Embroidery Talk Has Moved!

Copyrights, Licenses and Embroidery

28th December 2007

Copyrights, Licenses and Embroidery

A while back we were looking into using sports team logos and cartoon characters on a line of products we were contemplating selling.  At that time I did a lot of research to determine what needed to be done to secure the right to use those particular logos and characters.  There was never any thought that we would just use the logos or characters without securing the proper permissions.  We probably all know stories about people who have done just that and ended up being sued over it.  The ability to sell merchandise with a sports team logo or popular cartoon character on it could be a real profit center for your business but, if you don’t have the proper permissions necessary to legally allow you to use the images, such use could also create many problems.

A good rule of thumb is to never embroider anything with an image if you aren’t sure permission has been secured and the use of the image is authorized.  Having such an assurance is pretty easy when you’re picking the image to be embroidered.  You will know that you have the necessary permissions because you, or someone from your business, will have secured them before the project started.  So there generally aren’t any worries there.

Where the problem may occur is when a customer comes into your shop and asks for Bugs Bunny to be put on 50 shirts for her day care center.  Of course you want to take the order.  You certainly should take the order, if the customer can show you written proof that she has permission to use the requested image.  If she can’t, you’re probably better off turning down her money, since it may bring a lot of headaches with it.

Most commercial embroiderers have probably, at sometime in their careers, unknowingly duplicated a copyrighted image at the request of the customer.  Most of the time this is a minor offense and may not be discovered or, if discovered, won’t create any large scale problems.   Occasionally, however, a corporation will decide to sue.  Disney is one that comes to mind.  In those cases, the potential profit you might make from fulfilling the order will be far outweighed by the cost of settling the suit. 

In the end, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to embroidering licensed images for your customers.  Taking a few moments to ask questions before you complete the order could save you a hours of time later on.

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26th December 2007

What a Picture is Worth

One of the main things that needs to be done when building an online store is adding pictures of your products.  When your store is one such as EnMart, that can mean adding a lot of pictures.  Of course, the idea behind the pictures is to spotlight the available products in the best possible way, and to make those products attractive to potential buyers.  

When it comes to describing color,  words often won’t do the trick.  Try describing yellow or blue or any of the numerous shades of either of those colors to someone who has never seen them.  Stop someone on the street and ask them if they know what color “Light Pistachio” or “Fashion Glow”  should be.  Odds are they probably won’t be able to supply an answer.

Sometimes the only way to accurately understand what a color looks like is to see it.  Of course, when you see a picture on a computer monitor you have to take into account monitor settings and various other things that may have an effect on the exact color you see.  You should still, however, be able to get a reasonable idea of what the color is, just from seeing a picture of it on your computer screen. 

In order to provide you with the best available pictures of the thread we sell, we have recently updated the thread images on our site.  All the thread, both polyester and rayon is now shown against a white background.  This allows for the best color representation available when you view the pictures on your computer screen.  Again, the colors will appear slightly different from the actual thread.  The degree of difference will depend on your monitor settings, the age of your monitor, the type of monitor you have and perhaps even the browser you use. 

The best way to get a completely accurate representation of the available polyester thread colors we sell is to purchase a polyester thread chart.  A thread chart will give you an actual sample of every thread color, so you can see exactly how each color will appear when you sew a design.    We also have thread conversion charts for our polyester thread, if you would like to find the Iris Thread Color that is a match to a color from another manufacturer.  If you need a conversion chart, please contact us and we would be happy to send you one.

For those of you who use rayon,  information similar to that which is currently supplied for our polyester thread is in the works.  As soon as that information is available, we will let all of you know.

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19th December 2007

Talking to Our Customers

One of the main things any company needs to do to succeed is make contact with their customers.  That contact needs to come in two forms.  One is talking to customers and the other is listening to customers.   Companies that are marginally successful generally manage to be good at one or the other, but not both.

At EnMart, our plan is to be a successful company, and so we are putting procedures in place which will allow us to both talk to and listen to our customers.  We have plans to talk to you in a variety of ways.  One way, of course, is our web site.  Another way is this blog.  We also are investigating forums to which we can contribute.  We also produce the twice monthly EnMart NewsBites e-mail. There will, down the road, be advertisements and articles in industry magazines and newsletters.   We will also be attending a significant number of trade shows in 2008. Our goal is to make information about our company and our products available to you in a variety of ways, so that you can choose to learn about us in the way that best suits you.

