How to Start a Custom Drapery Business

By Ingrid Hansen
Drapes 'Balkenzimmer'

It's not always possible to find the perfect ready-made drapes. Windows come in every possible shape and size, and personal tastes may demand something completely unique.
This opportunity is where a custom drapery business can play an important role in the interior design industry. If you have great design skills and like to sew, starting a custom drapery business should be fun, even if it is a great deal of work at first.

Decide on the type of business you want to run. Will this be a part-time venture? Whether it's part time or you plan to support yourself on your drapery business, you'll need a business plan. Go to your local Small Business Association (SBA), or visit the group's website for instructions. Several free courses are available online, so you can get started without spending money or even leaving your home. You can also schedule private appointments with SBA consultants, who can advise you about specifics. Mixing your ideas and their know-how will make it easier for you to get your ideas up and running in a way that's profitable.

Get a business license. Each state has its own protocol for acquiring licenses. If you're operating your custom drapery business out of your house, your state may require a special license for that. Zoning laws can also have an impact on home-based businesses. If you have a shop or an online store, and if your business grows a lot over time, the type of licenses you'll need may vary as well.

Decide on your fees. Do some research and find out what interior design studios and decorators are paying for custom drapes. Also consider whether you'll require a deposit up front, if you plan to keep an inventory of products, and who will do all the sewing and measuring. If you hire contract employees, this will have an impact on your insurance rates and the fees.

Update and market your skills. Custom drapery designers have a knack for color and design, but you might want to take a class or two to boost your skills and knowledge base. This is also a great way to make connections in the industry. If you have an interior design license, so much the better. Be sure to advertise your credentials on your promotional materials. You might want to hire a web designer or graphic artist to put your materials together in the most attractive way possible. After all, you are in the business of visual appeal! Visit interior design studios with a professional-looking portfolio of your work. Present yourself in the most positive and professional manner possible.

About the Author

Ingrid Hansen has been published in "Twin Cities Business" magazine, the "Murphy Reporter," "Twin Cities Parent" magazine and the "Southwest Journal" newspaper. She has also written more than 30 non-fiction books for the K-12 library and education market, and has been a subject matter expert and a course designer for online college curriculum. She teaches English Composition at a local college, and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Hamline University.