How to Start a Specialty Suit Store

Specialty or custom suit stores offer customers tailored fits and personalized service. Show off your couturier expertise and develop long-standing working relationships with clients.

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Learn how to start your own Specialty Suit Store and whether it is the right fit for you.


Start a Specialty Suit Store by following these 10 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your Specialty Suit Store. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a Specialty Suit Store?

As mentioned previously, the right location is critical for this kind of business. You need to be relatively close to the customers you wish to attract. You also need enough space for storage and a tailor's workshop.

Start by pricing the rents on boutique-size shops or storefronts. Rent prices can vary considerably, depending on location, but $17-20 per sq ft will get you in the ballpark for pricing. Build-out costs to furnish the space will double or triple this cost.

Next, you’ll need to consider your stock clothing costs. Contact various clothing and fabric manufacturers to secure sales and distribution deals with them. Stocking your store will be a considerable amount of the initial cost. You can also include equipment costs, such as cash registers, sewing machines, and presses. You’ll need to decide how much you will do in-house or as subcontracted work. If you subcontract tailoring and sewing or cleaning work, you’ll cut materials and equipment costs, but you’ll pay it back in service fees to your business partners.

You’ll need to factor in the costs for registering your business with the proper licensing, permits, and insurance. If you have employees, add in their salaries and insurance costs as well.

Advertising and communication services, such as phone and internet, are also an important cost for getting up and running. You’ll need a website built, along with the hosting fees to keep it updated. Additionally, you’ll want to develop an ad blitz to let customers know you are available and show the services you offer. Additionally, you need signage in and around your store, such as window displays, billboards, and a store sign.

Cleaning and janitorial services may be required, depending on the size of your business. You should also have a fund for legal services, as a personal lawyer or legal council is suggested for new entrepreneurs.

Finally, always leave something in the budget for extras and incidentals. It’s always better to have a cushion to fall back on, if possible.

What are the ongoing expenses for a Specialty Suit Store?

Most ongoing expenses will pertain to rent and utilities, insurance, and tailoring/sewing supplies, as well as re-stocks of ready-to-wear clothing and accessories. Once you’ve established your business, overhead costs are minimal for the most part.

Who is the target market?

Business professionals and fashion-conscious shoppers will constitute a bulk of your market. Age ranges can vary from the mid 30s to the late 60s/early 70s.

How does a Specialty Suit Store make money?

Specialty suit stores generate revenue through the sales of suits, dress shirts, and other formal accoutrements. Specialty stores also make money through the tailored alterations done on each client.

How much can you charge customers?

Specialty suits can be pricey. But, since a good suit is designed to see years of wear, customers understand that quality costs money. Tailored suits start around $400 and can quickly reach four figures. Some customers may purchase already constructed suits, which you then tailor to their measurements. This process won’t be as labor intensive and will cost less. Either way, most boutique stores begin with a 50% markup on goods and services.

Measuring, patterning, and tailoring a complete custom suit requires time and precision. This process will cost considerably more and may incorporate some unique requests from the customer. A truly custom suit can cost $5,000 or more.

You may not strive to be the most expensive, but you definitely shouldn’t undercut yourself on profit, either. Your time and efforts should show your attention to detail and commitment to customer service. Equally, your time and efforts should be compensated.

How much profit can a Specialty Suit Store make?

Specialty suit stores, like most boutique businesses, will see some ebb and flow of revenue, often seasonally. Custom suits can command a significant price, and most customers in this market will understand that they must pay more for a custom piece.

How can you make your business more profitable?

If you or a business partner are a gifted tailor or seamstress, consider offering alterations and custom sewing work on items other than suits.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

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STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your Specialty Suit Store is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can start an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

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You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.

Small Business Taxes

Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).

You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.

Open net-30 accounts

When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.

Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.

Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.

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Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Learn more about General Liability Insurance.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

How to promote & market a Specialty Suit Store

Your specialty suit shop needs to make itself stand out in a sea of competition. There are lots of suit shops for customers to choose from. So, why yours? Consider opening with an advertising blitz on all available formats just to get some name recognition generated.

You should really start your advertising process by carefully selecting where your actual store will be located. How’s the parking and signage availability? Will your store see foot traffic? Visibility and accessibility are huge factors for success.

Then, find local publications and news magazines to advertise through. You’ll need to think locally, as fitting for suits requires in-person meetings. Local TV shows, radio stations, and online blogs or business review pages should all be considered targets for advertising partnerships.

Online advertising should begin before you even open your doors to the public. A store website and online presence should exist early on to inform potential customers. Social media can be a powerful tool for swaying public opinions.

How to keep customers coming back

One of the best methods for finding and keeping customers is to connect with them on a personal level. The very nature of a specialty suit shop requires a one-on-one relationship between client and proprietor.

  • Get to know your customers and reward their loyalty with store rewards and extras.
  • Keep detailed files of their past suit styles or accessory choices so you can alert them when you have items that match their personal style.
  • Send birthday cards or electronic announcements. It may seem simple, but customers love recognition.
  • Develop a VIP membership program. Once a customer spends a certain amount, they earn rewards.
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Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.

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Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.

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Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.

Start A Specialty Suit Store In Your State

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Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Is this Business Right For You?

Entrepreneurs who are trained or experienced in business management, customer service, and fashion tailoring should consider this career.

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Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

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What happens during a typical day at a Specialty Suit Store?

A specialty suit store, as the name implies, fits customers in specialty suits. Everything from tuxedos to semi-casual sport coats and blazers are being fitted to each customer’s unique dimensions.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful Specialty Suit Store?

Owning and running a specialty suit store takes an equal amount of business and fashion sense. Prior retail or business management experience is recommended. Customer service experience is also an important foothold for starting your climb. Understanding how to dress different body types as well as different personalities is also critical to success. Your knack for tailoring and spotting fashion trends will also be on display and should be one of your defining characteristics.

What is the growth potential for a Specialty Suit Store?

Specialty suit businesses can find success in the right sales markets. Well-tailored professional fits are always popular. Research the area in which you’re considering starting your business to assess competition and customer interest. Find a location with less competition and a demand for tailored suits. Then, cultivate your loyal customer base for sustainable growth.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a Specialty Suit Store?

A specialty business has to work harder to target and promote to its customer base. And, you won’t want to blindly choose a location to open a specialty suit shop. Realize that you should be able to readily identify a thriving target market for this kind of shop. A suit represents professionalism. It is a mark of special occasions. Furthermore, suits aren’t high turnover items. 

People that enjoy wearing suits love to talk to store owners who share their passion. Your actions and interactions in your first few years are make or break. Be prepared to show up and show off. You need to express interest in individual clients and show that you’re not a one-size fits all store.

You should also advertise heavily in various formats. Use all of your tools to get some attention. Blogs, Instagram stories, videos, retweets, shares, and comment threads are the 30-second spot for today’s world. At the same time, print ads and physical signage are still incredibly important for recognition and customer contact. Consider putting your store in local publications which feature other specialty or high-end items and services.

How and when to build a team

When you launch your store, you may only need a few people to successfully run the business. Setting up before opening is often the most labor-intensive aspect of your startup. Once you’re set up, two or three people should be able to operate a small to mid-sized shop. You could even consider going solo, if you have enough experience.

Within a year, you should feel as if you’re settling into some customer and store patterns. When your business is consistent enough to pull you in multiple directions, you need some extra help. Personable, trainable, and capable employees all earn high marks for smaller shops with a demanding clientele. They also help you to focus on overall company growth.

Next Steps

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