EnMart Embroidery Talk

Educating the Machine Embroidery Community

29th June 2015

Marketing Monday: Big Events and Social Media

marketing monday 1Whenever a disaster or a major event happens,  every company that participates in social media has to make a decision about two things.   The first is whether or not they comment at all.   The second,  if they decide to comment,  is in what form they will comment.   They also need to do try and make some predictions about what the potential fallout from their posts might be.   The potential for negative consequences does,  of course,  rise if the event is controversial in some way.    A comment on Mother’s Day reminding everyone to celebrate mothers is probably not going to generate any negative consequences at all,   as the majority of people would agree that celebrating motherhood is a good thing to do.   A comment on something like the historic Supreme Court decision  last Friday can lead into much murkier waters.

Posting about something controversial is always more of a minefield than posting about something on which everyone agrees.   That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t comment,  it just means there might need to be a little more calculation before the comment is made.   Here are some things to consider before posting about a controversial issue on social media.

How passionate are you about this issue or event?  Does it impact you personally in some way?   Does it impact a large portion of your customer base?  Does this issue or event have relevance to you or your company or are you just chiming in because everyone is mentioning it?

What negative consequences could result from posting about this event?   As I explained in the seminar I did at the DAX Show last year,  it only takes a moment to shoot yourself in the foot on social media.   Whether it’s trivializing a storm that caused billions of dollars in damage,   or using a day when thousands died to sell yoga classes or holes of golf,  saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can cause a huge wave of bad publicity.     If you’re going to post about controversial or sensitive events,  you need to be prepared to experience backlash,  and have a plan to deal with that backlash should it happen.

Do you care if people disapprove of what you post?  This circles back somewhat to how passionate you are about the issue –  if it impacts you personally,  or impacts your customer base,  you may feel that the disapproval of some is worth supporting a cause about which you feel strongly.   In some cases you may feel that voicing your support is so important that it doesn’t matter if you lose customers as a result.

The main thing to remember is that the decision to post or not to post should be arrived at in a thoughtful manner,  after you’ve considered all the consequences.   Yes,  in the first heat of happiness or disgust or whatever emotion you’re feeling,  the urge might be to throw something on your company pages,  but don’t give in to that urge.    Take the time to rationally examine your choices,   looking at both the positives and the negatives and then decide whether or not you will comment.   Running through a decision process like this may only take a couple of minutes,   but those few minutes could save you hours of grief.

posted in Marketing Monday | 0 Comments

25th June 2015

Actual Advice: Best Backing for Towels and More

Advice-2One of the things we do often here at EnMart is answer questions.    The questions cover a variety of topics,   from what sort of product to use for a particular job,   to what we use or recommend,   to questions about running a business or using social media.    In the course of a day,   an awful lot of questions can be asked and answered,  but the answers only benefit the one person who asked,  and that didn’t seem quite fair.   To address that problem I’ve created another sporadic series that will appear semi-regularly on the EmbroideryTalk blog called “Actual Advice”.   In this series,  we will detail an actual question or questions asked by a customer  and than share the answer here so everyone can benefit from reading it.

We’ll be covering two questions today.

The first is about what backing to use on towels and fleece blankets.   The customer in question had been using tearaway,  but was finding it tough to weed out all the stabilizer, and didn’t really like the finished appearance after the backing had been torn away.    She was looking for another option and had thought maybe a washaway would do the trick.  She was looking at Badgemaster,  which was,  as they say,  in the right church,  but in the wrong pew.   Badgemaster would dissolve in water,  but really isn’t designed to be a stabilizer with fabric.    What was needed was a cutaway washaway like our Q-102.     EnMart’s Q-102 stabilizes the design,  and then the excess backing can be dissolved with water,  leaving a smooth surface.   It is ideal for towels or blankets or anywhere that might allow the back of the embroidery to be visible.

