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The Friday Blog Round-Up 9/30/11

30th September 2011

The Friday Blog Round-Up 9/30/11

I wasn’t going to write a Round-Up this week because I had so much else to do,  but then I saw this post, and I couldn’t resist.   Who doesn’t love a round-up of Halloween machine embroidery tutorials.   Halloween has never been a big holiday for me,  but these items featured on Urban Thread’s Stitch Punk blog are really fun.   So,  the Halloween tutorial post starts off the Blog Round-Up fun this week.

Second on deck today is a post from the NNEP about hiring an embroidery machine operator.   Since I’ve been hearing from our customers that business is picking up and people are looking for extra help, this is a timely post.  I especially like the idea of looking to people like wait staff who are already on their feet all day to find your new hire.   Since there aren’t a lot of already trained people out there, it makes sense to look to people who already have some of the stamina and skills that you need.

Third on the list today is a post from Seth Godin that I really like.   It talks about the fact that the world of work is changing,  that new opportunities are appearing, and that wishing for the old world of work is probably futile.   What I like about this post is that it isn’t bemoaning the loss of the old way of doing things,  it’s celebrating the excitement of the new ways that are now available.   Things change,  that’s inevitable.  It’s how we think about that change,  as this post demonstrates,  that makes all the difference.

Fourth at bat today is a post from Jay Baer about the fact that the social media universe is expanding so fast that even the “experts” can’t keep up,  let alone the owner of a small business who is trying to handle social media among many responsibilities.  It’s easy to get caught up in the newest, greatest, latest thing,  but you don’t get the full benefits if you only dabble.  Jay recommends focusing  on Facebook or Twitter or Google Analytics or whatever site or program you want to use and really learn how to use that product and how to get the maximum value out of it instead of flitting from one thing to another.  I think it’s good advice.

Finally, to end this post,  I want to be a little self indulgent today.  This blog, EmbroideryTalk,  will be four years old on Sunday.   I wrote the first post on October 2, 2007, and I just never shut up.    I hope, through this blog,  we’ve been able to educate and entertain,  to show you a bit about our company and ourselves,  and to advance the cause of garment decoration and machine embroidery just a bit.   I hope we’ve been a resource and I hope we’ve been interesting.  I also want to thank everyone who has read and commented and supported this blog.  We appreciate and value your input and your support.   I hope you’ll continue to supply us with both as this blog heads toward it’s fifth anniversary.

posted in Around the Blogosphere | 3 Comments

28th September 2011

Our Hopes on Our Sleeves

Erich Campbell wrote a fabulous post, “In Memory of Heroes“, talking about work he did to help commemorate and memorialize the events of 9/11.  It’s an amazing post,  but it’s the last paragraph that absolutely kills me,  and which spawned this post.

I’ve always contended that embroidery is important, and that it allows us to wear our affiliations, our beliefs and even our hopes, literally on our sleeves. If any wonder how I came to believe so firmly in our need to wear such symbols, it’s easy to define: My beliefs were made of the sadness of the survivors, the pride for those who served and the support of a nation in a time of great need. As we commemorate that fateful day, I wonder how many people will be dutifully dusting off a cap pulled from some corner of their closet, and once again donning those symbols. I wonder how much of that work that passed through our hands and our machines has survived to bear witness to our collective support even to this day. As I look upon a sample of appliqué we tested for an FDNY design that I still keep on my desk, I hope our work does as much honor now to the fallen and those who forged ahead as we hoped it would then.

Anyone who decorates garments or creates promotional products for a living probably has had at least one day when they wonder if it’s worth it.    There’s the bad artwork,  the cranky customers,  the balky machines,  any number of issues specific to running a garment decoration or promotional products business,  and then there’s the added issues that can come with running any kind of business.   There is also the pressure to create,  to make something where there was nothing.

It’s easy,  in the day to day grind,  to forget that what’s being created is more than just a polo shirt with a logo on it,  or a mug with a grandchild’s picture.   What’s being created is a symbol and a memory that will be treasured long after it leaves your shop.  It’s easy to forget because it seems so ordinary,  it is after all, what you do, day after day to pay the bills.

The thing is,  what’s created matters.  It has a life and a meaning beyond simply being fabric and thread,  or a substrate and ink.  I suppose it’s easier to remember the significance when the items being made are to commemorate a major event, like 9/11,  but whether the event only has meaning for one person or one million,   it still has meaning.

