How to start a cushion making business

So, you want to put your creativity to good use and start a cushion making business? Fun! 

Cushions bring so much to a room. In fact, swapping out the tired old cushions on your couch can give the room a facelift without spending a ton of money. 

Depending on where you’re based, you might be able to sell your cushions from a little store. Alternatively, you can sell them online, which is probably easier. 

But where do you start? 

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. We know there’s a lot to consider, so we’ve broken down the key steps you need to take to get your cushion making business off the ground. 

We’ll look into:

  • How to set up your cushion business
  • How to sell your new cushion designs
  • How to manage your cushion making business 

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to start a cushion making business from scratch.

How to set up your cushion business

Before you can begin creating and selling your stunning cushion designs, you need to ensure your business has the foundation it needs to succeed. 

Follow the steps below to get started.

Conduct market research

Just like your cushion designs need the right material to look their best, your business needs the right information to do the same. 

It’s important to understand your industry to help you succeed within it. So, start by researching the cushion and home interior market to learn more about:

  • Size – big is the market right now? How much money does it earn globally and locally? 
  • Demand – What types of cushions are most popular? Which styles and materials are trending?
  • Target audience – what kind of people tend to buy cushions, including gender, age range, job, and marital status? 
  • Competitors – what are the big cushion brands and small cushion making businesses you might need to compete with?

There are plenty of ways you can find this information, including platforms like:

For more information about this step, check out: How to conduct market research before starting a business.

Choose your niche and target audience

Once you know what the current market looks like, you can use that information to determine the focus that would most benefit your business.

Choosing a niche helps you stand out in the industry and give people a reason to buy from you specifically. Your goal is to find the thing that separates you from the crowd (your unique selling point) that also fills a gap in the industry. 

For example, you could:

  • Paint portraits of customers’ pets or children onto ready-made cushions
  • Hand stitch your own designs from scratch
  • Print customised messages onto ready-made covers

When choosing your niche, it’s important to also consider who will buy them from you. In other words, who is your target audience?

See also: how to define your target audience in six steps.

Defining your niche and target audience will help you create cushions that people will want to buy. 

Write a business plan

Another crucial step in starting any business is to write a business plan. This document will act as a guide to help you steer your cushion making business in the right direction.

In addition, you also need a business plan to show banks and potential investors that you’re worth investing in

Your business plan should outline your:

Register your business

When you start a cushion making business, you’ll need to register it with the UK government. You’ll also need to choose a business structure when registering.

You can register as either a sole trader or a limited company:

  • Sole trader – you’re one with your business and pay fewer taxes, but you’re also legally responsible. 
  • Limited company –  the business is a separate legal entity from you, which gives you more protection but means you have more regulations and taxes. 

Pro tip: Since your cushion-making business will start small with just you involved, consider registering as a sole trader first. You can always switch to a limited company structure as the business grows. 

Plan your tax process

Ugh, we know: taxes are a pain. But as self-employed, you’ll be legally responsible for paying your taxes to HMRC. No employer will do it for you!

Self-employed people have to submit a Self Assessment tax return each year

Here are a few taxes you can expect to pay:

  • Income tax
  • Dividend tax – limited companies only
  • National Insurance 
  • Corporation tax – limited companies only 
  • VAT – VAT registered businesses only 

You’ll need to register your business for VAT if you expect to make more than £85,000 annually. VAT-registered businesses must also comply with Making Tax Digital (MTD), which is a government initiative to simplify tax reporting. 

Note: MTD will eventually expand to all businesses, so make sure you’re aware of it regardless of your VAT status. 

Get insurance

It’s also crucial to protect your business from financial risk by getting the right insurance coverage. For example, you might need: 

  • Product or inventory insurance – that protects your inventory from damage, theft, or loss. 
  • Public liability insurance – which protects you from injury, damage, or loss your business is found responsible for. 
  • Shipping insurance – this protects you from the risk of orders being damaged, lost, or stolen in the post. 

Countingup’s insurance partner, Superscript, has a ton of options perfect for your cushion making business.

Get the supplies and tools you need

You’ll also need to make sure you have what you need to make your cushions and sell them to customers. 

The exact tools you’ll need will depend on your niche, but most cushion businesses will require:

  • Fabric or ready-made cushions
  • Thread and needles
  • Fabric scissors
  • Rulers and cutters
  • Sewing machine
  • Paint and print stamps

How to sell your new cushion designs

Now that you’ve covered the steps to set up your business, it’s time to find some customers. Follow these steps to begin selling your cushion designs.

Decide where to sell them

When learning how to start a cushion making business, it’s essential to determine where you can and want to sell your cushions. 

