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Business Tips Wednesday: Resources for your Embroidery Business

30th April 2008

Business Tips Wednesday: Resources for your Embroidery Business

Starting a business is a large undertaking.  There are a lot of factors to be considered and a lot of things that must be done to make sure your business will succeed.  If you are starting an embroidery business, you also need resources and information that is specific to that sort of business.  Today I wanted to point you to a few places that might be of help.

Magazines

Two embroidery magazines that provide helpful information for commercial embroiderers are Stitches Magazine and Impressions Magazine.   Both magazines also offer e-mail newsletters and web sites which are full of tips and hints.

Embroidery Trade Associations

There are two main national embroidery trade associations.  The Embroidery Trade Association (ETA) and the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP) are both open to commercial embroiderers. 

Embroidery Forums

We have visited several forums over the past few months.  Our current favorite is T-Shirt Forums.com.   You can find information on this site about screen-printing, embroidery and how to sell what you make.  If you are searching for used machines, or have a machine to sell you might want to visit Digitsmith

Business Resources

While there are resources that can help you manage your embroidery business, you should never forget to attend to the small details that crop up in any business.  The IRS provides a web site which gives help with business tax law.   The Small Business Administration can be a valuable resource.   You may also want to consider finding a business mentor through an organization like SCORE.   Your local Chamber of Commerce may also be able to provide help.

Of course, EnMart is also ready to provide to our customers whatever help and information we can.  If you have any questions, please fell free to contact us or leave your question in the comments for this post.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | 1 Comment

28th April 2008

Marketing Monday: Your Business Logo

Most of us are well aware of the importance of a business logo.  It is the identifying mark of your business, so you want something that is recognizable and attractive and usable in a variety of different formats.  This logo is, after all, going to be the identifying mark of your business for years to come, so you want to create something that stands out, reflects the character of your business and which looks professional and unique.

A business logo is especially important for anyone who is the design or embroidery business, since this logo may be the first glimpse anyone has of your work.  Not everyone who embroiderers and prints t-shirts is also a graphic designer, but most customers will probably assume that you have some level of artistic expertise.  Your logo is one way to convince your customers that their designs and artwork will be safe in your hands. 

If you have some artistic talent,  you may be able to design your logo yourself.  If not, you are much better off paying someone to design a logo for you.    If you do have someone design your logo for you, make sure you are included in the design process.  Your logo is, after all for your business, so you want it to reflect your views of what your business is, not the views of some designer who may not know you. 

Once you have a logo, you should also make sure to have your business cards and letterhead professionally printed.  The only exception to this rule, and this is in regard to letterhead,  would be if you have access to an extremely high quality color printer and high quality paper.   There is almost never a situation where professionally printed business cards can be replaced by cards printed on your home or business printer.  Most home printers are not able to handle the heavy stock necessary for substantial looking business cards.  If you are looking for reasonably priced professionally printed business cards, you might try Overnight Prints or Print Place.   Both these places also do letterhead as well.

There are a lot of things to remember when starting and running a small business.  While you’re concentrating on filling orders, and managing your money and ordering supplies,  you should also make sure that your business is presenting its best face to the world. Your business logo may be the first interaction a customer has with your business.  Make sure you take the time to make that interaction as positive as possible. 

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23rd April 2008

West Coast Warehouse

I know that Wednesday is usually devoted to business tips, but I’m going to suspend that policy this Wednesday because EnMart has an exciting announcement.  

Back in March I updated you on the status of our West Coast shipping facility.  At that time I told you that we had decided to consolidate our West Coast shipping in one location, Reno, Nevada.  There were a lot of reasons why we decided to consolidate our shipping of West Coast orders in one location, the main one being that Reno also gave us more access to the Western states.  Consolidating our shipping to the West Coast in one place also made it easier for us to manage staffing and inventory levels. It just made sense to have Reno as our western shipping hub.

For those of you who live on the West Coast and in the western states,  I am proud to announce that the Reno shipping facility is now online.  All thread and embroidery accessories ordered by anyone in the Mountain or Pacific time zones will now be shipped from the Reno facility.  Blank and Ntrans orders will most likely ship from the Michigan facility, as those items have design and manufacturing needs, and thus have a longer turn around time.  Our goal is to ship as many orders placed by businesses on the West Coast and in the Western States from our Reno facility as possible.

When you place an order with us, you will still proceed as you usually would.  If you order online, your order will be routed to the proper shipping facility, based on the content of that order.  If you place a telephone order, the same thing will happen.   The only difference you will see is the location from which your order is shipped.

posted in EnMart News | 1 Comment

22nd April 2008

Iris Thread Kits

When it comes to thread, it should be obvious that we think Iris thread is the biggest bargain around.   Iris thread offers vibrant color, a brilliant sheen, resistance to breakage and is a true forty weight thread, which means it will fill your design faster and better than most threads on the market.  Whether you use rayon or polyester thread, you can find what you need here, and find it at a price that won’t break your budget.

