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Used Embroidery Machines

30th October 2007

Used Embroidery Machines

Since our parent company, Ensign Emblem, has been in business for over 30 years, we have a lot of experience with buying embroidery machines.  For some people, this may be the most challenging part of owning a machine embroidery business.  A good embroidery machine is a vital and necessary part of the making the business a success, but it is often hard to tell which machine will be right for you. 

An embroidery machine is a significant investment, and one that should not be made lightly.  The first thing you need to do is figure out to what use you will be putting your machine.  If you know you want to run a business and sell embroidered goods to others, your best bet is a commercial embroidery machine.     You can find some great tips on deciding which type of machine to buy at Artistic Threadworks.

If you already have a machine and are looking to trade up or sell your machine, here are a few sites you should investigate.  Please note that we have simply discovered these sites, and have not used them personally.  We are providing these links only in hopes that they will be of assistance to our customers.  

 Digitsmith.com – This is a forum where people discuss embroidery and screen printing.  There is also a section where you can sell or buy used machines and other supplies.  If you are looking to sell or buy a machine, this may be a place to start.

The Embroidery WareHouse - This company buys and sells used machines.  They also offer accessories and software.

You might also try searching Ebay.  There is a helpful guide provided that will assist you if you decide to pursue buying a machine on Ebay.

Finally, I need to mention one company we can recommend with full confidence, as we’ve bought embroidery machines from them over the years.  That company is Barudan Refurbishing.   If you are in the market for a refurbished machine, this company is a great place to start.  They will also help you sell your current machine.   Our parent company, Ensign Emblem, has been doing business with Barudan Refurbishing for years.  We wouldn’t keep buying machines from them if they weren’t doing something right.

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips, Making Your Business Grow | Comments Off

26th October 2007

Seeing is Believing

Recently our company president, Gayle Zreliak, had a chance to visit the Hilos Iris manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico.  Here is what she had to say about her visit.

“I’ve been buying embroidery thread for over 33 years. In that time I’ve purchased thread from Madeira, Robison-Anton, Coats and Clark, American and Efird.  We started Ensign Emblem in 1974 doing embroidery by hand.  Today the company has over 1300 heads. Despite that fact that we’ve purchased a large amount of thread over the years, until a few weeks ago I had never been invited to tour a thread manufacturing facility. Hilos Iris, our current thread supplier, is so proud of their facility, they insisted I come and see it for myself.

I regret that, before I arrived, I assumed that a non U.S. manufacturing facility would be lacking the latest technology. After touring the facility I realized that rather then doubting their technology, I should be proud to be associated with such a fine company. Hilos Iris is a comapny which takes into account safety, cleanliness of their work-sites and equipment, and is willing to make major capital investments in new equipment in order to produce the best product possible.  They also have a state of the art color lab for custom coloring.

If we, as Americans, use manufacturing facilities in the United States as the standard all other facilities much match, I can say that Hilos Iris not only met those standards, it surpassed them. My father, who had extensive embroidery experience, and who founded Ensign Emblem, always said the benchmark of a good facility was if it was clean enough that you would be willing to eat off the floor.  Dad would have approved of the Hilos Iris facility.

Like Ensign Emblem and, by extension, EnMart, Hilos Iris is a family business that has a commitment to creating quality product. As a business owner, I know that all of you have many balls to juggle in your daily work life. Every company needs to stay competitive, but sometimes staying competitive is about more than getting the lowest price. Cost can not only be measured in dollars, it can be measured in downtime, or effort, or labor. Buying quality thread product can help you save all of the above.

I can personally guarantee that the Iris thread you purchase from EnMart is the best quality available in the global marketplace. If you have any questions about Hilos Iris or the thread or other products, please feel free to contact me directly.  Just ask for Gayle.”

posted in Hilos Iris, Thread | 1 Comment

24th October 2007

Above and Beyond

There are a lot of companies out there saying they provide great customer service.  Some of them may be right when they claim their customer service is top notch.  Others may not be correct in their assumption that the customer service they provide is meeting their customers’ needs.  The only real way to know whether the claims a company makes about their customer service are true or false is to become a customer of the company in question.   It is actions, not words, that tell the real story.

At EnMart, we do make the claim that we have great customer service.  Providing a superior customer experience has always been one of the cornerstones of Ensign Emblem’s business model.  Since Ensign is the parent company to EnMart, that commitment to customer service extends to us.  We believe every customer, from the owner of a one head machine who is just starting out to the company that has 600 heads and does business around the clock, deserves the same level of care and attention.  Our business is to help your business grow.  We do that by offering quality supplies at reasonable prices and by listening when our customers tell us what they want and need.

