Friday, April 3, 2015

Where to Look for Business: Leave No Stone Left Unturned!

Where to Look for Business: Leave No Stone Left Unturned!

Being an embroiderer and having your own business is a fulfilling and demanding enterprise. There are a number of activities which will fill your every waking moment (and possibly your dreams and nightmares) which have little to do with the creative act of embroidering:  

      1. Marketing – what market should I serve; pricing, competition, etc.
      2. Finance and Accounting – collecting money, paying bills, insurance, etc.
      3. Maintenance – keeping your facility operating and machines running.
      4. Advertising – letting prospects know you exist and where to find you.
      5. $ales – getting new business.

Clearly, none of these responsibilities are the reasons you got into the embroidery business, but they all have to be accomplished in order to stay in business. In my view, the most important is Sales; if you don’t bring in any business, the others are irrelevant. 

So, here are a few suggestions for where to look for business: 
• Start by always wearing a denim shirt or polo shirt with your logo and your company name  
  EMBROIDERED on it. Then, when people ask what you do, you can point at it. Be a walking, 
  talking billboard! And have at least 50 business cards in your pocket at all times. You can never tell!

• Check out Community Sports teams: soccer, for names on warm up suits; softball leagues, 
  for uniforms and caps; wrestling singlets; T-Ball, etc.

• Visit bowling alleys and ask the owner/manager if you can post a small flyer on his bulletin board. 
  Lots of teams need their shirts embroidered.

• Try local Car Dealerships. You'll need to digitize their logos and be certain you get an 
  authorization in writing before you reproduce the car brand.

• Make a trip to Doctor's Offices to offer embroidery on employee shirts and scrubs. 
  And don't forget Dentists, Medical Labs, Veterinarians, and Chiropractors.

• Barber shops, Beauty shops, Bath shops, Christmas shops, Spas, etc. all require embroidery.

• Any place where there is a Bridal Registry - Monogramming special items for the 
  Bride & Groom or the bride’s hankie and the Ring Bearer's Pillow, etc.

• Funeral homes and mortuaries –lots of embroidery opportunities here.

• Real Estate Offices. Florists. Furriers. Gift shops.

• Alteration shops and Dry Cleaners – show samples of your work and leave cards.

• Social organizations – community centers, scouts, motorcycle clubs (they love their embroidery 
  on leathers and denim), civic organizations (bear in mind that all manner of social organizations
  may expect a donation, but you will emphasize your ability to help them in fund-raising), 
  political clubs, etc.

• Sewing Machine Dealer's and Fabric shops. Uniform stores – they may not have their 
  own embroidery machine for personalization.

• Churches and synagogues. The choir, sisterhood, annual picnics and fund raisers are all possibilities.

• When you get gas, sell the manager/owner; and get gas at a different station each time; 
  and fixit shops.

• If you have repair men or contractors come in to your shop or home to work, 
  check out their uniforms or shirts and tell them about your business.

• Most Supermarkets have a bulletin/corkboard in the entranceway; put your flyer (5” x 7” is a 
  good size; colorful and eye-catching) up (bring thumb tacks) and make the circuit every
 week because, hopefully, a potential customer will have taken it down to call you.

• You will probably not be able to get any school accounts, at least not right off the bat, 
  but there are things going on in the school with which the school’s embroiderer may not bother. 
  For instance, a towel set a teacher may want or some shirts that need to be monogrammed. 
 Additionally, many teachers have side businesses (hard to live on teacher’s wages, in most places) 
 like trades (plumbing, carpentry, painting) or summer camps. See if they’ll let you leave samples 
 of your work and business cards in the Teacher’s Lounge. If you can find a couple of hours a week 
 to volunteer at a school, hospital or senior citizen’s home, you’ll find it a great way to get your 
 foot in the door (I know. Where do you find a couple of hours a week to volunteer? Stop whining! 
 Figure it out!).

• Avoid the temptation to go after your competitor’s customers; you don’t need enemies. 
  But you can use allies, to wit, a larger embroiderer to whom you can subcontract large jobs 
  that would tie up your machine for days and in return they will give you the small jobs 
  they don’t want to run.
Think of everybody as a prospect – 
either they need something embroidered or they know someone who does.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Madeira Introduces Cotton/Acrylic Blend BurmilanaCo Embroidery Thread to the Market

Madeira Introduces Cotton/Acrylic Blend BurmilanaCo Embroidery Thread to the Market

So what’s new? A new thread product added by Madeira, to the most diverse product line in the Decorated Apparel industry (in the interest of full disclosure, I work for Madeira USA on the days I’m not watching my wife shovel the snow off of our sidewalk).

