August '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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28 || P R I N T W E A R A U G U S T 2 0 1 7 Ed Levy is the director of software products at Hirsch So- lutions Inc. and owner of Digitize4u, an embroidery and digitizing operation. A 23-year industry veteran, Levy has owned screen printing, embroidery, and digitizing business- es. In 2001, Levy began consulting and founded EmbForum, a professional Tajima DG/ML by Pulse software users group. THREAD ... ACCORDING TO ED B Y E D L E V Y D iversification has many benefits as it provides different streams of revenue for a shop owner. However, finding a niche and sticking to it can also be very rewarding. The key to finding a niche is to choose something with strong demand. In fact, if you can find a niche where the demand exceeds available production, then you have hit a home run. STITCHING SPECIALTIES Niche production is completely different from niche marketing. For example, as decorators look to find their niche, they often examine the common decoration techniques of embroidery or printing and then focus on a specific segment of clientele, such as dog enthusiasts, the medical industry, team sports, etc. This is a clear indication of niche marketing as it blends a common technique with a specific target. Niche production is finding that special technique and focus- ing on it extensively. Chenille is a great example of a niche technique. It is extremely popular across many market segments, yet it is a production tech- nique that is not part of the normal apparel decoration shop. We have all seen chenille at one point in time or another, wheth- er it was the letter on your high school or collegiate athletic jacket or a name on a bowling shirt in a chain stitch. The number of chenille decorators is miniscule in comparison to the number of traditional embroidery decorators. Do not confuse the shortage of decorators with the lack of demand. Demand is measured by existing demand and created demand. With chenille, both opportunities are there and create equal opportunities for success. Being an embroiderer is not a pre- requisite for adding chenille. Chenille is quite different from traditional em- broidery, though it is very complemen- tary, as many designs combine both applications. Chenille is sewn using a special machine that feeds yarns up through the bottom in such a way as to create a raised, textured surface that resembles carpet. Though it's called chenille embroidery, the sewing pro- cess has very little resemblance to the embroidery sewing process. In fact, chenille machines do not even utilize a bobbin. Unlike traditional embroidery, which has a huge support system, chenille em- broidery is such a small segment of the imprinted sportswear industry that it's virtually overlooked. Everything about the sewing process is different, from needles to yarns to application. There are few suppliers and limited resources. Niche Specialty How Chenille Can Add Exciting New Opportunities Chenille is great niche specialty for decorators to consider. (All images courtesy Hirsch Solutions Inc)

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