Marketing Your Sewing Business: Custom Figure Skating Dresses

December 7, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

sewing figure skating

Read Part 1 Starting a Sewing Business for the Figure Skating Market

The first step to marketing a sewing business targeting the figure skating market is to know the schedules of competitions and main ice skating events. The demand for this business spikes up around and before those competitions.

There are a number of figure skating events you need to make note of:

  • Local competitions = Ice skating rinks typically sponsor a once-a-year competition geared mostly to the ice skaters using the rink and those taking group and private lessons. These local competitions are usually endorsed by the Ice Skating Institute (ISI), which aims to foster recreational skating. These competitions start as early as March until about June.
  • Regional competitions = these competitions are held in various states within a region as defined by the US Figure Skating, which sanctions these events. For the South Atlantic region, examples of competitions include May Day Open in Maryland in May, Liberty Competition in Pennsylvania in July, Summer Skate Wilmington in Delaware in July, and Falling Leaves Competition in September in Virginia.
  • USFS Qualifying Competitions = these includes the Regional Championships, where the top 4 of the qualifying events (Juvenile level and up) move to the Eastern Sectional Championships, and finally to the U.S. Nationals.
  • Other figure skating competitions = other figure skating competitions include State Games, and the ISI District Championships.

Take note of the competitions in the skating rinks in your community. Some of these competitions may be local where participants are mostly the kids from the rink, or bigger regional competitions that attract out-of-state skaters. By knowing the cycle of the figure skating sport, you will be able to craft a more effective marketing strategy for your sewing business.

Use Word of Mouth and Referral Strategies

To market this business, start by getting to know the skaters and coaches in your local ice rink. Focus on the skaters who practice during the freestyle sessions (as opposed to those who go to the public sessions). The freestyle skaters are more likely to be part of a synchro or theater team, and they are more likely to be competing individually or in pairs.

Given that skating is a closely knit and small community, ask the parents of your customers to help spread the word about your business. Parents who sit on the sidelines (or stand around the boards depending on the facility) while watching their kids practice can be powerful advocates for your business. It is common to hear parents saying to one another, “I love your daughter’s outfit. Where did you get that?” You’d want them to give your information to the inquiring parent.

Give your existing customers incentives or discounts on their next orders if they recommend you to other customers. Be deliberate in asking them to recommend you, and ask for feedback and testimonials that you can then use to further market your business.

To give you more ideas on how to generate buzz about your business, check our Networking and Word of Mouth marketing strategies section

Tap the Skating Clubs

Check out sponsorship opportunities with your local skating clubs. USFS requires competitors to participate in local skating clubs and be endorsed by that skating club to be eligible for competition. Skating club members are those who actively compete in various events throughout the season — and is one of the best places to reach the target market for a figure skating sewing business.

For as little as $150-$1,000 annual investment for a sponsorship, the skating club may be able to give your sewing business the exposure that it needs, such as:

  • Your business can be given prominence in the skating rinks that host the clubs through strategic placement of banners on the boards or plexiglass surrounding the rink.
  • Talk about your business in their newsletter or email regularly sent to members.
  • Placement of your button or banner on the skating club website
  • Participation in club event programs such as annual banquet for members.

Some skating clubs also sponsor skatewear consignment sales. Inquire whether you can offer your ready-made dresses and clothes at the discount to their members during this consignment sales.

You can also develop affiliate relationships with the skating club wherein they link to you on their website, and they will be given a percentage for any sale generated. This could be a win-win situation for skating clubs doing fundraising activities.

Develop Partnerships with Local Ice Rinks

Most ice skating rinks also allow for dasherboard advertising, where your banner is nailed to the dasherboard surrounding the rink. Annual contracts may start around $500, with the ads about 31 x 6 feet in size. Your ad can then be visible to anyone who comes to the rink, including both the skaters themselves and the parents who watch the kids practice and compete.

In some ice skating rinks, zamboni ads are also available where your ads are displayed on both sides of the Zamboni machines that clear the ice during breaks.

Engage in Online Marketing

Having a website is a must for marketing your sewing business doing figure skating costumes. It is important to create your own presence in the Web. A web site can allow you to better and more effectively reach your local market, and help you reach a wider market beyond your local ice rinks.

Your website must showcase the designs you’ve previously done. It must clearly make the case that you understand the needs of a figure skater and can create dazzling ready-to-wear or one-of-a-kind custom designs. Make it easy for customers to order from you. For detailed recommendations, read the article “Conversion Rate: 30 Tips on How to Sell Online”.

One hurdle you will be faced when selling custom-made dresses and outfits online is making sure that you get the correct measurements of the skater. It is important to give specific instructions on how to get the correct measurements. If possible, create a video instructing the parents or adults on how they should measure their kids to get the right measurements.

Learn about search engine optimization to help increase the visibility of your website in the search engines. You’d want users going to Google to look for custom figure skating dresses to find your website. Remember, even the skaters in your local rink may be using Google to find where to buy their dresses and costumes — and you’d want both the local market and out-of-area market to find you and buy from you.

An important component in marketing your sewing business is social media marketing. Use visual social media such as Pinterest and Instagram to showcase your designs and generate more buzz for your business. Create a Tumblr blog highlighting the dresses and costumes you create. Use Facebook and Twitter as well to generate more awareness for your sewing business. Post instructional videos on Youtube on topics such as choosing the right figure skating dress, or proper measuring for a figure skating dress.


Starting a Sewing Business for the Figure Skating Market:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Recommended Books on Starting a Sewing Business:


Isabel Isidro

Isabel Isidro is the co-founder of A mom of three boys, avid vintage postcard collector, frustrated scrapbooker, she also manages Women Home Business, Starting Up Tips and Learning from Big Boys. Connect with her in Google +.

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Category: Business Ideas

Isabel Isidro

About the Author ()

Isabel Isidro is the co-founder of A mom of three boys, avid vintage postcard collector, frustrated scrapbooker, she also manages Women Home Business, Starting Up Tips and Learning from Big Boys. Connect with her in Google +.

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  1. Barbara Chaney says:

    Very good article. I’m experiencing many of these issues as well.

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