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The Friday Blog Round-Up 6/7/13

7th June 2013

The Friday Blog Round-Up 6/7/13

roundupThe main problem with these round ups is I see stuff that I want to share and then forget where I saw it.   I know,  I need a better system.  In the meantime though,  here are the posts I liked and wanted to share with all of you.

First up, we have some hard, but honest truths from All Things Embroidery about starting an embroidery business.   It isn’t simply plug and play.   There’s a lot to learn and understand if you’re going to be successful at creating and selling embroidered goods.   I like posts like this one,  because it tells the truth but also provides you with guidance.   Everyone needs that,  whether they’ve owned a business for years,  or are just starting out.

Second at bat,  we have the Designs for Machine Embroidery blog,  which offers 7 steps to improve your embroidery.   Some of these ideas are fairly simple,   but it’s possible they’re so simple they may not have occurred to those running embroidery businesses.  It’s often the small, simple things that make the difference,  so check out this post and see if any of these tips could help you.

Third on the list today is a great piece from the Fashion Incubator blog about the tragedies at garment factories in poorer countries.    As this post points out,  improving the situation isn’t as simple as American consumers pledging to buy only from companies that treat their workers well.   There are cultural factors to this problem as well,  and those won’t be changed easily.   This is a terrific analysis of the situation from a perspective other than that of blaming the consumer.

Fourth on the docket is a post from Retail Minded which deals with the psychology of pricing.    I’m always interested in this topic,  both because I’m part of the team that determines our prices here at EnMart,  and because I know a lot of our customers and readers of this blog struggle with setting pricing for their own businesses.   This post has some good information about how customers view prices,  and how increasing the item price by a dollar or so can help generate more income for your business than you would think.

Fifth in the line – up is a common sense post from Scott Stratten,  which is even more common sense if you own your own business.   You may think that you can separate personal and business and you may think a disclaimer may protect you if you say something you shouldn’t,  but you can’t and it won’t.   Everything you say online builds your personal brand,  even if you think you’re only saying it to a chosen few,  and you must always be aware of that.    This is a good reminder to all of us.

Finally,  we have a post about something simple you can do to build an audience that is loyal to your business.   The recommendation is one of those “well duh”  ideas,  because once you read it,  you’ll think “well that’s obvious”.  The problem is that what’s obvious isn’t always what’s done.   This is another great suggestion that seems very simple,  but really isn’t so simple.    That’s my favorite kind.

And last but not least,  I’m plugging one of my posts from the SubliStuff blog.  EnMart is having a webinar and you’re invited.    If you own an embroidery business and are thinking of adding sublimation,  or have already added sublimation and are looking for some guidance,  join us on June 25.   It will be worth your time.

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12th April 2013

The Friday Blog Round-Up 4/12/13

roundupWow, haven’t done one of these in a while.  I hope I remember how!  Guess I’ll just jump in and hope it all comes back to me.

First up,  we have a great post on digitizing lettering from All Things Embroidery.    Me favorite piece of advice in this post is to watch designs with lettering that sew well so you can see how letters join and corner.  This will help you get a better understanding of what lettering that is digitized correctly for the fabric and application should look like and how it should path.  There’s a lot of good information in this post,  whether you digitize your own lettering or have someone else do it.

Second on the list we have a post from Erich Campbell which talks about dealing with distortion in embroidered designs.    I love it when Erich talks about digitizing because he has a great way of making things I know are probably pretty complicated seem pretty simple.  This post is no exception.   I think the best piece of advice in this piece is to look at embroidery holistically,  taking into account how an embroidered design will interact with the fabric and the machine and not just looking at it as something static on a computer screen.  This is another helpful post about digitizing that will be useful whether you digitize yourself or not.

Third on the docket we have a post from Retail Minded which details how to tell if a specific vendor is a good seller for you or not.   Considering that you’re giving space on your website or in your store to every garment and blank vendor you offer,  knowing which ones are maximizing profit potential and which ones aren’t can be the difference between a year in the red and a year in the black.    This is a great reminder that space is money and you shouldn’t be giving any space, whether real or virtual,  away to goods that aren’t generating income.

