April '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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22 || P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 7 Jennifer Cox is the president and co-founder of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), a professional organization for apparel decoration busi- ness owners. NNEP supports the success of NNEP mem- bers with best practices, ideas, sources, solutions, vol- ume-buying benefits, and services. Cox was recognized as a Top 50 Small Business Influencer and Community Choice Leader by Small Biz Trends in 2013, is recognized as one of the industry's "Most Creative Thinkers," and repeatedly ranks in the top 40 on the industry's "Power List." Reach her at or go to STITCH SOLUTIONS B Y J E N N I F E R C O X An Embroiderer's Style F irst impressions matter, in both the world of business and everyday life. Yet, we tend to forget to apply this core con- cept of business success to ourselves. There is tremendous value in building a strong personal brand that is reflected in how you dress and present yourself to others. We are in a unique position to design a personal style that pres- ents what we do for our community because we have access to so many different apparel sources and product lines at wholesale prices. But, are you utilizing those resources? With just a few sim- ple tricks, you can maximize your branding efforts with minimal time and money. PERSONAL BRANDING One of the easiest and most effective ways to define and build a personal brand is to create your wardrobe around a specific color. Look through your supplier catalogs and see what products come in a color that looks good on you and works with your company logo. Order apparel that you can mix and match in a variety of ways. Obviously, these items should then be decorated with your com- pany logo. Play with the decoration process. Do something other than a left-chest logo on some of the items. Drop your logo on the sleeve, below the pocket, or just above a hem that will be worn untucked. Create some of the logos in your traditional company colors, as well as some that are tone-on-tone, or with reversed col- ors. If you can incorporate an appliqué into a larger design, add that into the mix as well. I know one embroidery business owner that has turned branded headwear into an art form. Max Hillman of Hillman Designs cre- ates a new eye-catching hat about once a month, and then wears that one piece until he makes the next one. These hats have be- come synonymous with his brand within his community, and even in the surrounding area. If he is out and about, he is wearing his most recent creation. He creates his custom designs using ballcaps, hunter's caps, fishing caps, beanies, earmuffs, straw hats, bandanas, and a variety of other kinds of headwear. Every cap includes his logo and something unexpected. Max readily admits that creating headwear orders for his custom- ers is only a small percentage of his business. But, he is fine with that because he knows that every time someone sees him in his new hat they think about him, which, maybe, leads them to think about something on which they want with their logo. The simple act of creating 12 hats a year and wearing them everywhere keeps Seeing your logo out and about within your community keeps you at top of mind for those in need of logoed goods. (Image courtesy Adriane Cropley, Rocking My Sewjo) Personally-branded apparel gives you an opportunity to market your company every time you wear an item with your logo. (Image courtesy Solid Stitch Embroidery)

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