Sew Distinct

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Custom Quilt Artist Business Plan

Executive Summary

Sew Distinct is a sole proprietorship, owned by Sally Stitch. I sell original, high-quality custom quilts to discerning customers who give them as gifts or keep them as heirloom artworks. I do the customer response, design, piecing, and machine quilting; hand-quilted works are quilted by two independent local hand-quilters with roughly 20 years of experience, with whom I have negotiated per-piece prices. Sew Distinct quilts are manufactured in the owner's home, and sold directly to my customers in northwest MyState, as well as over my website. I have several years of experience as a quilter. My strength is transforming even the vaguest ideas and descriptions from a customer into beautiful and meaningful quilt designs which both giver and recipient appreciate.

Sew Distinct works to provide custom, individually designed, warm and snuggly quilt art to customers who value originality but don't have the time or skills to create such pieces on their own. By working with my customers in the design phase, I give them the satisfaction of having input into their gift or artwork, without the intense investment of their own time and labor that would be necessary to produce such a quilt themselves. The result is a personalized, usable, beautiful quilt which will be appreciated for generations to come.

I have been making quilts on commission as a hobby for three years now, and cannot keep up with the demand from new customers when doing this part-time. Starting I will open Sew Distinct as a full-time venture operated out of my home. My goals are to be able to pay myself and my independently contracted hand-quilters a decent wage for doing the work we love, and to repay a small start-up loan within two years of opening the business.  

I will minimize the financial risks by requiring payment at the time of commission. For the customer, this means that they can take as long as they want to work with me on a design, but once we have agreed on the design, they must pay me in full for the quilt before I will begin creating it. This arrangement has been the one which works best for both sides in the past.

Most of the value of the quilts comes from the labor of designing and creating them, rather than from the materials (fabric, thread, etc.) of which they are composed. My start-up requirements are therefore fairly small (under $5,000):

  • $1,000 of inventory (a basic fabric library)
  • $1,000 for a second sewing machine
  • $1,600 cash reserve
  • $350 for website development
  • $600 of various supplies, legal fees, etc.

I will invest $2,500 to start the business, and need another $2,050 for initial inventory of fabric and equipment. Based on current prices for my quilts, and the time needed to complete each one, I am forecasting sales of $45,700 in the first year. I expect to begin breaking even in the third month.

1.1 Mission

At Sew Distinct, I know that my customers value originality and high-quality work as much as they value their time. Using only a small portion of their time to provide me with the important information about their desires in commissioning a quilt, I will provide them with high-quality, custom-designed quilt art which can proudly be given as a gift, kept as an heirloom, and displayed prominently as a piece of artwork in a home or office.

1.2 Keys to Success

The keys to success for Sew Distinct are:

  1. Effectively establishing my reputation as an exceptional business: nationally I am unique in creating truly custom-designed quilts which do not rely on standard geometric quilt designs.

  2. Catering to my customers' need to feel unique by emphasizing the personal nature of the customization process, which puts the customer, and his or her personality and feelings, at the center of the product.

  3. Quickly (5-10 weeks) turning out these finished custom quilts, both locally and through my website, for a price premium which enhances the prestige of the customized product.

  4. Maintaining originality of design and quality of skills to turn bulk, inexpensive fabrics and materials into high-end artworks which can bring high prices.

1.3 Objectives

  • Create and sell 6 original, custom quilts per month, at prices which cover owner's labor.
  • Use contacts in local artisan groups and in my customer base to create successful word-of-mouth advertising. 
  • Establish a website to provide more information and to initiate non-local sales.
  • Pay back initial investment with 10% interest in two years.