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How to Start an Upholstery Business: A-Step-By-Step-Guide

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If you’re looking for advice on how to start an upholstery business, this article is for you. You’ll get tips, strategies, and step-by-step guidance.

Do you enjoy working with fabrics and furniture? Are the needle and thread your favorite tools? Do you like giving furniture a complete makeover and want to begin your own upholstery business?

If so, then you are reading the right blog.

The Good Thing About the Upholstery Business

The good thing about the upholstery service is that it’s perpetually in demand. Particularly for revamping the antique furniture. And, you can start an upholstery business anytime out of your home.

Yet, at this point, you might have doubts and wonder if it is easy to start an upholstery business. The only correct answer to this question is- Yes! You can.

If you are passionate about furniture design and want to make money from it, you can start an upholstery business anytime and anywhere with minimal capital.

Have I boosted your morale yet?

Read on because I’m going to tell you all I can. You need to know how to start an upholstery business, and I will show you how it can be done.

In this article, I’ll give you tips on starting your upholstery business and ways to succeed by answering the following questions:

  • Is the upholstery business profitable?
  • How does an upholstery business make money?
  • What are the start-up costs for the upholstery business?
  • Common business expenses
  • How do I know if the upholstery business is a good option for me?
  • How to start an upholstery business step-by-step?

Is the upholstery business profitable?

Yes, it is. According to a report by IBIS World, the US Upholstery industry earns $2 billion annually. If you are good at this craft, you can make good money in this business.

Today, the demand for upholstery may be less, but the supply of skilled upholsters is even lesser. Experienced and talented upholsters stand a great chance of leading the industry.

How does an upholstery business make money?

Give your customers a new aesthetic design for old and worn furniture to make them look and feel like new.

An upholster can charge a fixed rate for each piece of furniture, or they can charge based on the amount of time they spend on the project on a per-billable hour basis.

Your charges will likely vary based on your expertise and your location. A highly skilled and experienced upholster may charge higher per hour of labor for the same services.

According to HomeAdvisor, the national average cost for reupholstering furniture is $711.

An upholstery business doesn’t only involve reupholstering furniture. Many upholsters spend half of the day on the bench and another half managing other logistics and operational issues. There are many factors to consider before calculating your profit in the upholstery business.

What are the start-up costs for the upholstery business?

This answer is going to give you a little more push. The start-up costs for an upholstery business are low as compared to other furniture and home furnishing businesses. Your fixed expenses can include things like:

  • Your workspace
  • Tools
  • and, it’s optional to have a vehicle for pickup and deliveries

However, setting up the business at home will save you the cost of the workspace.

There are running costs, which generally include your utility bills, repairs to your tools, and fuel bills to run the vehicle.

Customers generally pay for the cost of the fabric, but sometimes it may fall on you.

What are the tools required in the upholstery business?

Your success in the upholstery business depends on your creativity and skills, but of course, you need tools for the job. You can get tools gradually as your customer base grows, and you’re able to reinvest your earnings in the business.

There aren’t too many tools that you would require in the beginning. A beginner’s kit will include tools like:

  • Magnetic hammer for fixing fabric in place
  • Staple remover
  • Tack lifter
  • Fabric scissors
  • Curved needles
  • Sewing machine
  • Upholstery regulator to rearrange your stuffing from outside

You can take orders as soon as you have a workspace and these tools. They are enough to begin the designing work. However, as you grow, you may want to consider other special upholstery tools like:

  • Wooden mallet
  • Pneumatic Stapler- These staplers are a great alternative to hand tacking as they are lightweight and easy to use.
  • Cordless drill for tightening furniture frames
  • Mitre box saw or electric carving knife for cutting foam
  • Claw hammer for removing old nails
  • Wire cutters for pulling out staples
  • Square for perfecting angles
  • Allen wrenches for dismantling furniture
  • Sawhorses to hold furniture so you can get a better angle for working

How do I Know the upholstery business is a good option for me?

The upholstery business is not for everyone. It requires a passion for design and creative skills. If you:

  • Are into fabrics, leather, colors, and design
  • Know you’re a furniture visionary – When you see a piece of furniture, you imagine how to give it a new look
  • If your friends and family accept your suggestions for revamping their old furniture
  • And, if you want to turn your passion into your profession

…The upholstery business may be a good option for you.

How to start an upholstery business step-by-step

Now that you know how profitable upholstery business can be and how good an option it is for you, I am excited to tell you more about setting it up.

By the end of this blog, you will know step-by-step how to launch your upholstery business, run it smoothly, and make profits out of it.  

Here we go!  

1. Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a roadmap that guides you towards your business goals. It is a document that contains the WHY, WHERE, WHEN, and WHAT of your business. Your upholstery business should include details about:

Your target customers

By defining your target customers, you save a lot of time and money on advertising and promotions. Depending on the range of upholstery services you want to offer, you may want to reach premium customers who pay well or only sell to those looking to renovate antique furniture. Define your ideal customers for your niche and reach out to them with your customized offers.


