SewForward: Creative Crossroads Newsletter May 2021

SewForward is a cut and sew studio providing high quality small batch manufacturing, while providing job training and employment opportunities for people facing difficulty in the workforce. SewForward is part of the East End Cooperative Ministry.

SewForward loves to help small businesses grow. Our monthly newsletter, Creative Crossroads, provides tips to help you improve your business.

In This Issue We Explore:

  • Overcoming Objections to Equipment Upgrades

  • Are you fumbling along with outdated and improper equipment? This is the first in a 4-part series about equipment upgrades.

  • Sewing Tip

  • Use the right presser foot.

  • Customize your Packaging

  • Make your packaging as interesting as your product.

Overcoming Objections to Equipment Upgrades

A colleague who makes bags out of heavy canvas recently upgraded from a home sewing machine to an industrial. She said the new machine went through her heavy fabric like butter. This was the same way I felt when I stopped cutting upholstery foam with a kitchen knife and bought an electric carving knife. Sometimes in business, we fumble along with inadequate equipment and supplies never realizing how much an upgrade can improve our product and increase our efficiency. Unfortunately, we still hesitate because of money, or fear, or a lack of knowledge. How do you overcome these obstacles and move your business ahead?

Price: My friend’s upgraded machine was a big purchase, but sometimes we are working with old outdated equipment and materials, when an upgrade is less than $100.00. When I first started my drapery business, I discovered an essential tool was a staple gun. I went out and purchased a hand staple gun. I very quickly discovered this was slow and ineffective. Then I bought an electric staple gun. Better for stapling valances to the wood headers, but this would never work for upholstering headboards. Finally, I saved my money and finally purchased an air compressor and air staple gun. These rocked my world. I upgraded in stages because money was tight, but sometimes the upgrades you need are inexpensive. A great pair of scissors for sewing can cost less than $50.00. A cordless drill for cabinet making is about $60.00. A soldering iron for jewelry is less than $30.00. If money is so tight you can’t even afford these small upgrades, then it’s time to raise your prices and put the extra money aside for the purchase.

Knowledge: Sometimes businesses don’t upgrade their equipment because they don’t know how else to manufacture. Businesses aren’t working in a bubble; your competition has probably struggled with the same issues and possibly solved them. You should stay on top of new ideas and techniques in your industry through trade groups, trade magazines, online articles and even books. If something you are doing doesn’t feel like it is working, it’s taking longer than it should, or the final product isn’t great; take the time to research new production methods. Very often new and faster production includes the need for better and specialized equipment.

Fear: Fear can be the number one factor in delaying your upgrade. Maybe, you had a hobby that grew, and you are selling some pieces to support your hobby. Well, if you’re selling anything you are running a business. So make that hobby supporting business, the best it can be. Maybe, you are afraid your business is growing and you think you aren’t ready for it. Guess what, you get to decide how big and how fast you want your business to grow. Once you’ve improved your product, raise your prices and sell fewer items for more, resulting in less work.