Fourth at bat we have a great post on embroidering with metallic thread from Sadia Sews.   This post has a lot of common sense tips for making your metallic thread work for you, not against you.   As someone who works for a company that sells a great metallic thread,  I’m always happy to see more people encouraging the use of metallic thread in general.    If you’re thinking of trying embroidery with metallic thread, or if you’ve tried it in the past and had problems,  pick up a spool of thread from EnMart,  read the recommended post from Sadia, and give it a try again.

Fifth, just because the marketing geek in me likes it,  is this post from brandsavant.   It frames the question of what your brand and your company means to your customers in a unique way that I think will generate some unique answers.    A lot of times we ask customers questions designed to find out what they think of us and how they found us,  but this question gets right to the heart of what our brands mean to our customers and what they do for them.    I like the question and I like this post.  You may see this question turn up on the EnMart Facebook page soon.

Finally, again because of the marketing geek in me,  we have a post from UnMarketing, which makes the point that social media shouldn’t always be used just to reply to complaints and put out fires.  A good social media program also ensures that someone is there to say thank you for praise and to comment when customers post nice things about the product.   You need to keep abreast of everything that is being said about your brand,  and engage with it all, not just the negative items.

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18th January 2013

The Friday Blog Round-Up 1/18/13

roundupThe first Friday Blog Round-Up of 2013 and, if we’re keeping track, the start of the 6th year I’ve been writing for this blog.

First up today we have a blog post from Eileen at Designs in Machine Embroidery.  She’s talking about the embroidery machine features that everyone needs.  From what I can tell, it appears that she’s discussing home embroidery machines and not commercial embroidery machines,  so I’d love to hear what you commercial embroiderers think are the must have features for the machines that you have.   Is the list roughly the same?

Second at bat is a post from Joyce Jagger on her Stitches Magazine blog.    This time,  she’s talking about financial pitfalls that could greatly impact your embroidery business.   When you’re just starting out,  or once you get comfortable with how your business is running,  it’s easy to forget the basic, simple things that can keep your business in the black.  Joyce points out three areas which you should be watching.

Third on the docket we have Bonnie Landsberger’s latest post from My Two Stitches.   For those who don’t know,  Bonnie hurt her leg a while back and one thing I’ve found inspiring is how she’s found the good in something that really sounds like it’s mostly been painful and not a lot of fun.  This post is no exception.   As someone who doesn’t like crutches,  I can identify with the story about being in one part of the house and realizing that your crutches are somewhere else entirely.  I just like how the post emphasizes the good and the interesting in what must mostly be an annoying experience.  That’s the attitude we should all take when life throws a problem our way.

Fourth on the list we have some upcycling tutorials from Urban Threads.      With these tutorials you can turn a sweater into a skirt,  two t-shirts into a cardigan,  t-shirts into purses and a lot more.   I love the idea of transforming old clothes in new ways and reducing waste.   Plus,  as a woman who has changed clothing sizes a time or two,  I know how expensive clothes can be.  Taking clothes that are too big or too small and upcycling them seems like a much better option.

Finally,  I have to mention a blog post from Black Duck Inc. about sublimation and what it can do for your business.   I mention this post for two reasons.  One is that it does outline very well what benefits sublimation can offer your business and your customers.  The second is because EnMart played a small part in helping Black Duck on their sublimation journey and I’m so excited to watch that journey continue.   Anyone who has seen Erich Campbell’s work at Black Duck knows he’s immensely talented and I can’t wait to see what he and Black Duck do with sublimation.

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16th November 2012

The Friday Blog Round – Up 11/16/12

First up today we have a post from All Things Embroidery about copyrights, and how to handle them.  The rule of thumb is usually this,  if you didn’t create a design,  and you don’t have the rights to use it if someone else created it,  than don’t use it.    A lot of us who write about this industry have covered this subject at one time or another,  but a reminder never hurts.  Copyright is a big issue both for anyone who creates,  whether they’re the original creator,  or the person using the design or post or whatever to create something else.

