Starting an Embroidery Business FAQ
Q. I am interested in learning more about commercial embroidery, how do I do it?
A. The Internet is a good place to start. Industry trade magazines like Stitches, EMB and Embroidery Business News are very helpful. The magazines often sponsor industry tradeshows, look for information on a show near you. Wear comfortable shoes! Visit with a local embroiderer, if you ask them and explain why you are asking many embroiderers are happy to show you their business.
Q. I am considering staring an embroidery business, what equipment do I need?
A. You will need a business plan, an embroidery machine, embroidery software, thread, backings and various other supplies.
One of the most often overlooked parts of the process for start-up companies or cottage industries is the business plan. An idea of where you plan on going is very important in determining what type of equipment you will need. A good source for information on business plans for embroidery is the ETA, Embroidery Trade Association.
Which machine and software depends on the niche you plan on targeting. Machines are available in single head, single needle configurations on up to over 30 heads with multiple needles per head. If you plan on doing jacket backs you need to make sure your machine has a large enough sewing field. If you want to do caps make sure the machine has finished cap capabilities. Do you plan on doing sweatshirt fronts, look at a machine that has tubular sewing capabilities.
Software also comes in a wide range of configurations. Is your market sewing names on military tape? You might only need a lettering package. Do you want to use stock designs and add lettering? Do you want to edit or change stock designs? Maybe you want to create designs for your own use or supply designs to other embroiderers. Look for a system that can grow with you. See the FAQ on digitizing too.
You might need other equipment depending on your market. Do you want to sew emblems or patches, then you may need to consider a Merrow machine. Start with basic supplies, backings, a topping, good scissors and thread snips, a variety of hoop sizes and a variety of thread colors, your machine supplier should be able to supply you with these supplies or recommend what you need and where to get it. Often these itmes are available in a package.
Work out your target market and a good business plan. What you determine while doing these things will help you realize what you are going to need.
Q. What can I embroider on?
A. Just about anything you can get a needle through! Many, many types of garments, linens, home décor items, bags, the list is endless. Many items that cannot be hooped in a conventional hoop can still be embroidered on using on of the hoopless embroidery methods. In a nutshell hoopless embroidery involves hooping a backing or piece of material and adhering the goods to be embroidered to the hooped backing. The best method to use will depend on what you are embroidering.