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Turn your embroidery hobby into a business

Embroidery BusinessIsn't it amazing at just how much embroidery is around us? It's everywhere! In recent years we've seen more and more commercial embroidery be provided by home-based embroidery businesses.

Many of the larger embroidery businesses now struggle to cater for the changes in consumer demand. If you've ever tried to have 5 shirts embroidered by a commercial embroiderer you may have noticed 3 things:

  • they were not too keen to do the job 
  • they quoted you quite a high price 
  • you faced a lengthy wait to get the job done.

Obviously, this does not apply to all embroidery companies but there is indeed a shift to small-run embroidery. This is why home-based embroidery businesses are becoming so popular.

Am I already offering a 'paid for' embroidery service?

Have you ever been asked to embroider anything for someone other than your immediate family and close friends? Do you notice how it usually turns out to be a 'love job' and becomes bigger than Ben-Hur?

The fact is that if you have embroidered for someone else you are already offering an embroidery service—you just haven’t charged for it! In reality, most people are happy to pay for an embroidery service, even if it is a friend of a friend or a distant family member. Maybe charging your children, parents or close family and friends might be a little out of the question but when you think about the time, effort and of course the cost of this hobby, why not consider a simple charge for your efforts whenever you can.

You may be surprised at just how much income you may be able to make from a little embroidery each week. At the very least, it's a handy way to help fund your hobby and cover your out-of-pocket expenses.

The embroidery business is very much a networking business and the simple process of handing out business cards to family and friends can often be all you need to do to kick start your very own home embroidery business.

Am I capable of providing a professional embroidery service?

Absolutely! You would be surprised at just what knowledge you already possess. But the secret is to stick to the basics. Knowing about basic stabilizers and correct hooping techniques is a great way to start. Combine this with quality designs and a good machine and you have a great foundation to build on.

What machine do I need?

Brother's PR Series multi-needle machines are the perfect solution for both home and small business embroidery. This is why we are so passionate about these wonderful machines. They are ideal machine for anyone who is ready to upgrade to a top of the range machine. They give the best possible results for home embroidery and are ideal to run a home-based embroidery business should you ever wish to do so. They are easy to operate, take up very little space and free up your time. The only regret multi-needle machine owners ever express is that they did not upgrade sooner. So if you already have one—fantastic! If not, it is worth considering!

Do I need to be a 'qualified embroiderer' to run a home-based embroidery business?

No, there is no legal requirement at all. You do not have to have a Trade Certificate but of course you should feel confident in your own ability to provide a quality outcome. Echidna can ensure that you do just that.

Do I need an ABN? (Australian Business Number)

If you plan to procure an income (profit) from embroidery then you will most likely need to apply for an ABN. But nevertheless we recommend that you talk to your accountant or a business adviser to ensure you meet any necessary requirements.

Do I need to be able to digitize customers' designs?

While it is certainly convenient if you are a proficient digitizer, it is by no means a necessity. In fact you would be surprised to learn than many successful commercial embroiderers do not digitise their own designs. They often outsource to professional digitisers and pass that cost on to the customer. This allows the embroiderer to focus on what they do best—embroidery!

What does it cost to outsource designs?

Again this is a variable expense that depends on the complexity of the design or logo, but typically you would allow between $25 and $200 per design. Nowadays, with the internet and emails, this process is fast and efficient and often designs can be provided within 24 hours of submitting them. All you need to do is load the design and start embroidering.

If I do my own digitizing should I charge for it?

Most definitely. Even if the digitizing requirement is a simple text logo which takes less than 5 minutes, you should charge a basic setup fee. Many embroidery businesses will have a minimum setup fee for all first time embroidery jobs. A figure of $25 to $40 is common. Remember you have a substantial investment in machinery and software and the set up fee helps to recoup that cost. Naturally if the customer repeats an order using the same design you won't need to charge another setup fee.

Do I need commercial digitizing software?

No. Many of the home embroidery software programs do a wonderful and very professional job and are more than adequate for a small embroidery business. But if digitizing becomes a passion it may be worth looking into different options.

Can I use my existing embroidery designs commercially?

Most design companies clearly state their copyright terms on their website or on the product packaging and in general they do allow commercial use. But it is always best to check the copyright terms before using them. If they do permit commercial use, then your existing design stash becomes a 'stock catalogue' of designs that potential customers can browse through when looking for design ideas. Using a program such as BuzzXplore, you can easily create a beautiful colour catalogue of all your designs in next to no time.

Don’t undersell your service!

This is important, especially for small home-based businesses. There is often a temptation to undersell the service you are providing simply because you have the benefits of being a home-based business or because you have lower than average overheads. And while it's great to be competitive, you must be sure not to give away all of your advantage or portray a message of “I'm not very good at this, so I won't charge the normal price”.

The best policy is to be fair with your pricing, fair to your customers and be fair to yourself. If you combine all of this with great service, then you’ll be amazed at how a small business can grow.

How do I come up with a price for my embroidery?

When you're running your own embroidery or digitizing business you may be doing an array of jobs with varying levels of difficulty. So how do you come up with a price for your embroidery?

There are various factors, but you should generally factor in the order's quantity, stitch count, estimated time and your investment in equipment. We explain these charging methods in detail in the article what should I charge for my embroidery?

What about business tax and GST?

If you're ready to set up a small business the Australian Tax Office provides all the information you need to get started.  The Australian Tax Office has a great overview video of tax basics without any intensive reading. 

Getting started

We hope this article will help you with your embroidery business. There are absolutely no right or wrong ways as there are simply so many variables to consider. We are always happy and willing to assist you so please feel confident to call us with any questions you may have on 1800 000 360.

Next, learn more about what you should charge for embroidery

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