We know that one of the core components of any good customer service program is listening to your customers.  We can’t provide you the services and products you want if we don’t know what they are.   That’s why our employees, including myself, visit and contribute to embroidery forums.  That’s why we call embroiderers to tell them who we are and to ask about how they do business and what we can do to help.  That’s why, when a problem does crop up, we work for a solution that is best for the customer, even if it means we lose a little on the deal. 

Some of you may be reading this and thinking that it is all just another bunch of customer service patter.  In today’s world, when bad customer service sometimes seems to be the norm, it is easy to be cynical when you read what appears to be yet another customer service promise.  I could write a lot of words about how we mean what we say but I’ll simply say this instead.

Give us a try. 

I’m confident you’ll find that what we say matches what we do.

posted in About EnMart, Shop EnMart | Comments Off

22nd October 2007

Stocking the Shelves, An Update

On October 10, I wrote a post about how we were in the process of stocking our shelves.  In that post I said that our store was a work in progress and we were in the process of adding additional products.  I just wanted to tell you today that our store is still a work in progress, but that it is getting closer to completion.  We hope to have our entire inventory, with the exception of ink and associated products, loaded into the store and available for ordering by the end of this week.

Currently you can buy polyester thread in cones and spools at the EnMart store.  You may also buy blanks and backing.  Our unique and durable Ntrans screenprint transfers are also available from the EnMart store.  In the days ahead we will be adding additional products to the store.  These products will include bobbins, rayon thread, snips, scissors and other machine embroidery tools.  By the end of the week, if all goes well, our entire inventory should be available for online ordering.

In the meantime, should you need something you don’t see online, please contact us and we’ll be happy to fill your order.   Thank you for your patience while we update our online inventory.  We appreciate it.

posted in Shop EnMart | Comments Off

17th October 2007

Types of Backing

Today I thought I would continue the discussion of backing that I started yesterday.  In this post, I want to discuss the types of backing EnMart sells and the uses to which they can be put.

Tearaway Backing

Tearaway backing is the backing of choice for most embroiderers.  Tearaway material is often preferable to cutaway backing as it will allow you to finish designs more quickly, safely and cheaply. To perform well as a backing,  a tearaway should be stable and able to withstand repeated perforations. The backing should tear in either direction cleanly and easily.  For best appearance, tear the backing as close to the stitches as possible.

Cutaway Backing

This backing is ideal for use with delicate or stretchy fabrics.  Cutaway backing helps maintain the crispness of the design details during embroidery and also helps retain the design’s shape after repeated washings.  When cutting away the backing, use a gliding scissor motion.  A cutaway with rigidity will enable you to use your scissors with this sort of motion. Nippers are not particularly useful for this sort of operation.

Peel and Stick Backing

Peel and Stick backing is a tearaway backing with a pressure sensitive coating and a release liner. It has three general uses:

  1. Hard-to-hoop applications such as shirt collars or cuffs
  2. Stabilization of high stretch fabrics like bicycle shorts
  3. Elimination of hoop marks that occur with problem materials like suede

EnMart offers backing in a variety of types and sizes, including all three types listed above.  Please take special note of the following items:

2.0 Oz. Tear/Washaway: This unique product tears exceptionally well in both directions and has superior stability. When laundered, the remaining backing surrounding the embroidery wases away.  This leaves a clean design with firmly locked stitches.  If you are going to use just one tearaway backing, this is the one.

2.5 Oz. Cutaway: This 2.5 oz. stable and versatile product is our most popular cutaway. It is also available in black.  This backing is easy to cut and has no hoop stretch. There are also two lighter weight and one heavier weight versions of this product.  If you are stocking only one cutaway, this is the best option.

posted in Machine Embroidery Supplies, Machine Embroidery Tips | Comments Off

16th October 2007

Backing Facts: How to Select the Right Backing

EnMart currently carries an exceptionally broad product line featuring more than 15 different types of backing. We do not buy odd lots or sell seconds. All of the products we offer are specifically designed for use as embroidery backing.  EnMart currently carries cutaways, tearaways, tear/washaways, puff, fusibles, black and flame-retardant backings. Both rolls and sheets are available in a variety of stocked configurations.

According to Hollingsworth and Vose, there are many things to take into account when selecting backing.  Stability of the garment fabric, stitch density, color, stitch length, stitch speed, size of embroidery and stability of design are some of the variables that can influence backing selection.

