February '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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22 || P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 Erich Campbell is an award-winning commercial embroi- dery digitizer with more than 15 years of experience as well as a long-time e-commerce manager, currently the partner relationship manager for DecoNetwork. A con- stant contributor to the industry's content landscape through webinars, podcasts, social media, and more, Erich is an evangelist for the craft, a stitch-obsessed embroi- ERICH'S EMBELLISHMENTS B Y E R I C H C A M P B E L L dery believer, and firmly holds to constant, lifelong learning and the free exchange of technique and experience through conversations with his fellow stitch-workers. As a current industry and fiber-arts blogger and once medievalist-in-training turned tech-obsessed embroidery designer, Campbell brings his varied experience and in- terests to bear as an editorial author for numerous industry publications, a member of editorial boards, and a consultant for product support groups. W ith so many machine manufacturers, software suppliers, and materials vendors realizing the potential of the hob- byist and home decorator market, we aren't only seeing an expansion of professional products moving into the craft side of the market, but also an influx of increasingly capable and well-appoint- ed small shops working their way into the professional embroidery market. As a digitizer who has worked and taught both in the com- mercial and home embroidery spaces, I think that both sides stand to gain from the exchange. It's easy to understand why some commercial embroiderers don't get the home embroidery market. I started my machine embroi- dery adventure firmly in the commercial world, operating "vintage" 12-head machines with a forest of thread cones bristling from their backs and nary a feature beyond color change. From boxing shirts between classes at university to operating machines by teaching my- self to digitize on an ancient system, I never dipped into the craft market. Though I worked to develop my aesthetics and experiment- ed with the medium on my own time, I was constantly aware that designs must be efficient as well as attractive and that profit must be served. Machine embroidery hobbyists and artists deciding to enter the business sphere have a very different initial experience. They usually run on slower, single-needle machines, changing colors manually throughout designs, running one piece at a time, spend- ing hours as entertainment rather than employment. They dedi- From Craft to Commercial What the craft and commercial markets can learn from each other Left: I never worked in a shop running less than 36 heads of embroidery. There are many successful shops smaller than this, and some much, much larger. Even so, it's a very different world than what you find in the craft market. (All photos courtesy the author) Right: The smallest ma- chine I ran until a few years ago was this nine-needle commercial single-head. As weathered as it was when I first saw it, this machine was a con- stant companion for years of my career.

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