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The Friday Blog Round-Up 2/24/12

24th February 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 2/24/12

First up this week is a great post from Kathleen Fasanella from Fashion Incubator which deals in a common sense way with the fact that whichever choice you make,  working for someone else or working for yourself,  there will be a downside.   The way to decide which option is better for you is to be realistic about which downside suits you better.    I like these kind of posts because I think a lot of people think going out on their own will solve all their problems.  It can solve a lot of them, but it also brings new problems to the table.  The only way to be successful is to be realistic about the challenges of whatever choice you make.

Second on deck is a post from the Stahl’s ID Blog.  This post is a good reminder that heat presses need maintenance and check-ups just as people do.   The post offers a few quick maintenance tips that will help keep your heat press in good working order.   Spending a few minutes doing routine maintenance on your press could save you hundreds of dollars by keeping your press running longer,  so it’s a good idea to take the tips in this post to heart.

Third at bat is a post from Erich Campbell about why you should enter your work into contests.   As many of you already know,  the Stitches Golden Needle Awards is looking for entries,  and Erich talks about why entering contests like this one is a good idea.  Contests can help you learn and grow as an embroiderer,  may inspire you to try something new and unique and can give you a gauge for the quality of your work.   Even if you think there’s no chance you’ll win,  entering a contest can still benefit you in a lot of ways.

Fourth on the list this week is a post about Pinterest.   As some of you may already know,  Pinterest has released code that can be added to a website or blog and which will block people from pinning images from the site in which the code is placed.   The question now becomes,  should you block Pinterest on your site or blog.   The post I’m referencing says,  and I agree,  that for the most part the answer to that question should be no.  The value of Pinterest far outweighs, in the majority of cases,  the risk of copyright infringement.

It’s a bit of a short round-up this week,  sorry about that.   I’d say I’ll try to do better next week,  but I’ll be working a trade show next week, so I’m not sure I could keep my word.   I just hope you guys find the Round-Ups valuable,  no matter how long or short they are.

 

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17th February 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 2/17/11

First up on the list is a post that I, and most likely a lot of other people, need to take to heart.  It’s about the value of a shorter to do list.   As someone who has a to do list that often runs to a second volume,  I understand how overwhelming a long list can seem.  This post suggests that you make a shorter list and just focus on those tasks for the day.   Things won’t seem so overwhelming, and being specific about your tasks means you’ll be more likely to accomplish what you want to accomplish.  As usual,  the NNEP provides good advice.

Second on the docket today is a post from Retail Minded about the 5 best practices of indie retail owners.   I think the advice I like best is #2, stay true to your brand.   Sometimes the lure of something new or potentially lucrative can make people stray from their established brand.  This almost never works well.   As is noted in the blog post,  your brand needs to tell a consistent story, and if you stray too far away from that story you may confuse and alienate customers.

Third at bat today is a new design collection from Sadia Sews.    My particular favorite is the crimson scarf with the gold embroidery.  I’m not generally a fan of red,  but that scarp just looks elegant.   This collection includes designs for applique, quilting and embroidery.   I love how feminine some of the flower designs feel.  Beautiful stuff.

Fourth up is a post from Urban Threads that features machine embroidered bowls.   I’ve already rhapsodized about this on the EnMart Facebook page and Pinterest board, but I wanted to share it here as well.  Just when you think machine embroidery is all about logos on polos or monograms on towels,  you see something like those bowls, and are reminded that machine embroidery is an art form.

In the fifth spot today we have a post on slimy sales and marketing tactics.  This post got included in the round-up primarily for what it said about building trust and how it’s a slow process.    You can try to shortcut to a sale by misrepresenting what you can do or who you are,  but that’s a dangerous game to play.  In sales and marketing,  slow and steady wins the race.

Finally,  we have a dose of reality from Erika Napolitano.  Be warned,  her language is a little salty in parts,  but the point she makes is very relevant to many small business owners.   We have to organize ourselves and be ruthless about what’s a waste of time and what will get us closer to our goals.   This post is a nice reminder that we all need to take a look at what we’re doing and how we can do it better.

