I recently had the privilege of presenting a seminar on pricing to a group of decorators and workrooms. During that seminar, I asked how many were happy with the income they were making. Only 10 percent were satisfied—10 percent! Isn't that sad?
As a consultant, I am asked by those who are considering starting their own workroom fabrication business how much salary they can expect to make. Most hope they can start in this business making $30,000 a year the first year! In reality, not too many employees, or business owners, can start a new job at that salary without some kind of extended formal education.
Many new workroom owners make the mistake of thinking just because they can produce window treatments out of their homes with home sewing machines they will make a phenomenal profit because they don't have much overhead. Wrong! The only thing they are selling is labor. Without a good education in fabrication, business management and pricing, and without the proper, efficient sewing machines and tools, their profit will not reach their expectations. The financial investment required to get these things will be taken from what otherwise would be salary.
What minimal statistics are available on income for sewers and machine operators do not apply to owners of drapery fabrication businesses. We need current numbers and statistics to help us all work together to elevate the credibility of this industry and to increase our satisfaction with our salaries and profits.
Drapery workroom fabrication is in high demand, and yet it appears there are many workrooms closing and not enough new ones opening up. We must make this industry more profitable before we bleed to death. Only by knowing where we stand now, can we hope to improve our financial conditions and make this industry a much more lucrative business to pursue for beginners as well as the veterans.
For these reasons, I and D&WC magazine are providing a survey for workrooms. Please take the time to help the workroom industry and yourself and answer the questions on this survey. You can mail or fax in the pages from the magazine, or you can go online to the D&WC Web site (www.DWCdesigNET.com) and fill it out there. The results will be printed at a later date.
Please, take time to fill out this survey. We all need to know how we're doing. Then we can make some changes to better our businesses. Wouldn't it be nice to reverse the percentages so that 90 percent of you are satisfied with your income?
Kitty Stein, WCAA, is a 20-year veteran of the drapery workroom field, having owned and operated her own business for 18 years and having taught classes on window treatment construction. Until 1990, Stein and a partner owned a workroom with nine employees. She since has opened her own smaller workroom, Workroom Concepts, that has just one employee. She also does workroom consulting, seminar speaking and is the author of Order in the Workroom available through Draperies & Window Coverings.