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Popular New Year’s Resolutions

30th December 2008

Popular New Year’s Resolutions

(This week I thought we’d revisit some posts that have appeared on this blog over the past year.  I know we get new readers often, so I thought I’d point out some posts I thought shouldn’t be missed.  This post about New Year’s resolutions first appeared in January of 2008.)

Almost everyone I know makes at least one resolution every New Years Day.  Some of the most common resolutions for business owners are about things like controlling cost, getting more organized, or taking more time for family and friends.  The New Year is always a good time to take a step back and determine how you could be more efficient and more effective.

Today, I wanted to tell you how EnMart can help you keep the resolutions you made this New Years Day.  Suppose your resolution was to be more organized.   Our thread kits with metal racks are a great way to keep your thread organized and within easy reach.  We also offer a polyester thread chart which will allow you to match colors before you buy, ensuring that your thread inventory only contains colors you know you will use.

Perhaps your resolution for 2008 was to open new avenues for your business.  Our Ntrans Screenprint Transfers allow you to offer screenprinted garments to your customers without purchasing any additional screenprinting equipment, beyond a heat press, should you not already have one.   Ntrans transfers are very easy to apply and can be designed in a variety of sizes and colors.

Some people make New Years resolutions regarding upgrading their equipment or establishing a stricter maintenance schedule.  It is a proven fact that equipment that is well maintained will last longer and perform more efficiently.  If you want to put your equipment on a stricter maintenance schedule, EnMart can supply the accessories and tools necessary to get the job done.

A lot of business people make resolutions regarding controlling costs.  EnMart offers some of the most cost effective products available in the marketplace.  Combine our reasonable prices with our quick turn around times, our stellar customer service, and our record for on-time delivery, and you’ll quickly see how EnMart can help you control costs and save time in 2008.

Whatever your New Years resolution for 2008, our resolution is to do everything we can to keep our customers happy and coming back.  If you have any suggestions for blog post topics, products we might want to consider, or just comments on how we’re doing, please feel free to contact us.  We always love to hear from our customers.

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29th December 2008

How Did You Find Your Current Supplier

(This week I thought we’d revisit some posts that have appeared on this blog over the past year.  I know we get new readers often, so I thought I’d point out some posts I thought shouldn’t be missed.  This post about finding a supplier first appeared in March of 2008.)

As I’ve noted before, your choice of supplier can have a major effect on the success or failure of your business.  Given that the choice of a supplier can be so important, it is certainly a choice that should be made with care.  The problem is that there are a large number of machine embroidery supply companies out there.  Do a Google search for “machine embroidery supplies” and you come up with 211,000 results.  How do you know, among all those possibilities, which one is the right one for you?

One way to find a supplier would be to ask friends or acquaintances in the same business what supplier they use.  Often the best way to find out how well a supplier performs is to talk to those people who do business with that supplier.  That is one of the reasons why so many businesses run testimonials on their web sites.  These companies want to let potential customers know that they are already successfully serving the market.

Another method of researching potential suppliers is to visit forums like T-shirt forums.com.  There are a wide variety of embroidery and machine embroidery forums available on the Internet, although some are much more active than others.  If you do choose to take this path, please keep in mind that every answer you get may not be an informed one.  Forums can be very helpful places, but there are also people who will post information based on hearsay or gossip.  If someone does have a definitive opinion, positive or negative, about a particular supplier, probe a little more to see if you can find out how that opinion was formed.

Search engines may be a way that some people use to find a supplier.  You could simply type in your search term, say “machine embroidery thread” for example, and elect to buy from the company that appears at the top of the list.  Keep in mind, the top company may not be the best company, as sites are ranked according to complex search algorithims, not according to quality of merchandise or customer service expertise.

Some embroiderers may elect to choose a supplier based on that suppliers ability to provide a particular item.  Say, for instance, you were interested in purchasing Iris Thread.  There are very few suppliers in the United States who can supply Iris machine embroidery thread so, if you wanted that thread, you’d have to make a purchase from the companies that offer it, like EnMart.