The second question has to do with color matching of thread.   We do have a conversion engine on our website where we have conversions from several popular thread brands to Iris,   which is useful,   but we tend to recommend another way if you want a true color match.    The best way to color match a thread,  in our opinion is to compare actual color to actual color.    In other words,  get a swatch of the two colors you want to compare,  and put them side by side in natural light.    This will give you the truest representation of the colors and the match in question.   Trying to match an actual color against a color on a computer monitor or a printed sample won’t work well because monitors and printers can skew colors.    Your best best is always to match actual to actual.    If you do need actual Iris UltraBrite Polyester color swatches,  you can always get a thread chart for use when converting colors.

So,  that’s our actual advice for today.   If you have a question you’d like us to answer,  please leave it in the comments,   or ask us on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

posted in About EnMart, Embroidery Questions | 0 Comments

23rd June 2015

How Do I: Choose a Backing

8The type of backing used on an embroidered piece can have a big impact on the quality of the finished item,   but knowing which backing to use and when to use it can be difficult.   Add to that fact the problem of beginning embroiderers who may not even be aware there is more than one type of cutaway or tearaway available,  or even that cutaway and tearaway exist,  and the confusion only deepens.   Choosing a backing can be confusing and intimidating,   but it can also make a real difference in the speed, ease and quality of your embroidery,  so it is important.    Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a backing.

Backing comes in different typesCutaway and tearaway are the two main types of backing,   and are basically what their names imply they would be.   Cutaway stabilizers must be cut with scissors.   Tearaway stabilizers are designed to allow for any excess to be torn away after the embroidery is finished.   There are also a variety of specialty backings and toppings which also fit under the wider categories of cutaway or tearaway,  but have unique uses.   Poly mesh,  adhesive backing  and water soluble would be in this category.

Backing comes in different weights – Lighter weight backings are generally best for light weight fabrics.    Heavier weight tearaways can be very useful when embroidering caps.    Generally,  backing weight ranges from 1 oz to 3+ ounces.    Backing weight is determined by weighing a square yard of the backing in question.   Heavier weight backings,  3 ounces for instance,  will generally be sturdier and stiffer.   Lighter weight backings,  a 1.5 ounce perhaps,  will be more flexible,  may be softer,   and generally are more sheer.    To learn more about backing weight and why it matters you can read this post I wrote in 2010.

Backing comes in different colors – We’re not talking a wide variety of colors here,  backing is generally available in white,  black and beige.     Even a small variety of colors does matter however,  particularly when there is some possibility of the backing being visible through the garment.

Specialty backing can make a huge difference – Specialty backings were all designed to meet a need in the machine embroidery marketplace.   Poly mesh backing was designed for use with lightweight and sheer fabrics.     Adhesive backing is perfect for use with hard to hoop items,  allowing embroidery on patches and socks and things that would be too small to hoop on their own.    Water soluble topping allows the embroidering of names and monograms on towels and fleece,  keeping the lettering from sinking into the material.    For many jobs,  using a simple cutaway or tearaway will serve you well,  but specialty backings are always a good thing to have in your arsenal.

That’s a quick overview of how to choose a backing.    To learn more,  you can also read these additional posts I’ve written on the subject.

Backing Basics:  Types of Backing

Backing Basics:  Specialty Backing

posted in Backing/Stabilizers, Embroidery Questions, Machine Embroidery Tips | 1 Comment

19th June 2015

And the Crickets Chirp

crickets chirpingI’ve never been sure why crickets chirping is supposed to be a sound that signifies silence and nothing happening.   There’s a cricket that lives in my garage on occasion and having him around is anything but quiet.    In any case,  crickets chirping is an accepted symbol for places where a long silence has settled,  so it seems appropriate for this blog,  which has been silent most of this year so far.   For that I apologize.    I do see some light at the end of this tunnel though.  Even though we’re now halfway through the year  I figure we can still salvage 2015.     I just need a plan.   And,  possibly,  the help of those who read this blog.

First,  the plan.