We also have methods in place that will let us listen to our customers.  This blog is one method.  Rest assured that any comments you leave here will be promptly answered and acted upon, should action be necessary.  We also provide a variety of ways to contact us should you have a suggestion or a question. The personnel who attend trade shows are there, in part, to hear your comments about our company and our products and to take your suggestions.  We know that the only way to make our company successful is to listen to you, our customers.  You’re the best people to tell us what we’re doing well and what could use improvement. 

Right now, we’re doing quite well at getting the message out.  What we’re lacking at the moment is feedback from our customers.  We want to hear about it all, both the times when we did everything right, and the times when things didn’t go as well as we would have liked.   As I’ve said before, we can’t give you what you want if we don’t know what that is, and they only one who can give us that information is all of you.

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17th December 2007

How to Equip Your Embroidery Business

The first rule for anyone going into a new business venture is know your costs.   When your intent is to start a machine embroidery business, those costs will include machines and supplies, and may include space in which to work and extra help.  Determining those costs up front will help you make the right decisions about how to structure your business and what equipment to buy.  A little up front thought and planning can save you a lot of worry and stress once your business is up and running.

 Obviously one of the basic costs when you are starting out will be the machine or machines you buy.  The cost of the machine will be whatever the outright cost of buying the machine is, or whatever the entire cost of your lease is.   Some machines will come with the accessories needed to run the machine. Some will not.  It is always wise to ask your salesperson and to negotiate for inclusion of the accessories in the final cost of your machine.  Make sure that you know whether or not accessories are included with each machine you are considering.  When you compare costs, you want to make sure you compare apples to apples.

Other costs to consider when setting up your business are the cost of supplies and the cost of digitizing.  As I said in the post “Selecting a Supplier“,  the supplier you choose can make a big difference in your bottom line.  Lowest cost should not always be the deciding factor.  You should also look for top quality product and top notch customer service, like that provided by EnMart.   In addition to supplies, you will also need to consider the cost of digitizing the designs you embroider.  You can purchase software which will allow you to do the digitizing yourself, or you can have someone do the digitizing for you. 

 Another thing to do before putting up your machine embroiderer shingle is to study the market.  How large is the area in which you live and work?  Is there a big demand for embroidered products?  Do you plan to only sell locally, or do you plan to have a web site and take orders from anywhere in the world?   Knowing your local market and the potential for sales from other places can help you make decisions about where to work and how big your business should be.  Some people may be happy with running one or two heads and making enough to cover their costs.  Other people may be looking to turn a profit, and so might want a wider market.  Doing a market study before you open your doors can help you determine if your local area can provide the volume you want, and help you make decisions about whether or not to pursue additional markets.

Like almost everything else, a business, whether small, medium or large, can benefit from some advance planning.  If you are thinking of starting an embroidery business, take a few moments to examine your options and make some plans before you buy equipment or supplies.  The small amount of time you spend up front may save you a large amount of money in the end.

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14th December 2007

Selecting A Supplier

As many of you who run businesses already know, choosing which suppliers you will work with can be one of the most important decisions you make.  A poorly run or organized supplier can slow down your production, cost you countless hours trying to straighten out problems, and may have problems filling orders on time or filling orders at all.  The decision to work with a particular supplier should be made after you’ve done some checking, and after you’ve determined what you need from that supplier to make your business succeed.

 The first thing you should consider when evaluating a potential supplier is reliability.  If a supplier can’t get the materials you need to you in a timely fashion, it could cause a lot of delays for your business.  A supplier who drops the ball and doesn’t get necessary supplies to you is a supplier who could cause you to drop the ball with your customers.  Obviously, that’s something you want to avoid.

Another thing to examine when choosing a supplier is cost vs. value.  Many times the instinctive reaction is to go for the lowest price.   When evaluating suppliers, you need to decide what the acceptable balance between cost, service, reliability and quality should be. 

When it comes to selecting a supplier, you should always make sure that you know what your business needs to succeed.  Some suppliers may try to win you with flashy discounts or deals that sound great, but don’t really meet the needs of your business.  Knowing how your business works best, and what is required to keep it running in that condition will help ensure you select suppliers who meet those requirements.