 When selecting backing, one of the most important factors is fabric stretch.  Regardless of the type of backing you choose, it has to be stable enough to prevent movement during the stitching process. Experimentation is often needed even when your are just changing suppliers and receiving what appears to be an identical garment. The fabric’s structure (weave or knit pattern) is apt to be a better indicator of stability than weight alone. 

Your method of hooping can also effect your finished product. Loosely hooped or insecurely hooped garments can cause poor registration.  This problem is not caused by your backing. Using higher hoops will help you gain a secure grip on thick or slippery materials. You should also check your fabric tension which can be done by pushing your finger across the fabric.  If you see wrinkles, you tension might be too loose.

To learn more about selecting backing, please visit these sites:

ABC Embroidery Designs

Embroidery Stabilizing Lessons

Everything You Need To Know About Backing

posted in Machine Embroidery Tips, Making Your Business Grow | Comments Off

15th October 2007

How to Market Your Business

As many of you know already, machine embroidery businesses come in all shapes and sizes.  For every business with 300 heads there are probably three or four that are much smaller.  Often companies of many different sizes can be in competition for the same piece of the market.  The businesses that are ultimately successful are the ones that set themselves apart from the pack.  Today, I’d like to discuss a few ways to do that.

 One way to set yourself apart is to provide a positive experience for your customers.  Sometimes it seems that good customer service is the exception rather than the rule in today’s marketplace.  Customers have become accustomed to being kept on hold, to companies that don’t listen, and to work that arrives late or is defective.  If you want to set yourself apart from the pack, and generate lots of referrals, make sure every contact your customer’s have with your company is a positive one.   Take the time to get to know your customers and listen to what they’re telling you.  It may take a few seconds more, but the rewards are worth the extra time.

Another way to set your business apart is to remember the old expression “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”.  Keep this in mind and scrutinize every aspect of your business.  If you have a shop, is it clean and inviting? If you work from home, do you have a separate line for business calls? If you have employees, how do they dress and how do they interact with customers?  What does your brochure or business card look like?  Do all the elements of your business identity come together to present a pleasing whole, or are you using one company logo on one brochure and a different logo on another?  Small details can be the making of your business and have a big impact on the first impression people have of your company.  Pay attention to these details and you can ensure that first impression is a good one.

One of the best ways to set yourself apart is to become well known in your community.  Get involved in community events, and get to know the movers and shakers in your town.  These are the people that could throw business your way.  You should also keep in mind that your community can extend far beyond the physical location of your business.  Machine embroidery forums are a great way to make contact with other machine embroiderers.   Other embroiderers may pass along orders or recommend you for jobs.  They don’t have to live in the same city, or even the same country for that sort of thing to happen. 

 Finally, I’d like to give you a tip from my personal experience.  As Director of Marketing for Ensign Emblem and EnMart, I’ve learned that you always have to treat every project and every occasion like it is going to lead to a million dollar sale.  Contacts and jobs can come from the most unlikely places.  The trick is to be prepared and to present yourself in the best manner possible at all times.  You never know where the next big job will come from, so make sure you’re ready to sell yourself and your business at any time. 

posted in Making Your Business Grow | Comments Off

11th October 2007

Customer Service Mistakes for $1000, Alex

Part of my job at EnMart is to oversee the customer experience.  Because of that, I’m always notice when customer service is done well, and when it is done poorly.  In each case I try and figure out how I can take what I’ve learned and apply it to the customer service our companies provide.  Over the years I’ve discovered what I like to call the “Customer Service Mistakes”.  These phrases, and the actions that accompany them, are something you will never see from us.

 Mistake #1: “Your business is very important to us.  Thank you for your patience. ” – Anyone who has been on hold trying to contact a customer service representative has probably heard this phrase a thousand times.  At EnMart,  we believe that you shouldn’t have to wait on hold unless you are being transferred to another department, or we are researching some information for you.  Even then, we try to limit on hold time as much as we can.  Virtually every call is answered by a real, live human, or is directed to our general mailbox where you can leave us a message.   Your business is very important to us and, for that reason, we don’t think you should have to be patient when calling to place an order or ask a question.

