Starting A Business1
“Starting a Monogramming Business?”
(Part One - Equipment and Software)
Have you ever thought about starting your own monogramming business, and wondered how to begin? This is the first in a series of articles that we hope will be of assistance to anyone who is thinking about monogramming for fun - and profit.
Unless you are planning to create monograms done entirely by hand, and have the patience and skills to carry out this plan, you’ll need a computerized embroidery machine.
Embroidery machines typically fall into two categories: home and commercial. Until a few years ago it was easy to tell the difference.
Home machines were small, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive. They were essentially sewing machines that had an embroidery module or attachment. They had a small sewing field - typically no larger than 4” x 4” and a slow sewing speed.
Commercial machines were large, heavy, and quite expensive. They had the ability to sew smaller designs and also large jacket-back designs up to 12” x 14”. Most were multi-needle, with the ability to preload up to 18 thread spools, and a mechanism to automatically trim thread at the end of one color and move on to the next color in the design without intervention from the operator.
Recently, machines in both categories have undergone a design and marketing revolution. Home machines have added more features with larger embroidery fields and higher prices.
Commercial machines have gotten smaller, lighter, and less expensive. Purchase prices have converged at a midpoint - price alone is no longer the determining factor in a machine purchase.
The type of embroidery business you want to start may help determine the type of equipment you need. For example, if you want to embroider on pre-constructed baseball caps you will definitely need a machine that comes with a rotating cap frame attachment. If you want your business to specialize in large multi-colored designs on the backs of sports jackets then a machine with a very large sewing field and automatic thread trimmers is probably a must.
These two examples describe the embroidery business that you may have seen in a mall or a small shopping center or storefront in your area. If this isn’t the type of business that you imagine then you should consider equipment from a different perspective.
If you’re interested in a monogramming business - as opposed to a sports logo and golf shirt business, consider machines from a variety of perspectives:
It’s useful to do research online when considering embroidery machines. Our Links section has a link to the websites of both Commercial and Home machine manufacturers.
However, there is really no substitute for seeing a machine in action, and talking to a sales representative about different models, their features, and their costs.
The commercial embroidery industry presents trade shows for these machines as well as software options.
There are other shows that may be more useful to someone contemplating a monogramming business than mainstream commercial embroidery shows. Traditionally thought of as “home” or “hobby” trade shows, most shows of this description now include exhibitors showing commercial embroidery machines along with those that feature “home” machines. If you are fortunate enough to live near a well-organized show, make plans to attend. However, if there isn’t one in your area, or if you have to wait a year to attend something close by, consider traveling to one - if you are shopping for equipment you will be making a significant investment - it’s worth some effort to be confident in your choices.
If you have already purchased a home embroidery machine for a sewing hobby and are considering starting a monogramming business, do you need to go out and buy a different machine?
We are asked this question regularly, and feel that the most honest answer we can offer is .. in most cases, no. Starting a small business that will be successful has a lot to do with creating a workable business plan. If your new business starts out with significant debt it will be at more risk for failure.
If your business becomes successful and you have more work than your home machine can produce then you will have a good reason to consider a commercial machine at that point. This is the natural evolution of many successful small embroidery businesses. Most monogrammers whose business grows this way opt to keep their home machines - for sewing samples or creating special displays, etc.
Embroidery software programs are an essential part of starting a monogramming business. As with embroidery machines, there are too many options.
We feel strongly that most startup monogramming businesses can easily get along without purchasing digitizing software. Aside from the expense, don’t underestimate the learning curve that is associated with mastering any software program. Beyond the technicalities of the program itself, successful digitizing depends on some background in embroidery with professionally digitized designs - the more monogramming experience you have, the more likely it will be that you can create good designs yourself.
Even if you already have an embroidery background from a monogramming hobby, you may still want to hold off before purchasing digitizing software. Why? Have you ever heard the expression “ there are only so many hours in the day ”? Unless you have help in your small monogramming business you will be hard-pressed to find the time to digitize designs, write orders, sew samples, order supplies, answer the telephone, be relaxed with customers and answer their questions, produce top quality monogrammed items, eat dinner, sleep, and have some time left over once in awhile to just stare off into the distance.. or whatever else you’d like to do for recreation.
Looked at from the opposite perspective, can you get along with just the machine (home or commercial) and no software at all?
No. There are a few things that will be essential.
There are software programs on the market that allow you to manipulate embroidery fonts into a variety of shapes, add borders, etc. These programs are fairly basic in the styles they offer, and must rely on a minimum of underlay in the letters themselves since they have to be squished and stretched into so many different shapes and configurations. These programs (e.g. Monogram Wizard, Magnificent Monograms, etc.) may be quite useful to you for simple and relatively small monograms.
Many of our customers own one of these programs and still purchase designs from us because of the variety, digitizing quality, and historical accuracy of what we offer.
We provide an individual design for each letter of the alphabet. There are two common tasks that you will need embroidery software to accomplish:
1. Merging or combining designs together. This process makes it easy to create two and three-letter monograms, with complete control over the spacing and placement of each letter.
2. Resizing. A program that allows you to change the size of the design - and the density and the number of stitches in the design - is invaluable. Whether you are resizing individual letters or a complete monogram, a resizing program is essential in a monogramming business. One good example among many - it’s common practice for a monogram done on a hand towel to be a bit smaller than the same monogram done on a matching bath towel. With a resizing program you can create the bath towel version, then resize the monogram slightly smaller for the hand towel.
There are at least a dozen stand-along merge and resizing programs on the market, for example - Embird, Smartsizer, Dakota Sizer, Melco Sizer, BuzzSize, etc.
Some embroidery machines allow merging of designs and a limited range of resizing capability on the machine itself. Despite these features, our customers tell us that they prefer to accomplish these tasks with a program on their computer because they have more confidence in the results if they can see them on a larger conventional computer screen.
If you are intent on purchasing digitizing and editing software for your monogramming business, be sure that the software includes merging and resizing capability - almost all do.
One last thought about equipment and embroidery software - you may be able to get a package deal if you get everything from the same vendor, but there is no technical requirement that everything come from the same source. So long as you can save designs in a format that your machine can read, the various parts can come from different manufacturers.