When I started this blog,  I tried to write a post several times a week.    I was building a blog and an audience,  so it made sense to do it that way back then.   Plus,  when we started,  there was an entire new company and a lot of new products to introduce,  so I had blog post fodder for years.  Now,  8 years into this blog journey,   my responsibilities have expanded,  my available time has shortened,  and producing a post several times a week isn’t really feasible.   So the schedule needs to be more reasonable and achievable.    I’m thinking two posts a week is reasonable,   with an optional Friday Blog Round-Up twice a month.   That’s a total of 10 posts in an average month,  and I think that’s a reasonable and attainable goal to set.

Now,  the question is what those 8 posts a month should be.   Sometimes, of course,  I’ll talk about what we’re doing here,  new products were introducing,  changes we’re making,  whatever we’re doing to make EnMart a more attractive company from which to buy and with which to work.   I’m going to call those posts – EnMart Extras,  since they’ll be little extra glimpses into what we’re doing.   I also know that posts about how to use our products or how to approach a particular job are always useful,  so I think I’ll start another series of posts called “How Do I?”  – which will deal with exactly that,  how to do or use something applicable to the garment decoration business.   I’d also like to,  when possible,  open this blog to the voices of other people in our industry,  and I think we’ll call those Wisdom Wednesday posts,  which will appear,  naturally, on Wednesday.  Finally,  since it is my particular bailiwick,   I’d like to resurrect Marketing Mondays,  which is when we’ll talk about social media,  marketing and selling.   Obviously,  every category won’t appear every week,  but I’ll try to post something new at least twice a week,  with an optional third post,  a Friday Blog Round-Up,  every other week.

So, that’s the plan,  EnMart Extras,  Wisdom Wednesday,  Marketing Mondays,  and How Do I posts,  two a week,  every week.   In order to meet this goal,  however,  I will need help from the readers of this blog.    The first bit of help I need is suggestions.   What would you like to read about on Marketing Monday?   What burning How do I question has been churning through your brain?   What person in the industry would you like to see writing a Wisdom Wednesday post?  Share you suggestions here or with me on Facebook or Twitter.

The second bit of help I need is reading and commenting.   One of the drawbacks of writing a blog post or an article that people rarely talk about is how lonely it can be.   You craft your work,  and try to create something worthy of someone else’s attention,  and then all you hear is silence.   So,  I’m asking you to take a few moments to read and comment when you see something new on this blog.   I promise to do my best to make it worth spending time here.   I hope you’re willing to allow a bit of your time to be spent.

 

posted in About EnMart | 3 Comments

5th June 2015

Friday Blog Round – Up 6/5/15

Yes,  I know,  the criroundup2ckets have been chirping on this blog for a while,  and I apologize for that.   Sometimes,  although the intentions are good,  things go by the wayside because other tasks demand priority.    In any case,  I want to try to get back to blogging more regularly and figured a Friday Blog Round – Up would be a good way to start.

First up,  we have a great post on punching from All Things Embroidery.    Since our parent company started in 1974,  I’ve heard stories about punching and what was involved.    I tend to find the history of embroidery and how it has evolved fascinating,  so this was a fun piece to read.

Second on the list,  Black Duck Inc.,  the home of our friend and digitizing guru Erich Campbell,  was named one of the Top Shops of 2015,  by Stitches Magazine.    Anyone who knows of Erich,  and has seen the work he and Black Duck create knows that this was a well deserved honor.   Congratulations to everyone at Black Duck for making the list.

Third at bat is a great post from Joyce Jagger about your mindset and how it impacts your business.   I love what she says about valuing your time and how changing her mindset led to increased business.    She makes a good point.   What you think impacts how you act and you also have to be wary of projecting your thoughts on to others.   Charge a fair price,  do good work,  and always value what you do and your business will prosper.   Love this post!

Fourth on the docket,  a plea from Erich Campbell,  made in his “On Links and Needles” blog that we hear every voice in the industry,  not just those who are considered to be experts.   Every voice is valuable,  and people just starting out have a different perspective and perhaps different interests than those who are years into their journey as decorators.    Everyone has something to add to the conversation,  so don’t be afraid to put your two cents in and speak your mind.

Fifth in the rotation is a post from Peter Shankman about knowing when to break the rules.    He makes a great point in this post –  when you stick to a rule and it causes you to lose more money than it would had you broken the rule,  you’ve made the wrong choice.    Good customer service means being flexible.