Today,  when you’re struggling with that hard to hoop garment,  or dealing with a clogged printer nozzle remember that what you do is more than the sum of its parts.   Whether it’s a t-shirt commemorating someone’s first 10K run or a plaque that denotes years of faithful service, the items you create have a life and a significance long past when they leave your shop.

posted in Garment Decoration | 1 Comment

23rd September 2011

The Friday Blog Round-Up 9/23/11

First up this week is a look at something a lot of us don’t consider,  fashions in sports uniforms.   There’s been a lot of talk recently because some football teams have been changing their uniforms.   This post from Stahls talks about some college football teams (including Michigan State where I did part of my undergrad) which are changing their uniforms this season.  Personally,  I think the changes are cool, but some people are very upset about it.  Which side do you fall on,  are you all for fashion forwardness in football, or do you like the traditional look?

Second at bat is a post from the NNEP Blog about really understanding what you do.     If you’re clear on why you decorate garments or why you sell promo products,  you’re much better able to explain what you can do and what you can offer to your customers.   Also, as pointed out in this post,  when you know what you do,  you can take steps to do it in the best way possible, and you’ll instinctively know what decisions are right for your business.

Third this week,  we examine a trend that is taking root all over the nation.  A lot of cities are banning the use of plastic bags in groceries and other stores.  In response to this many people have taken to using fabric bags which, as Tim Andrews points out on his ASI Blog,  is a great opportunity for decorators.   One of the secrets to success in the garment decoration and promo products industry is to be aware of trends.  The increased use of fabric bags is a great opportunity if you’re a decorator.

Fourth on this list in the “this is just so cool” category,  is this tutorial on making tattoo tights from Urban Threads.   This is something I never would have thought of doing,  but it’s a really great alternative to getting a real tattoo.   Plus the end result looks awesome.   Even though I have no artistic talent for anything visual,  it always thrills me when someone comes up with a fun and unique way to express their creativity.

Fifth up is a great post by Erika Napoletano on what it takes to be an entrepreneur.   Her list of things you need to own to become an entrepreneur is excellent.  I particularly like # 2, #3  #8 and especially #11.

Finally,  I’m pimping out a post of my own today.   I wrote a post for the DecQuorum blog on dealing with customer resistance and change.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot since watching the Netflix debacle and the more recent Facebook kerfuffle.  We all know that customers can be extremely resistant to change.   This is my take on how to reduce or eliminate that resistance.

posted in Around the Blogosphere | 1 Comment

19th September 2011

Do The Math

Let’s face it,  we’re a world accustomed to buy one get one free,  everything’s on sale,  coupons and discounts and special offers.  You can always find a website or a store or an e-mail in your inbox that will claim to have more for less,  better for cheaper, or a deal you won’t find anywhere else.   The problem is that with all these deals and specials and buy one get one free  it’s hard to know where to find the best price and whether the deal you’re being offered is really the best deal.   Unless, of course,  you do the math.

Doing the math doesn’t take that much time to do,  and the results can help you be sure you’re getting the best deal, so it is worth doing.   It’s also quite simple.   All that’s required to do the math is a deal,  some comparative pricing and a calculator.   The process works like this:

Suppose you’ve gotten an e-mail from a company offering a buy one get one free special.  In this case,  it’s 250 piece packs of cutaway backing.   If you buy one at x price,  you get another for “free”.   The first thing to do is run the numbers on this deal.   Divide the price by the number of sheets of backing you’ll get for that price (500) and that will give you your cost per sheet.   Once you have this number,  you need something to which it can be compared.  That’s where a little research comes in.   Do a search and find out for what price other companies are offering 500 sheets of the same type of backing.  Then do the math on those prices.    You may find out that the deal is really a good deal.  You may find out that another company has a better price per sheet.  Whatever the outcome,  at least you’ll know, and you’ll be sure that you’re getting the most for your hard earned dollars.

This process can work for anything.  Want to figure out which machine embroidery thread is the best value? Figure out your income per hour when the machine is sewing at top capacity and then subtract the time it takes to repair each thread break.   Each second of production you lose reduces your income per hour,  so a thread with less breaks is going to be a better value,  even if the purchase price is more expensive.

The thing to remember is that any company can tell you they’re offering a deal,  but it’s the math that confirms whether a deal really saves you money.   Doing the math will help you make sure you’re getting the most for the money you’ve worked hard to make, which is, in the end, the goal for which we all are shooting.

posted in Machine Embroidery Supplies, Making Your Business Grow, Shop EnMart | 1 Comment

16th September 2011

The Friday Blog Round-Up 9/16/11

First up,  I have to mention Erich Campbell’s amazing post about the work he did for first responders and others after 9/11.   It’s a great story, and the last paragraph kills me every time I read it.   It’s a very well done post that says something about what the work we do can mean.

Second on the list are some life lessons from Ted Stahl.  Ted is the founder of GroupeStahl and he has a lot to say about running a business and living a life.   I think my favorite pieces of advice are about having a few mavericks on staff and about being the company that answers the unasked questions.

