April '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R 2 1 they ask me is, "Which machine makes the best-looking embroidery?" Truthfully, among established brands, there isn't a candidate that won't produce a satisfac- tory result from well-digitized files and the right materials. Unless your work is highly specialized, most machines will suffice. The differentiators that affect your bottom line most often aren't equipment features but the following qualities. Support: What training does your dis- tributor or manufacturer offer? Will you be able to take advantage of it? What documentation or instructional materi- als are available? Is there an active user community to help you when official channels fail? In short, how hard will it be to get the instruction and answers you need to operate? Repair: Are technicians and parts avail- able to service your machine? Are they local to your business? If not, what costs are required to get a tech on site and what is the average wait for service? When you are down, how difficult and costly will it be to get running again? When multiple machines are afford- able and suit your production needs, it's the one which will be able to be oper- ated, maintained, and repaired at the lowest cost and with the least difficulty that serves you best over time. DEALING WITH DIGITIZING There's no production without the files that drive the machines. That said, you should remember the following before doing the digitizing yourself: • You can be a successful embroiderer without digitizing in-house • You can learn to digitize while out- sourcing the bulk of your designs • Those who choose not to digitize, should still learn to customize Though I love digitizing, I know it's not for everyone and certainly not a foolproof path to profit. If you want to digitize to 'get out of paying for files', consider how much the time spent away from other facets of your business can cost and add the price of software and training before you evaluate your savings. That said, there are three good reasons to digitize in-house. Responsiveness: If you cater to clientele with impossibly fast turnarounds, producing de- signs in-house adds immense value. Digitizing and making rapid changes to designs on the fly can make you invaluable to fast-turn customers. Production control: For demanding customers, both in terms of quality and style of ex- ecution, you need control of every aspect of the design process. Moreover, if you want every design to run perfectly and efficiently to your own standards and without repeated contact with an outside digitizer, this may apply to you. Creativity: Whether dealing with new production techniques, never-before used mate-

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