Second on the list is a post from Erich Campbell advising all of us creative people to cut ourselves some slack!   His recommends that all of us who do creative work remember not to be so hard on ourselves and not to expect perfection right out of the gate.    It is,  he says,  about giving ourselves the space to follow blind alleys and attempt things that don’t work,  trusting that we’ll finally find the right path.  It’s a good reminder for all of us,  certainly for me.   Being creative is tough enough without adding the burden of our own expectations to the mix.

Third at bat is a contest from Urban Threads.    This contest only goes until lunchtime on Monday so you’d better enter fast.   It’s pretty simple,  just select the Urban Threads design pack you’d like to win and pin it to your Pinterest account.  Make sure you use the required hashtag and that you only pin one pack.  Multiple entries with the hashtag will not be counted.  Contest ends at noon central time on Monday.   If you’ve been waiting to buy a specific Urban Threads design pack,  this contest is a great chance to get that pack for free!

Fourth on the docket is the news that Pinterest has created business pages.  I love this and have already converted the EnMart account over to a business page,  but thought some of the rest of you may need instructions to do the same.  Luckily, Hubspot has provided a tutorial on converting your current profile into a business account as well as some information on how to promote your account once you’ve created it.  Pinterest can be a great marketing tool for decoration companies,  so be sure to check this out.

Fifth in the round-up is a post from Chris Reimer from Rizzo Tees.   He has a great sense of humor and I love what he does with the fact that some people will take any current event or common experience and build a blog post around it.  His post, distinctly tongue in cheek,  tells us what proctology exams can teach us about social media and it’s both funny and insightful.  If nothing else,  it spotlights the absurdity pegging a post on the last big thing that happened rather than creating original, thoughtful content.

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9th November 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 11/9/12

Wow,  I’ve been kind of a slow blog updater lately, haven’t I?  Sorry about that.  I am going to try and get my posting schedule back in gear.  First, however,  we’ll have a post where I mostly link to what other people have written.  Hey,  this is good content I’m spotlighting, and you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

First on the list today we have a post from Joyce Jagger.  Marketing can be tough for any small business owner,  so Joyce helps out with some tips on creating a basic marketing piece.    I especially like her advice about creating a solid description of who you are and what you do and making that the core of all the marketing you do.   Sending out the same message time after time helps that message stick with those who hear it.   There’s a lot of good advice in this post,  so I hope those who have marketing questions will take some time to read it.

Second at bat is a post from Stahl’s about the history of campaign t-shirts.    The t-shirt for Nixon would definitely get you noticed!  I think it’s interesting that campaign t-shirts have been around for longer than people might think.    It’s crazy to think of all the bumper stickers, campaign buttons and t-shirts that were made for political races in years past.    It’s also crazy to think how much some of those shirts would be worth now.  In any case,  this post is a fun little trip into a bit of political campaign history.

Third on the docket we have a great post from Retail Minded about setting your business’ holiday return policy.   Hopefully holiday sales will be big for everyone,  but with larger sales figures you also have a greater chance of having things returned.   This post gives a very comprehensive outline of things you should consider when formulating your return policy,  and also when you’re enforcing it and communicating it to your customers.   Reading this post could save you a lot of holiday return grief this year.

Fourth in the line up today is some amazing work by an artist named Cayce Zavaglia.  I first saw her work courtesy of a post on the Urban Threads blog,  and her stuff is stunning.  She does hand embroidered portraits which are amazingly realistic.   There is also a video about the artist and her process, which is quite fascinating,  included in the post.  I can’t imagine the time and painstaking work it must take to create something like this.   I am constantly amazed by what people can do with thread and needles.

The fifth post today is from John Morgan.   This post deals with 12 reasons why entrepreneurs fail.   Now, no one likes to think about failure,  and certainly no one wants to think their business will fail,   but we all know that the reality is that businesses do fail.   John’s post outlines some of the reasons that a business could fail and gives you some tips on how to avoid those traps with your business.