Because we know that thread can be one of the single biggest expenses an embroidery business can have, EnMart also offers polyester and rayon thread kits.  We offer kits of 24, which come in polyester or rayon, and a Best 50 package with a storage rack, which comes in polyester.  Each kit contains either the top 24 or top 50 colors of Iris thread.  If you need to buy multiple colors of thread, buying a kit may be a more inexpensive way to get the colors you need.

If you are currently using another thread and are concerned that the colors in our kits won’t match the colors you currently use, we offer My ThreadBox Free, downloadable software which will do conversions from thread manufactured by other thread manufacturers to Iris thread.  We also offer a downloadable conversion chart for polyester thread.  We do not currently have a conversion chart for rayon thread.

We are always looking for ways to serve our customers better.  One thread special we are currently contemplating offering  is a “U Pick ‘Em” Best 50 kit, which would allow our customers to select their own Best 50 colors and rack.  We are always open to new ways to help our customers, so if you have any other ideas or suggestions for thread specials we can offer, please leave them in the comments or contact us to make a suggestion.

posted in Thread | 6 Comments

21st April 2008

Marketing Monday: Branding vs. Marketing

Many people, even many who are marketing professionals, are often confused by the terms marketing and branding.  If asked, some people would tell you that marketing and branding are virtually the same thing.  In reality, marketing and branding are quite different activities. 

Branding is really comprised of two things.  One half is the artwork, the pictures, logos and other ways in which your product is visually presented.  Think of the Nike swoosh or the Coca-Cola name written on a can or bottle.  Those images are part of the brand those products have.  Even if you were to place the Nike swoosh on another product, or write another word in the Coca-Cola font, most people would probably still think of Nike and Coca-Cola.  Those companies have done an excellent job with developing the visual brand of their products.

The other half of a brand is the emotional tie that consumers form with the brand.  Volvos are safe cars.  Allstate Insurance will treat you well, because you’re in good hands.  Kentucky Fried Chicken will bring your family together by providing a full course dinner.  This part of the brand may never be stated in actual words, but every peice of marketing that a company puts out will do its best to reinforce this brand.  As all marketers know, a customers emotional relationship with a brand can be very important.

Marketing, the other activity we’re discussing today, is the act of presenting your brand to the world.  It involves advertising and how your logo looks on your storefront and too whom and where you sell your work.  Marketers have the job of selling their product’s brand to the public, and of reinforcing that brand in every communication the company has with the public.  If you don’t have a solid brand, your marketing message can get very fragmented.  If you don’t have good marketing, you could have the greatest brand in the world, but you won’t be very effective when you try to tell people about it.

Although marketing and branding are not the same thing, they do go hand in hand.  Before you can tell anyone who you are or what you business is, you have to figure that out for yourself.  That’s where branding comes in.  Once your brand has been determined, and the visual symbols of that brand assigned, then it’s time to introduce that brand and your company to the public through marketing.

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18th April 2008

Trade Show Giveaways

We are contemplating having a giveaway drawing at the next trade show at which we exhibit.  Our plan is to offer one prize drawing during each day of the show.  Most likely we will ask people to give us a business card or fill out a small entry slip in order to be entered in the drawing.  Whatever we do certainly won’t be complicated.

I do have a couple of questions I would like to ask.  First, does knowing a company is holding a drawing make you more likely to visit that company’s booth?  How much does the size or value of the prize that is being given out matter?  Also, how much information are you comfortable giving out in order to enter.  Most business cards today include a name, company name, address, phone and e-mail and probably web address.  Would you be comfortable giving us this information? 

It is  a well known fact that a contest or giveaway can be used to draw more people to your booth.  What we want to do, beyond drawing more people to our booth is to draw the right people to our booth.  If we can’t meet and speak with our potential customers, than having a giveaway or even exhibiting at the show isn’t going to do us a lot of good.  Right now we’re working to decide how we can attract potential customers to our booth.  We figure one way to do that is with a drawing.  Now we’re just working to figure out what prize to offer and how best to publicize the drawing.  That’s where all of you come in.

If there is a drawing that you liked or found to be particularly successful please share the details about your experience in the comments for this post.  If you don’t care for drawing and don’t generally enter them, we’d like to know about that as well.  Our goal is to create an event that will be of benefit and interest to our customers.  The best help we have in that endeavor is the information you share with us.

posted in Trade Shows | 1 Comment

16th April 2008

Business Tips Wednesday: Taxes and Your Business

In honor of Tax Day, which was yesterday, I know, I thought this Business Tips post should deal with taxes and your business.   Paying your taxes on time and paying the right amount are very important.  When you’re employed by someone else, determining how much you have to pay can be pretty easy.  When you own your own business and employ yourself, paying taxes can get a bit more complicated.  Luckily, there are some resources available to help you figure your taxes out.