 

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14th February 2012

Where We’ll Be and What You’ll See

Many of you who are familiar with the decoration trade show circuit know that a whole slate of shows happen in March.   We truly believe in March Madness at EnMart,  because, between EnMart and our parent company, Ensign Emblem,  we generally do about 5 shows that month.   This year is no exception.    If you want to see EnMart at a March trade show,  here is a list of where we’ll be and when:

Obviously, we hope that all of you attending each of these shows will stop by and see us.   If you stop and see us at a DAX or NNEP show,  you’ll find a booth full of product at show special prices.   Our booth design this year gives us even more display space and we’re going to fill it with great EnMart products.   We’ll have sublimation supplies,  printers,  thread,  backing,  accessories,  and other goodies on display and for sale in the booth.   If you want to save on shipping and save a little bit off the regular cost of the product as well,  bring your wallet and come visit us at the DAX or NNEP shows.   It will definitely be worth your time.

EnMart will also be offering demonstrations in our booth.  Nancy Rasmussen of Encore Embroidery Equipment Sales will be co-exhibiting with us, showcasing the Melco Bravo embroidery machine, and running Iris Thread from EnMart.   We’ll also have sublimation printers and a heat press running.  This year we have a combo press in the booth,  so we can potentially do mugs as well as flat goods.   If you have questions about sublimation or embroidery,  stop by and see us.   We have knowledgeable experts staffing the booth and they’ll be happy to answer questions and help you find the right supplies and equipment for you.

We look forward to seeing you all at the shows in March.   If you have any questions about a particular show,  or need information about registering,  please feel free to contact us.

 

 

 

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10th February 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 2/10/12

First up today we have a post from the National Network of Embroidery Professionals about why attending a trade show is a good idea.   The NNEP is putting on two trade shows this year,  one in Ohio the end of March and one in Nashville in July.   The NNEP shows are always informative, well run and a good time.  EnMart has exhibited at these shows for the past few years and we highly recommend them to exhibitors and attendees alike.

Second on the list we have some tips from Erich Campbell about reducing your number of decorator mistakes.   We’re all only human and mistakes will happen,  but there are some ways to help minimize the number.  I especially like the idea of a digital preview.  Our parent company uses these and they do help avoid mistakes.

Third at bat is another fun idea from Urban Threads.  The Monster Factory allows you to custom create a monster of your very own.   This post shows some of the monsters that the Urban Threads team created.   I think my favorite is the monster with the glasses and the mustache.

Fourth on the docket today is a post from Seth Godin about inaccurate labels and how they cause problems.   He makes the point that a lot of the conflicts between people can be traced back not to the people but to how they interpret the labels placed on the situation.  Labels give us context,  but they can cause problems, and we all need to be aware that not everyone interprets labels the same way.   Looking at conflicts through this lens does make them seem more solveable.

Fifth up is a post with some simple social media tips.   I know social media is still a mystery for some people,  but it’s a mystery that most businesses are going to have to solve.  These tips are indeed basic and simple,  but they can help you lay a good foundation for your company’s social media platform.  I especially like the tip about understanding your objectives.   Knowing why you’re doing something makes it much more likely you’ll do it well.

Finally,  in the just because it’s too fun not to include,  I have the latest from The Bloggess.   In this post,  we cover robo tigers and other weird things,  but it’s funny, so it’s all good.

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8th February 2012

The Uses of Garment Decoration

Whether you call it flash,  bling,  sparkle,  embroidery, sublimation, personalization,  or any number of other names,  the fact is that decoration on clothing has been and most likely always will be popular.  From a discreet monogram on the cuff of a dress shirt to the full on sparkle of a rhinestone design,   people love wearing clothing and carrying items that have been decorated in some way.    I suppose that’s not really surprising. Decorated clothing or associated items can have a lot of uses.

Decoration Unifies.  There’s a reason that teams all wear matching shirts and jackets or carry bags monogrammed with the team name.   It’s the same reason that’s behind corporate logowear and the servers in your favorite restaurant all wearing the same shirt.    Dressing everyone alike provides a sense of unity.  It also allows team members to be easily identified.

Decoration Adds Drama. Everyone notices the bra with the bling and the shirt with the sparkle.  Carrying an awesome sublimated tote bag or wearing an amazing embroidered shirt will draw attention.    A well decorated garment can be like a work of art.

