How to start a home embroidery business
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Getting an embroidery machine is fun and exciting. But, once you start adding names and monograms to everything you and your kids own, people start to notice. And then, they will likely ask you if you will embroider for them – which may make you wonder… should you start a home embroidery business? Can you actually earn a living running an embroidery business? And, if so, how do you do it?
Why start a home embroidery business
There are a lot of reasons why a home embroidery business may hold some appeal. You may be drawn to the notion of being your own boss, and/or like the entrepreneurial challenge. Or, perhaps, you like the idea of being able to work out of your home whenever you want. Maybe you would just enjoy being paid to do something creative that you would do for fun anyway.
Whatever your reasons are for starting a home embroidery business, before you jump in with both feet, you should educate yourself as much as possible about what it takes.
How much does it cost to start an embroidery business?
Your biggest cost in running an embroidery business will definitely be acquiring an embroidery machine. But the good news is, you can certainly start your embroidery business using the embroidery machine you already own or by purchasing a single needle home embroidery machine.
If you decide to jump right in to getting a multi needle machine, you can often finance these machines through the dealer. I’ve heard from one embroidery business owner that she can easily cover her monthly payments on her multi needle by doing a bit of embroidery work in her spare time. That certainly makes a large investment more doable.
Other than the machine, your other start up costs will go to supplies, accessories, blanks and marketing materials.
How do you make money with embroidery?
If you truly want to run a profitable business and earn more money than the bare minimum to cover your monthly payment on your embroidery machine, you should you plan to work it like an 8 hour job. You don’t need to necessarily work 9-5, but you do need to have time to actually get the work done. And, if you can have more than one machine running at the same time, you will increase your revenue potential.
In addition, to earn any type of income, you will need a steady stream of customers. You may be one of the lucky ones whose business grows organically via word of mouth. However, more than likely, you will need to market your embroidery business. Fortunately, there are many free and inexpensive ways to promote your embroidery business.
How do I start my own embroidery business?
An embroidery business is a relatively low cost business to get started, especially if you are doing it out of your home. But you will need to get a few ducks in a row before you can get started.
Purchasing an embroidery machine for your business
Of course, if you are going to run an embroidery business, you will need at least one embroidery machine. The question is, which one should you buy?
Most people who run embroidery businesses recommend getting at least one multi needle embroidery machine. When you embroider with a single needle embroidery machine, for every color change, you have to stop and change the thread, which can be quite tedious and time consuming.
Nevertheless, a multi needle machine is a pretty serious investment. And if you are a bit gun shy about making such a large purchase, you can certainly start your embroidery business with a single needle and eventually upgrade. Just make sure that your single needle embroidery machine has a large enough hoop to be able to embroider a variety of items.
For example, the Brother 1600E, would be a good starter machine. It’s only about $1500.00, it cuts jump stitches and has a 6×10 hoop. Plus, it’s just as easy to master as it’s less expensive counterparts – the PE800 and the PE535. As your business grows, then you can consider investing in a multi needle which will run you at least $5000.
Once you decide to purchase a multi needle machine, you can start with smaller model, like the Janome MB-7, and then eventually move up to a 10-needle machine if your business warrants it. You can either sell or trade in your starter machine. A lot of people keep their single needles as they serve as an excellent backup. Or, they might run several machines simultaneously to maximize productivity.
How to decide which embroidery machine to purchase for your business
If you have a local dealer, I recommend going to them to at least see all the features of the machines they carry. Most will give you free lessons, financing, and a chance to trade in what you bought and upgrade in a year for full value.
Visit your local boutiques that offer machine embroidery. What types of machines are they using? This may help point you in the right direction.
Check Facebook! There are many groups dedicated to machine embroidery. You can ask around and learn what types of machines embroidery business owners are using and why.
