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Last Updated on 15 October 2020 by Gertrude

Pillows are my favourite sewing item of all time but they can get quite boring if you use the same fabric and style.

I started making pillows when I was sewing for our new home which needed pillows and curtains.

To make a home brighter and shiner or to show your personality, go for bold colourful pillows. Your home will feel welcoming and new with a touch of pillow magic. 

I  got into the pillow business when I made pillows from some cool flannel fabric. Flannel is playful, child-like and bold reflecting my personality. 

Sewing pillows is about utilising straight lines but pillows get expensive because you’re buying style, class and sophistication. 

If you’d love to hear more about how I started my pillow sewing business and created a pillow empire from it, kindly tune in to my YouTube channel from the video above. 

To get started in the pillow sewing business and make over $1000 in profits as a Kenyan you need to know. 

All about creating a pillow sewing business in Kenya in 2020. 

How to Get Started Selling Pillows as a Side Hustle in Kenya in 2021

To get started selling pillows as a side hustle in Kenya in 2021, you’ll need a few things including, some sewing skills. Why some sewing skills?

You don’t need advanced sewing skills to sew rather how to add coding/piping for the decorative feature of decorative pillows.

And you need to know how to sew and add zips to your pillows.

A pillow business is the best side hustle to create an income for you in weeks if done right.

 

Basic Requirements for Starting a Pillow Side Hustle in Kenya

To begin a pillow business, you don’t need to start with so much capital. A basic sewing skill, a sewing machine, zips, coding/piping, a sewing space, an advertising strategy to make your pillows visible to customers.

The following are the basic requirements for starting a pillow side hustle in Kenya and they include:

Sewing skills doesn’t have to be advanced but needs to know how to sew zip both invisible and the normal kind.

You also must know how to sew cording for the decoration part or pillow fringes. 

You’ll need sewing machines and I have a few recommended for beginner tailors 

A sewing space or sewing room 

A camera for snapping the pillows because you are starting from home. And I make for you a few camera choices for beginners.

Phone cameras and cameras themselves. 

A Facebook/Instagram dedicated group/page for pillows and show your pillow pairing prowess

The  Pillow Supplies Needed and How to Get Them

The supplies needed for sewing pillows include: 

Zips buy in bulk 

Sewing machines 

cording/piping 

Fibre, there are various types of fibres available in the market. Fibre is the most important part of your pillow. The fibre helps you in knowing and setting the price for your pillows.

Types of fibres/polyfill for your pillows include:

There are fibres from the hypoallergenic ones – for people with allergies, Goose feathers/down which last longer and are luxurious and pillows made from goose feathers are pricey and recommended as bed pillows. Other types of fibres/polyfil include:

  • Latex.
  • Wool.
  • Synthetic.
  • Memory Foam.
  • Cotton.

Fabric for the outer pillow cover. You can use the most basic cotton to the most luxurious silk covers. 

Sewing needles/pins Fabric Markers 

How to Price Your Pillows for Maximum Profits

After gathering all the pillow sewing supplies, you need to know how to price your pillows.

Pillow prices depend on a number of things including 

Type of fibre used

 If using the hypoallergenic fibre or the goose feathers, your pillows prices will definitely go higher.

Why, because you’re focusing on the quality of production.

Also when you use silk and satin as the pillow fabrics, your pillows price increase. But when using foam, the price isn’t as high. 

Type/design of the pillow is the pillow an owl or another shape like emoji or the like pillows

How long did it take to come up with the design? How much fabric and fibre did you use? 

Is the pillow custom-made?

The amount of time it took to make/design the pillow.

If a pillow took 30 minutes from start to finish that means the materials and cost of production aren’t high.

For example, if making overlapping pillows vs zip closure pillows, the zip closure takes a considerable amount of time to produce. 

Type of fabric used

If you use satin or silk the price of pillow increases. These are exotic materials which take time.

See why pillow sewing isn’t easy contrary to what others say. 

Your pillow niche

Who are your pillows for? Who’s your ideal customer. Are you sewing pillows for high-end clients? Do they need real silk and goose feathers? 

You pillow size

Pillow sizes matter a lot. The most selling pillow size is 16 by 16 inches or 18 by 18 inches. And the bed pillows which range in sizes. When sewing keeps that in mind. 

Are your pillows fixed-price or negotiable? And to what extent is negotiable. What’s does custom price mean 

  1. Hiring Extra Hand for Your Pillow Business 

When hiring an extra hand to help you come up with your pillow designs, keep in mind the following;

It’s never an easy task to find someone who’s willing to execute your tasks as needed. 