Finally, to wrap up today’s post,  we have a post from Redhead Writing  about how your brand should reflect your personality.  Too often people try to fit themselves into molds because they think that’s how business “should” be,  or how a business owner “should” act.   The reality is that the most successful businesses tend to take on the personalities of their owners and that’s not a bad thing.  Being true to yourself and making your business a reflection of that will be more comfortable for you and for your customers as well.   It’s an interesting message.

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26th October 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 10/26/12

First on the list is a blog post about the importance of pathing.  I have to admit that I know next to nothing about digitizing,  but this post made a lot of sense to me.   A poorly digitized design is going to cost you time and ultimately money,  and it makes sense to understand why.  This post will help you do that.

Second at bat is a post from Joyce Jagger about hosting a customer appreciation night.  This is a great idea, especially around the holidays.   A customer appreciation night is a great time to suggest gifts,  showcase new decorating techniques and a perfect way to thank you customers for supporting you,  while also encouraging them to spread the word about the work you do.    As Joyce also points out,  you don’t have to have a brick and mortar storefront to host a customer appreciation night,  a conference room in a local hotel or motel can work just as well.

Third on the docket is a post by Bonnie Landsberger at My Two Stitches.   As with all of Bonnie’s posts,  this one combines nature, embroidery and makes you stop and think.   I love Bonnie’s description of getting mad at the Girl Scouts,  sending an angry e-mail and then realizing that maybe she’d misunderstood.   Those sorts of things happen to us all,  but Bonnie uses this incident to remind us all that choosing our words carefully is a good thing,  and that knowing all the facts before getting angry is usually best.  It’s a fun read.

Fourth in line is a post from Erich Campbell on digitizing for non-digitizers.  It stands to reason that not all those who run an embroidery machine will have the ability to digitize designs as well,  but Erich provides a few helpful tips the even non digitizers can use and follow.   Sometimes just knowing how to do a few simple things can save you a great deal of time and money.   Erich’s post will provide you with the ability to understand and perhaps perform some easy digitizing tasks.

Fifth up is a post from Six Pixels of Separation which is nominally about the Lance Armstrong scandal,  but which is really about how we handle social media these days.    Lance Armstrong had previously used social media quite regularly to talk to his fans and followers,  even doing things like inviting anyone around to join him on a run.   Now,  since he has become embroiled in scandal,  he has stopped talking,  possibly for legal reasons, and the silence is deafening.   Social media is a double edged sword, and you can’t just be open and friendly when things are good.   Your brand is still out there and still needs defending even when things aren’t going well.   The message here is that you have to keep talking,  even if the subject matter isn’t to your liking.

Finally,  just because I like this post and what it says so much,  we have a post from Erika Napoletano about the difference between polite and respectful.     Leaving the actual event discussed in the post aside,  I think what resonates with me when I read this post is the idea that you can disagree and still be respectful of the other party in the disagreement.  Nowdays,  particularly in an election year,  there is so much name calling and mud slinging and division,  that it’s refreshing to think that people could disagree on who to elect yet be respectful about that disagreement.   I’m all for more respect and less polite.  How about you?

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12th October 2012

The Friday Blog Round – Up 10/12/12

First up from Designs in Machine Embroidery is a tutorial on embroidering ribbed knits.  I love tutorials that are easy to follow and which allow you to expand your product offerings and this one does both.  Plus,  the designs being stitched are from Urban Threads,  a company which I think does amazing designs, so that’s an added bonus.

Second on the list we have a post from Joyce Jagger about the value of gift giving for your business.  Many businesses add a small freebie or additional gift with their orders,  but Joyce’s post shows you how to use gift giving most effectively.   She makes a great case for the idea that a gift will have a small cost for you but a great value to the recipient.

Third on the docket is a terrific post from Erich Campbell about avoiding cupping or substrate distortion.  I always enjoy Erich’s posts because they teach me something new and help explain the craft of machine embroidery to me in a way that is easy to understand.   The behind the scenes look at how machine embroidery works that he gives us is unique and a huge benefit.