Third at bat is a report from Burda Style on the trend toward metallic embroidery.   As Director of Marketing for a company that sells a top notch metallic thread,  I’m all for this.    I also know,  at least with our thread,  that embroidering with metallic thread isn’t as hard as you may have been told.

Fourth on the docket is a terrific post from Seth Godin about the fact that failure isn’t failure.   This post celebrates the people who try something new,  who feel compelled to create.   It’s a great mindset and one I wish more people had.

Fifth on the list is a post from Robin Wilson at Robin’s Edge about playing nice in the social media sandbox.   We all know about trolls and we’ve all probably encountered them,   but there are ways to deal with them that don’t involve sinking to their level.  This post is a good reminder that playing nice will get your further in the end.

Finally,  I want to ask a question of those who read this post.   The Blog Round-Up is centered around what I like and find interesting because I write it,  but I’m always looking to expand the universe of what I read and enjoy.   If you have a favorite blog or a favorite post,  please recommend it in the comments.  I think we all could benefit from being exposed to new writers and new information.


posted in Around the Blogosphere | Comments Off

13th September 2011

What’s Your Favorite Stabilizer Style?

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook,  you’ll know that I’ve asked the question in the title of this post before.    Still,  I want to ask it in as many places as possible,  for a couple of reasons.   One reason is the fact that we always want to have the items our customers want in stock or at least readily available.   The second reason is that I’m working on revamping the backing inventory, and some items may be coming off the in stock list.   Given that I’m rearranging things,  I thought it would be helpful to have as much information as possible before I begin.

Currently,  EnMart carries  cutaway and tearaway stabilizers in rolls and pre-cut sheets.    We also have water soluble toppings and backings,  as well as adhesive backing.    If you mostly embroider knit shirts,  like polo shirts,  you may want to check out our poly mesh category.   EnMart also offers a small selection of FR backing.    These backing categories have developed over time as people have asked for a particularly type of backing,  or based on recommendations from our suppliers about what popular stabilizer types and sizes should be stocked.    Still the best information comes from you,  and I’d appreciate the help of anyone who can spare a minute to answer the following questions:

  1. Which do you prefer, rolls or pre-cuts?
  2. Do you use a lot of colored (i.e. beige, black) stabilizer?
  3. What’s the heaviest weight stabilizer you commonly use?
  4. If you use pre-cuts,  do you generally stick to a specific size, or do you use different sizes for different things?

Our goal is to create a stabilizer inventory that will let us meet the needs of the majority of our customers without overloading our inventory to the point where we’re stocking 80 different kinds of backing, each to satisfy the needs of an individual customer.    If you do have a specific need,  we will and do stock special items,   but that’s a whole different post.  Right now,  I’m just looking for information on what people generally use and what they prefer.   Any feedback you can give me on the questions above will be greatly appreciated.

posted in Backing/Stabilizers | Comments Off

9th September 2011

The Friday Blog Round-Up 9/9/11

First up this week is a great post from Bonnie Landsberger reminding us that Labor Day isn’t just about a 3 day weekend.   She also includes a free download for a great 9/11 tribute design.   In the middle you get some fascinating family history.   I’m a huge fan of Bonnie’s writing,  and this post is a good example of why I’m a fan.

Next on the list is a post about quilting in the hoop from Sadia Sews.   I’m a huge fan of quilts,  and this seems like a cool way to create one.  This method is apparently meant for creating quilt blocks on an embroidery machine.   I think someone should try this and then share their experiences.  Sounds like a fun and fast way to make a quilt.

Third on the list we have mentions of 2 contests where Urban Threads merchandise is the prize.  The first is a UT costume contest.   The second is a contest from Designs in Machine Embroidery.   Both contests offer some cool prizes from UT among others.   I’d love to see some of our talented machine embroidery colleagues and customers enter these contests.  I’m excited to see what all of you would create.

Fourth at bat is a great post by Erika Napoletano on learning how to rise above bad things that happen to you,  being a person not a persona, and making time for the things that make you happy.   Some of Erika’s posts are called bitch slaps and they often are that,  something that kinds of whacks you in the face and makes you take note of where your life is heading and how you’re living that life.

Fifth on the list are two posts from Seth Godin,  mostly because I couldn’t decide which one I liked better.   The first is about education in our schools, both public and private,  and how children are still being trained for a workplace that hasn’t existed in years.    The second is about the differences between being a vendor and being the talent,  and how you can’t treat one like the other.  Both are great posts that make you think.