Hire very slowly but fire faster is a mantra I use. 

Train your hired help in customer service. You’re not sewing pillows, you’re serving a clientele. 

Decide on how much you’ll be paying the customer. Is it on commission or a month-end agreement? 

Does Location Matter  When Operating a Pillow Business in Kenya?

The sewing location matters if you choose to go for the offline way of marketing your pillows.

Choose a location where your target market frequents.

Is it a shopping mall? Have you positioned your goods in front of your audience so they see you the goods you’re making? 

What kind of customers do you want to check in on your shop?

Have you properly displayed your pillows to entice your customers?

Do you have a great pillow selection?

Divide your shop to be eye-catching, an eye-candy not an eye-sore to your customers.

This determines the kinds of customers who will come to you. 

How to Keep in Trend ( knowing what sells and what doesn’t). Pillow Styles to Emulate

You’re going to keep atop pillow trends and there is a number.

There are emoji pillows, do you have the yellow fabrics to emulate the emoji pillows.

There are body pillows, pillows for side sleepers and nursing pillows among other trends.

How well do you know the trends and how can you add these pillows to your shop’s collection. 

Finding Customers for Your Pillow Business

The best marketing there is these days is online marketing.

How well do you know how to start an online shop.

What are the best online shops you can use to display your pillows and how do you create one. 

I’m working on my Shopify store and it’s the best time of my life to show my creativity and also to help others find my goods easier.

Pair your online store with a Facebook or Instagram shop.

I add other people’s pillows in my store as well, will share with you when I’m halfway done. 

Exactly How Much is the Pillow Profit? And How to Calculate Your Profits. 

I’ll show you a very easy way of calculating your profits, no hard economics here. I love simplified projects. 

How much are you spending on fabric and supplies and hired labour? 

How much are your intended profits? 

How much do you want to sell your pillow at? 

With this in mind, I buy lots of bulk fabrics, so I get a lot of discounts. I also buy when the fabrics are on offer from Black Friday and other holidays.

But for each 16 by 16 pillow, you use about three quarters of a yard or metres if you’re using the fabric for coding. Or even less fabric.

For example, for a fabric measuring about 60 to 72 inches by 36 inches, you can make four pillows measuring 18 by 18 inches. And have fabric for coding.

If the fabric cost 1000 shillings, the fibre you; ll use is the normal type of fibre, costing 1900 for 5 kilogrammes, and you use about little less than a half a kilo.

The coding cost 200 shillings depending on the size and you won’t use it all on four pillows and four zippers, costing 50 shillings each, you are spending about 2400 to produce each pillow.

Add your cost of labour which ranges from 500 to thousands of shillings.

The cost of these pillows will average about 1000 for the 16 inches to 2000 and 2500 to 3500 for the 18-inch pillow.

You have to calculate the average cost of all the materials then price either a low by 500 to 1000 or higher by the same amount.

The purpose of mark-up prices is to pay yourself the building and your workers while maintaining a profit.

And it’s an average, now, use this method to price your exotic materials. Just make sure to charge what your chosen ideal customers afford.

Ask for your worth, more on worth below. 

Finding Distributors for Your Pillows 

After you know how to price your pillows, keep in mind the money your distributors will be pocketing.

Distributors can either be affiliates online or offline.

Whatever mode you choose, ask yourself who are my ideal customers.

How do I want my distributors to talk to the ideal customers?

Who are my distributors and how will I pay them.

Do they need to invest in the pillows first, like how network marketing world?

The meaning, will they buy the goods, then I teach them to market and sell the pillows.

When working with other people there are a lot of factors to pay attention to. 

How to Sell Your Pillows to Retail Stores

How to Sell Pillows to Retail Stores (Naivas) in Kenya

I looked into the option of taking my pillows to supermarkets and my offer was accepted.

The process is tedious and the profit margin measly. But if this is a route you’d love to go to, a few words of wisdom are abound: 

What is the retail store you have identified? 

Do they sell these kinds of pillows you are selling

Why should they want your pillows?

Is your business ready to ‘suffer’ without money? 

They don’t pay you upfront, are you ready to work with what you have is it going to pinch your pockets deep. 

Are you ready to lower your prices? 

And are you ready to get KEBS certified or some kind of authorisation to sell this product?

If you answer yes to all this, then take the dive.

I found it too daunting especially when they mentioned I have to deal with another government agency, I smelt corruption because I’m not selling food. But, your experience isn’t mine go for it and see how it turns out. 

