On the latest Embroidery Insider podcast, Henry Ma breaks down three things embroiderers wished they knew before getting started in the embroidery business.
We reached out to our community of embroiderers on Facebook and asked them what they wish they had known before starting their embroidery businesses.
Read on to discover their most common answers, so you can be well prepared and avoid the same pitfalls during your journey.
You may also follow along with the audio version below.
#1: How to approach digitizing
Digitizing is the process of taking an image and converting it into a stitch file format that the embroidery machine can read.
This process is done using special embroidery digitizing software, which allows you to convert artwork into stitches.
Most people struggle with whether or not they should learn how to digitize or outsource their digitizing.
The upside of outsourcing your digitizing? You bypass the learning curve of the software, and it only costs $10 to $15 to outsource each design.
The downside? You may lose control over your turnaround time and quality if you can’t source a reliable digitizer.
If you’re unsure whether to keep your digitizing in-house or outsource it, click here to check out some pros and cons of each scenario to find out which is best for you.
#2: Pricing your items properly
One of the main struggles embroiderers come across when starting their businesses is pricing.
How do you remain competitive without underpricing yourself?
Most embroiderers starting out follow a general rule known as the $1 per 1,000 stitches rule.
With this rule, embroiderers price based on the size of the design. In this case, your price would equal the cost of the garment plus $1 per 1,000 stitches.
Some embroiderers also add a $5 hooping fee to that cost, too. So if you have a shirt worth $5 and your design has 6,000 stitches, your shirt will go for $11 without the hooping fee and $16 with the hooping fee.
In reality, an ideal price would be somewhere in the middle. While this rule can work for some items like left-chest logos, it may be too much or too little for other items because it doesn’t take into consideration other factors like the type of material you’re working with.
For instance, caps take longer to embroider because they must be embroidered at half the speed and can take longer to set up. Therefore, your time should be accounted for in the cost. Otherwise, you’ll burn out.
Our suggestion: Think of pricing based on time. If you know you want to make a certain amount of money per hour, price your garments based on the time it takes to complete each.
#3: Starting out with more than a single-head
Don’t be surprised if six months into your embroidery business, you begin to receive more orders than you had anticipated.
A lot of embroiderers have had to endure sleepless nights and even had to turn down orders because their single-head couldn’t keep up with their order volume, so they ended up upgrading to a multi-head sooner than expected because of the increase in their demand.
However, this doesn’t mean you should forego a single-head altogether. In fact, you’ll always need a single-head in your business. The ideal scenario? Use your single-head for one-off orders and testing and your multi-head for larger orders.
Pro tip: Production costs actually decrease with multi-heads because the price per head decreases with the more heads the machine has.
The opportunity to learn from others in your industry is a highly valuable asset to your business and will help you avoid wasting time making the same mistakes others did.
Want to ask a question or share your experience with embroidery? Leave a comment below.