Finally,  I do want to try to update this blog on a more regular basis,  and suggestions for posts are always appreciated.   If there’s something you’d like me to write about,  or a particular topic you’d like this blog to cover,  please let me know.

posted in Around the Blogosphere | 0 Comments

20th January 2015

What to Expect in 2015

to-do-list-padIt constantly amazes me how fast time flies.   At the end of this month I will have been Director of Marketing for Ensign Emblem and EnMart for 9 years.   This blog is just over seven and a bit years old.    This will be post # 572 on this blog,  which adds up to quite a lot of words.

In the time this blog has been around,  our goal has always been to educate people,  both about machine embroidery and about EnMart, who we are as people and who we are as a company.   We’ve given you inside looks at why we sell the thread we sell,   why we do (or don’t) offer specials and sales,   and even the story of how EnMart came to be.    We’ve also published posts that we hoped would help embroiderers do what they do better – whether it was translating print into embroidery,   embroidering on specialty materials,   or   simply providing a round-up of helpful and interesting posts from the blogosphere.    Our goal has always been to educate as much as it has been to entertain,  with the side benefit of helping you to get to know us and EnMart a little better.

Although I like to think we’ve met our goals for this blog,  I do want to keep it fresh and new.   So,  since we’re now seven and a bit,  I figured it was time for some updates.  The look of the blog may change,  that hasn’t been decided yet,   but I do know some other changes will be happening soon.   Here’s a preview of some of what’s coming:

  • Updated blogroll –  There are many good blogs on our blogroll,  but there are also many good blogs not currently listed.  We’re going to sift through the blogroll and try to make sure we’re including the most up to date and interesting blogs about our industry
  • Return of the series – I’ve written series about embroidering on different fabrics,   using different backings,  and even how to market your business.  Most of those were written back in 2010 – so it’s time for them to be updated.
  • More business, marketing and social media tips – It would be lovely if running a decoration business was just about decoration,  but it’s not.   A business owner must also know how to marketing,  provide good customer service,  manage their business and, these days,  manage social media.   We’ll talk about that here too.

I am open to suggestions as to what you’d like to see here,  and when you’d like to see it.    You can either comment here,  contact me on one of our social media platforms,  or simply send me an e-mail.   I’m looking forward to revitalizing this blog in 2015.   Hopefully you’ll come along for the ride.

posted in About EnMart | 1 Comment

31st December 2014

Happy New Year!

happy new year2EnMart will be closed Thursday, January 1 in honor of the New Year’s Holiday.

We will return to work on Friday, January 2, 2015. 

All orders placed on Thursday, January 1 will be shipped when we return on Friday, January 2.

Happy New Year and here’s to a prosperous and creative 2015!

posted in About EnMart | 0 Comments

26th December 2014

Friday Blog Round – Up 12/26/14

roundupSince it is the day after Christmas,  and the end of the year will be here before we know it,  I thought it might be nice to do a blog round-up and spotlight some of the great advice that’s out there.    I have to confess,  a round-up is also a great way for me to do a post without having to think of a topic.  I’m all for that today!

First up is a post from All Things Embroidery about fonts.    I sometimes think fonts are the bane of everyone’s existence.   Finding a font you like,  finding a font that works with your software,  finding a font that matches something the client saw once on Facebook three years ago,  finding the right font can be a chore and a challenge.    This post gives you some helpful vocabulary and explains a bit about the types of fonts available and how they can be used.

Next up,  I’m pimping one of my own posts,  which I don’t usually do,  but I think this one has a good message that is applicable,  particularly at this time of year when people start new things.   The post is about all those people who,  with good intentions,  will tell you not to try to follow your dreams.   My advice –  don’t listen.   You have to follow your path,  and all those people who are telling you it won’t work just don’t know what you know –  you’re willing to do your absolute best to prove that it will.

