Meet Richard Melvill of dOPe Customs!
Richard Melvill, a full time IT Engineer in Umdloti is making a name for himself in the South African beach town with his part-time business of handmade clothing, bags and accessories. dOPe Customs specialises in embroidery, sublimation, stickers and branding and can be found on Instagram and Facebook.
Richard discovered Chris Tock of Tock Customs on YouTube and was inspired to invest in his first Brother sewing machine. He started making pencil cases and bags on his FS155 sewing machine. When Richard realised it was cheaper and easier to make his own clothes, a Brother CV3550 Coverstitch machine and NV800e Embroidery machine were quickly added to his studio.
A ScanNCut SDX1200 rounds out Richard’s collection of Brother machines, specifically purchased for vinyl cutting. 10 months later, Richard’s side line business earns him enough to contemplate his next Brother machine!
Putting his passion to work
Richard’s interest in sewing was rejuvenated by the need for masks during lockdown and after the first few hand sewn masks, he realised there was an easier way to do it. On a borrowed sewing machine, from the 70’s says Richard, he found a passion he could turn into a profit.
Richard works by himself on the sewing side and does everything from digitizing embroidery designs, creating vector graphics for the ScanNCut and sewing to printing fabric, cutting patterns and vinyl applications. And anything else in between. He sells his unique clothing and accessories via his social media pages and by word of mouth.
"My gran taught me to use a sewing machine when I was 10 years old and I made a palm sized mouse plush toy. Now 25 years later, it took a lockdown and the need for masks to get me interested in sewing again."
dOPe Customs Handmade Clothing and Accessories
Brother sewing and craft machines powering dOPe Customs
Brother CV3550 Coverstitch Machine
Used for clothing, bags and accessories
Brother FS155 Computerised Sewing Machine
Used for repairs and sewing of new items
Brother NV800e Embroidery Machine
Used for custom embroidery, badges and clothing
Brother ScanNCut SDX1200 Machine
Used for vinyl cutting and appliqué
Q&A with Richard…
What are the challenges of doing dOPe Customs part-time?
I find that I am not able to work fast enough to make a serious income. I would need a hand if I wanted to make a living off this.
Would you go full time?
Yes, I totally would if I started bringing in more money than my career is currently. I find sewing, embroidery and crafting very therapeutic and I can honestly see myself doing it all day, everyday.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?
I don’t know much about business but I have heard a few times that you normally need to run a business for 2 years at least before you start making a profit. Something serious to consider and don’t quit your day job just yet.
Do you find it easy to sell your goods?
Some of the things I make do really well and others not so much. Clothing and bags are very subjective so the stuff I have made I would consider my favourite has not done as well as other things I’ve been messing around with just for fun.
What has been the best tool for selling?
This would have to be a tie between the ScanNCut, the Embroidery machine and the Sewing machine. The ScanNCut is so nice for customising anything, it helps with embroidery appliqué as well. The embroidery machine is great for logos and branding and the sewing machine does a lot of the repair work that seems to fall in my lap.
Do you do custom requests?
Custom requests is all that I do. I do not make stock to sell, I make to order.
"Here I am 10 months later running a small side line that brings in enough to support my habit of buying Brother machines."