How to start a soft furnishings business

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If you enjoy perusing magazines and blogs that showcase interior design; are handy with a sewing machine; enjoy designing quilts, cushions, curtains and other furnishings for the home; and don't mind the uncertainty that entrepreneurship can bring, consider starting your own soft furnishings business.

Turn your ideas and projects into money-making products, and enjoy doing what you love for a living.

Choose a name for your soft furnishings business -- either a simple name or a completely unique one. Grab a sheet of paper and write down every word you can think of that pertains to your business. Then see whether any of the words fit together to make a good name. Use a thesaurus to get even more ideas. Once you have your business name, register it at Companies House and also register your new tax status with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Develop a line of products. Develop new lines for each season, and use seasonal colours. Plan ahead by researching colour trends. Look through one of the fashion forecasting publications to get clues as to what will most likely sell in the future. Peruse interior design blogs and magazines to get a feel for up-and-coming motifs, and work them into your designs.

Locate a reliable source for the fabric you will use in your line so you don't find yourself unable to fill orders. Buy large quantities at one time to avoid having to wait for shipping to fulfil orders.

Network with other designers, which will help you find reliable vendors and shorten your learning curve. Join professional and interior design networking services to rub shoulders with others in the same industry.

Sell your products. If you want to keep your business small, try opening an online store or selling your soft furnishings through an online marketplace. If you're ready for the big time, showcase your creations at interior design shows and exhibitions. This will expose your furnishings to buyers for major department stores as well as small boutiques. People from all over the world attend exhibitions, so you may get lucky and receive several orders. If you decide to take this route, prepare to fill thousands of orders if necessary.