From the kitchen table to the world stage Australian born Megan Duckett built her theatrical sewing and rental business to $6 million in annual revenue
When a young Megan Duckett signed on as an apprentice with a theater electrician back in her native Australia, she probably had no idea that she was actually taking the very first steps to building a multi-million dollar U.S. based company.
While still only 19 years old Megan Duckett got the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take a job as a stage electrician for an events staging company. Duckett saw the move as a chance to make some real money working in and around the entertainment industry.
It was while living and working in Los Angeles that Megan began to do small sewing jobs at home to bring in some extra cash. Initially she started sewing bedding, drapes and even costumes right from her kitchen table.
Prior to this Meagan had not really considered herself a seamstress. After all she had done her apprenticeship in theater electrical. But she to her surprise the more she sewed the more she became interested in developing her skills and taking on larger projects.
As luck would have it the company Meagan was working for needed some sewing done for an upcoming Halloween production. More specifically they needed someone to sew linings for 10 decorative coffins. Megan Duckett accepted the challenge and a new business was born.
From the kitchen table to millionaire business woman- How to become a millionaire
Word of Megan’s sewing skills spread and more projects rolled in. It wasn’t long before she realized she had a skill for designing and sewing props and entertainment décor. She launched her business, Sew What? Inc. in 1992 from her Los Angeles area home.
Meagan continued to make a name for herself in the industry. Soon the Mirage in Las Vegas asked if she could design and create 25 silk chandeliers. Duckett accepted the challenge and delivered the chandeliers on time, solidifying her and her company as the person in the industry that could get the job done.
There were times when projects became too big for the kitchen table so they were moved to the garage. When the garage became too small, projects began to spill out onto the driveway. Over time, Meagan came to specialize in theatrical drapes which are the bulk of her business to this day.
Business continued to grow as Meagan worked both her day job and her sewing business at night. It was around 1996 when she and her husband realized that her sewing business was bringing in more money than her job at the event planning company. Both agreed it was time to quit her job and go full time in the Theatrical Drapery Manufacturing Business.
It was also time to move the business out of their home. Meagan rented an 800-square-foot warehouse and hired three seamstresses. With more room to work and extra help sewing, Meagan pulled in $80,000 her first full year in business. Meagan’s dedication to customer service and a strong work ethic brought repeat customers and a business that grew steadily year after year.
Sew What? Inc. today is a $5 million company-It all started as a way to make extra cash
Today Sew What? Inc. is a 40- person company based in Rancho Dominguez Hills, CA and is the premier theatrical drapery manufacturer in the U.S. offering 9 product categories known as "soft goods" for stage, film and television productions, as well as rock and roll tours, fashion shows, and numerous special events.
Several years ago Megan Duckett recognized a need within the industry for a drapery rental, for those who only needed the drapes for a specific time period. She started a sister company named Rent What?, growing it to over $1 million in business within the first two years.
According to the Sew What? Company website they have manufactured drapes and soft goods for numerous major artists, including Maroon 5, Slip Knot, Green Day, Sting, James Taylor, Dave Matthews Band, Madonna, Rod Stewart and Don Henley.
Recognition from the business community
Megan was the recipient of the 2012 Stevie Award Bronze Winner - Female Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of Business Services of 11 to 2,500 employees. This is the sixth award Duckett has received from the Stevie Awards for Women in Business.
Ways to make money- talking points
Megan believes that most businesses can be grown incrementally. After her initial investment for the warehouse and one sewing machine, her business was self-sustaining. All growth was funded by the existing business.
Duckett recommends breaking your vision and goals down into small steps, so that you do not become overwhelmed by the big picture. This will also help you to decide the best areas in which to spend money to grow your business. She also recommends doing your own research and risk only what you are willing to lose.
Finally, you should be prepared for doors to be shut in your face. Have thick skin and a determination to try again. Persistence, self-education (learning from your mistakes) and determination are keys to success.