 Another thing to do when evaluating suppliers is to ask for references.  In a way, a supplier evaluation is like a job interview, the supplier is becoming a part of your business, or will at least have an effect on how your business runs.  Call your potential supplier and ask if they can supply testimonials, or give you names of customers that are willing to be references.   Some of the best information about working with a supplier can come from those who already do.  Make sure you don’t neglect this valuable source of knowledge.

Another way to get to know a potential supplier is to request their catalog or printed materials.  Visit their web site and their forum of blog if they have one.  Examine all their content with a critical eye.  Do you see typos in their printed materials? Are there broken links on their web site?  Attention to detail is the mark of a good supplier.  If their presentation is lacking, they may have issues in other areas as well.

Finally, when selecting a supplier, follow your heart and your gut.  Sometimes you’ll just know that working with a particular supplier isn’t going to work out for you.  If you have that feeling, go with it.  Going into a supplier relationship with misgivings isn’t going to do anyone any good.  In the end, a supplier is a partner, and you should only work with partners that you trust.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | 3 Comments

12th December 2007

EnMart Blanks

As I may have mentioned before, our parent company, Ensign Emblem, has been in the embroidery business for 30 years.  One of the primary products Ensign Emblem offers is, appropriately enough, emblems.  Ensign Emblem has been designing and manufacturing emblems since 1974 and, in that time, they’ve learned a little something about how to construct a great emblem.

When EnMart was created,  adding emblems or patches to our product offerings seemed like a natural thing to do.  After all, one of the premiere emblem manufacturers in the United States would supply our product.   Because of our association with Ensign, EnMart would be able to offer our customers top quality emblems at a very reasonable cost.

Currently, all blanks offered on the EnMart site are offered with a merrowed border and white polyester fabric.  We offer a variety of sizes and border colors.   Our emblems are also offered with heat seal or sew-on backing.   EnMart blanks are suitable for screen printing, sublimation and direct embroidery.

To learn more about the blank emblem options we offer, please visit our website or  contact us for more information.

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10th December 2007

To Blog or Not to Blog

Sometimes, when you search the Internet, it appears that every business has a blog.  Individuals have been blogging for a while now, but companies have been slower to get on the bandwagon.  Now, it seems, companies both large and small are starting to see the benefits of having a company blog.  In the case of some companies, this is a very good thing.  For other companies, it hasn’t been good at all.

If you are contemplating starting a blog for your business, the first thing you need to know is that blogging isn’t for every company.  The effectiveness and usefulness of a blog also depends on the industry in which you work, and who your customers are.   Some companies, with customers who are very Internet savvy, may find a blog very useful.  Other companies may find their customers don’t even know what a blog is or why they would want to read one.  Before you start a blog, you should make sure you know your customer base.  There’s no use writing a blog if none of your customers are going to read it.

The second thing to consider is your ability to create and maintain a blog.  Starting a blog isn’t like starting a web site.  With a web site you can get away with leaving the same content in place for months at a time.   When it comes to a blog, new content is definitely key.  People may grant you a day or two license, but not much more than that.  If your blog isn’t updated frequently, you’ll find that your readers will move on to one that is.  

Blogs not only need frequently updated content, they need interesting content.  Almost everyone can write a grammatical sentence.  Not everyone can write an interesting one.   When you write a blog, you need to be able to spell and write grammatically, and you also need to be able to take mundane, everyday events and write about them in an interesting way.  People who read company blogs read them to find out more about the company and the people who work there.  The blogs that succeed are the blogs that are able to give the company a personality. 

In the end, the decision about whether or not to create a company blog is one that should be made with the head, not the heart.  Everyone who starts and runs a company probably thinks their company is the most fascinating company in the world.  Not everyone is right in that assumption.  If you are considering starting a blog for your company, you should consider the following things:

  1. Do you customers feel comfortable on the Internet? Do they already read blogs?
  2. Do you have the time and energy it takes to maintain a blog on a daily basis?
  3. Do you have the skills necessary to write an interesting and well constructed blog?
  4. Do you think a blog will bring more business to your company?

If you can answer yes to those four questions, you probably should start a blog.  If you can’t, you may be better offer pursuing other ways of publicizing your company.