Third on the list we have a post from Retail Minded,  which details four characteristics of a great manager.    I agree with all of these,  particularly number four,  holding people accountable.   I’ve seen workplaces suffer because the rules and responsibilities aren’t the same for everyone.   I think this post details a good basic blueprint for what makes a good manager.

Fourth at bat is a post about the lending site Kiva from Tim Andrews of ASI.    I love this sort of stuff,  and I think sites like these can make such a difference.   I know, when I was struggling,  there were people who helped me out,  and I always believe we should pay that sort of help forward.  Kiva, and other sites that do similar things, are a great way to help others.   Keep in mind,  you can also pay it forward by sharing your knowledge and experience.  If you’ve had success,  share a bit of it with someone else.

Fifth on the docket is this hilarious post – told in gifs,  from Urban Threads.    The subject is Christmas crafting and it’s hilarious.   I especially like the “Hulk Smash” gif, because who hasn’t felt like that on occasion?  I know the Christmas work is probably over for most everybody now,  but I still think this is worth sharing.

Sixth in the batting order is a post from Peter Shankman about how your business can be better than everyone else’s this holiday season.   I think most of these tips apply whether it’s the holiday season or not.   I especially like the advice about knowing your customers –  since this is something I preach in regard to social media all  the time.   He also makes a really good point about the fact that customer expectations have sunk so low that just doing what’s expected can be a win.   A great deal of good food for thought here.

 

posted in Around the Blogosphere | 0 Comments

23rd December 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas We wish you all a happy and safe Christmas.

EnMart will be closed on Wednesday, December 24 and Thursday, December 25, 2014 for the Christmas holiday.   We will reopen on Friday, December 26, 2014.

All orders placed on 12/24 – 12/25 will ship on Friday, 12/26 when we resume normal operations.

posted in About EnMart, Uncategorized | 0 Comments

23rd September 2014

3 Tips for Dealing with Changing Plans

whyAs some point in every workday, it seems,  I say to myself or sigh to a co-worker “I wasn’t planning on doing this today”.   Now,  I’m not rigidly married to a plan or a schedule,  but I usually have three or four things to get done planned out for each day,   and I try to stick to my list.  Despite my best intentions, however,  at some point in almost every day,  the plan gets derailed.  I’ve learned to take that in stride and to adjust to the situations the events of the day dictate.   It wasn’t always that way.

When you create and run your own business,  the tendency is to want to create a plan and stick to it.   Having a plan and a direction is, after all,  how most businesses are built,  and sticking to a plan is how you set a direction and keep the business on track.   Every business should have a plan,  it’s a guidebook for where the business is headed,  and a checklist for keeping things on the right path,  but the plan can’t be followed too rigorously.   Allowances have to be made for the fact that daily life will cause the plans to change,  and acceptance of the idea that a change in plans does not spell disaster has to be cultivated.   If you’re like me,  achieving that state of acceptance may be difficult.  Here are a few ways to achieve the zen of plan flux for yourself.

1. Acknowledge there are big plans and small plans –  Everyone probably has some sort of plan for their workday,  but not all plans are created equal.  If you’re on deadline,  then certain tasks must be done.   If you promised you’d get something to a customer by a certain date,  then that package should go in the mail.   Those are big plans,  with specific requirements and specific consequences if they’re not completed.   Planning to clean out your e-mail box is a small plan,  and the world won’t end if it’s not done today.   Big plans take priority.  Small plans can be postponed if circumstances require it.

2.  Allow yourself some time to be irritated –  You had a plan,  which you made because you thought it was the best way to proceed,  and it got changed,  often through no fault of your own.   This is irritating and you have the right to be irritated.  Allow yourself some time to feel annoyed,  but make sure it’s a set amount of time,  fifteen minutes at most,  and once your time to be annoyed is up,  you drop the subject and move on.

3.  Accept what you can’t control – The one sure thing we can control is our reaction to the events and people around us.    Everything else may or may not be in our control depending on circumstances.   If your plan gets changed and you have no control over that change,  all you can do is accept what’s happened and go with the new flow of events.   You control your attitude and a positive attitude will make any change of plans easier for you and those who work with you.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | 0 Comments

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