Early last year a friend of a friend found out that I made my own clothes. I had just finished a new pair of handmade denim that fit me like a glove. And then came her comment with a chuckle:
“Oh! You can hem my jeans!”
Frankly, I was insulted – as was my expertise and talent. I won’t ramble on about my response, but suffice it to say it was curt and to the point.
When you start a business, especially a creative one, it’s easy to get side-tracked to make ends meet. I’ll admit that a year after that interaction, I’ve taken on alteration jobs, mostly for friends. After all, why would I turn down a paying job?
After thinking this through for several weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that altering ready-to-wear clothing is simply incongruent with my business model. I want women to learn to make their own clothes (or have them custom made) so that they can feel the difference between a handmade garment that fits perfectly, and a store bought item that has issues. I really don’t want to be spending my time altering clothing my clients have purchased from a store. It’s simply not part of my intention with Modern Seamstress, despite the fact that it could provide a small chunk of income.
I think women in particular are afraid to say no. We agree to projects, collaborations, or jobs that aren’t really speaking to the heart of our dreams. Maybe we want the money. Maybe we think we need to say yes so we don’t lose future business. The reasoning doesn’t matter so much – either way, not focusing on our intentions as business owners leaves us stressed out and overworked. It keeps us from fully pursuing what we want to be doing in favor of what others want us to do.
Making this decision feels empowering. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on income. In fact, it motivates me to further educate women about what services I provide and why those are worth paying for. Focusing on my intentions with my creative business opens up my time and energy to make my dreams a reality rather than getting bogged down.
I hope this empowers other creative business owners to stay true to their goals. I know this has greatly refocused mine, and I’ve had time to think about other cool things to offer, like a capsule collection of clothes that I design and create. That’s something to be excited about.
In the meantime, I choose to have faith that my services and products will catch on, and that I can make that happen. And if you happen to need alterations, I’m happy to provide a referral.