In the end, the choice of a supplier is a very personal one.  It is about more than simply finding the cheapest price.  It should also be about quality of merchandise, expertise and responsiveness of support staff, and a commitment to excellence.  At EnMart, I believe we have all those things.  If you’d like to see for yourself, place an order and give us a chance to prove it to you.

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26th December 2008

How To Embroider Single Patches

(This week I thought we’d revisit some posts that have appeared on this blog over the past year.  I know we get new readers often, so I thought I’d point out some posts I thought shouldn’t be missed.  This post about embroidering single blank patches first appeared in February of 2008.)

Yesterday, we discussed how to decide on the size and type of patches you want to embroider and offer to your customers.  Today we will be discussing how to embroider single patches.  We have gotten some questions on this subject, so I will do my best to provide you with some good tips on the best way to easily create embroidered patches one at a time.

The first thing to keep in mind is the fact that, if you are starting with already created blanks to which you will add a design, you are way ahead of the game.  It is possible to create your own blanks from scratch and then add your design, but the process requires more cost and more time than buying blanks from a supplier.

Once you have received your blanks,  the next thing you need to do is add your design.   The first thing to do is create a patch template.  If you know you will be using the same size patches regularly, scan one patch  and then digitize a running stitch around the edge of the image. Be sure your stitching starts and stops at the top of the patch.  Once that is done, create another file for the design to go on the patch using your template file as a base.

The best way to embroider a single patch is use a large piece of sticky backing, like EnMart’s Peel-N-Stick backing, and  hoop the backing with the adhesive side up.  This will hold the emblem in place. Once you have hooped your backing, program your machine to stop at the end of the first running stitch.  This is the stitch that defines the outline of the patch.  Once the machine has sewn the outline stitch it will stop.  Place the blank emblem on to the adhesive backing using the running stitch as a template for placement. Restart the machine.  It will then sew the rest of your design.  When the machine is finished sewing, simply unhoop the backing and tear off the excess.

Some Helpful Links

Impressions Magazines has two great articles on the subject of embroidering blank patches.  Some of the information included in this post was from those articles.  If you have a moment, please go and read these articles.  They are:

Patches and Emblems Can Be Packed With Profit

How To Embroider Patches

Also, there is a patch holder attachment for embroidery machines manufactured by a company called Kormak.  We are not affiliated with this company, nor do we offer this product for sale through EnMart.  We also have never used this attachment.  Basically, we know nothing beyond the fact that such a thing exists.  I just thought, in the interest  of information, I would pass the link along.

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23rd December 2008

4 Low Cost Ways to Attract Customers

(This week I thought we’d revisit some posts that have appeared on this blog over the past year.  I know we get new readers often, so I thought I’d point out some posts I thought shouldn’t be missed.  This post about attracting new customers first appeared in January of 2008.)

 When starting up a business, one thing most people know that they need is customers.  After all, you can have the best machines in the world, buy the best supplies, and create the greatest embroidered designs, but that all won’t matter if you can’t find people to buy what you create.  Every business needs customers to stay alive, and it isn’t enough to just open the doors and hope a customer or two stumbles through them.  You have to go out and recruit customers.  The following are a few simple ways to do that without spending a huge amount of money.

Method #1:  Wear Your Work – One of the best advertisements for your business, and a great way to get people into your shop is for you, your employees if you have them, and your family to wear the garments you embroider.   Make sure you always have a supply of business cards on hand, so when someone asks where you got that great jacket or shirt you can hand them a card with all your contact information on it.

Method #2:  Donate your work – Most communities are always having a fundraiser or some kind or another.  Maybe the school is raising money for a new gym, or your church has an annual Christmas bazaar. If it is allowed, ask if you can set up a booth to sell your work, and donate half the proceeds from any sales you make to the event.   If you are not allowed to sell, donate some items.  If you do donate, make sure that your business will be recognized in some way, either in a program or through an announcement during the event.   Again, make sure you have business cards available to hand out to those who ask about your work.

Method #3:  Join local business groups –  Most cities and towns have a Chamber of Commerce.  There may also be a variety of other clubs and organizations in your town which target a specific business group.  Investigate these organizations and pick one or two to join.  This is a great opportunity to network with other business owners.  Don’t be afraid to mention your business and to ask for leads from other business people in your area.

