Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk.

It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.

These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your sweater and cardigan knitting business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectation and of course taxes.

If you take your time to study the various legal entities available to this business, you will agree that limited liability company is the most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or a ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.

Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your business so as to compete with major players in the industry. You will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy a separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below

If you are conversant with the trend in the apparel knitting industry, you will realize that the name you choose for your line can give you leverage in the marketplace. The truth is that if the name of your label sounds nice and appealing, people can easily accept your brand.

Before choosing a name for your sweater and cardigan knitting line, it won’t cost you anything to go online and check out the names of the leading brands in the apparel knitting mills industry. You can take a cue from them.

If you are considering starting your own sweater and cardigan knitting business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Lauren Heritage™ Cardigan & Sweater Knitting Mills, Inc.
  • Marie Lipton™ Cardigan & Sweater Knitting Mills, Inc.
  • Monica Israel® Cardigan & Sweater Knitting Mills, LLC
  • Cold Planet® Apparel Knitting Mills, LLC
  • Vintage Group® Apparel Knitting Mills, LLC
  • Antonia Williams™ Cardigan & Sweater Knitting Mills, Inc.
  • Jade’s Signature™ Cardigan & Sweater Knitting Mills, Inc.
  • Cloe Ives® Cardigan & Sweater Knitting Mills, Inc.
  • Sandra Lamar® Apparel Knitting Mill, LLC
  • Ella Signature® Cardigan & Sweater Knitting Mills, Inc.

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 policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important 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 are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own sweater and cardigan knitting business in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

Starting a sweater and cardigan knitting mill may not require that you secure intellectual property especially when you are into the mass production of sweaters and cardigans. But if you are a designer with your own unique designs, you may consult an attorney to help you secure your intellectual property.

This can only be done if you are sure that you are the inventor of the style or design. One thing about the apparel knitting industry is that designers are more concerned with protecting their logo and brand as against protecting their designs or styles.

If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

There are businesses that require professional certifications before the business can be launched and of course sweater and cardigan knitting business is not one of them. Any entrepreneur that desires to start his or her own line can do so with little or no stress.

The only requirement that will count as a positive is having the right skill set. Knitting cum tailoring skills, sales skills, business management skills and creativity might just be enough to launch a sweater and cardigan knitting business.

Obtaining a degree or diploma is a good idea when your plan starting a global sweater and cardigan knitting line. Some of the prominent fashion design schools can be found in New, York, Paris, London, and Milan et al. If you live in New York, you can try New York School of Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, and New York School of Design.

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 hand 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 sweater and cardigan knitting business in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Employee Handbook
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use (if have a functional website)
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

It is one thing to come up with a fantastic and highly workable business idea, it is entirely a different kettle of fish to hit the ground running. Finance is the lifeline of any business as money will be required to get a lot of things in place prior to starting a business. If you want to start a sweater and cardigan knitting business, you will need to raise startup capital.

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 sweater and cardigan knitting 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
  • Applying for loan from your bank
  • 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 sweater and cardigan knitting business, any location is ideal especially when other key factors have been taken care of.

The truth is that if you have enough space in your compound, you can start a small scale sweater and cardigan knitting business from your home. The fact that you chose a location that is in the outskirt of town does not in any way stop you from selling your products nationally or even in the international market.

Some of the factors that can influence the citing of a sweater and cardigan knitting company is closeness to cheap labor, closeness to source of raw materials and stable power supply amongst other factors.

If you study the trend in the apparel knitting industry, you will realize that some of the leading sweater and cardigan knitting brands in the United States prefer to setup their factory in countries in Asia where they can cut the cost of manufacturing. India, Thailand, and China are some of the most preferred destination.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

The advent of industrial sewing and knitting machines and computerized system facilitates mass production of sweaters and cardigans. Good enough some of the machines that are used in clothing manufacturing can be bought as fairly used, but if you have the money, it is better to purchase brand new machines.

If your intention of starting a sweater and cardigan knitting business is to cover a large market, then it will pay you to acquire/lease a factory or warehouse. But if you just want to cover a specific market and you don’t intend to start big for obvious reasons, then it will be more economical to rent a facility for the business.

There are key employees that are needed when starting a sweater and cardigan knitting business. You will need a fashion designer, tailor, factory worker/machine operators, sales and marketing officers and factory manager.

