Starting a business: a sewing workshop


Recently, many so-called “guild workers”, i.e., firms that produce semi-legal garments, are firmly on their feet. They started with 3-4 machines, and now they carry out production at an industrial level.

Using the money earned, some firms purchased high-tech equipment, and due to this, the quality of products has improved significantly. Recently, these products began to force out cheap contraband items from the market. However, most of these firms hang on their clothing whatever labels are written in some foreign language. While the Russian consumer still prefers “made in …”. Although half of Europe and America wear clothes made in the CIS. According to manufacturers, it is enough to hang an imported label on a product, and in the eyes of the buyer it costs twice as much as the same, but nameless. This is what sewers and trade use. But, despite the fact that the shop workers managed to push back both smuggling and legal imports on the market, it is becoming more and more difficult to fight second-hands,

According to experts’ forecasts, next year the number of orders from abroad for tailoring will increase. This is explained by the fact that until recently, most of the garments intended for sale in Western Europe were produced in Yugoslavia. But after the outbreak of hostilities there, orders for the manufacture of clothing were transferred to Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary, etc. However, the cost of labor there tends to rise, so orders began to be placed in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. This process took place last year, and in the future the number of orders is likely to increase. These will be, most often, contracts using tolling schemes.

Workshops are usually opened by people who are somehow familiar with the sewing craft. These can be fashion designers, clothing designers, technologists, as well as the wives of successful businessmen.

According to people who have been working in the clothing business for a long time, a company created by two founders, after a while, when sharing profits, will simply split up or fall apart. This must be taken into account when there is a lack of own funds to create a business. At first, you can cooperate to earn money, gain some experience, and then split up. But you need to plan all this in advance. A small sewing workshop capable of producing 20-50 items per day will cost you $10,000.

To organize a more powerful workshop and costs will have to be incurred. For example, to open an enterprise with a capacity of 150-200 garments per shift, you will need at least $150,000. Intermediate options are also possible. It is clear that the more products need to be produced per shift, the more equipment will have to be purchased. As a rule, large workshops have their own specialization, these can be shirts, outerwear, trousers, overalls, etc. For the production of any type of product, special machines are required. Wet heat treatment plants, cutting machines, automatic and semi-automatic special sewing machines are expensive equipment. Next, you need to determine how many machines you need to purchase and how to arrange them inside the workshop. To do this, order a project from technologists, if your team doesn’t have one. It will cost about 1.5-2 thousand dollars.

To open a mini-workshop for 10 workers, you will need:

  1. 7-8 universal sewing machines, a semi-automatic buttonhole for straight buttonholes, 2 overcasting machines (overlocks) and a semi-automatic buttonhole. If the type of activity you have chosen is the manufacture of suits and other outerwear, then you will also have to purchase a semi-automatic machine for sewing a figured loop with an eye. It is quite appropriate for such a workshop to take used equipment, which in this case will cost you 4.5 thousand dollars. It will take 2-3 times more money to purchase new equipment. Now everyone uses mostly synthetic fabrics that cannot be ironed without a special steam iron. We recommend purchasing this unit. It consists of an iron, a steam generator and a table with vacuum suction. The most accessible installations of this type are made in Poland (1.5 thousand dollars).
  2. In order to purchase fabric and accessories, you will have to pay at least another $ 3-4 thousand, then production can be continuous.
  3. Rent per month will inevitably be at least $300.
  4. For wages (for 23 people) will have to allocate at least $ 1,200 per month.
  5. You also need to have 1-2 thousand dollars in reserve for unforeseen expenses. These can be, for example, “charitable payments”. Moreover, you must pay VAT immediately after the shipment of finished products to the store.

Such a mini-workshop, according to experts, will pay off in about a year.

You can start your own sewing business by registering both as an individual entrepreneur and by creating a legal entity.This article may be outdated. 

In order to become an individual entrepreneur, you must submit the following documents to the district state administration:

  • registration card application
  • certificate of assignment of an identification code,
  • registration fee payment.

If you want to create a legal entity, then you must:

  • draw up the articles of association of the company,
  • take a certificate of assignment of an identification code from the Statistical Office,
  • in the district executive committee to issue and receive a certificate of state registration of a business entity.

When running around the above institutions on your own, you will spend 1.5-2 months and $ 100. If there is a desire to speed up the process (up to 2-3 weeks), then up to $400 may be required.

For the production of clothing need a fairly large area. As an option, you can install at home at each of the seamstresses on the machine, deliver cuts to them and pick up finished products. The advantage of this method is that there is no rent, but there are also disadvantages: an increase in transport and other overhead costs, the temptation to use your machines by female workers to perform “left” work.

If you still decide to rent a room, then the fee for it should not exceed $3 per sq. m. m per month (together with electricity and utility bills), otherwise the cost of the premises will “gobble up” all the profits. In the regions, the rent is lower ($0.5-2 per sq.m.). For a team of 10 people, you will need at least 100 sq. m of production area.

It is best to choose a room that does not require major repairs, and already has a 380v network. The ideal option is to rent a room in a garment factory, but in this case, you will most likely have to take the director of the factory as a share.

You can write an application to the district state administration with a request for a lease. This institution stores information about the vacant premises under its jurisdiction. Then you will need to make a working draft, which will be needed for any checks: sanitary and epidemiological stations, city district energy, firefighters. Registration of this project will cost you $10-20 per sq. m. m. Moreover, we advise you to conclude an agreement directly with the energy supply company, because if the landlord is insolvent, then everyone can be disconnected from the power grid indiscriminately. Also, in the case of a direct contract, problems with VAT are easier to solve, because the energy supplier, unlike the lessor, is officially the seller. This path, however, will require additional financial investments, meters and other equipment will be required so that it is technically possible for the landlord to turn it off but not for you.