You have plenty of options of places to sell. For example, you could:

  • Sell your cushions directly to customers from an online store
  • Partner with local interior designers to create pieces for their projects
  • Set up an account with an eCommerce platform like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy to sell your designs on their sites

When choosing where to sell your cushions, it’s important to consider your specific situation –– and your target audience. Where are they most likely to buy from? 

Create a brand identity 

Now that you know where to sell your designs, think about how you want to present yourself to the public, also known as your brand identity

By establishing an interesting and memorable brand, you can reach more people and grow brand awareness. You want to shape your brand to appeal to your target audience (there’s that market research again!). 

When developing your business brand, consider the following:

  • The colour scheme on your logo, product packaging, website, and marketing materials 
  • The tone of voice that you’ll use across all marketing communications
  • The mood surrounding your business. Are you fun and exciting or calming and comfortable?
  • The values you’ll focus on, such as sustainability, personal touch, comfort

Set up a website

Having a professional business website is integral to succeeding with your sales and marketing. 

Your website is the digital home for your business, where you show off and sell your designs and where customers can learn more about you. 

These days, you don’t need to be a coding pro to build a stunning website from scratch. Instead, you can build your site using tools like WordPress or Squarespace and customise it to fit your needs. 

Make sure your website at least includes:

  • Business name and purpose
  • Products and prices
  • Contact information 
  • Customer reviews 

Pro tip: Include a blog where you show off your expertise by writing about topics relating to cushion design, care, and so on. Doing this can help you increase traffic to your site. 

Develop a marketing plan

No matter how stunning your brand and website are, you can’t sell any cushions if people don’t know you exist. That’s why you need a marketing plan to help you reach people in your target market.

Here are the best methods to use: 

Social media

Since 4.62 billion people use social media, it’s the perfect method to market your business to a wide crowd. 

Start by creating a business account for your brand on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, etc. Here’s what to use the platforms for:

  • Tiktok is best for videos, such as short how-to videos on making your designs or “day in the life” style videos
  • Instagram is perfect for visual content, so use it to show off your designs in stunning pictures
  • Facebook is good for text-based marketing and customer engagement and to see your customers’ reactions to your business and marketing content

Email marketing

Unlike other marketing forms, email lets you reach out to customers directly. You can use email marketing to:

  • Present your business to people
  • Promote new designs
  • Get feedback to improve your business
  • … and more!

You can use a tool like MailChimp to create customised email marketing campaigns and send them to your customers. Just be careful to not overdo it. You want to attract customers, not spam them and scare them off. 

Paid ads

If you can afford to, an effective way to alert people of your new business is to use paid advertising, both print and digital. 

For example, you might choose to pay for ad space in a decorating magazine or catalogue to get in front of decorators and designers. Or you can create Google Ads that show up on search engines and websites relating to your craft.

The key is to do what works for your niche, audience, and budget. 

How to manage your cushion making business 

Running a small business involves much more than design, sales and marketing. You also need to find efficient methods for managing every aspect, from prices to bookkeeping. 

Manage your sales and prices

To succeed with your cushion making business, you need to create a system for managing sales. 

Start by establishing a price list for your products based on the average rates in your industry, your costs, and the profit you want to make. You’ll need a pricing strategy for this.  

You’ll also need to accept payment for your products. If you sell your cushions online, you must be able to accept card payments. Look for options at SumUp.

Get your shipping sorted

If you sell your cushions online or offer shipping, you also need to stay on top of your goods, including:

  • The products you need to send
  • Products that are in the post
  • Orders that have already arrived

It’s important that you can juggle your shipping needs as the orders increase. A consistent system and checklist will make it much easier. 

Pro tip: Use a tool like ShipStation to streamline the process and make it more efficient.  

Organise your inventory

It’s also important to keep track of your inventory and track things like:

  • How many products you have available 
  • How many you sold 
  • When you need to order more

Want a way to make this process easier? Consider using an inventory management system like Netsuite.

Take charge of your finances 

Last but not least in this guide about how to start a cushion making business is the thing that keeps it all going: your money. 

As a business owner, you need to track everything you spend and earn on your business. The HMRC also expects you to keep these records for about six years

So keep your finances organised. Here’s how:

Business current account

The best way to keep your records organised is to separate your business finances from your personal ones. Open a business current account to keep business transactions in one place and reduce confusion.

Accounting software

Modern accounting software can help you understand your financial performance and habits. Your best option is to go for a system that’s tailored to the specific needs of a one-person business like yours. 

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

This app can simplify your financial management with features like: 

  • Automatic expense categorisation 
  • Receipt capture with reminders after each purchase
  • Ongoing cash flow insights 
  • Year-round tax estimates 
  • Unlimited invoicing on the go 

Save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

Start your three-month free trial today