As part of my larger philosophy on handmade, soulful clothing and accessories, I started a modest website at www.findadressmaker.com . The purpose of the site is to increase the visibility of custom dressmakers, accessory makers, milliners, etc., because I can't count how many times I've heard "I've been looking for a dressmaker for so long!!!! No one does this anymore..." yada, yada, yada. Word of mouth is such strong advertising in this business, and so many of us don't do any formal advertising because it isn't really cost-effective, that I had a light-bulb moment, and decided to just go for it.
I started my own site (www.mimijackson.com) about three years ago, I guess -- paying for hosting, promoting it, keeping it updated, etc., and I realized that many of my inquiries were coming from people in other states, who couldn't find a local dressmaker. Many of the smaller projects I turned down, since they just weren't worth the hassle of postage, and the other logistical complications. So, in actuality, part of what I was paying to publicize myself, was benefitting the dressmakers to whom I was referring clients. Since I have met so many dressmakers over the years, I decided that I should put the same money into a site that advertises us all, since the vast majority of clients choose a dressmaker not by skill level or artistry, but by proximity. While not a profit-making site, the contributions from those listed on the site allow it to pay for itself. And, whoa, has it worked so far...
So yes, that is why I did it, and I'm glad I did. I think the same idea could apply to many other types of businesses, where clients need highly personalized services.
The bigger picture of this idea is that as people get compliments on their garments, and mention that they were made specifically for them, it will inspire others to consider this option. Typically, every happy client I have recommends at least two others, and my business has really grown organically as a result. This is my grassroots effort to elevate the image of dressmaking and make it more appealing to the general public.