Method #4:  – Ask for Referrals – Once you do start building your customer base, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.  One method of referral would be for satisfied customers to recommend you directly to others.  Another might be for a satisfied customer to give you a list of people on whom they think you should call.  You can also ask satisfied customers for testimonials, which you can use to show new customers the kind of work you do.

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22nd December 2008

Establish Corporate Identity with Embroidered Garments

(This week I thought we’d revisit some posts that have appeared on this blog over the past year.  I know we get new readers often, so I thought I’d point out some posts I thought shouldn’t be missed.  This post about embroidered garments first appeared in December of 2007.)

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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16th December 2008

The Basics of Backing

The proper use of backing can make a big difference in the success or failure of your embroidery projects.  A average machine embroidery shop will need to have at least a stock of cutaway backing and a stock of tearaway backing on hand to ensure that the shop can handle whatever projects may come.  Shops that do a wide variety of projects may need to have a more specialized inventory.   If you’re new to backing or new to machine embroidery, here is a list of the basic supplies you may want to have on hand.

Item 1:  Cutaway Backing – Cutaway backing provides a stable base for delicate or stretchy fabrics.   This sort of backing is also generally cut with scissors around the finished design.   Cutaway backing is generally sturdier than other sorts of backing.

Item 2:  Tearaway Backing –  As the name implies, tearaway backing can be torn from around the stitched design.  Tearaway backing is a very popular stabilizer choice as it is easy to use and easy to remove from the finished design.   Good quality tearaway backing will tear easily in either direction and will tear away from the stitched design without damaging the garment or the stitching.

Item 3:  Water Soluble Backing –  This is a biodegradable backing/topping.   It is ideal for monogramming and appliques.  This is the backing you should use when you want to keep your stitches from sinking into the fabric that you are embroidering.   When soaked in water, this stabilizer dissolves.

Item 4:  Cap Backing –  If you often embroider hats and caps, you’ll want to have some of this type of backing on hand.  Our cap backing is our heaviest weight tearaway product.   Cap backing is designed to improve the crispness of letters and columns.

With this basic inventory, you should be able to handle the majority of jobs that come in to your shop.  If you are often asked to stitch designs on pieces that are difficult to hoop, you may want to consider adding some additional items to your inventory.   Peel and Stick backing  has a pressure sensitive coating and a release liner.  It is the ideal backing when you need to embroider small items that can’t be hooped.   If you prefer to use another type of backing, you may also coat your backing with spray adhesive, and hold the item to be stitched in place that way.

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15th December 2008

What Social Media Can Do For Your Business

In last week’s EnMart NewsBites I mentioned that I would be discussing Twitter and social media on the EmbroideryTalk Blog this week.  Today seemed like a good day to do that.  While I don’t have the space or the time to go into an in depth discussion of why and how social media can be helpful to your business, I wanted to take a bit of time today to cover some of the basics.

First of all, let’s define social media.   Basically, a social media site is any site that depends on user generated content and user participation.  Facebook and Linkedin are considered social networking sites.  So are a lot of the embroidery forums many of you may visit.   Twitter is a social networking and micro blogging site.  Delicious is a way to share bookmarks and information as is StumbleUpon.   All these sites are ways to interact with other people and ways to share information.

If you own a business the advantages of being on these sites can be huge.  Facebook and Linkedin allow you to network with other professionals.  Twitter lets you broadcast a constant stream of information about what sorts of things your business is doing.  Delicious and Stumbleupon can be a great way to promote your website or to promote your expertise in a particular area.  Best of all, the majority of these sorts of sites are free and cost only your time.

One big advantage of using social media is the fact that you have a built in window you can use to see what your customers and potential customers think about your business.  Knowing what your customers want and/or need is a vital piece of information if you want to grow your business.   Using social media allows you to talk to your customers directly and allows them to give you real time feedback.   Social media also allows you to address problems and concerns instantly, even if your customer doesn’t mention the issue to you directly.