To accommodate a large number of machines, an area of ​​\u200b\u200babout 400 m2 is needed, as well as utility rooms, rooms for administration, a mechanic, etc.

History from life. One firm rented a room for a sewing workshop. As it turned out, a voltage of 220v was connected to it. I had to contact the regional “energo”. They replied that they did not have information on this house: what wires are located there and how much electricity can be supplied. They offered to run a cable from a neighboring house. As a result, the energy problem cost the company $5,000.

The owner of a sewing shop must know enough about the production technology to determine the feasibility of purchasing any equipment. Of course, the type of equipment depends on the type of product being manufactured, but there are also links in the technological chain that are common to all types.

First, in the preparatory workshop, the fabric is measured, defective sections are isolated on it. (in small enterprises, this procedure is performed by cutters.) Then the fabric is laid on a cutting table and the pieces are cut according to the patterns. At large enterprises, a rough cut is first performed with a vertical knife, and then the cut is refined on a tape machine. In order to ensure that the layers do not move relative to each other when the cut is moved, a good cutting table is equipped with a turbine that creates an air cushion. At small enterprises, cutting is done with scissors (2-3 layers of fabric) or using a circular knife (5-7 layers). Next, the cut is numbered and fed to the sewing area.

Mainly in the sewing shop, there is universal equipment. There are about 7 such units in the mini-shop. These machines perform the largest number of operations. However, in addition to universal ones, we also need edge overcasting machines (at least two), buttonhole and button semi-automatic machines. The latter are used only as needed.

In the sewing workshop with 20-25 sewing machines, in addition to universal ones, there are also special machines for knot processing. For example, the machine for processing the cuffs of men’s shirts, the machine for making welt straight pockets on trousers, etc. Wet heat treatment (WTO) is used both for tailoring products (for example, duplication, i.e. connecting the top fabric with the lining with glue, this is how cuffs and collars are processed), and to complete the process – to give the product a marketable appearance. When sewing upper men’s and women’s clothing (suits, coats, etc.), one cannot do without specialized presses, without which high quality duplication is impossible.

How and where to find raw materials? Currently, there are many wholesale companies on the market offering a wide range of sewing products. But you need to be careful, because more and more new fabrics appear on the market that cannot be processed in the traditional way. For example, if you do not have an ironing table with vacuum suction, then it is better not to buy fleecy fabrics, during normal ironing of which the pile breaks and hairs form. It must be remembered that there are no trifles in clothes, and the execution of the designer’s plan and the integrity of the composition depend on the accessories. If the buttons or zipper are not matched, then the product loses its presentation and, therefore, there will be no demand for it.

Clothing factories sell their products most often on a prepaid basis. And only over time, when you have a good reputation, you will be given raw materials with a deferred payment for two to three weeks. Depending on what kind of clothes you will produce, you will need different fabrics: cotton, polyester, viscose, woolen, half-woolen, etc. Depending on the models, you need to buy duplicating materials – interlining, dublerin and lining materials – twill, polyester, viscose. Price fluctuations are due to quality, country of origin of the fabric, etc.

The most expensive are natural fabrics, therefore, clothes made from them will also not be cheap. But if a buyer for such a product is found, then feel free to purchase raw materials. The most common are blended fabrics, consisting of natural and synthetic fibers, and simply synthetic. They are cheap and practical.

When opening a sewing enterprise, you need to take care of the sale of finished products in advance. Currently there are 3 options: markets, shops and own retail chain. For small businesses, the latter option is practically not applicable. Thus, shops and clothing markets remain. Each has pluses and minuses.

For example, department stores can be given products at the price that suits you. Retail margins vary between 25% and 40%. But you will receive money only after the products are sold, that is, not soon enough. Stores will categorically refuse to buy goods from you. But in the markets, merchants often purchase goods. However, they charge up to 100%. In order for a product to attract buyers, it is necessary for the manufacturer to offer the product at the lowest possible price.

Many manufacturers complain that there are no wholesalers in the clothing business. Small businesses do not have enough money to advertise their own products and promote their brand. The only way out is the coordinates of the company indicated on the tag – a kind of advertising, especially if the products are beautiful and of high quality. But keep in mind that not only enthusiastic buyers can come to these coordinates.

The optimal number of personnel for a sewing enterprise is 23 people. In total, two teams of 10 people can work in the workshop for less downtime of machines and premises. This brigade consists of: 

  • 7 seamstresses,
  • 2 people – on wet heat treatment,

1st brigadier,

  • 2 cutters who can work in one shift, cutting for two teams at once,
  • laboratory assistant – he completely flashes the first copy of the new model. This work can be done by a fashion designer, if you can offer him a decent salary, or a designer-technologist.
  • director (as a rule, he is also the owner).
  • Mechanic, electrician, accountant can be freelance. Mechanics, for example, will have to be invited periodically, say, once a month – for routine inspection and necessary adjustment of machines. Plus emergency calls in case of breakdown.

In private firms, the following mode of operation is most common: one team works from 8-00 to 21-00 for two days, another for two days, Sunday is a general day off (in total, in this case, 39 hours are obtained per week, according to the labor code, no more 40.)

If there are 20-25 machines installed in the stream, then you will need:

  • 20-25 seamstresses,
  • 2 people – for wet-heat treatment,
  •  3 people – for cutting.

With so many cars, a mechanic is hired. For the smooth operation of such a flow, it is necessary to have highly qualified specialists: a fashion designer, designer, technologist. With so many people, a storekeeper will be needed who will be responsible for the safety of raw materials and consumables and finished products. All sewing enterprises adopted a piecework wage system.


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