The strength of the Indian clothing industry emerges from the solid production base of a wide variety of textiles, from cotton, silk, wool, to artificial fibres. The readymade garment business is mostly un-organised, comprising medium, small, and marginal players.
Abundant raw material, availability of skilled workforce, and the entire value chain are the supply-side growth drivers of the industry. India's large population base, rising per capita income, and high disposable income levels are factors for a growing domestic market. The scenario is bright for anyone to enter this sector with a brilliant garment business idea.
The scope of this article is to give you a thumbnail perspective of some of the small scale business ideas among many in the garment business.
It is imperative to add that venturing into any business, big, small, or tiny, will require a market feasibility study, followed by a proper business plan.
One may always start a part-time skill-based venture from home. But, in today’s world of professionalism and specialisation, such ventures may not survive the quality test.
Therefore, if you wish to implement some small profitable business ideas, you should start with the minimum set up the business demands. It is also advisable to obtain all relevant permits/registrations in line with the requirements of the business.
Small business ideas list
1. Readymade garment manufacturing
For readymade garment manufacturing, it is necessary to select the category you wish to focus on- whether women’s, or men’s, or kid’s garment.
Based on your selection, the value chain has to be established. Find out the fabric supplier (usually a wholesaler) and the prospective retailers. Finalise types of equipment- Sewing machine, fabric cutting machine, ironing and finishing arrangement, packing and storage; facilities of electricity, water, etc.
The space required will depend on your scale of operations; to start with, 1500 sq. ft may be enough. A skilled workforce is another prerequisite.
The initial investment required is around INR 6 to 8 Lakhs.
2. Job-work arrangement
Offering additional capacity or tying- up the entire facility with some garment manufacturer is another business option.
Having decided to venture into garment manufacturing, if you feel that the planned model may not leave you with a reasonable margin, sub-contracting can be viable.
Several large and medium garment manufacturers book orders above their capacity during seasonal demand periods. To fulfil the additional demand, these producers look for job-workers or sub-contractors.
Properly executed, a job-working arrangement can be beneficial to both parties- the manufacturer gets the items, and the sub-contractor earns money by utilising their capacity.
3. T-shirt business
The demand for t-shirts in a predominantly hot and humid country like India will always be on the rise. Branded players dominate the top-end of this segment. A small company can benefit by focusing on the lower part of the product segment; offering a value proposition to the consumer in terms of quality can be the ideal business stance.
T-shirt printing can be a different business idea but finding business is tricky unless you are located close to a t-shirt manufacturing hub.
A manufacturing cum printing outfit for T-shirts will need an investment of Rs.5 to 8 Lakhs depending on the location.
Areas to focus on for success:
- The type and style of t-shirts popular in your planned area of operation.
- Sourcing the suitable material at the right price (research wholesalers/manufacturers).
- Using capable distributors to spread your product fast with retailers.
- Develop a direct business channel with corporate for promotional offers.
- Use the correct promotional channel (offline, online).
- Customer feedback on design and quality.
4. Garment Wholesale
If you have communication skills and can face the challenges of logistic management, garment wholesale is the right business option for you.
A wholesaler activity involves buying and stocking materials from one or several manufacturers and selling them to retailers.
Negotiations, quick decision-making, coordination, and understanding fashion trends can push entrepreneurs to succeed in this trade. Investments are linked to the scale of business. You would need around INR 10 Lakhs to start.
The art of creating design with needles and thread is a traditional skill in India. The emphasis on modern methods of garment making has improved productivity considerably, and today garment manufacturers prefer machine-made embroidery.
One can also do this low investment business part-time from a home setup; a planned business venture, however, can be highly profitable. However, quality should be the top concern of your business. Quality is one of the central planks of success for an ancillary or job-work unit.
The criticality of this business is marketing, garment manufacturers, exporters, industry, and corporate houses for branding of caps, t-shirts, and jackets are the potential customers.
An online presence can generate additional business. For a proper setup with embroidery machines, the investment is around INR 3 to 4 Lakhs for two machines.
Let us now look at a few from the small business ideas list;
6. Garment alteration service
If you have sewing skills and can organise people with the necessary skills, this is one of the bright small business ideas from home.
- With a low startup capital, you can generate good business, since this segment always has a latent demand. While the local population is your primary customer segment, good service can bring your business favourable word of mouth publicity, resulting in more business.
- Exceptional sewing skills and knowledge of button types, zip, and measurement are the main requirements.
- A combination of some offline listing with local business guide services and some presence in social media can take care of the promotion.
Being in touch with local garment retailers, dry- cleaners can generate business. This venture will need an investment of INR 1 to 2 Lakhs.
7. Designer blouse maker
One more home-based option; you can use your sewing skills profitably in this profession. Good communication, an eye for design, and commitment (to delivery schedule) can quickly develop this business. An investment of around INR 1.5 Lakhs, mainly on sewing machines and promotion is needed.
8. Fabric printing
Hand printed garments are always in demand for style and exclusivity. If you are skilled in drawing and fabric art, and understanding fabrics, this could be one of the most successful small business ideas.
There are a few variants to the fabric print business model- you can tie up with a store for the garments for printing; or, you can buy garments yourself and sell them after value-addition by way of the handprints. You can also offer handprints on garments provided by customers. You can start this business with an investment of INR 1 to 1.5 Lakhs.
9. Woollen knitting
Your knitting skills, upgraded knitting machinery, an intelligent online promotional drive, and following up for exports can be an ideal combination for success in this branch of the garment business from home.
An experienced person (maybe a family member) knowledgeable about online business and exports can showcase your knitting skills to tap the growing demand in several countries abroad. Investment required is around INR 2 to 3 Lakhs.
10. Cloth bag manufacturing
Using your design and printing skills, you can venture into cloth bags for shopping. This home-based business option offers good potential in the wake of the ban on plastic bags in many Indian states. Design and durability can be your key points for customers. Working out the right distribution arrangement can see your sales zoom. The investment required is INR 3 to 4 lakhs.
A business demands systems, procedures, strategies, and targets for success, besides the basic premise of quality (product/service). Successful implementation of small profitable business ideas in the garment sector depends on your ability and efforts in using the key ingredients in the desired proportions.
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Q. I am a qualified textile engineer; how can I start a garment manufacturing unit?
Ans. You can use your knowledge to your advantage while negotiating with various agencies in the value chain. However, business is about taking risks, following your goals, and facing hardships. Negotiations and selling would be among your daily activities. If you are ready to take the challenge, get into garment manufacturing.
Q. Can I start a t-shirt printing business in my home?
Ans. Yes, if you are knowledgeable on the technicalities, and are willing to invest in the required machinery. But, unless it is a proper setup, customers may not get confidence. Additionally, when you scale up in future, permissions and licences can be an issue for a home-based operation.
Q. Can I start a garment alteration business with the existing sewing machines at our home?
Ans. Alteration is a skill-based job. A machine helps you in improving productivity. You have to consider whether the old machine matches the modern-day stitching of the garments coming for alteration.