I am doing something a little different with this post. Yesterday I was working on a cap order and I filmed part of my day in real time. The video link is at the bottom of this page.. My goal with this article is to share what it is like to work in a production atmosphere. When I first began doing embroidery, it was just a hobby. I loved the process of sitting and watching the designs run. It was a relaxing way to forget about my stressful corporate job. As I did it more and more, I gradually wondered if it might someday be a new way to work. So I embarked on learning everything I could and investing in the best equipment for my budget.
Embroidery is catching and what I mean by that is once people know you have a machine, they will usually ask you to make something for them. Sometimes it will be friends and family and other times it will be customers or strangers. I did a lot of gifts for people when I first started learning. I still do give things that I am trying out or to drum up business for new clients. A great way to promote is to add something extra in an order so people can see what you are capable of.
I also am a person that learns more by watching than by reading. I want to know the very worst so I can make my decisions. So I thought showing a "Real View" into my studio while I was working might help someone else. This is a shot of my "craft room". It is vastly different than my studio from several years ago. You can check that post out here. Now my space is real and it gets messy but I am doing something I love in it. I like looking at other blogs from people showing everything being color coordinated or extremely neat in their spaces. Then I look at mine and realize it is almost impossible to keep a working Textile environment spotless.
Also, this shows that when you are actually taking and fulfilling orders, you are going to have boxes and plastic lying around as you work. If this shot bothers you, working with textiles might not be for you. One of the most important things I have learned while doing embroidery for profit is that it is physical work. In my life I have had both kinds of jobs. I have worked in the service industry where I stood for the whole day and I have also had a desk job. In both worlds there are pros and cons. The embroidery industry has both. I do spend some of my day at my computer digitizing designs. Then I spend part of my day moving around, bending over and standing. The biggest difference for me is at the end of all of it, I have a tangible product that I can hold in my hand. If you are someone that needs to "see" proof of your efforts, then this might be good for your soul. My desk job was hard for me because it always started over each day with the same functions and I could never actually touch what I helped produce. You might feel differently and decide your career now works for you and embroidery needs to stay a hobby.
The final thing I wanted to show you is that this is "work". There is planning, time and money involved in this. It can also get monotonous and overwhelming doing large orders if you let it. If you are a person that likes to take small bites out of a project and you can divvy your time out or multitask, then you might love doing embroidery for profit. See what I said there? For Profit. When your customers say they think your rates are high or they can get it done somewhere else cheaper, take a step back and think before you drop that price. Watch my video below and see that I am doing an order for 100 caps. I am using one head or one machine. I have my assembly line set up as optimally as I can. The only way I could increase my production is to either add a second hoop to immediately replace each cap as it is sewn. Or I could add a second machine. I ran this batch for two working days and I was tired at the end of each work period. I felt it in my back, arms and legs. The design has just under 5000 stitches and I averaged five caps per hour. This post isn't to scare you away from embroidery on caps or other items as a business. I did this blog and video to hopefully help someone out there make that decision to start doing embroidery as a new business or to ultimately decide it is not for them. I see a lot of commercial machines for sale in the trade magazines. Some are because businesses are moving up to a new machine but others are because people spent their money on them but found out as a business it was not for them. When I was searching, I had a hard time getting honest answers and opinions from people in the industry and it shouldn't be that way. There is always enough business to go around if you look for it.
So here are my caps, beautifully finished and wrapped securely in plastic. I still get happy thinking that when these go out, someone will be walking around this planet wearing my design. Isn't that amazing? To find your spark or that "thing" that gets you excited every day is our true purpose. It doesn't mean that it still won't be "work", but that is OK. If it feeds you and keeps you coming back, do it until it is time to move on to the next "thing". Remember to check out my video below. It is not fancy and in fact may be quite boring to you but it is honest. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work!
What is a Lagniappe Peddler?
ˌlanˈyap,ˈlanˌyap - something given as a bonus or extra gift