6 Things I’ve Learned From Sewing & Selling
It’s been a fascinating journey for me, to sew and create patterns, and sell the goods to friends and strangers alike at my shop, Whole Parenting Goods. I’ve learned so so so much about fabric and how forgiving or unforgiving it is, how long it takes me to do a job, and how much delight I feel when seeing babies kicking around in something I was able to make for them.
Mostly, I’ve oscillated between humility and elation.
My products have range from double layered blankets, bandit bibs, contoured burp cloths, leggings, skirts, caps, banners, washcloths, and then an assortment of washable wool knit blankets.
I wrote a post a while back about tips to starting your etsy shop. Now I’m ticking off what I’ve learned along the way.
1) Precision and perfection.
Sewing for others taught me to be precise, not a skill I had before. To truly tweak and fix and press and stitch as correctly as a human being can–not natural for me! To know it needs to stand up to wear and tear and washings and wearings informed my skills at durability.
Yet, these are handmade items. No one is going to be exactly like the other. No one is going to be perfect. I’m not a perfectionist but I am always striving to be better and better. Sometimes that means I’ve had to change my pattern, or drop a product line. A few times my daughter stabbed a scissors through a leggings that I was ready to ship. A few times I couldn’t get more a fabric. It’s humbling.
2) Customer service and how kind people are.
The customer isn’t just always right, for me, the customer is also usually tied into my community in some way, be it reader, follower, or friend. It feels personal. If someone messages me and says it doesn’t fit right, or after washing, something has happened to a seam, I immediately either replace, repair, or refund. No questions asked.
People are so generous and kind, supporting a mama-artisan endeavor. Each piece of mine is handmade by me. When someone loves it, I’m so happy. When the special child in my customer’s life loves it, I’m even happier.
3) Social media presence is everything.
My instagram friends and followers have purchased so many leggings! Having the fabric on hand and doing custom sizing has helped whet their appetite, but these ladies are good to me. I see movement from Facebook as well but since Instagram is a photo-based platform, it’s very helpful for my customers to see the products in action and gauge accordingly if it’s what they’re looking for.
4) You have to love it because it’s a lot of work.
Building patterns, curating fabric, cutting & sewing and labeling, then shipping and packaging and sending: hard work. Being a mom with three little kids, it’s also great joy to have a little outlet for my creativity. I learned how much I can bite off, and how much I can’t. How many late hours I can sew, and how many are too many. I do love it. I do I do 😉
If you’re hoping to make a ton of money, that’s probably not going to happen. A little extra? Yes, but a ton, no. And if you love it and derive joy from it, that’s probably okay by you, as it is by me.
5) It’s seasonal.
I mean this in more ways than one. Folks buy in seasons–caps for the summer, leggings for the fall, new fabric offerings for different seasons. Wool blankets don’t sell in the spring (even in Minnesota!) and cotton skirts don’t sell in the fall.
I’ve also learned that there are seasons wherein I have more time to sew and create and others I don’t. I’m in a bit of a quieter time right now for sewing. We’ve commenced homeschooling our five year old and that’s a joyful but energy-consuming endeavor.
Whole Parenting Goods has been quiet lately. I still have my shop up! But I’m not doing custom offerings of legging fabric releases again until Cyber Monday.
6) Change up your products.
Right now the shop has banners & caps. Very soon it will also have a onslaught of Baby Gifts Sets:
a) blankets, banners, bibs, and burp cloths all bundled for the new babe in your life!
b) caps & leggings!!
I would feel stunted always sewing the same patterns time and time again. It gives me joy to shake it up a bit! And then something new for you. And you. And you.
So thanks for being here, friends! You are my muses.