What We Learned from the Boutique Clothing Craft Series in 2011

Looking Back at the Boutique Clothing Craft Series

Looking Back at the Boutique Clothing Craft Series in 2011

The 2011 Class of Rock Bottom T-Shirts Boutique Clothing Craft owners have proven that the entrepreneurs that run applique and embroidery shops are dynamic . This group of business people is nothing if not resilient, resourceful, savvy and well balanced. For proof just continue reading!

Here’s a bit of background on this topic… The way that the boutique clothing craft and embroidery industry works is that these companies customize blank t-shirts, bodysuits and other products from various vendors (including ourselves) and sell them to consumers.

Sometimes they find out what their customers’ want on the designs first and in other instances they pre-design the items before selling the finished products to their customers.

What follows are four commonalities that seem to embody the business people that we’ve profiled, so far, in the Boutique Clothing Craft Series.


While several of the business owners that we’ve profiled were able to build successful businesses out of the gate, this wasn’t the case for all of them.  It seemed that the majority of the boutique clothing craft owners that we spoke with began with baby steps and then slowly progressed into full-fledged businesses.   In fact, several of these entrepreneurs mentioned to us that they got their start when friends or family members saw the embroidered designs that they put on their own children’s clothes.

Here’s a really good example from Krissy Helvy of Not Your Everyday Diaper Cake that reinforces this statement, almost to a “t”:

“I began small, it took a while to get a fan base started but once I did it just blossomed from there.  I would offer smaller items to freebie and giveaway sites which would let my fan base grow and help spread the word of my site.”


Speaking with these entrepreneurs revealed that resourcefulness is a cornerstone of being a boutique clothing craft owner.  In fact many of the businesses developed as a response to unmet needs.

A case in point would be Linda Kerr who tells us the motivation behind starting her applique and embroidery business:

“What inspired you to start an online clothing boutique?  My son; I had a difficult time finding cute clothes for boys.  My niece was born a short time later-which inspired me even more and the rest is history.”

Business Savvy

Whether its selecting the right vendors, promoting their products or finding ways to make their products stand out from the crowd, this is a bunch that has proven itself to be more than capable.  And with so much competition to contend with this is definitely easier said than done.  Here are a few snippets from Gwen Davenport of Frills and Frogs that do a great job of illustrating this business acumen:

“Are you the best at customer service? Can you turn out rush orders really quickly? Do you have this awesome design that no one else has? What is your competitive advantage – figure that out and promote yourself using that advantage. Online is a must in today’s world. Even if you have a “brick and mortar” store – go online too.

You can reach so many more people and your sales will increase dramatically. Give your items away. This is one of the best marketing tools EVER. Give them as shower gifts or birthday gifts. People will see your product and ask who made it, and the next thing you know someone is calling you with an order. I live in a small town and word spreads!”

Well Balanced

To run an applique or embroidery boutique on Etsy takes both creativity and strong coordination skills. It appears that the entire group that we’ve spoken to in 2011 seems to possess a healthy dose of creative flair along with a nice helping of organization skills. Without these two components it would be difficult to sustain a boutique clothing craft business-because the competition is plentiful.

A terrific illustration of this would be the interview that we did with Lydia Wright of Layne James Embroidery.  She touched the topic of organization several times during our conversation, in addition to referencing her creativity:

“I have always been creatively inclined. I remember being involved in every type of craft and art class imaginable as a child.”

In closing, running a boutique clothing crafts business takes several skills.  But at the very least you’ve got to be resilient, resourceful, savvy and well balanced to excel in this industry.  We’ve been privileged to feature so many individuals who fit this mold and look forward to continuing this trend into the next year.

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Filed under Boutique Clothing Craft Series, Clothing Craft Business Series, Crafts/Projects, Uncategorized

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