If you aren’t familiar with social media, I would suggest you pick one site and start trying it out.  Twitter may be the easiest, as it only requires that you post small comments of 140 characters or less.  Look for other people who are in the same business as you are, or who may be potential customers and start following those people.  Many of them will follow you back.  Before you know it, you’ll have built up an audience of potential customers and they’ll start spreading your message to other potential customers.   It can, and does, happen.

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11th December 2008

Three Tips for Naming Your Embroidery Business

Naming your business is an important part of creating your company image.   What you call your business can have an impact on how people see you, whether or not people choose to do business with you and even whether or not people can find your business at all.  The right business name can help propel you to success.  The wrong business name won’t necessarily torpedo your business, but it will put one more obstacle in the road to your success.

If you’re contemplating starting a business, here are a few things to consider before you select a name for your new venture.

Tip #1:  Think about what you want to be, not just what you are – If you’re just starting out you may only have one embroidery head and your goal of adding screenprint is just a wishful thought.  When naming your business you need to remember that where you are now may not always be where you are.  Try to avoid names that limit you, either to a geographical area or to one category of business.

Tip #2: Try the name out several times – Naming a business is a lot like naming a child, you’re going to say whatever name you choose many, many times.  Before you settle on a name, try out your candidates in several different situations.  Pretend you’re answering a phone and use your potential business name in the greeting.  Use it in a fake press release.  Mention it to friends.  Ask people who might not know what sort of business you’re planning what your prospective name brings to mind.  The more you test the name, the more likely you are to find any pitfalls.

Tip #3: Beware of odd spellings or made up words – Naming your business Mbroidery or Threadz may look and sound cool, but such names will most likely require more advertising dollars if they are to stick in people’s heads.  You also have to take into account web site domains and web searches.  People aren’t naturally going to sell embroidery without the e or threads with an s instead of a z.  Using an out of the ordinary spelling or word choice just means you’ll have to work harder to make sure people remember your business name.

Naming your business can be one of the most important marketing decisions you ever make.  It’s wise to take the time to do your research and give your options some thought before you settle on a final choice.

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9th December 2008

Buy Local This Holiday Season

It’s no secret the economy is in a slump at the moment.  A lot of cities and towns, even a lot of states, are suffering from loss of jobs and loss of revenue.  Now, more than ever, it is more important to support businesses in your state and in your local area.  Businesses that are making money are businesses that are employing people.  Giving at least a portion of your buying dollars to businesses that operate in your state and in your area is just a smart thing to do.

EnMart is proud to say that we currently employ people in Michigan, Nevada and New Jersey.  Our parent company, Ensign Emblem, also has plants in Illinois, Georgia and California.   If you live in any of those states, spending your embroidery supply dollars with EnMart will help keep employees in your area working.

Our corporate headquarters is in Traverse City, Michigan.  It is no secret that Michigan has been hard hit by the economic problems that have plagued the U.S.   A lot of businesses are closing up shop in Michigan right now.   As a Michigan based embroidery supplies company, EnMart is working to help Michigan embroiderers stay in business.  That’s why we offer the best embroidery supplies we can find at reasonable prices.   The Michigan economy needs every successful business it can get, and those businesses need to support each other.

Not only does buying from EnMart make smart economic sense from a “buy local” standpoint, it also make sense from the “buy quality” standpoint.   All the items we sell, from thread to backing to bobbins, are the items we use.  We know these products work because we’ve seen them work in our plants every day.  If you’re looking to reduce inventory costs, buying quality, and buying from EnMart, will certainly help you achieve that goal.

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8th December 2008

Two Ways to Get to the EnMart Store

For those of you who may not have seen it yet, I just wanted to point out that there are now two ways to get to the EnMart store.  The first way is the method we’ve always used.   If you visit the front page of the EnMart website, you’ll see a yellow icon with a shopping cart on it on the right-hand side of your screen.  Clicking this icon, which convieniently says “Click Here to Shop EnMart” will take you to the EnMart store.

We have also added a new way to get to the store.  You can now go directly to the store by using this URL:  http://store.myenmart.com.    This URL will take you directly to the store and will bypass the informational portion of the site.  If you’re in a time crunch and need to make your purchases quickly, using this URL will save you time.

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