December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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32 || P R I N T W E A R D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 Erich Campbell is an award-winning commercial embroidery digitizer with more than 15 years of experience as well as a long-time e-commerce manager, currently digitizing and cre- ating online properties for Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Black Duck. A constant contributor to the industry's content landscape through webinars, podcasts, social media, and more, Erich is an evangelist for the craft, a stitch-obsessed embroidery believer, and firmly holds to constant, lifelong learning and the free ex- change of technique and experience through conversations with his fellow stitch-work- ers. As a current industry and fiber-arts blogger and once medievalist-in-training turned tech-obsessed embroidery designer, Campbell brings his varied experience and interests to bear as an editorial author for numerous industry publications, a member of editorial boards, and a consultant for product support groups. ERICH'S EMBELLISHMENTS B Y E R I C H C A M P B E L L O rder volume in our industry often suffers from seasonal swings. Summer sees the rise of the T-shirt and with it, screen printing. Summer's end signals a push for outerwear, headwear, and all things warm, bringing embroidery to the forefront for the holidays and through the winter. What decorators share is the dreaded doldrums that plague all sellers when the gift-giving sea- son draws to a close. Though low-volume days are less than ideal for our numbers, there is a silver lining to this cloud. The slow period gives us time to accomplish things that the driving pace of our usual workload won't easily allow. Whereas many people take this pause to catch their breath and pull back from the grind, the year's first slowdown is the perfect time to put in the effort that makes the difference between just managing your workflow and making progress toward persistent growth. ANALYZE If you haven't been thinking about your shop's fulfillment process, now is the time to start. Follow an order through your shop, making notes about each stage from initial contact to delivery. Pay particular attention to areas of "friction;" anything that causes reversals in the flow of information or production stalls. Whenever someone has to clarify directions or contact people responsible for an earlier stage or the order, that's a reversal. Whenever someone is stuck waiting on input, materials, or anything critical to the process, that's a stall. These indicate areas that need improvement. Talk to each member of your staff to understand what they need from their coworkers, what they spend the largest amount of their Doubling Down How to Succeed Through The Seasonal Lull Left: Though they may look a little rough, these home-built workstations across from the embroidery machines have a peg-board backer that holds all the most-used hoops, scissors, tools, stabilizers, and support materials, as well as offering a stable surface on which to work or clamp a hooping station. Everything an operator needs for an average job is within arm's reach. Behind each station is a staging area that allows upcoming jobs to be lined up. (Image courtesy the author) Right: Samples provided by manufacturers provide a low-cost way to test and promote new materials and techniques. Here, 60-weight thread, thick wool-blend thread, and a metallic-infused twist thread from sample kits are on-deck for testing. (Image courtesy the author)

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