How to start your Embroidery Business : 7 FAQ answered

When I wanted to do an embroidered logo on a uniform the embroidery business near my place gave me such a long waiting period that it set me thinking – This is a much-in-demand business. My wannabe entrepreneur heart fluttered at the possibilities. If I can buy an Embroidery machine maybe I could start a business, embroidering on – something – anything.  

In fact, many have done it and are laughing their way to the bank and back home to lead a very fulfilling life because they have their creative energy well spend and earning very well along with it. 

Embroidery Business – It can apply to the homemaker doing the odd embroidery job at home for one-off clients as well as the high-end embroidery set up with all the suitable commercial machinery working in lots of thousands.

Here are some basic FAQ and their answers which may serve as a guide to beginner embroidery businesses. There are so many things I should consider before even thinking of starting an embroidery business – it is no child’s play.

What is an embroidery business all about ?

There are two kinds of embroidery. Hand embroidery and Machine embroidery.

Hand embroidery is mainly a cottage industry requiring a lot of hand labor.

In commercial machine embroidery, you work with highly efficient embroidery machines – but it can vary a great deal according to the embroidery machine – its complexity, functions etc. A home-based embroidery business will have different set of embroidery machines than a commercial set up, with their own dedicated space, workers etc.

The commercial embroidery involves specialized embroidery machines that are designed to work with data from a computer. This data instructs the machine to stitch a particular design, determines the correct stitching order, indicates when to trim threads, and many other functions. In only a few minutes, the computerized embroidery machine will stitch a design that would take anyone a week to do by hand embroidery.

The machines work with precision and accuracy that no human can match for near-perfect quality and fulfill multiple orders in quite a short time ensuring high profit for the business owner.

In computerized embroidery machines, the artwork for embroidery design (provided by the client or developed by you or graphic designers )in the form of letters/designs is entered into the computer – you can see the design on the computer monitor. You can change the design/size size/colour etc according to your needs.  

The computer transfers the instructions necessary for stitching the design to the embroidery machine. You place the appropriate thread on the machine and sets it up for the stitching and arranges the item to be embroidered on the machine. The machine will stitch the design as efficiently as it can.

Even without the multi-head commercial embroidery machines, there are many people who make a living from their homes doing embroidery. They work with their embroidery sewing machines and build on the good will and word of mouth publicity in their locality and carve a name and living for themselves as professional embroiderers. 

embroidery business

Who is your market in an embroidery business?

Anyone and everyone. You can market to anyone who is looking for uniqueness, or you can market to people who want to be part of a group or you can market to companies who want to build up brand awareness.

Embroidery is done on uniforms for store employees, schools, team wear for sports teams in schools, clubwear for different club members , gift items, wedding decor.

Your clients – You can market to uniform companies, schools, sports good shops, retail shops, clubs, big brands, summer camps, hospitals, music bands, resorts and hotels and restaurants, construction companies, local businesses with professional logos, companies who are holding conferences and wants to gift embroidered hats/t shirts/bags etc to potential and current clients.

Shoes, hat brims, napkin corners wedding favors, kitchen towels, hoodies, beach towels, bags, tablecloths, gloves, skirts, pants, jackets, quilts and bedsheets, pillows, toys, baby clothes and other items in the baby layette, uniforms for schools, colleges, team sports, corporate offices.. the list is endless for what you can embroider on.

Baby clothes and accessories are embroidered and they are very popular with new moms. Their bibs, nightgowns, blankets all can be embroidered.

T-shirts are embroidered usually on collars, cuffs, sleeves. You can checkout this post on the different locations for embroidery placements.

What do I need to buy for an embroidery business?

Embroidery machines (Single head /multi head/industrial embroidery machine) and accessories.

Choosing an embroidery machine depends on the niche you are aiming for – if you mean to do work on t-shirts you will need a machine that will do tubular sewing. If you are thinking of making embroidered patches you need a different machine. A detailed talk with a commercial sewing machine supplier is needed as well as consultation with an already operating embroidery business near you (not your potential competitor) can help you decide on the best sewing machine.

Embroidery blanks, like t-shirts, caps, placket shirts, visors etc. provided by the client or by you

Work area with enough space for embroidery machines and seating for operators

Power supply for the machines

Quality threads, needles, backing, and all the other items needed for work. Other Stitching supplies like machine oil and scissors 

Safe clean space to store the finished products – you may need locked cabinets to keep the client property safe.

Plastic bags to deliver the product to customers , preferably printed with your logo.

Stock Embroidery designs or A place for digitizing the designs you will embroider if you want to give customers custom designs. Either you can buy the software for digitizing and do it yourself, or hire someone do the digitizing for you.

Computer for digitizing if you decide to do it yourself.

You also need to get training to deal with questions like how to operate your machines efficiently and optimally, the best backing to use, best thread to use, how to deal with some of the common problems that happen when operating embroidery machines.

How to price the embroidery work correctly for profit?

Embroidery pricing depends mostly on what your clients can afford and on the design complexity. If you live in a city the pricing will be different from a small town. You should study the competitors in your area to evaluate their price and product so that you can charge competitively .