AND NOW…introducing… BurmilanaCo! Ta Dah!

Many of you will remember when Madeira introduced Burmilana, the thick, 12 weight wool blend thread with a terrific mix of fall and winter colors resulting in a distinct embroidery look. (As a matter of fact, a popular mall store wrote their name on sweatshirts with the wooly Burmilana and sold a bazillion shirts). The thickness of Burmilana allows for the creation of crazy beautiful designs with around half as many stitches as with regular 40 weight thread, resulting in an appealing three dimensional look.

BurmilanaCo is also a 12 weight blend, but in a cotton-acrylic version. The BurmilanaCo colors are fresh, bright and cheerful, making it a terrific complement for the Spring/Summer fashions. A much different look, a hand-embroidered effect, more designs with fewer stitches, a voluminous thread like BurmilanaCo can be beautifully combined with other thread types; imagine shiny threads like Classic Rayon, Polyneon, or Metallics combined with the matte aspect of the BurmilanaCo.
And BurmilanaCo is certified Oekotex Standard – Class 1 (baby standard) and is therefore a safe choice for children’s wear.

So, when you place your next order, whether by phone (800-225-3001) or on our website, at, please request a free sample and try it out for yourself.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Are you going to ISS Long Beach? Here’s Why You Should!

Three questions I’m often asked are:
1. Which machine should I buy?
2. Which thread should I use?
3. You look great! How much weight have you lost?

The good news I have for you today is that 2/3 of those questions are easily answered at the ISS Long Beach Show this month (and the third is confidential). For those of you who live on the west coast, it’s easy to get to Long Beach; for those of you who live in the Midwest and Northeast – it’s gonna be cold, oh so cold, at home but the temperatures in Long Beach on the weekend of the how are forecast to be in the low 70s.

So you arrive at the show on Friday and visit all the machine people: Brother and Melco, ZSK and Barudan, Texmac (Happy) and Hirsch (Tajima). Just come to the show with some idea of what you need and want, visit all the booths, ask your questions, watch demonstrations and request references (for happy, satisfied machine owners in your neighborhood), make comparisons and possibly a buying decision.

In the afternoon, you can investigate threads: Gunold and Amann, A&E and Wire & Rapos (Elize USA) and Madeira. Visit all the booths; ask for new thread cards and samples and when you visit Madeira (Booth #100 - in the interest of full disclosure, I work for Madeira USA on the days I’m not fishing) ask about the new Classic Rayon colors (42 solid) and the new Polyneon colors (74 solid), as well as some new products to help you be even more successful. Additionally, ask about the show special. Yikes! What deals! Be sure we have your current email address so we can keep you apprised of periodic sales and specials through 2015 and beyond.

On Saturday, check out the other stuff in which you’ll have some interest: bags, apparel, stock designs, sportswear, fleece, caps, T-shirts, towels, workwear, backing and stabilizers (Madeira again).

Then, on Saturday evening, have a good dinner and a walk along the waterfront. On Sunday, have a hearty breakfast or brunch and find a raucous sports bar to watch the two NFL Conference games. My predictions: Panthers vs. Packers at 3:05 PM and then the Patriots vs. Broncos at 6:40 PM.
Then take the early flight home on Monday and embroider!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Polyneon Colors at MadeiraUSA

There are certain maxims that I hold dear:
“You can never have enough good health”

“You can never have enough good friends”

“You can never have enough sunny vacation days”

“You can never have enough chocolate”

“You can never have enough pictures of your grandchildren” 

And finally, “You can never have enough different thread colors in your place of business.”

Yeah, I know you think you have it covered, but how many times have you pointed out your thread display to a customer and showed them a thread card only to have them ask, plaintively, “Is that all? Do you have any other reds or blues?”

At Madeira USA, we’re helping (in the interest of full disclosure, I work for Madeira USA on the days I’m not at the beach) by supplementing our already bountiful Polyester thread offering with 72 new colors (57 fashion shades, 5 fluorescent colors and 10 multi-colors).  

If you haven’t already received the new Polyneon card #100-82, you can order one when you place your next Purchase Order or at either ISS Orlando or ISS Ft. Worth.

If you don’t use Madeira Polyneon, you should call your thread supplier periodically and inquire if they’ve added (or deleted) any colors and request a new thread card. Thread cards should be changed every few years as a matter of course because after years of exposure to sunlight, incandescent and fluorescent light and those new weird-looking corkscrew-shaped bulbs, the thread on the card can fade and may no longer match the thread you receive from your supplier.

