What’s an out-of-the-box way to handle the competition?

Instead of feeling frustrated or threatened by the competition that are offering apparel decoration services, consider that these companies can expand your production capabilities without you having to add your own equipment or train any new staff. Shift your mindset from “us versus them” to “I have a lot more sewing power if they are on my team!” Partner up with manufacturers, industry suppliers, or other decorators to expand your capabilities. Then, the next time a customer asks you what the largest order you could run is, you can smile and say, “I can do whatever you need. I have a huge capacity for production when I need it.”

To get started, call industry suppliers that are offering apparel decoration services to find out how their process works. What are the minimums? How fast can they turn the order? Ask them to send you a real sample of their finished embroidery. Will they work with a design file that you provide so that the order looks the same as the ones you produce yourself? What are the digitizing or setup fees, if any? If they create the file, can you get a copy so that you have the opportunity to fill in small quantities for the customer as needed? What brand of threads do they use, and will they provide the thread numbers so that you can match them with smaller orders done in-house?

—National Network of Embroidery Professionals

jennifer cox

Jennifer Cox

Jennifer Cox is one of the founders and serves as president of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), an organization that supports embroidery and apparel decoration professionals with programs and services designed to increase profitability and production.

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