Ask Money

A new venture and pricing

Chris Farrell May 27, 2011

Question: I am about three years from retirement. I am fortunate to have, at least for the moment, a good retirement system from which to draw and am old enough to still think I might use social security. However, I am retiring from full time, public school teaching, not from work. Like many seniors, I like to work. That said, I am blessed with many talents, among which is that of making my own clothes and occasionally making things for others. It was suggested to me that I start up a home business sewing nice everyday clothing for plus sized women. I feel that my skills have progressed to the place where it might be possible to do that. However, I have no clue how to go about pricing my services. I thought about researching other tailors and dressmakers in my area, but first, I find them intimidating, and second, I am asking people with whom I will be competing, to help me start the business. At some point, I would like to take some tailoring classes so that I could move into more tailored clothing than I currently make, but that’s in the future. In no way would I ever go into the bridal market. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can begin the research on pricing what is, essentially, time? Norma, Milwaukee, WI

Answer: It sounds like an exciting endeavor. You have a number of good resources at your disposal to research your pricing question, as well as other issues that will come up as you price and market your venture.

First of all, you can do research on your own about pricing by other tailors and dressmakers in your area by visiting their stores If they have one), looking up price lists online, and the like. You can look at their work and what they charge and see what you think. Are thei prices about right for you or should you go higher or lower?

Instructors at a tailoring or dressmaking class will have information and anecdotes to tell, too.

Another resource is SCORE. It stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives. The retired executives provide counseling to new entrepreneurs. You probably wouldn’t want to work with, say, a former financial planner or banker, but the branch near you might have a retired merchant or clothier.

Years ago I did a show about entrepreneurship and one of the experts I interviewed made a convincing case for visiting industry conventions and regional gatherings. Again, you’re there to glean information, talk to people, and learn from their experiences about pricing and marketing. Good luck.

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