February '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 F E B R U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 23 cate themselves diligently to self-education and experimentation, largely focusing on the look of the work. They are natural artistic experimenters and wizards of multimedia, as the journey of doing the work is as rewarding as the result, and their early work is more concerned with what they can make their machines do rather than how it was achieved or how long pieces take to create. In short, commercial-only embroiderers tend to be efficiency- minded and production-focused, but that focus can sometimes lead us to standardize settings and materials and stay close to the looks and materials we know. Home embroiderers tend to be experimenters and mavericks but may spend more time on a piece in the name of its appearance than a commercial job can afford. If we take the best of both worlds, we can make our- selves embroiderers who relish experimentation and creativ- ity, but know how to make it efficient and easy to produce, all while making the money it takes to keep us doing what we love. To my commercial contemporaries, my greatest tip for you is to keep playing. Take at least one hour, if not a few hours, to try something new, experiment with a wild idea, or even lurk in some home embroidery and fiber arts circles just to get in- spired. For my crafty converts, your tips are little more explicit. As a writer and educator, I've been privy to hundreds of questions from erstwhile embroiderers making their way from a love of stitches to a lifetime in the business. Those Q&A sessions reliably bring out some of the same tips. Take them to heart as you start your com- mercial adventure. BE READY TO DO BUSINESS If you don't like talking about or handling money matters, can't stand sales or marketing, don't like serving people, and never take a second glance at the calendar, you'll either need to find out how to like this very necessary work or find and pay a partner who does. Making money means shuffling some paper in the process. You may not need to be a "biz-dev" wizard or memorize the tax code, but the off-the-cuff costing, pricing, and money management that often happens when you only do occasional commissioned craft projects isn't a long-term strategy for running a business. Do your research, look for resources that help people starting small busi- nesses, find mentors in your local community, and be ready to hire out the critical things you can't do. With proper digitizing and operation, home machines even in the lowest price range are still accurate enough to produce detailed and precise embroideries like this five-color blend.

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