September '22

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8 0 G R A P H I C S P R O • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M B U S I N E S S S T R A T E G I E S HIDDEN ASSETS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR SUPPLIERS' INDUSTRY INSIGHTS S T I T C H S O L U T I O N S | J E N N I F E R C O X W ho knew that when you became an embroidery and/ or apparel decoration professional that you would also need to become an expert in so many other things? To be a successful apparel decoration professional, your knowledge base must expand well beyond how to operate your equipment. Even more than that, you need to know where and how to get all different kinds of information to support your success. OPTIONS GALORE Take embroidery thread, for example. Over the past 20-plus years, the variety of embroidery threads has exploded. When I first joined the embroidery industry in the early '90s, we worked with two kinds of thread – rayon thread or polyester thread – for 99% of our orders. We had what we called the "rainbow wall," which was a 4' high × 6' wide pegboard cov- ered with all the embroidery thread colors we owned. Seriously, they all fit on that 4' × 6' board! Nowadays, you have poly or rayon threads as your primary embroidery thread, but I suspect you also have some metal- lic threads, some finer-weight threads, some heavier weight threads, some neon threads and maybe even some specialty threads for specific customers or industries. Not only do you need to own these threads, but you also need to understand when they should be used. A job that is going to be commercially laundered requires the polyester thread, or the thread colors will not remain consistent over time. A job that is going to be a treasured heirloom keepsake may require a finer weight thread to get the crisp details the customer is expecting. e next time you order thread, take a moment to ask your supplier about what they have that is new, what is a trend they are seeing, or what they've seen or heard about recently that was unique. e evolution of embroidery stabilizers has followed a similar path. Many moons ago, there was a lightweight and a heavyweight cutaway backing, there was one weight of black cutaway backing, there was a tearaway backing, and there was a soluble topping. Now, you have a much wider inventory of stabilizers at your disposal. ere are specialty backings for specific fabrics, there are different weights of backings in every category, and there are backings that can be applied to products with heat, with water, or with pressure. Understanding which stabilizers will create the ideal surface for the embroidery job at hand comes with research and experience. Ask for a sample pack of all the sta- bilizers available when you place your next order, along with the specifics about how and when to use each of them. When you have a unique or unusual order, reach out to your supplier, and get input on what sta- bilizer they would recommend. For the most part, our customers ordered T-shirts, golf shirts, sweatshirts, jack- ets and headwear. e big decisions our customers had to make were deciding if they wanted a cotton shirt or a poly/cot- ton blend, and what color the shirt should be. In today's marketplace, no two shirts are created equal. You have cotton, heavy weight cotton, textured cotton, abraded cotton, and distressed cotton. You have cotton/poly blends. You have polyester fabrics. You have performance fabrics. You have stain-resistant fabrics. You have wrinkle-resistant fabrics. You have eco fab- rics. You have specialty fabrics created for specific industries. And to add even more

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