May '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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6 2 P R I N T W E A R M A Y 2 0 1 9 JEANENE EDWARDS (CONTINUED) How do you stay motivated in the day to day? JE: I am a naturally curious person, so I see every day as an opportunity to learn something new or to experience something different or surprising. For instance, catching a new YouTube video from an online graphic T designer who vlogs about the experiences of trying to get his or her business up and running. It makes understanding our customer base more personal and can inspire a new idea to make your brand or product better. What's one highlight from your career you take pride in? JE: I'm most proud of the project I'm currently working on, which is to take our JERZEES brand and work to ele- vate both the brand image and the prod- uct line to be more relevant in today's market. This required crafting updated brand positioning and then overhaul- ing all the brand imagery and marketing collateral. Then, the bigger challenge of designing and bringing to market more premium styles designed to meet the de- mands of today's decorators. Company: National Network of Embroidery Professionals ( Title: President & Co-Founder Years in Industry: 28 How did you get started in the industry?• JC: My mom owned a yarn shop/needle arts boutique selling yarn, cross stitch, and hand embroidery patterns, materials, and classes. She added a single-needle, single-head com- mercial embroidery machine in 1990. Sales took off, and she asked me to join the busi- ness. Initially, I said no, but they convinced me to attend an industry training event. The speakers were so passionate, I went into work the following Monday and gave my notice. I moved home and took on the machine em- broidery side of the business. We realized there was little support or infrastructure to the com- mercial embroidery industry. That led to our creation of the National Network of Embroi- dery Professionals, an organization to support independent embroidery and apparel decora- tion business owners. As the NNEP gained momentum, we realized accepting orders from our local customers would create a conflict of interest, so we sold the embroidery operation and equipment to focus solely on supporting independent business owners with member programs, services, discounts, events, and re- sources. What does a typical day look like for you? JC: As president of NNEP, I am on the phone and computer with members of NNEP and other business owners for the majority of my days. We help members find wholesale sources for products, set prices, help them with em- broidery-specific information, troubleshoot machine and digitizing issues, and assist at least 3–5 members a day with a hooping ques- tion or a question about what kinds of stabiliz- ers should be used. I also spend a good chunk of most days helping NNEP members with marketing ideas, plans, and methods to help them identify and then connect with their ideal target customers. What have you learned along the way, and what advice do you have for other women? JC: Women have a very hard time know- ing what they are worth and setting pric- es to earn a decent income. Even if you're new to the industry, set your pricing so you can pay yourself right from the start. Women seem not to want to ask for help when it comes to running their business. If you have never done something before, why do you expect to know how to do it perfectly when you try it for the first time? You can muddle through on your own and basically reinvent the wheel, or you could reach out to someone and learn their process, their secrets, and their shortcuts and then use that information to move forward with fewer mistakes and glitches. How do you stay motivated in the day to day? JC: The members of NNEP provide more than enough motivation. Hear- ing their stories, helping them overcome challenging situations, celebrating their successes. Every day is unique because we are "riding shotgun," if you will, with so many different business owners. What's one highlight from your career you take pride in? JC: When I joined the industry, there was no community of like-minded busi- ness owners. Competition was cutthroat. I felt completely isolated. No one I knew understood this industry, and no one in this industry would talk shop with me, much less mentor me. Within NNEP, there is a place to connect with other business owners, to learn from and with them, to help other business owners, to bond with them, and to spend time with them in person. Creating, nurturing, and maintaining this community is some- thing that I am quite proud of. PW Check out more stories from women in the industry on continued from page 33 WOMEN INTHE INDUSTRY JENNIFER COX

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