Mistake #2: “The Customer is Always Right, (Except When We’re Cranky)” – We recently had an experience with a printing company we use quite frequently.  They sent us some printing we had ordered and the majority of what we received was practically unusable.  So, my designer contacted the company to request a refund or a reprint.  After waiting on hold for over half an hour (see Mistake #1), she finally got to speak to a human.  She explained the problem and requested a solution.  The customer service representative’s response was as follows: “So I guess I should just take your word for it that the printing is bad?”  Big, big mistake!  If your stated policy is the customer is always right, then the customer is always right.   Arguing over a complaint generally isn’t worth the amount of business you’ll lose as a result.  Besides, as my designer commented, “Am I really going to stay on hold listening to bad music if I’m trying to scam the company?”  Always, always give the customer the benefit of the doubt.

Mistake #3:  “We Want to Hear From You (Good Luck Figuring Out How to Contact Us).” – Good customer service means being available to your customers when they need you.  Contact information should be clearly available on all company material, whether printed or on the Internet.  Many companies, however, make finding their contact information into a kind of treasure hunt.  Often they only have one method of contacting them available.   To provide the best customer service possible you have to talk, and listen, to your customers.  If your customers can’t contact you, they can’t talk to you. It’s that simple.

In today’s marketplace, good customer service often seems to be more the exception than the rule.  At EnMart and the other Ensign Group Companies, our goal is to provide knowledgeable, prompt and friendly customer service.  We truly value our customers and want to do our very best to serve them. 

posted in About EnMart | Comments Off

10th October 2007

Stocking the Shelves

When you go to a brick and mortar store you’ll often see people stocking the shelves.  They’re moving things around and replenishing the stock that has been depleted and maybe making a can pyramid at the end of an aisle.  The idea is to keep the inventory moving and to present the items for sale in the most attractive way possible.

 Here at EnMart we are currently in the process of stocking our shelves.  The EnMart store is a work in progress with items being added and rearranged almost daily.  We’re still learning the best way to present items to our customers, and still finalizing agreements which will allow us to add more products.  We’re also listening to what our customers are telling us about the things they’d like to see that we don’t currently offer. 

If there is something you don’t see in our store that you’d like us to sell, please contact us and let us know.  Our goal is to provide a wide range of quality products, and the information we get from you helps us determine what those products should be.   After all, who better to advise us on what we should sell then the people who will be buying? We also may offer items for sale that have not yet been added to the site.  Like stocking a brick and mortar store, stocking an online store requires time.  If you’re searching for a particular product and don’t see it offered in our store, please give us a call.  We may have the product you need available for sale.

 We also need to ask your patience regarding some aspects of our store.  We will be offering direct to garment ink-jet ink and the associated accessories and supplies, but we haven’t determined exactly what we want to offer.  Part of our commitment to our customers involves testing and researching our products before we make them available to you.  That takes time and we ask for your understanding during our research and testing phase. 

Please keep checking back with us frequently.  New products and services can turn up at any time.  As always, if you have any questions, you can contact our helpful customer service representatives at 1-866-516-1300, leave a comment here, or e-mail us.  We’re always eager to hear what you have to say, and we appreciate the time you take to tell us what you think.

posted in Shop EnMart | 2 Comments

9th October 2007

We’re Listening

We received an order for supplies yesterday, and the following comment was attached:

“I have sewn with your thread and it is wonderful.  I am so glad that I can order from you.  Thanks, so much.”

Every company likes to be told their products and services are appreciated.  Let’s face it, if your clients aren’t telling you you’re doing well, you’re probably not.  EnMart is part of a tradition of quality and service that stretches over 30 years.  The foundation of all the Ensign Group companies is customer service, not just for the big guys who spend millions, but for the little guy who just wants to make a buck or two.  

Obviously, we love to hear from our customers.  That’s why we started this blog.  It is also why we include multiple ways to contact us on our web site and we make sure that information is easy for our customers to find.  We want to know what you like and don’t like.  We’re interested in what products you’d like to see us sell.  Most of all, we want you to tell us how you think we’re doing.  It’s nice to get comments like the one quoted above, they let us know we’re on the right track and that our customers like our products.  We’re equally eager, however, to hear from you when think something hasn’t gone well.  I won’t say we’re happy to receive those sorts of comments, but we do know that being advised of issues or problems is the first step toward correcting them.

If you have something you’d like to tell us, positive or not so positive, please feel free to contact us at any time.  You can leave a comment here on this blog, or contact us by any of the methods listed on our contact page.  Our goal is to provide the best products available and the best service possible to the machine embroidery community.  We can’t give you what you want and need unless we know what that is, and the only ones who can tell us that are all of you.

posted in About EnMart, Shop EnMart, Thread | Comments Off

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