Before starting your business, you must know how are you going to fund it? Whether you will use your savings or take a loan. It is important to calculate start-up costs and operating costs to organize the necessary finances. Whichever method you choose, make sure you aren’t exhausting all of your savings building your business.

Prices and services

You need to decide how much to charge for the different types of furniture, fabrics, and designs. Would you charge per piece of furniture or for the total number of bench hours? Whether you would sell online or offline. Would you accept prepaid or post-sale payments?

Marketing and advertising

Another important aspect of a business plan is your marketing costs. How would you like to promote your company, and how much would you spend on each advertising medium?


Finally, you need to calculate an income figure you want your business to earn quarterly or annually. Such planning can help you strategize and work efficiently to meet your business goals.

 Click here to download our free business plan template.

2. Incorporate

Once you have your vision and objectives in place, incorporate your business.

Don’t worry! You don’t have to go through all of the legal and paperwork yourself.

There are many professional legal services such as Incfile and Swyft Filings to help entrepreneurs like you. They’ll do the registrations, keep the records, help you with the annual reporting, payment of taxes, and other legal requirements you may need to get your upholstery business up and running.

3. Get licenses and permits

In some regions, you may require licenses and permits to operate your upholstery business. The terms, conditions, and fees may vary based on your location.

Failure to obtain these licenses can put you in legal trouble. Click here to learn more about your state licensing requirements.

4. Build a Website and Social Media Presence

You may design the best furniture in the world, but what’s the point when nobody knows you? Approximately 87% of today’s customers search online before entering a store.

Therefore, your business should appear in front of your customers when they Google for the best upholstery services. You can reach your customers online using a website and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

As an upholster, you are in the business of making eye-catching designs and colorful furniture. Thus, make your website as beautiful as your craft by showcasing your designs most vibrantly.

And, don’t forget to optimize your website for mobile devices. Your customers would most likely check your website on a mobile device. A mobile-friendly site can make your conversion processes faster and easier.

  • Bigscoots Hosting offers you customized WordPress hosting plans that make it easy and quick to design your website.
  • Leadpages offers a landing page builder that can showcase your upholstery business in a top-of-the-line way

5. Map your Customer Journey

Remember that a business name, logo, and website will not magically start generating leads for you. They are only your brand identity and tools to promote and interact with your customers.

To attract customers to your business, you must first map their shopping journey. Every customer behaves differently. So it can be a challenge for you to understand how your potential customers buy upholstery.

You would want to know whether your customers like to order designs online through the website or visit the store, whether they are looking for antique or modern furniture designs. The customer mapping process will help you understand your buyer characters which can help you narrow down your orientation.

This way, you can only reach those customers who have the best chance of buying your services.

6. Get More People to Know About Your Business

Your upholstery business may be one of many well-established businesses. Hence, your customers must know that it exists.

Your website can be a great tool to promote your business. If done right and optimized with correct keywords, it can do all the talking on its own.

However, you shouldn’t rely solely on the website content and reach your customers through email, social media campaigns, and local newspapers, TV, and radio channels.

Okay! all these marketing and advertising channels can overwhelm and confuse you. Remember, you don’t have to be everywhere at the same time. 

Schedule a Free Consultation to understand how to make more people familiar with your business. Also, check out our Star-tup Entrepreneur’s Toolkit.

7. Sell Your Product or Service

Isn’t the most exciting part of running a business selling and making money? You can choose to sell your products traditionally through your store, home or digital media, and e-commerce platforms.

Millennial shoppers prefer everything at the touch of a button. Hence, it might be a good idea to make e-commerce an important part of your business strategy. However, multiple e-commerce platforms can make it difficult for you to pick the best one.

Many furniture and upholstery sellers use software like ThriveCart E-commerce and Shopify E-Commerce among others, to make sales online.

These platforms allow you to set up an online shop, upload pictures and descriptions of your products, attract customers and sell your upholstery services.

Make Money

Once you follow these 7 steps, making money will be easier than you had imagined. However, remember that you can’t stop here. In today’s highly competitive world, you need to continue improving your process to meet your business goals. Some things you’ll need to do consistently are:

  • Evaluating and setting goals and a plan
  • Consistently promoting your business online
  • Maintaining the legal and financial requirements of your local area
  • Improving the quality of your product or service as you get customer feedback

Rinse and Repeat the Process!


I hope you are more than excited to start with your entrepreneurial journey as an upholster. If you are ready to begin your upholstery business with the correct planning and great marketing ideas, don’t miss out on our free consultation. Book here to speak with a marketing pro about the next steps. Quality mentorship can help you sail through the tough times as an entrepreneur.

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