Friday, February 05, 2010

How to Start a Custom Embroidery Business

How to Start a T-Shirt Embroidery Business

The market for custom embroidered T-shirts and sportswear is strong. According to Impressions, the decorated apparel industry trade magazine, the industry is recession-resilient. With a commercial embroidery machine and a strong marketing plan, you can start a successful embroidered T-shirt business. You can fill custom orders, and also create your own line of designs.
Step 1
Purchase an embroidery machine. Choose from leading brands such as Tajima or Barudan, known for their reliability. Attend an industry trade show to see the variety of machines offered and to try them. Check on the ISS trade show nearest you (see Resources for a link). Decide whether to buy a single head machine, or one with multiple sewing heads.
Step 2
Set up your shop in a garage, spare room or small commercial space, with an eye towards keeping overhead low. File a business name at your county courthouse and open a business checking account. Consider purchasing liability insurance for your business. Practice with your embroidery machine, loading it with digitized designs, placing T-shirts in the clamp, loading thread and sewing.
Step 3
Create a price list for your embroidered T-shirt services, and include sweatshirt, sportshirts, caps and the range of imprinted sportswear. Components of pricing are cost of blank shirt, 50% markup on the blank shirt, and embroidery charge. A run of 100 T-shirts with a small design could be billed at two to three dollars per shirt for the embroidery charge.
Step 4
Target your market for custom embroidery services, for example restaurants or schools. Compile a list of potential customers for embroidered T-shirts. Contact potential customers via phone and personal visit. Market your services with postcard mailings, blogs, a website, order forms, and business cards. Craft a simple message with a call to action: "Custom Embroidered T-Shirts, top quality at great rates, call now for a quote."
Step 5
Write a detailed work order when a client places an order, have the client sign it and pay half the fee up front. Produce a sample for the client to OK prior to production. Upon sample approval, produce the job. Collect the balance of the fee from the client when they pick up the job. Extend payment terms such as "net due in 30 days" to trustworthy clients.

Have a look at Impressions, the trade magazine for the imprinted sportswear industry. This is a link to their embroidery page.

This article was written for an online client who rejected it. I admit I'm not an embrloidery technician (I'm a screen printer), but I have sold and produced at least $25,000 worth of embroidered hats and shirts in my career.


Rachel Benson said...

I think step 3 on your list is really important. I started selling custom embroidery pieces but didn't have a price list. People were always trying to negotiate prices with me. I finally composed a set price list and my business has been running much more smoothly.

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