Where to set up your embroidery machines
A machine embroidery business does require a bit of physical space. So, you need to consider where you will set up this work area in your home. When you are running an embroidery business, it is unlike sewing and embroidery as a hobby, where you might set up and put away your machines each time you use them. As a business owner, you will want to have your machines out all the time. You will also likely need some sort of sewing table for cutting and hooping, a thread organization system and other storage devices to store all your embroidery supplies and accessories.
Consider your environment when setting your embroidery studio. While you may have ample room in your basement to set up your machines, tables and accessories, but, do you really want to be working in your basement for hours on end? The more pleasant you can make your embroidery studio, the more likely you will want to work in there.
Buying supplies for your embroidery business
You really don’t need to go too crazy buying machine embroidery supplies when getting your business off the ground. You will, of course, need a variety of machine embroidery thread, needles and stabilizer and that’s about it. Consider setting up wholesale accounts with various suppliers so that you can get the best deals on your essential materials.
Deciding what to sell
There are tons of different embroidered products you can sell. So, where do you begin? Think about what people have asked you about in the past. Have people been admiring the monogrammed baby blankets or burp cloth sets you have gifted someone at a baby shower? Then that’s a great place to start.
Offering the same products that everyone else is selling on Etsy (or in your local boutique) is not a good strategy. You don’t want to get into a price war. Try to offer products that are unique.
There are many companies that offer blank clothing and accessories specifically for embroidery professionals. See what they offer, and you may get inspired. You can order some samples, embroider on them for gifts, photograph your final product and then set it up as a new listing on Etsy or your own website. If the item doesn’t sell – you can always take it off.
Just be sure that you can quickly and easily get stock of the product that you are selling. You don’t want to sell an item that you can’t get reliably or in a timely fashion.
Purchasing blanks for your embroidery business
There are tons of great sites that offer wholesale embroidery blanks. If you own a business, you can set up a wholesale account and get access to an incredible selection at a great price. Plus, if you are lucky enough to live close to their warehouses, you may be able to pick up your blanks in person and save on shipping.
However, don’t discount Amazon as a source for blanks. There are many products you can get reliable, quickly and cheaply that can be totally transformed with a bit of machine embroidery.
Deciding what to charge for embroidery
This is where it might make sense to look at other shops that offer embroidered items. If you spend some time on Etsy you can see what actually sells in anyone’s store. Then look at what they are charging. If the item is selling well, it’s probably priced on target.
There are a number of different formulas you can use to calculate a rate for your embroidery services. Take a look at these methods for figuring out what to charge and decide what makes sense for you.
How do I get embroidery clients?
Get your work out in public! Do local craft shows and pass out business cards. Set up a Facebook page just for what you make. Or, list your items in Facebook Marketplace.
Donate an item if someone is having a fundraiser for a worthy cause. Or – if you are really feeling bold – order a magnet for your car that advertises your embroidery business.
Home embroidery business for sale
One way of getting a jump start on your home embroidery business is to buy a successful embroidery business from someone else. The benefit is that they already have an established clientele which may take some of the start up pain away.
I would look at listings for used embroidery machines. Someone selling a used embroidery machine is doing so because they want out of the business! Perhaps they are burned out or ready to retire. You could possibly purchase the machine and take over the business.
Another option is to put the word out in Facebook groups dedicated to machine embroidery. Your interest in acquiring someone else’s business might just be the opportunity a seller is looking for.
How much can you make from embroidery?
Honestly, it just depends on how hard you hustle. But, I do know people who earn a 6-figure income running home embroidery businesses.
You will maximize your revenue by owning multiple machines and by hiring out some of the work. If you want to focus on manning the machines, consider hiring someone to pack and ship orders for you. You could also hire a virtual assistant to respond to customer service questions. Getting someone else to focus on the non-embroidery tasks will allow you to focus on the embroidery part of the business.
So, are you ready to start a home embroidery business?
Good luck! And be sure to check out these other posts on embroidery business tips as well as how to market your embroidery business.
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