What is an upholstery niche? How do I create my own niche? These are both excellent questions that I receive a lot when advanced upholsterers are starting out in their upholstery business. A niche is a specialized focus of the market for a particular industry, product, or service. In an upholstery business, your niche will look different depending on whether your business model is performing custom work for clients or designing and creating pieces to sell. You can read more about starting an upholstery business with these different business models here! Once you have your business model in place, you can focus on creating an upholstery niche in your business.
When deciding what to niche your business, think about your unique style. What style do YOU love? Where are your talents and skills when it comes to upholstery? Once you think you have a focus in mind, begin creating those pieces for your own home first. Create playful statement pieces that will provide you images and examples to showcase your talents to future clients.
You want your upholstery niche to be one-of-a-kind. While there might be others in the industry doing something similar, you have your own unique twist, or you might be the only one in your area. If someone out there is in the same niche space, don’t let that discourage you! You have something new to bring to the table!
As you look through different styles, note the ones that you are drawn to or ones that you know would fit your skill set easily. Don’t be afraid to be outrageous or over the top! Once you’ve made notes of what styles might pair with your own interest, style, and talents, do some research to figure out if that style is popular in your area. See what is selling and what is not. A good place to start is local stores selling upcycled furniture. If a particular style isn’t selling well in your area, is shipping possible? Consider what that will look like and if you want to go that route.
Before you decide to go the shipping route, I highly recommend looking into your shipping options in your area and the costs first – BEFORE you start selling. You don’t want to be surprised at the cost to ship something. See what the rates are and what makes the most sense for your business and location!
One important note to remember is that people WILL copy your style and that’s okay! Don’t let someone copying your style get you down, upset, or discouraged. Think of it as a compliment, because it is! Others admire your work and see value in what you are doing! They also can’t recreate exactly what you do, because no one is YOU. No one else has your unique eye for combinations that draws clients to you, or artistic background that allows you to add embellishments and details others would never think to add. Client’s will be drawn to YOU, not just your work.
As you are creating your niche upholstery business, don’t try to change what feels right – just do it! If you are drawn to something and get that feeling in your gut then GO FOR IT! Once you have a few statement pieces created in your niche as examples, take pictures and get them on your website and social media platforms.
Design your website to showcase your work and make it easy for people to find you. Use the right keywords on your website to make it search engine friendly and so people know what to expect from your work! For example, “specializing in farmhouse style upholstery.” Not only will specific phrasing make you more searchable and discoverable, but it is also clear to those visiting your website what your specialities are. Therefore, someone looking for bold and colorful pieces might not be the best client match.
Make sure you share your website, blogs, products, etc. on all social media platforms you are a part of. I suggest starting with social media platforms you are already established on or have a following. Next look into which social media platform(s) provide the best traction in your niche and concentrate on those platforms next. However, you don’t need to be on all of the platforms at once. Focus on where you are and where your clients are. Doing them all at once isn’t a good strategy. As you grow, you can always add more platforms in as you see fit.
The best thing you can do for your business is to take TONS of pictures of every piece, at every stage, and including every detail! Get pictures from every angle and be sure to capture those unique little details that help you stand out!
Remember that your business isn’t going to grow overnight. Creating a following is a must, but that also takes time. Don’t get discouraged in this phase. Keep creating and putting your name out there! There is no magic button you can press (unfortunately). You have to do the work of getting your name out there as much as possible. Be encouraged because once your name starts floating around, word of mouth usually travels fast!
Be true to yourself and do what you love. Don’t force something because you think it will sell better or it is the trend right now. If you don’t enjoy what you are making, your business either won’t be as successful or you will grow to dislike it and upholstery. However, if it makes you smile, then you know what you’ve chosen is right. The age old saying is absolutely true: If you are doing what you love, it will never feel like work.
Our online membership hub instantly grants you access to an online library of training videos, a membership community to learn from and ask questions, detailed instruction, more DIY tips, and our online training experts who are on standby ready to assist you. Join our online membership and start learning when and where you like, while enjoying the support of our amazing online upholstery experts!
Kim’s Upholstery is all about helping and equipping others to learn the art of upholstery for pleasure, and if they want, enabling them to create an income for themselves – all on their own schedule!