Applique Cafe



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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Very Common Question...

I get these e-mails A LOT: "I'm thinking of starting a side embroidery business ~ any advice you can give?"

I usually say GO FOR IT! If you already have a machine and your supplies (stabilizer, thread, fabric, etc.) then it's really just a matter of getting your name out there! E-mail your friends and family first. I recommend starting a blog, of course, because it's FREE and a great place to showcase what you can do! Starting out you might "copy" pictures of the appliques you've purchased to show your customers what designs you have (meaning copy the website pictures). But, I always recommend that as soon as you sew the design, you put YOUR OWN picture on your blog! That way your customers can see YOUR work, not Applique Cafe's work, and they can also see what fabrics you have, not what fabrics such-and-such website person has!

Facebook - another great avenue to get your name out there! Start a PAGE and invite your friends to become a fan (or ask them to "like" your page)!! Again, FREE and a great advertising tool!

Pictures - your best advertising! Make sure your appliques are neat and crisp and IRONED!! The neater they look, the better they look! Iron that t-shirt before you take a picture!!

Pricing - I personally do not publish my prices! Not because I'm trying to gouge this person but not that person. I don't publish them (but will tell you if you ask me) because I like to be flexible! My monograms are typically $7+ and appliques are usually $10+. A standard applique WITH a name or initials is going to run you $12-14, but a simple applique (like a single letter or a simple 1 fabric applique) might only be $10. Likewise, a monogram will typically run $7, but I might charge $5 for a single letter or up to $10 if it's a huge 5x7 monogram using half a spool of thread! I get asked a lot about my pricing and basically that's how I charge! Flexibility is key! Use your best judgement!!

Another note on pricing ~ your price isn't really to cover your supplies, although it does take stabilizer, thread and fabric. Your price is to cover your time! There is a lot of preparation in monogramming and applique! Time spent ironing, hooping, designing, cutting, etc!!

Now... if you want to get in to the business and don't even own an embroidery machine, then you need to do your research on machines and consider start up supplies - stabilizers, thread, scissors, bobbins (I use prewound), FABRIC, Heat N Bond Lite, etc. Not to mention PROGRAMS! Believe me, the fonts that come on your machine are not that great! Consider Monogram Wizard Plus for monogramming and Sew What Pro for merging (so you can buy all those cheap bought fonts out there and put the letters together!). There are other programs and software out there ~ check them out and include them in your start up cost! OH.... and appliques designs aren't free! There is one thing I can attest to ~ FABRIC AND DESIGNS ARE ADDICTIVE!!!!

A note on fabric ~ I recommend ginghams and stripes and polka dots and solids! Appliques deal with small spaces ~ I have 3 X 3 drawer carts FULL OF FABRIC! I probably use 1/4 of it ~ MOSTLY ginghams, stripes, polka dots and solids! I will occasionally use floral prints, and boy fabrics are hard to find, so when you have a buggy full of fabric heading to get it cut, ask yourself WILL THIS PRINT SHOW UP ON AN APPLIQUE? I never pass up a cute polka dot!!

I believe you can make as little or as much money as you want to in this business, and I think it's a GREAT business for stay at home moms! You can chose to monogram/applique ONLY items people bring to you. You can chose to also offer some blanks (tees, bibs, burp cloths, etc.) to sell to your friends who need baby gifts. You can sell on Etsy or E-bay or your local craft fairs! The possibilities are endless!

I think to an extent you can treat embroidery as a hobby, and I believe most "services" aren't taxable. If you want to buy wholesale, then yes you'll need a business license and tax ID.

I use prewound white bobbins! If your tension is correct you don't need colored bobbins!


Jenny said...

Thanks girl! This was very helpful. I have one question though. If I do decide to start a buisness, do I only need a fed tax id number? Or do I need more than that? Thanks again! I love keeping up with your blog!

Betsy said...

Glad I'm not the only one asking for your advice! Thanks for this great post!!


Anonymous said...

love reading your blog. it has been so helpful to me in my (at home) business i recently started. You said you use prewound bobbins. Are they all white and where do you get them? I usually use the same color bobbin as my top thread but I could probably save time and money if I just use white!