Usually, prices are based on a per-thousand stitch rate, which is multiplied by the number of pieces. You can charge a fixed fee for every thousand stitches. This pricing should include all the expenses incurred by you including space time and material. This is how the commercial businesses price.

Most aim to establish a keystone pricing – this involves getting back 100% of your wholesale price. That is effectively you will be doubling all your cost.

Keystone Pricing is a method of pricing in which a product is priced at directly double the wholesale price.

Or You can fix an hourly charge and be upfront about how much time it will take to complete a work. This can be calculated according to the machine (the time it will take for a machine to complete this many stitches/designs ) including the labour charges involved etc. At times you may charge by the number of designs instead of by the size of your design

The factors that are important in pricing are

  • The regular pay rate of the operators plus any bonus you will give for better work. The average pay rate you give to employees should match that of competitors in your area or they will leave you soon enough.
  • The profit margin for the product.

Special effects in the work needed by the client will have to be charged extra.

Standard industry placements will be charged less than special placements. Also one off works will be charged more than volume work. You can decide if you want to keep a minimum and then charge extra if the minimum is not adhered to. If you decide to give a guarantee to replace any ruined items you may want to charge more than if there is no such guarantee

Ensure that you agree with the customer that any changes in the design / styles after the work is done will be billed extra. 

You will also need to hire many other services in the course of your business like graphic designers, accounting services , insurance – all these need to be taken into account in your pricing or at least in your budget.

Train your workers/employees to improve productivity at every step so that your business is always in profit.

How to run the operations of an embroidery business so that you still run a profit and customer is happy 

Reliable service is key to any successful business so ensure that the operations in your unit are all streamlined to meet the needs of the customers promptly and efficiently and courteously.

You will need to know how to properly thread the machine, adjust tensions, to operate the embroidery machine control panel, proper hooping and embroidery placement techniques, and to use the machine efficiently to produce the optimum number of designs. Arrange for training if you are lacking in any area.

You should have specific persons to thoroughly inspect all products that are embroidered prior to starting the embroidery for any defects – these are better to be discovered before the embroidery is done.

Ensure that the customer sign a contract / purchase order stating the lettering, design, thread colors, placement of the embroidery
garment, sizes, and item color as well as quantities to be used in completing the order. This is absolutely necessary to ensure that both the customer and the embroider are on the same page regarding work to be done and there is no dispute later.

The date of delivery will be mentioned in the purchase order and this will have to be adhered to by the embroiderer. 

You may want to charge a deposit of 1/2 the estimate when signing the order confirmation agreement. In case of cancellation of order the labor charges and purchases made for the client should be billed. 

Double check the placement of the embroidery against the purchase order, inspect the tightness of the stitches,  smoothness of the embroidery and the overall quality and appearance of the finished product. If missed stitches, hoop marks around the embroidery, less than perfect backside, puckering etc are seen they should be rectified if they could be or replaced.Your reputation as a quality embroiderer will depend on these quality checks.

Ensure that the artwork is of top notch quality and in the correct format required.

For big works you will be making a sample and get it approved by the client before starting the complete work. The client may even want to change the design at this point. This can avoid costly mistakes and earn customer loyalty.

Decide on the number of items per day it would take to cover your costs and ensure that you can reach this target as fast as possible to stay in the business first. Keep a schedule and keep track of everything from day one. After that everything is profit.

How to market your embroidery business 

Word of mouth is the best advertising for an embroidery business. Build a customer email/phone database and communicate with them regularly. Satisfied customers can spread the work by forwarding the mail to other prospective clients

Market to seasonal businesses as well as regular customers  – there may be gift giving during festivals/special days like valentine’s day, so they are great  for marketing embroidered products.

Brochures ; website and other social media handles ; Business cards ; thank you cards can all serve as marketing vehicles for your embroidery business, other than traditional marketing tactics like advertisements in local media, newspapers, television stations, radio stations or local magazines

How to use internet marketing – Today anyone looking for an embroidery service will do a search online – the local businesses will be the first on the search page and those with a web presence win here. Instagram and facebook advertising and blogging can get you new clients.  If you combine this with email marketing by capturing the emails of people who visit your blog and then send them new designs, you will be far ahead of all your competitors. Don’t forget to give them exclusive discount coupons.

Network in the local community can build goodwill and spread the word about your business – you just have to back it up with good work.

How to expand an embroidery business ?

In addition to embroidering on client provided articles you can buy embroidery blanks at wholesale prices in bulk and sell the embroidered products for greater profit. 

You can add to your repertoire other services like embellishing clothes with garment printing, beading, rhinestones, sequins, applique, heat transfers and even laser etching. For heat transfer vinyls you will need to buy a cutting machine like Silhouette and a heat press. You can also start other related business like embroidery monogram business, screen printing business, T-shirt printing business

You can also buy more advanced embroidery equipment and embroidery supplies and improve on the quality of your current work.

Quality work and professional and courteous service are the keystones of a successful embroidery business. If you can provide these, you are well on your way to a successful business.

Related posts : 40+ Sewing businesses you can start ; How to start a boutique

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Comments 3

    1. Post

      Hi Mandeep
      Are you asking about operating the machines ? When you buy the machines the shops usually give some training at the place where I live – do not know about your place. Best wishes.

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