Fourth at bat is a new collection from Urban Threads Evenfall Lace.  If I do ever decide to take up machine embroidery myself  I’ll probably go broke buying all of Urban Threads designs and this new collection is no exception.  It’s pretty and delicate and mysterious all at once.   As I said on the EnMart Facebook page the other day,  if it were me,  I’d buy some Badgemaster and some of EnMart’s cool access threads and start stitching.

Fifth on the list is a post about the power of saying “we screwed up and we’re sorry”.  In this case,  the admission comes from Apple, and the product is their Apple Maps product.   Sometimes the best thing you can do is admit your mistakes or errors and apologize and try to help your customers get the experience they need and want whether it’s from you or someone else.   It’s likely this approach will help you keep customers,  as all anyone customer really wants is an acknowledgement that there is a problem and reassurance that steps are being taken to solve it.   Apple did a masterful job of doing just that  and I applaud them for it.


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28th September 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 9/28/12

First on the list today is the advanced embroiderers bucket list from Designs in Machine Embroidery Magazine.  I have to say, some of these suggestions look like they’d be tricky.    I would think that embroidering on a sheer ribbon and putting in a zipper with an embroidery machine would be especially tricky.   Why don’t those of you who are advanced embroiderers give these ideas a try and then let me know the level of difficulty involved.   Since I’m not even up to the rank of novice embroiderer at this point,  I doubt I’ll be trying any of these myself any time soon.

Second on the docket is a post from Fashion Incubator about the three rules of tradeshows.   Although the post is talking more about shows for designers who want to exhibit their apparel,  the advice and the rules also apply to embroiderers and suppliers who are purchasing space at shows like ISS or DAX or the NNEP shows.    I think the best advice is rule 1, know the show before you exhibit.   Walking a show and seeing what it’s like and who goes to it will save you a lot of wasted money and time.

Third at bat is a post from My Two Stitches.  It’s nominally about a walk in the woods,  but what I really think it’s about is the artistic eye.   I know a lot of artists and have several in my family,  and my experience has been that they tend to see patterns where others don’t.    I love Bonnie’s description of the weathered trees and the dead wood and the patterns and shapes she sees there.   The best thing about Bonnie’s posts, in my opinion,  is that they make you feel like you’re with her walking through the woods, and that she’s just leaning over to point out what she sees.    Since I don’t have the artistic eye myself,  I love it when others share their vision.

Fourth in line is the post that Erich Campbell wrote about his Trendsetter Award.    Those of you familiar with Erich know that he’s an incredibly talented guy who is always trying to push the boundaries of machine embroidery,  and that he’s also always willing to lend a hand or some advice to those who need it.   Being named as a Trendsetter couldn’t have happened to a nicer or more humble guy,  and this post is proof of that.

Fifth up is a post from Urban Threads featuring an awesome embroidered jacket that a customer made.  If you’ve read this blog or the EnMart Facebook page for any length of time,  you know I’m a big fan of Urban Threads and their designs.  This jacket is awesome and just goes to show what can be created if someone is willing to put in some time and effort.

Finally,  I wanted to mention a post from Peter Shankman about saying yes vs. saying no.   He makes the point in his post that it’s easier to say no and that saying no often seems safer,  but that saying yes is what can bring new and wonderful things into your life.   Posts like these always make me think, so I thought I’d share this one with you.

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24th August 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 8/24

Before I start in with the round-up,  I just want to say that I know posts have been a little sparse here lately.  I apologize for that.  I can only plead a full schedule and a slight case of writer’s block.  I hope both will be better soon.   In the meantime,  here’s a round-up post that will showcase some great things other people have been writing.  :-)

First up,  we have a post from All Things Embroidery that points out the need to consider embroidery when you create a logo.  This post makes several very good points as most people still tend to design for print and don’t consider how their logo will be rendered in other disciplines.    I definitely agree that simple is better when it comes to logos.  The EnMart logo is simply the name of the company and boxes of color, and that works fairly well with almost anything.   Sometimes not getting fancy is the best way to go.