On the average you will need an estimate of 15 employees for a small scale company, 50 or more employees for a medium scale business and over 100 employees for a large scale sweater and cardigan knitting line business. These are some of the machines, equipment and tools that would be needed to start the business;

  • Pattern makers for crafting designs.
  • Women and men dress forms used for garment building.
  • Scissors
  • Hole punchers
  • Straight and curved rulers
  • Pencils
  • Measuring tapes
  • Notchers for marking seams.
  • Pins
  • Slopers
  • Dotted pattern paper.
  • Sewing machine needles
  • Hand sewing needles.
  • Threads
  • Sketching books.
  • Drapings tools.
  • Dressmaking Stick pins
  • Muslin
  • Style tapes
  • Fabric shears
  • Soft lead pencil
  • Marking pen
  • Pattern plotter.
  • Pattern making software.
  • Computer
  • CAD tools for designs
  • Digital drawing tools
  • Digitizer board for pattern scanning.
  • Heat transfer machines for T-shirts.
  • Print tables.
  • Racks
  • Slat wall
  • Mannequins
  • Hangers
  • Labels and Tags.
  • Packaging materials
  • Industrial pressing irons
  • Supply of fabrics
The Services Delivery Process of the Business

The production process for mass production in a sweater and cardigan knitting factory is a little bit different from small scale production of sweaters and cardigans.

Sketching Stage

The first stage starts with designing and sketching. It is the fashion designer that is responsible for designing the kind of sweaters and cardigans that the company wants to produce. At this stage of the production process, the designer is permitted to free – style and come up with a sketch that will be subjected to screening by a panel of designers.

Pattern Making Stage

After the first sketch has gotten approval from the panel of designers, the next stage is for pattern makers to develop the first pattern from the initial sketch. At this stage, the pattern maker can adopt a standard size and thereafter other sizes will be created.

Sample Making

The next stage is for samples to be made from the pattern that was developed. The patterns that are developed goes through the knitting and sewing department for it to be coupled into an apparel. After this process, the sample garment will be subjected to review by a panelist of designers. If it is approved, it moves to the next stage and if not, all the necessary adjustment and correction will be made.

Mass Production Pattern

The next stage after the sample garment has been approved is to develop a production pattern which will be used for mass production of apparels.


The other production sequence that will be followed are grading; the essence of grading is to develop patterns in different standard sizes (S, M, L, XL, and XXL et al). Grading a pattern simply means scaling a pattern up or down so as to create multiple sizes.

After cutting to the required specification, the materials are then sorted out before they are transferred to the sewing and assembling department.

Once the sweaters and cardigans come out, they are transferred to the finishing department where they are properly ironed and packaged.

The final stage in the production process in a sweater and cardigan knitting factory is to inspect the finished sweaters and cardigans in order to identify defects. Once defects are identified, they will be amended before the products are packaged and shipped to outlets where they will be sold. At this stage, the sweater and cardigans are sorted out based on sizes, colors, and designs et al

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies

Marketing your sweater and cardigan knitting business requires creativity and aggressiveness. No doubt there are competitions in the sweater and cardigan knitting line market, but if your designs stand out, you will be able to corner a portion of the available market.

One of the key strategies in marketing sweaters and cardigans is to create hype around your designs. Creating hypes around your clothing involves attending fashion expos, and leveraging on both online and offline media platforms to promote your brand.

Another major leverage in marketing a sweater and cardigan knitting business is to get celebrities in different fields to endorse your brand.

The truth is that if a celebrity wears your sweaters and cardigans, he or she will definitely help you generate traffic to your brand. It is one of the easiest ways to get people to fully accept your sweater and cardigan brand in the marketplace. It might be expensive but it will sure be worth it.

17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

The factors that will help you get the right pricing for your sweater and cardigan knitting business is to source for cheaper raw materials, produce in large quantities, cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your sweater and cardigan brand name. This strategy will help you save cost, and get the right pricing for your products.

You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives.

18. Develop 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 sweater and cardigan knitting business is not an exception, hence, you must come up with a unique 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 cheaper ways of tackling your challenges in the industry. 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 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 and know how to come up with neat 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.

Statistics has it that one of the major reasons why clients source for alternative service provider or product is when there is a drop in quality. Another reason is poor customer service.

If you can continue to improve on the quality or your sweaters and cardigans and your customer service delivery, then you won’t struggle to maintain loyal 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 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 deliberate about boosting you brand and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secret of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.

If your intention of starting a sweater and cardigan knitting business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create corporate identity for your sweater and cardigan knitting business;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and fashion 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 business
  • Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • Contact schools, households, businesses and corporate organizations within and outside the location of your sweater and cardigan knitting by calling them up and informing them of your business and the products you retail
  • List your sweater and cardigan business in local directories / yellow pages
  • Advertise your sweater and cardigan knitting business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks are well branded with your company logo et al.

21. Create a Suppliers/Distribution Network

Running a sweater and cardigan knitting business requires that you enter into business relationship with suppliers of cotton and wool, supplies of threads, stiffeners, dyes, packaging materials et al. One of the places where you can get to network with business partners is in chambers of commerce and industry, and fashion expos.

Another major business relationship that is required is the relationship with wholesale distributors and even retailers. The amount of cash flow in your business is determined by the number of wholesale distributors you have.

It is important to create a win – win business relationship with merchants and wholesalers if indeed you want your sweater and cardigan knitting brands to penetrate the market. You might want to sell below the average price in the industry especially if you are new so as to attract customers.