 The IRS offers the Small Business and Self Employed One Stop Resource, which has information about deductibles, what is required of people who are self-employed, and tips for filing your taxes.   You can also find Tax Information for Businesses on the IRS website.  The website Entrepeneur.com also offers a great tax information section.

Some people who own a small business may decide that taxes are too important a matter and should be handled by someone who is an expert in tax preparation and accounting.  If you would like to hire an accountant, you can search for experts in your area using this website.  The National Society of Accountants website also offers a search function.

posted in Making Your Business Grow | Comments Off

15th April 2008

Home Sewers and EnMart

Recently we have had e-mails from people telling us that they would love to purchase the Iris thread that we sell.  These potential customers do embroider, but they do not have a tax i.d. number, which means they are not commercial embroiderers.  As I said in a recent post our present agreements with Hilos Iris require that we sell only to licensed commercial embroiders.  That is why, when you place your first order, we call to confirm that you do have a tax i.d. number and a company name.

Although are current agreements require that we sell only to commercial clients, we are in the process of developing separate agreements that will allow us to sell to home sewers, or retail clients, as well.  We are currently in the process of developing a web site and online store aimed at our potential retail customer base.  This site will offer items in smaller quantities than on our commercial site.  We hope to have the site online and functioning by the beginning of the summer.

If you are a home sewer and are interested in purchasing our thread or other products,  we would be happy to notify you when the retail store is open for business.  Just contact us and ask to be added to our retail notification list.

posted in About EnMart | Comments Off

14th April 2008

Marketing Monday: Do You Know Your Demo?

When a business is first starting out, one of the main things on the business-owner’s mind may be how to get publicity.   Some people subscribe to the theory that any publicity is good publicity, but that isn’t always the case.  Good publicity is the kind that reaches your target market.   After all the people at whom your product is aimed can’t buy what you’re selling if they don’t know it exists. 

One of the first things any business-owner needs to do is figure out to whom they are selling.  It is easy enough to say, “I embroider clothes anyone could wear”, but that’s not really helpful when it comes to aiming your marketing dollars and efforts.  There probably are embroidery businesses out there which do and can cater to anyone, but even those sorts of businesses need to make decisions as to where they will aim their advertising and publicity efforts.  “Everyone” is just too broad a demographic.  It needs to be narrowed down.

 Let’s suppose, for the sake of this post, that you embroider really adorable and unique baby clothes.  If you gave it just a little thought, you might suppose that your target demographic would be new parents.  You’d be right about that, and so you could target your marketing and advertising efforts on parenting magazines, local parenting groups and other venues where you know new parents can be found.  This would be a great start on marketing to your preferred customer, and you might go quite far even if you don’t drill any further down.

If you did drill further down into your demographic heap, you might realize that not only are new parents a potential gold mine, but that the relatives and friends of all the new parents, those looking for a unique baby gift, are also a potential profit center.  With that realization, your demographic widens, so that you can reach this additional target group and hopefully boost your sales.

If you want to market successfully, you need to know and understand your target demographic.  This will help you decide where to advertise as well as how to advertise your business.  If you’re offering cute, whimsical baby clothes, you probably wouldn’t advertise in Popular Mechanics magazine.  Knowing who your demographic is, what they like and where they can be found will make it easier to apportion your advertising dollars, allowing you to get the biggest bang for your advertising buck.

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10th April 2008

Thread Colors: U Pick ‘Em

A while ago someone had the idea that one of the benefits we could offer our customers would be a 50 mini spool rack which allowed you to pick the 50 colors that went on the rack.  We already have, of course,  the Best 50 Kit, which features our top 50 polyester colors, and we also have the Best 24 kits in polyester and rayon.   We don’t, as of yet anyway, have anything that allows our customers to select their own “Best 50″ or “Best 24″ out of the 300 polyester and 100 rayon colors we sell. 

Obviously, we wouldn’t be considering this idea if we didn’t think it was a good one.  What we’re contemplating is combining an empty “Best 50″ rack with the ability to select the colors that go on the rack.  Customers wishing to purchase a unique “Best 50″ combination would simply select the 50 colors they want from a pull down menu,  add the entire thing to our shopping cart, and place their order as normal. 

My question to you, our customers, is would that sort of thing appeal to you?  Would you be more likely to order a “Best 50″ kit if you could select your own colors? 

If you have any thoughts on this subject, please leave them in the comments or contact us and let us know what you think.

posted in Thread | 3 Comments

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