March '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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5 4 | PRINTWEAR M A RC H 20 1 5 HART OF EMBROIDERY BY HELEN HART MOMSEN Helen Hart Momsen has been a member of the embroidery industry for more than three decades. She is the owner of Virginia-based Hart Enter- prises. Widely published in the industry's trade press, Momsen is a monthly columnist and feature writer for NBM's Printwear magazine. Momsen found- ed the Embroidery Line, an Internet forum where embroiderers can share ideas and offer assistance and encouragement to newbies and veterans alike ( She developed and sells the Hart Form, a business-ordering aide used by many professional embroiderers. Momsen is also the author of two embroidery-related books: Professional Embroidery: Business by Design and Professional Embroi- dery: Stitching by Design, available on the Web at | | | | L et's face it: There's an amount of stress involved with learning the ropes of an embroidery business—what kind of backing to use, what needle size and point are required, and how to tame terrycloth and counter the stretch of spandex. The list is endless. But finding a niche adds a sense of comfort. Niches make you the expert, even when the new- bie in you is learning the ins and outs of the machine and digitizing software. I recently offered my embroi- dery services to an elegant tea shop in a nearby town. Another local embroiderer specializes in sports and schools and had no interest in tackling linens. My stitching passion fit right in. It's these differences that make it pos- sible for embroidery shops to co- exist, stay happy, and not step on each other's toes. A PLACE TO START A church or club is a good place to start when looking for a niche. Unique ministries may want to highlight their niche. I once stitched sweatshirts for a group that focused on the needs of the homeless. A lighthouse was the centerpiece of the logo, and the message was so popular that oth- er community residents asked to purchase one. Do you raise parrots? Enjoy square dancing? Play in a bridge group? Word of mouth is a power- ful form of advertising, and noth- ing jumpstarts a new business or gives an established one a boost faster. No one can stitch a horse or dog with more accuracy than one who speaks the language, so start the ball rolling where you are well known and respected. That reputation for expertise will soon expand to your embroidery talents, and other work will follow when fellow members ask if you can stitch for a spouse or friend. Are you a new grandparent? Would you like to provide a unique line of personalized shirts for grandparents? If the sports needs at your local school are already serviced, how about a line of spirit shirts for parents? There are so many ways to create mixed-media garments that an offering of wow-factor shirts for the sport mom and sport dad can be a fun and profitable niche. How about flags for home display on game day? Onesie-twosie embroidery—those unique jobs that many don't want to do—can be your niche. Someone has to add that name to an heirloom christening dress or turn a wedding gown into a teddy bear keepsake. Most customers are willing to pay well for a unique, custom job. One Texas embroiderer I know makes custom embroidered jeans that demand a fine price and provide a handsome profit. LEGACIES AND KEEP- SAKES William Nightingale Jr. of Hark the Heraldry specializes in clan crests and coats of arms. This niche is especially challenging because the embroidery is usually constrained to an area of 30 mm or less. He also uses metallic threads where applicable to add life to the embroidery. "There are many small parts that make up the entire crest, and some have 10 to 15 different colors," Nightingale says. "I'm not given the luxury of omitting anything because of area constraints. It has to look good, and it must be proper. It has to be flexible, and there cannot be any puck- ering or buckling. My customers demand perfection. It is their heritage that they want to proclaim, and it has to be correct." Embroidered Comfort Settle into a niche Here is an example of a casket cover. The cover goes over the waist area on the top of the casket at the split with the name visible on the side of the casket as you walk toward it. The di- mensions of the throw are 16" X 40", and the extension that goes under the casket lid to hold it in place is 12" X 36". The cover is provided by the funeral company and is the same col- or and fabric as the casket lining. (Image courtesy Jim Stopple- worth, Backdoor Printables, Michigan)

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