So, in summary, if you want some EXCITING NEW COLORS, call Madeira (you know, the guys I work for) or check with your supplier and ask, “What’s new… for Back-to-School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc.?”

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

6 Billion Reasons Why You Need to Master Embroidering on Performance Wear!

6 Billion Reasons Why You Need to Master 
Embroidering on Performance Wear!

I suspect that the same embroiderers who avoid using metallics because “it’s too difficult” avoid embroidering on performance wear because that stretchy fabric is allegedly difficult to deal with, as well. Am I right? But, as it is with metallics, once you know how to do it, the struggle is all but eliminated. It’s so important for you to master embroidering on performance wear because of its popularity in the athletic and team sales market, plus work-out apparel including Yoga, dance and ballet, and cheer squad outfits. Six billion dollars’ worth of popularity, when the industry’s value was last calculated!

Here are the four keys to overcoming your fear of performance wear-y J embroidery. Master your choices of the design, the backing, the hooping and the thread selection, and you’ll be golden.

Keep Designs Simple
Inasmuch as performance wear is so stretchy it is prone to major distortion, the greater the number of stitches, the more likely distortion will occur. You may have to gently urge your customer away from the huge 15,000+ stitch design they may love, to a more subtle and lower stitch count logo. You could point out the embroidered logos of some of the major athletic companies like Xersion, Under Armour, Nike, Bamboo and Pizzazz, whose embroidered logos have simple (yet elegant) low stitch counts. Remember to reduce density wherever possible on Performance Wear apparel. Too much density will cause puckering and distortion and lumpy-looking embroidery.
 And please note: In order to prevent that reduced stitch count from adversely affecting your income, suggest using their very large and beloved design on their team jackets, sweat shirts, booster pennants and warm-ups, which you would be happy to do for them.

Go as Light as You Can with Backing
 As you know, a synonym for backing is stabilizer, and no material in the world defies stability, as it pertains to embroidering, like performance wear. Think of wet spaghetti! It’s common for embroiderers (not you, of course) to pile on the backing and overcompensate for the lack of stability of the material; the net result being a blob (not blog) of backing standing out stiffly and probably irritating the wearer. Too much backing, especially the wrong backing, can be worse than not enough.
 I recommend the best stabilizer to use for most performance wear is no-show nylon commonly referred to as Weblon. It usually has a diagonal embossed pattern that makes it more stable and offers the maximum amount of multi-directional stability in a light weight material.  This means it is easier to hoop (but not too tightly), allowing for the good registration and least amount of puckering and looping. This product is great for designs up to about 8,000 stitches; two pieces may be used for larger and denser designs, although if you really need that much stabilizer you may want to get your customer to rethink the design.

No-show Weblon has other advantages: it is very soft, so it feels better against the skin; it weighs little and is all but invisible when viewed from the front.
Another option is pairing Weblon with a light -- 1.0 or 1.5 oz. -- Tear Away.  Adding the Tear Away will provide stability and softness. Make sure you put the Weblon closest to the apparel and the Tear Away behind it. Then just tear away the excess Tear Away (I know it’s childish, but I love saying “tear away the Tear Away”), leaving the soft, invisible Weblon against the body.

Easy Does it When Hooping
When you hoop your performance wear, ensure the fabric is smooth and firm.  It needs to be hooped tight enough to prevent movement, but not so tight that it distorts the fabric. If you hoop it too tightly, the fabric will contract when you take it out of the hoop and your well-embroidered design will be puckered and look crappy (an old embroidery term meaning your customer won’t be coming back). Be sure that the backing covers the hoop completely establishing a nice, firm base that will prevent the embroidery from bouncing during the sewing process. If there are no wrinkles in the hooped fabric and the material isn’t stretched, your hooping is well done. If slippage is a concern, try using an adhesive spray which will hold the garment in place and minimize slippage.

Rayon is My Thread of Choice
When it comes to thread, you can use any good quality rayon, polyester, metallic or specialty thread. Rayon is a softer thread, therefore more conducive to lying down in any direction well. This is necessary when working with such a thin, pliable material such as performance wear. So I recommend rayon as a first choice. And remember the quality part!
Be sure to use a ball point needle, either #70/10 or #75/11, which will cut down on the looping caused by the fabric bouncing. Seriously, it really works.

Practice Makes for No Worries
So, embroidering on Performance Wear isn’t impossible or even difficult; it merely entails some additional thought be put into the process. Following the guidelines above will ensure a “no-worries” experience for embroidering on all sorts of performance apparel. And remember, practice, practice, practice!