Networking with other Home Decor Businesses

Establishing proper networks isn’t for the top marketing gurus alone, you’re a business owner who needs proper and strong networks.

What are the other home decor places in your neighbourhood selling and at how much?

It’s not a competition it’s knowing your market and believing your customers are out there waiting for you.

They’re at the doorway. Don’t share your trade secrets an important virtue I earnt from Toyin Lawani a Nigerian business mogul in her book, unstoppable.

Don’t tell it all, it’s knowing the competition and how you can stand above them.

If they value your connection, great, if they don’t well move on. They may not be as niche as you though. 

Custom Pillow Orders

The learning curve towards taking custom orders is going to make write two and a half pages for this blog post.

But to take custom orders pay attention to the following

Measure the clients’ fabrics and determine the length, width, defects. 

Tell the customer how much fabric is expected to remain and why if nothing going to remain. 

Show them how you store their fabrics by labelling and writing their names. 

Include their basic customer information like name, phone number, id number and give them your business card with the same info. 

Tell them your mode of delivery and why custom orders take a little longer and are charged a little pricier than ready-made projects. 

Tell them how many business or working days you open shop and what happens when their pick up day is on a weekend when you’re closed. 

Explain to them that you accept corrections and they can come back to have their pillows fixed 

And who will receive the pillows? 

Having and keeping proper custom taking orders record is critical so that customers don’t say you short-changed them. 

It’s also a way of ensuring your customers know you’re not a conman. 

How to Build a Pillow Brand in Kenya

No one starts a pillow business knowing it’ll be a brand movement.

A brand is a name, logo, design among other things like customer service.

So what’s your pillow business name. What does your logo design say about your business? 

Who are our ideal customers and why?

Can they afford your pillows and where do they live.

Know about establishing a memorable and credible brand in this blog post. It’s about creating a brand movement like apple or star wars. 

How to Expand a Pillow Business

When looking into expanding your pillow business, consider the following;

The cost of expansion. Are you getting a new premise? Are you going to work out from your home if you were working from home? 

How much will this expansion cost, does it also increase the cost of production. 

Keep in mind that expansion means growth. 

What will you add in your expansion? 

After establishing yourself as a pillow guru, it’s time to get into another lucrative niche area. The toy industry.

It’s a booming industry with billions of dollars made every single day. That means more fabrics, sewing patterns and great organisations skills. 

Also, what are the growth expansion projections?

How much more profits will you make.

Remember if you are going to rent out a bigger place it means more profits and also an increase in the products.

And also acquiring new customers. Business expansion is great, scary but go for it.  

How to Get Repeat Customers in Your Pillow Store

How would it feel to have 80 per cent of your customers come back? Maintaining customers is a handle many business owners don’t know how to handle. 

To maintain customers you are going to do the following strategies;

Have reward programmes 

Reward programmes include discounts and offers.

For example, for every customer, your loyal customer brings, give the loyal customer a commission or a discount on the customer they bring. Whatever works for you. 

Rewarding customers means they stick and hang around for a lot longer. And business grows with loyal customers. 

Offer your loyal customers with teaser products.

When releasing new products, make sure your loyal customers hear and get to test the pillows first.

Let them critic it and also help spread the word. 

You reduce your marketing messages/plans when your customers market for you.

QUESTION OF THE HOUR: 

Would you love to begin a pillow business as a side-hustle to start in Kenya from home in 2020?

Post Update: This post was originally published on 22 June 2018 and has been updated October 15, 2020, to include information relevant to the pillow industry as of 2020. 


stephanie

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4 Comments

Catherine · 4 September 2019 at 5:12 PM

Great introduction to the topic. Main question is am I missing something or is this the entire article? How do I get answers to the questions you posed at the end of the article?

    stephanie · 19 September 2019 at 11:56 AM

    Hello Catherine, this is a work-in-progress article that’s under renovation. Thank you for your comment, please check the article by Friday 20th September 2019 and it’ll be done.

J. Wambui · 28 August 2020 at 11:56 AM

Please advise on Where I can
buy the several of pillow fabrics in kenya

    stephanie · 31 August 2020 at 6:25 PM

    Any fabric shop near you. I know there are various fabric shops in Nairobi like the Woman Shop, though they sell a lot of wool than fabrics. But, if you’re in Nairobi, take a look in those fabric shops.

    Pillow fabrics vary unless you’re looking for silk/satin or other exotic fabrics then you have to import from China or the USA.

    You can start by using the Kitenge/Kikoi fabric, I saw a lot of my customers loved that fabric. You have to vary your fabric selection/collection though because not everyone is into those extreme colours.

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