December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 6 D E C E M B E R P R I N T W E A R || 71 der. Using this knowledge, start searching out companies who could potentially sup- ply the products and services you're likely to need. Make sure that you do more than visit a company's website. Look for reviews on independent sites, or ask the company for a list of references you can speak with re- garding their service and support. Industry forums can be a useful source of informa- tion, too. Finally, take a look at what the long-term possibilities are for your business. What decoration techniques do you want to offer in the future? How much will equipment and supplies for those techniques cost? How much training is needed? Answering these questions will help you decide what options to select while you're working on building capital and putting your own equipment and supplies together. If you're interested in embroidery, it might be worth finding work with a con- tract embroiderer to learn how produc- tion embroidery is done. If screen print- ing is the goal, finding an experienced screen printer to apprentice with could be an option. Attending trade shows to get information on pricing and the types of supplies and equipment available is al- ways a good step to take. Reading industry magazines, blogs and websites that center on the decoration techniques you want to offer can also provide lots of hints and tips. The more information and experiences you can gather, the more prepared you'll be when that new embroidery machine or screen print press is finally purchased and delivered. Use the time while you're sell- ing transfers or contracting out orders to learn what you can so you're educated and ready for the day when your shop gets big- ger, and you start creating and supplying decoration orders on your own. While it is always a good idea to have a financial cushion, and it's certainly less stressful to start a shop with plenty of use- able capital, it isn't always necessary. There are decoration options available for shops that are starting on a shoestring, or for shops that want to add more decoration capabilities without taking on increased equipment and labor cost. Ultimately, the thing to remember is that being prepared can eliminate some of the risk of starting a new shop, but not all of it. Still, a shop with a plan to generate both business and capital is a shop that's more likely to suc- ceed. Doing your research and carefully selecting your partners is the best way to create a shop that will flourish.

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