Second on the list we have Erich Campbell’s advice for coping with an unproductive day.   I’m sure all of us have schedules that are filled to the brim and a day where you feel like nothing is getting done can be a disaster.  Erich has some tips to help you put the lost day behind you.   His best tip,  as far as I’m concerned anyway,  is the advice to let it go.  I tend to be one of those people who beats myself up over not getting things done,  so the advice to just release everything and start fresh in the morning really resonates with me.

Third on the docket is a fabulous piece from Urban Threads about men and embroidery.     They interviewed Jamie Chalmers,  also known as Mr. X Stitch, and it’s a great interview.   We all know the embroidery world tends to be geared toward women,  but there are a lot of men, the aforementioned Mr. Chalmers and Erich Campbell, for two,  that embroider and work in the industry as well.  I love what this article says about making the craft of embroidery more inclusive and also the fact that it points out that embroidery doesn’t always have to be kittens and teddy bears and lacy borders.

Fourth at bat is a post from Peter Shankman about the fact that your customer service doesn’t have to be awesome every single time,  it just has to be better than what people expect.   He says, and I agree, that most people are used to being treated awfully by companies these days,  that simply making an effort to be nice may be enough to tip the scales in your favor.  If you make an effort to go beyond that and actually be helpful,  you may be well on your way to creating customers who will adore your company,  and spread the word about it everywhere they go.

Fifth in the line up is a post from John Morgan about six ways that people sabotage their success.    The thing that gets me about this post,  other than the fact that he makes good points with all the ways he names,  is number 6.  Lack of confidence is a killer.  It’s a cliche,  but a true one; you have to believe in yourself before anyone else, including your customers will believe in you.   If your business isn’t quite going where you want it to go,  take a look at the six areas John mentions and see if you’re doing anything that might be sabotaging you meeting your full potential.

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10th August 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 8/10/12

First up today is a post from Black Duck Inc. spotlighting the amazing work Erich Campbell did with EnMart’s Q-104 product.  I am consistently impressed by Erich’s artistry and skill,  as well as his dedication to getting a project done right.   He’s absolutely correct when he says he was first on my mind when I was looking for a partner for this project.   Just look at what he created for us.    What more could you want?

Next up,  from Design in Machine Embroidery we have the Intermediate Embroiderer’s Bucket List.  I imagine many of the people who read this blog have already done a lot of the stuff on this list.  If there is one you haven’t done,  maybe you should give that particular task a try.  It’s always good to expand your knowledge and skill set.   Also, if you’re just starting out in embroidery,  you can check out the Beginning Embroiderer’s Bucket List.

Third at bat today is a post from Joyce Jagger about pricing your embroidery.  Questions about price and how to price embroidery work are staples on every embroidery forum I’ve ever seen.   The biggest problem seems to be that people don’t feel comfortable charging what they really should charge for their work,  or they don’t know how to determine a fair price.   Joyce can help you if you’re having those problems.

Fourth on the docket is a post from Erich Campbell about pathing, and what a difference it can make in your production time.   Since our parent company does embroidery I understand that time is definitely money, and the faster you can produce a design,  the better off your business will be.    Erich explains how proper pathing can help reduce production time.  As always it’s useful information,  and illuminates the process of embroidery just a little bit more.

Fifth on the list is a post from Retail Minded which could be very helpful to those who own a brick and mortar store.  Negotiating leases can be tricky,  and this post has some tips that will help you do a better job when you negotiate.  Getting the best deal on leasing your space can have a big impact on the success or failure of your business,  so it pays to understand how leases are typically negotiated.

Finally, we have a post from Peter Shankman about why having haters is a good thing.  I like this post for a lot of reasons,  but especially for points #4 and #6.   The fact is that anyone who does anything even a little outside the box will have detractors and people who don’t like what they do.   I’m with Peter in thinking that having haters is a sign that you’re actually doing what you should be doing and shaking up the status quo.   I like that idea.

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