Is your primary craft embroidery? Screen print? Both? Do you feel you know all of what there is to know about your craft? If you say yes, I think you may be a little confidently misguided. We all have learned at least enough to start a business doing what we do, but we tend to focus on only what we know and are confident with. Complacency is a really easy thing to fall into. We get comfortable with what we know and what we are good at. In this day and age, standing idle is not an option. You should educate yourself and strive to move ahead, or risk falling behind the rest of the industry.
Whether you have you have 30 years in the industry, or just 1, there is always room for more improvement. More education. I have been working in the garment decorating field for 20 years, and I learn something new every day. Know your craft. Dig deep. There are so many facets in the world of decorating – embroidery, screen printing, DTG printing, heat pressed vinyl & transfers, promotional items, etc, etc. I’m not saying to be a “Jack of all trades, master of none” – but what about “Master of my trade, jack of many more”?
Let’s say you own an embroidery business, and you only do embroidery in house, but still offer screen printing (that you sub out to a local screen printer). Although your main focus is perfecting the craft of embroidery, it is very important that you understand the screen printing process so you can advise your customers what the best options are for their decorating needs. Even if it is a decorating process that you don’t particularly offer, but you are educated in the process – advising a customer that their project would be best suited for that process, and being able to lead them in the right direction allows you provide a valuable service. Helping a customer obtain the best solution will have much more of an impact in their relationship with you then just saying “No, sorry. I don’t offer that. Have a nice day.” That customer will be much more prone to remember you next time they do need something embroidered and remember that you were knowledgeable and helpful. Gaining their trust and business in the future.
Would I say there is a plethora of information available? Yes. With today’s technology, social media and online content, there are so many places to find information to help educate yourself. Teach you new things. Refine your craft. Here are some valuable places to find information:
- YouTube.com : From machine maintenance, artwork tutorials, embroidery techniques – YouTube has many great visual instructional videos.
- Forums: There are some great forums where you can post questions and connect with people in the industry that are happy to help. DigitSmith.com and T-Shirtforums.com are 2 great forum to visit
- Blogs: My blog of course (more to come). Erichcampbell.com - Erich is a seasoned veteran in the industry that has a ton of knowledge and great information. Mrxstitch.com is another great site to read about industry content. (You will find Erich’s work there as well)
- Trade Publications: Magazines with decorating content/product sourcing/industry events/etc are a good source of a broader look at the industry. Impressions Magazine, Wearables Magazine, Stitches Magazine (although it is no longer around, you can view archived issues)
- Social Media: If you use social media outlets like LinkedIn, google+, FaceBook – there are a lot of groups that are dedicated to industry subjects.
- Podcasts: Yep – there’s even podcasts that discuss content and have guests in the garment decorating industry. 2 Regular Guys Podcast, Promo Kitchen Podcast and CAS Podcast are a few podcasts that have great content.
- Ask the pros: Any contacts you have made in the industry – suppliers, manufacturers, sales reps, digitizers….anyone that has trade knowledge – just ask! People love to talk about what they know. They LOVE to talk about it. Talk to your embroidery thread supplier about a good technique of 3D foam embroidery……ask your ink supplier if there is a better solution to print on polys. Heck, ask me! I am more than happy to help anyone I can - call or email me at any time. If I don’t have the solution, I’m sure I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows….(you get my drift). I get calls from my digitizing customers asking for pointers on projects they are new to or having issues with on a regular basis. Point being, when youtalk to industry vets, we have been around long enough to either have experience with what you want to know, or have taken the time to educate themselves in that area to have the knowledge to share.
- Local businesses: Meet the local businesses and talk to the owners/managers and get to know them. Yes, I get that they are the “competition”, but there are people out there that are more than willing to share techniques, ideas – and that are willing to help out fellow decorators. The value of a local network can be tremendous. As an added bonus, wouldn’t it be nice to have a local connection that you could ask for that spool of thread you need in a pinch…or that ink color you forgot to order and you have the shirts on press? I got my start at an embroidery company where the owner had great relationships with other local decorating businesses. She was always willing to help when others came to her with questions or needing some overflow work done. Unfortunately, she had a fire that burned all of her equipment & products – and the out pour of support and help from the other businesses was overwhelming. The “competitors” all reached out to her to see how they could help in any way. I would say having a solid local network, and the comradery of fellow businesses is a commodity that is invaluable.
Knowledge is a key to success. It can only help you learn new things and keep up with the ever changing times and technology.
The knowledge of all things is possible.
-Leonardo da Vinci
JA Digitizing Studios