Sixth on the docket today is a great post about how everyone is now the gatekeeper when it comes to the news and information they consume.  That’s great when it comes to what you can learn and know,  but it also means that everyone needs to be more vigilant about their fact checking and about what they believe.   As with many things,  access to a great deal of information can be a double edged sword.

posted in Around the Blogosphere | Comments Off

7th September 2011

Ntrans ScreenPrint Transfers

I spend a lot of time talking about the things we sell, and it’s often the thread and sublimation supplies that are the star of the show.  That’s probably as it should be,  since machine embroidery thread is necessary for machine embroidery and sublimation inks and papers and printers are all needed before one single thing is sublimated.    Still,  all this talk about the main events sometimes means that some great products don’t get the press they should.   I wanted to correct that problem today by talking a little bit about our Ntrans Screenprint Transfers.

For those who are not familiar with them, Ntrans Transfers are screenprint transfers that have been created specifically for industrial laundries and with our own formulation.  Unlike most screenprint transfers,  our transfers have a smooth feel and appearance,  as well as vibrant colors.   They also are designed to withstand and industrial wash and dry without cracking, peeling or fading.  These transfers are tough and ready to take anything ordinary life can throw at them.

Ordering Ntrans transfers is a simple process.  Just select the Ntrans Screenprint Transfers menu link,  and then select the number of colors in your design.   Once you’ve selected the number of colors,  choose your size.   We offer up to 3 x 5,  or over 3 x 5 to 11 x 11.   An 11 x 11 transfer is the largest we can create.   Once you’ve selected the number of colors and the size of your transfer,   list the actual dimensions of the transfer and the actual colors you require,  using color names or PMS numbers,  and then add any additional instructions.    The minimum order of screenprint transfers is 12,  and the transfers are not ganged.

After the order has been placed,  please follow the instructions for submitting artwork.   It is always helpful to have a picture or sketch of how the transfer is meant to look,  and vector artwork is always helpful.   The better the quality of the artwork that is submitted to us,  the better the quality of the finished transfer.   Once we have received your artwork,  we will create a digital sketch of how the finished transfer will look, which will be sent via e-mail at no charge.

Once you have received your transfers,  you’ll discover just how easy they are to apply.    We offer instruction via video, or written instruction on how to properly apply your Ntrans screenprint transfers.    Please make sure to follow these instructions precisely.    If you do,  you’ll find that EnMart’s screenprint transfers are a great addition to your garment decoration business.

posted in Garment Decoration | Comments Off

2nd September 2011

The Friday Blog Round-Up 9/2/11

First up today we have a post from Stahl’s about common letter and number sizes for sports uniforms.  This is a helpful piece of information for anyone who does work for teams of any type.   I also didn’t know that there are recommended ranges of numbers for certain positions on a team.

Second in line today is a post from Bonnie at My Two Stitches that I love because of the imagery it evokes.   As she describes her walk it’s almost as if I’m walking with her,  the description is that vivid.    There’s also some useful information about digitizing,  but for me the description, and the ability to make readers feel like they’re walking with her,  makes the post.

Third on the docket is Erich Campbell’s post about how he created a fabulous dress for a Stitches photo shoot and article in the magazine.  I’m always fascinated by how Erich creates, and this post gives you a lot of insight into that process.   I also love the fact that EnMart’s colored metallic thread had a small part to play in this design.   It’s wonderful to see our products used with such creativity.

Fourth up today is a post from Retail Minded about writing product descriptions for your web site.   As someone who has written the text for more than one web site from the ground up,  I can testify that writing product descriptions can be difficult.  Nicole gives you some ideas for making your descriptions more interesting, and more likely to sell your products.

Fifth is a post from Peter Shankman about a great piece of customer service from Morton’s Steakhouse.   This really is an unbelievable story,  and it also has inspired a lot of discussion about whether or not any of this would have happened had an ordinary Joe with a couple hundred followers sent the original Tweet.   In any case,  it shows you the power of social media, and how well it can work for a company that gets it.

Sixth at bat today is a so on target post from Scott Stratten at UnMarketing.   He points out something that should be obvious, but sometimes isn’t,  every form of advertising you do has an ROI, or should,  and that ROI should always be considered.  Holding social media to a higher standard in regard to ROI than we do coffee mugs with corporate logos on them, or our trade show booths, isn’t fair and doesn’t make sense.   This is a wake up call that a lot of companies need to read!

Finally, Urban Threads,  where all the fun things happen,  is having a costume contest.   We’ve seen countless examples of the fun things that customers do with their designs in the past,   but I’m sure this contest is going to inspire new heights of creativity.  I can’t wait to see the entries,  and I want to encourage all our EnMart customers to put their creative costume designs out there.  Who knows what could happen?



posted in Around the Blogosphere | Comments Off

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