Consulting at home, theirs or yours?

How do those of you without showrooms, shops, stockists or other outlets meet with your clients, to decide styles, match colours and fittings? 

Do you travel to their homes or do people come to you? 

If you work online, how do you cope with colour matching? 

I am having to rethink my way of working, as my stockist has suddenly (today) pulled out of the space we shared and I cannot remain in the space without their support. 

I make from home,(part time only) but without a major rethink or sudden growth of space, it is not really practical for me to open the house up, as there are so many rules about businesses from home, rates, insurance etc.. 

I have read a previous thread about Millinery stores, but wondered how others managed this if they worked from home.

Tags: Essential Discussions

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Thanks Melissa for the reply. I have sent out swatches before and this did work out ok, but after 3 years with a stockist showroom to use, you get used to one way of working.  I have a week off coming up, so may go looking for sheds/ shelves and see how I can wrangle it.  Will be rethinking the whole business model over the next few days and catching up with those already in the pipeline so I can deliver their orders.

Great advice Melissa. I have always used Express post with a code for the customer to send dress & then again to return it as there is a tracking code you can check online.

Yes your advice on snippets of colour you can send them is successful. If fabric is required for headwear always ask them to purchase it & it is their responsibility to match with dress - we do not have time to be chasing fabric to match. Look into Commercial public risk insurance for $200 approx with AAMI not worth risk -some customers may not sue if they slip but some do unfortunately.

On the topic of colour matching suppliers often sell @ $5 swatches of straw samples

Plus I had a friend who had a fabric distributor business and managed to get last years fabric swatches to match off colours plus use paint sample charts for colour match. Handy if straw needs to be dyed to match. These were used for face to face consultations at my studio or in store. 

Thanks Elaine, they look very good too, I tend to stick to UK suppliers to keep delivery charges down: but might just think about ordering some any way !

You might find our client consultation sheet helpful, sketch the headpiece or hat once style decision is made & email or show them finished design details.

Melissa, I work the same way Jain does, mailings, photos taken in natural lighting, even receiving texts on my phone with photos.  I don't have anyone into my house at the present, because I don't have the type of vendor's license that allows for that.  When I was designing clothing and tailoring, I had a constant stream of people in and out of my home.  I did this because I had young children at home and needed to care for my family while running my business.  There can be some downsides to this.  While it is great to have all your supplies on hand, and be in your own workspace, it can also feel like an invasion.  Your home always needs to be tidy and well organized etc. and your family may feel they lack privacy.  Clients sometimes like to bring their children, which is a whole other set of circumstances, particularly with other clients clothing, hats, etc. in reach. You also need to be cognizant of any injuries that someone might sustain from trips, falls, other injuries, while in your home.  I have a few hats in a boutique, where I can meet with clients from that area, but my ideal is to someday have a studio outside of my home with a room for consultations.  You could meet at the clients home, but that does take more time out of your work schedule and can be costly, when you consider gas and wear and tear on your car.  Good luck!!!

Sorry, ladies, I turned your names around--not enough sleep this week.

Thanks  Bridget, my house is just not conducive to having more than 1 person in at a time (me liking space around me too)  and I also did clothing from home for a select set of clients, so aware of how it can take over. I will have to see how it  pans out.

Thank you all for your suggestions. Yes, more than 1 stranger in your home is a daunting prospect, as when I was in the shared space in the showroom I could have 2-6 people with the person, (messing) trying on stock styles.

I have a couple of orders on the go and 1 set up for this Saturday, in her home with her daughter,so I guess I can gauge how it might go. 

I will be gaining time some weeks, by not having to spend time in the showroom, but may loose at others travelling between clients.  

Thanks again, and once I have put up shelves in the garage to house the showroom stuff, I can take time to think this out and try it both ways.


Some pluses for visiting the client in their own space is that you do not have to deal with public liability or business insurance costs in your own home; you get a better picture of the 'personality' of your customer and their outfit and accessories will be to hand for them and they can try it on in their own space with their own family/friends around if they want them to be there too. Also YOU can be in charge of your time with the client. ie you can leave when you need to by stating you have another appointment. When people come to your own house it can develop in to 'chat' and other distractions so you may find your time is better spent doing the traveling - of course this depends how far away your clientele are.

Thanks Marion, good point about being able to leave !

The weekends delivery has turned out fine as she has called to say her mother loved it, so off to pick up payment tomorrow, *( dont ask, but fall out from the shop closing) and wont be doing a leave and see one again.

Hi , I work from home. I think the most important thing is to have public liability insurance, it is easy to arrange and gives peace of mind. Also if you decide to have a table at a show, they usually require it. For remote clients, I often will post a card with some small samples and people can decide if its a match. I don't charge for this service as the cost is really only a postage stamp.

Good luck.


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