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7th December 2007

Establish Corporate Identity with Embroidered Garments

As an employee of EnMart and Ensign Emblem, I see a variety of shirts and jackets with our corporate logos on them every day.  I own several shirts myself.  There are days when I look around the offices and everywhere I look I see our corporate logo.  It’s a nice feeling, and a great way to create a sense of community.

When most machine embroiderers think of ways to increase their business, corporate branding might not be the first thing that comes to mind.  Many people tend to associate corporate branding with large corporations.  There are probably thousands of people walking around with Google or Microsoft logos on their clothing.  There are probably far fewer wearing the logo of Ed’s Garage which is down the street in the town where you live. If, however, you can find ten or twelve Ed’s Garage type businesses in your town, you can generate a nice revenue stream through corporate branding work.

Corporate branding can work for any business, no matter what the size.  Although many people tend to take seeing a company logo on a t-shirt or jacket for granted,  studies have shown that almost half the people in any given group will process information they see better than they process information that they hear.  A shirt or jacket with a corporate logo is a quiet and classy way to advertise, and one that may stick in many people’s minds better than a radio or television ad.

A shirt or jacket with a logo can also be great branding for your own business.  Create some different types of shirts and a jacket or two and wear these clothes when you go to the grocery store, the bank or simply for a walk around your neighborhood.   You never know when you might meet someone who will see the logo on your clothes and ask where you had it done.  Suddenly, a simple shirt has become a great way to advertise your business and a potential vehicle for future sales.  

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4th December 2007

Your Ideal Web Site

Anyone who has ever built a web site will tell you that the hardest part of creating any site is figuring out what the people who visit the site will want.  Ideally, you’d line your site visitors up in a room and ask them, one by one, what features would make them like your site, and what features would encourage them to buy product from you.  Given I can’t make contact with each of you individually, and certainly don’t have a room that would contain you all, I guess I’ll have to do the next best thing and pose my questions here.

 If you could create your ideal machine embroidery supplies web site, what would it look like?  What would you be able to do there?  Would it contain lots of articles with information on how to run your machines and create better embroidery, or would it simply be about shopping?   Would the front page be crammed with pictures of every item the site offers, or would you prefer just to see a few featured items?  Should each product have extensive information, or is a simple picture and price enough? 

 As you probably already know, e-commerce sites comes in all shapes and sizes.  Some are nothing more than simple shopping carts, you pick your products, enter your information,  and you’re done.  Others are much more elaborate, with lots of pictures and widgets and items with which you can interact.  It goes without saying that virutally no one will like both kinds of sites.  Some people prefer to get in and out, and only want the information necessary to make a purchase.  Other people like all the bells and whistles, and consider stripped down sites to be stark and boring.   It is mostly a matter of personal preference.

In the end, of course, we can only make educated guesses about what our customers will find most useful, and design a site based on those guesses.   We do try and get feedback when we can,  and part of trying to get feedback is putting posts like this on the blog.   This is your chance to tell us what you like, and what you dispise, when it comes to shopping online.  You can leave a comment here on the blog, or contact us directly.  Don’t be afraid to tell us what you think.  This site is, after all, being created for your use.

posted in About EnMart, Shop EnMart | Comments Off

3rd December 2007

Now Available: Rayon Thread

EnMart is proud to announce that Iris Rayon Thread is now available from the EnMart store.  Like our Polyester thread,  the Iris Rayon Thread is available in two sizes: 1110 yard cones and 5500 yard cones.

Like all Iris thread, Iris Smooth ‘N Silky Rayon thread is the highest quality thread available.  It offers a deep sheen and has an excellent color range.   Smooth ‘N Silky Rayon thread is of the highest tenacity and will run smoothly through your machine.  If care instructions are followed, the thread also offers a high degree of color fastness.  This thread is also a true 40 weight thread, which means it will require fewer stitches to create a design than thread of a lesser weight would.

 Those who work with rayon thread frequently know that not all rayon threads are the same.   For many years, embroiderers have had to settle for whatever quality of rayon thread was available.  Some brands were good and some were not so good, but that wasn’t really the issue.  The issue was the fact that the thread was available.  

Now that Iris Rayon thread is available in the United States, machine embroiderers have another quality rayon thread option.   If you are looking for a thread that has the quality rayon thread used to have, but is priced competitively, Iris Rayon is the thread for you.  

Iris Thread – Setting the Benchmark

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