Sewing is no longer just for your grandma or artisanal hipster friend. With Upcraft Club, thousands are enjoying the new technology that is revolutionizing the sewing industry.
Upcraft Club, based in Des Moines, Iowa, is an ecommerce marketplace that sells digital sewing patterns. They also sell their patterns through a patent-pending process which allows brick and mortar stores, such as independent fabric stores, to sell the digital product as well.
“Many of these shops watch their customers go around them to buy online instead of buying patterns at their local store,” Elizabeth Caven, co-founder of Upcraft Club said. “So they’re really excited to adopt our digital technology that allows them to sell these digital products while selling the materials needed for each pattern.”
The convenience of digital patterns
Upcraft Club’s new technology isn’t just handy for brick and mortar stores. Over 14,000 users from 80 countries are enjoying the convenience too. With Upcraft Club, it’s as simple as buying a pattern online, having a PDF version sent your email and simply starting to sew.
Using digital patterns helps cut down on wasted paper and makes the whole process more organized. However, one of the most unique functions of a digital pattern is the ability for designers to embed videos and other user-friendly tutorials right into their patterns.
“What’s great is that the PDF pattern has color-coded images of every step embedded in them for illustration,” Caven said. “They don’t have a length limit either, so they can contain how-to videos, which is so helpful for a beginner.”
How Upcraft Club started
Caven started the business after attempting a sewing project when her first daughter was born.
“I had something in mind, but I couldn’t read the pattern I bought. They’re not beginner-friendly. I just ended up hiring a sewing teacher,” Caven said.
Soon after, Caven discovered the online sewing community as well as tons of indie pattern designers on Etsy.
“I found everyone to be very supportive and was surprised at how big of an international reach this niche community had,” Caven said. “When you sew one of these designer’s patterns they support you; and that’s not something you could ever get with a paper pattern.”
Upcraft Club also screens and certifies each pattern they put on their site for top-notch quality. Many of their patterns come from Etsy’s seemingly endless library of 100,000 digital sewing patterns.
“We publish the first set of industry standards for sewing patterns, and then we have a team of women who sew the patterns and put our seal of approval on them,” Caven said.
Funding Upcraft Club
Elizabeth has won several pitch and business plan competitions, totaling at $36,000 made within the last 5 months.
“There are a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs to be able to get good investment in their company without giving up equity; especially for female entrepreneurs in tech.”
Her biggest piece of advice for entrepreneurs trying to pitch their company, especially if it is in a smaller industry, is to make your pitch a story.
“I put a face with my product,” Caven said. “I show examples of what it looks like today for people to make and design their own clothes.”
Caven faces the challenge of redefining stereotypes about sewing on a daily basis; but she looks at it as an opportunity to shake things up within the 100 billion dollar worldwide market that is crafting.
“Sewing as a market has been growing by 7 percent each year since 2008,” said Caven. “People think sewing is dying, but it’s actually the opposite.”
Happy Black Friday from Upcraft Club!
Elizabeth is gearing up for a big Black Friday sale for Upcraft Club and is offering SPN readers a 25% discount!
You can use and share the code SPN25 and get 25% off any pattern at UpCraftClub.com now through December 31st.
For more info on Upcraft Club discounts and memberships, click here.
Melanie Lucks is an intern for Silicon Prairie News and AIM Careerlink.