The lingerie business is not one where there are way too many stores and sales reps. There are many different ways to sell lingerie but most people prefer the privacy of their own homes. For this reason you can keep low overhead, until your business grows, by operating out of your home. Most lingerie stores are out in the public where others see all your very personal business but if you offer the clientele a way to purchase from home they’ll be much more inclined.
Some of the skills you will need for starting a lingerie business include machine and hand stitching, knowledge of many fabrics, precise measuring ability (math), designing/drawing talent, business knowledge, and the dedication needed to start any new business.
An online lingerie store is one possibility. Setting up a website with a dot com and a shopping cart can get you off to the right start. Set up a room for designing, cutting and sewing as well as holding your supplies. The room or rooms will need to hold several different types of sewing machines and tools along with a variety of thread, needles, ribbon, buckles, buttons, elastic, scissors and other notions.
A cutting table, where fabric can be measured and patterns cut, is a must. Make sure the table is free of any splinters or raw edges. There should be no knotholes or uneven places, either. It’s essential that you have long dowel rods which hold the fabric up off the table yet allow you to pull a length onto the table for cutting. These can be built, two or three high, at one end of the cutting table. When ordering most fabrics in bulk they come on a strong cardboard tube which easily slides on and off the dowel.
For fabrics that arrive on a flat you’ll need shelves. Lingerie fabrics are often silky and slick making them hard to stack. Shelves with borders built up around them are the best way to make sure the stacks stay positioned.
One sewing machine you’ll need when making lingerie is a household-type or commercial straight-needle machine. This machine sews straight stitches and is needed for sewing on lace trim, ribbon straps and other straight stitches. Straight-stitch machines have a variety of accessories which help to sew on ribbon, make ruffles and place inserts into a garment. You’ll definitely need the attachments that help with tasks plus ones that will help you do double-stitching, top stitching, inserting elastic and other chores.
A different machine, called the over-lock or serger, is needed to give a finished edge to the inside seams. Homemade items are easily identifiable by the raw edges on the inside of the garment, but the over-lock eliminates that look. Another machine, used on robe hems and some other areas, is the blind-stitch. It allows the garment to be hemmed without the stitches showing.
Another idea for selling lingerie is to have home parties. Home lingerie parties are fun, rare and allow the clientele to shop discreetly. Have friends sign up to have your first parties and they can ask their friends to have a party next. Offer incentives for those throwing the parties for you so that they can save on future purchases. Also, offer a gift to the hostess of the party and play games to get everyone involved.
Since men and women are both interested in lingerie have couple parties, particularly if you sell a line of men’s nighttime fashions as well. Show the garments, describing each one, and allow the guests to try on certain styles. Obviously you don’t want everyone trying on thongs but you can allow the men to try boxer and half-robe sets while the women try on camisole sets and gowns. Or, pay a couple of friends do model a selection of the lingerie for the guests.
Mark the items with a number or letter to identify them. The tag should also state the available colors and sizes. Coordinate the items for sale on an order form then pass the order forms out to the couples so that they can shop privately.
As the business grows you can recruit others who will give the parties for you. Offer them ways to earn free garments by doing so. At the parties, guests who sign up to have a party as well, will also receive points or “dollars” towards a future purchase. Or, offer them a percentage off their current order if they book a party within a month. This way, you continue to expand the area where your goods are seen, earning you and the employees more and more.
Check with your tax office to see what licenses are needed and what forms need filing. Make sure you’ve situated your work rooms to where you can easily get around. Consider hiring another seamstress if you have lots of orders. Before taking any orders be sure you’ve stocked all the supplies you need. Even that isn’t enough. Should you get a really large order it’s imperative that you have the resources to fill the order.