Decoration Personalizes.  There’s a reason people monogram everything from sheets to towels to shirt cuffs.   Personalization takes something that could be one of many and makes it unique.   It could be a name embroidered on a backpack or your monogram on a set of towels,  but the decoration makes the item that much more yours.

Decoration Proclaims Allegiance.   We don’t just pledge allegiance to the flag,  many of us wear it proudly on decorated garments.   People will wear sports jerseys with the names and numbers of their favorite players or a rhinestone shirts that proclaims they are hockey moms or dads.   A decorated garment allows you to tell the world what you like and what you support without you having to say a word.

Decoration Elevates the Boring.   Blank is blah.   Adding a decorative border,  a picture or a saying can elevate a garment from flat to fantastic.   While it’s probably true that not every garment needs to be decorated,  it is also true that decoration can add more interest to the garment and to the outfit of which it is a part.

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3rd February 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 2/3/12

First up today,  we have a post from Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion Incubator answering the question of how to figure out how much money you need to start a clothing line.   While she is talking about starting a clothing line,  a lot of her advice, and the thinking behind it, could work for any business.   If you’re just starting out with a new business idea and need advice on how much money you need to get started,  this is a great post to read.

Second at bat,  we have some good advice from Stahl’s about getting your retail space organized.   When you’re busy it’s easy to let things pile up, or to stay with the same old signs and displays for months on end.   Keep things fresh by cleaning and reorganizing.  Your shop will look nicer,  your customers will be introduced to new products and you’ll be more efficient.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

Third on the list is the news that Retail Minded has started a new magazine for retailers.  In a time when many magazines are closing down,  it’s a bold move to start a new one.   Judging by the sneak peek I saw,  this is a pretty cool magazine and could potentially be very useful and informative for retailers.

Fourth on the docket is a post from John Morgan which is really about how to get other people to promote your business,  and how not to get that sort of promotion.   I’m a huge fan of this post because the things he mentions have happened to me.   We have to remember that a reputation is a valuable thing, and we shouldn’t be asking people we have no relationship with to risk theirs on our behalf.    Everything is about relationships,  whether we want to admit it or not.  Spend less time selling and more time building relationships and you’ll be further along in the end.

Fifth up today is a post about people who are bad at social media and blame the venue instead of themselves.    I’ve seen this happen myself and it always annoys me because someone makes a half hearted attempt to use a social media venue and then blames the venue when people don’t come flocking to their account.   As I, and many others, have said in the past,  social media is about relationships  and you have to give to get.    This post offers a very good analysis of how not to succeed and social media.

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1st February 2012

Credit Application Tips

Jenni Cox from the NNEP recently wrote a blog post about credit applications and at the end of it she asked NNEP Supplier members,  which EnMart is,  to put in their additional suggestions.   That started me thinking about what we at EnMart like to see on our credit application,  and what things our customers could do to speed the process along when they apply for credit with EnMart.   I thought I’d put a little overview up here on the blog today so those of you who might be thinking of requesting credit would know how to speed the process along.

Tip 1:   Use the Company Credit Application (if there is one) – Most companies create a credit application because they want to have certain information available.  Even if you have your reference information already printed out,  you should at least fill out the company information part of the form.

Tip 2:  Check Your References Before We Do –  I think people tend to assume that any company they have an account with can be used as a reference.  This isn’t always the case.   Many larger companies have stopped giving out credit references,  probably because of the number of requests they were receiving.    Make sure you check with your references and confirm they will give a reference before listing them on your application.

Tip 3:  Don’t Send Us To Your Sales Rep – Sales reps are not in the Accounting Department.  It’s their job to sell things,  not to provide credit information.   When you check with your references,  find out where credit information requests should be sent and list that information on your application.

Tip 4:  Provide Fax Numbers – Faxing may have lost popularity in a lot of places,  but not when it comes to credit applications.  Many companies require that all credit reference requests be faxed to them.   Providing that number saves time.

Tip 5:  Be Realistic – If you’ve never had credit before,  don’t give us references that tell us you’ve always paid with a credit card.   Also,  if you have had problems paying bills in the past,  build up a history of good credit card payments with EnMart before applying for credit with us.  Make sure you give yourself the best chance of being approved by being realistic about what your past history will tell us.

 

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