Copyrights and Trademarks in the Custom T-Shirt Business

Copyrights and Trademarks in the Custom T-Shirt Business

Copyrights and Trademarks in the Custom T-Shirt Business

So when you go to your own attorney, you have heard some of the words before and you understand what you’re getting into. We’re also teaching a few common sense tips to help you understand when you need to check with an attorney.

Full disclosure, I am not a patent attorney. That is a whole separate wardrobe that I can’t pull off. I grew up in a local business. My parents had retail sporting goods stores in a couple of states. My grandparents were in the business before that.

I grew up with a front row seat to the task of a local merchant marketing their brand and identity. Because we were retailers we were also marketing the goods of some of our vendors – Nike, Oakley, Adidas, Spalding, etc.

I got to see and learn from those professionals.    You have a history with companies with no sense of humor about their brand and how they use it.

What are the differences between trademarks and copyrights? Why does that matter to people like our customers?

There are three standard, registrable forms of protecting intellectual property. One of the core things to understand about intellectual property is that it’s property.  Ownership fundamentally means the right to exclude. If you have ownership of anything, you’re able to exclude someone else in some way, shape, or form.

If you think about your house, you can prevent other people from walking into your house. Intellectual property allows you to exclude people from using that property. That’s important to understand before we talk about the differences between trademark and copyright.

Copyright is the ownership of an original work. If I draw a picture, write a song, take a photograph, or write some code, I own that original work. My rights attach as soon as I publish them. As soon as I make them available to the public. My ownership rights prevent someone else from copying them.

If you’ve ever watched a football game on TV you’ll hear, “This broadcast is the exclusive property of the National Football League….” What they’re saying is that you can’t record and broadcast it for profit.

Using a T-shirt as a metaphor: If I draw a picture then I own that drawing as soon as I publish it. If you love that image and want it for the logo of your company, then what you’re saying is that you want to use that image for the public to identify you.

If you think of copyright as the what, the trademark is the who. Who do you think of when you see that creative work?

You take my triangle with a squiggle in it and say that’s going to be your logo. What you’re saying is that when people see that logo, you want them to think of you. I might have thought of the image as a design for a t-shirt. However, you want to put it on a label, so that when people see it they’re going to know the t-shirt came from your company.

If Nike as a brand comes up with an idea for a t-shirt, they might copyright that design. No one else can reproduce that design. However, the swoosh, which they also have ownership over, is their trademark.

Expert Advice

"With patents, the government gives you a twenty-year monopoly on how you’re doing something. As long as you’re telling someone else about it."

The designs on their products are copyright. You can’t just copy that image. If you find artwork on the internet, download it, and upload it to your graphics program, you’re stealing that original work. In legal terms, it’s called infringing.

When we think about making something, it can seem tricky when it comes to graphics. Someone made something with dots and lines, they took the time. However, it’s much easier to take it than say something physical like a coffee table.

Either way their time, effort, creative work, is something that’s being stolen.

This is where this amazing system protects innovation. The whole idea behind the patent and trademark office is to protect innovation. People can’t just steal your stuff.

Before patent protection, if you invented a new way to make shoes the shoemakers’ guild would come and burn your house down. Or they would steal your idea. There was no upside for you.

That way we all get to benefit from the knowledge. However, you get to benefit from your work.

In copyright, if you create the special design you benefit from that work. You’re able to show it to the public where the public can potentially right click on it, but you have protection.

Do you have to do anything to copyright something? Or is it copyright protected once you put the design up on your store?

You own the rights to it when you publish it. However, it is not registered. When you register it you get some additional valuable tools.

You get the right to statutory damages. Otherwise, you’re only going to get actual damages.

If someone sold 2 or three t-shirts then your actual damages might be the profits from those shirts. That’s not enough for someone to take that on for litigation. There are no copyright police. You have to enforce this yourself and that costs money.

If you register your copyright you get statutory damages. Many of your customers have likely received letters from Getty Images. Where they’ve found an image, right clicked on it, and used it in a publication, or worse a product they’re selling.

The lawyers for Getty Images are paid on contract. They are paid to go and find those images and trace it back to the registered website.

When those copyrights are registered they get statutory damages – $750 per instance and it can go up from there. If it’s willful it can be $150,000 and you get attorney’s fees. If you create an original piece of work and you’re planning to use it commercially it’s worth it to register it. Copyright registration is relatively easy and/or inexpensive.

Trademark registration can be much more involved.

If we had a t-shirt store with 100 original design and decided to copyright all of them, how much effort and money might we expect to do that? What is going to be our return if I have to go after someone for infringement?

If we’re a small store, selling 500 shirts a year, is it going to be worth it? Versus if we intend to grow and sell 50,000 shirts a year.

If you hire a lawyer to do it, they’re going to charge you to set everything up. It’s going to cost more to do just one, rather than doing 10 at a time. Or to set them up on a retainer to do 5-10 each month.

The fee to the government is $35-55 per work. Think about what that’s worth to you.   Having that copyright to any one of them may not look like something valuable. If you sell your company they’re going to want to know if you have rights to all that artwork.

It’s the feeling you get when you see that brand. It can be a good feeling or it can be a bad feeling.  The car Edsel ended up becoming a brand for a failed product. Whereas Tesla has a very different brand.

Brand gives you pricing power. It gives you that additional feeling.

Imagine you have two identical beers. One in a blank can that says ‘Beer’ and the other in a can with a brand on it. The value of the brand is how much more you can sell the beer for.

Everyone knows that a few companies, like Disney, Universal, Warner Brothers, have swat teams of copyright attorneys. However, what will happen is our customers will say a couple of things.

  • “I’m just doing this for my family.”
  • “I just have these couple of shirts I want to print with Mickey Mouse in the corner, but the rest of it is my design.”

Can you talk about the scale of being in trouble?

It’s like going into a biker bar and hitting on one of the girlfriends or boyfriends of someone in there and saying, “I just thought they were cute.”

You’re asking for trouble that you cannot dig yourself out of. Taking a step back, first off why do you have the mouse in the design? If you have the mouse in the design because it kind of reminds you of Disney, you’re screwed. They are going to shut you down.

That’s not copyright, that’s trademark. That mark identifies their brand.  It doesn’t have to be an identical copy. It only has to create a likelihood of confusion in the mind of the purchasing public.

So if someone thinks it ‘might be’ a Disney shirt, then you’re in violation.

It reminds us of a customer who had an idea of making flags for college football teams. They put words that were not related to the teams, but were in the team colors, and the fonts kind of looked like their fonts (but weren’t exact).

However, when you looked at it you’d think, “That’s Penn State.” He got shut down.

Here’s what I like about trademark law. It’s very practical. The bummer about it is that there are no bright lines. In your example, he was creating a likelihood of confusion intentionally. He might not have been infringing on one of the copyrighted designs, but he was definitely infringing on purpose with their brand elements.

One of the cases we read about on this topic in law school was concerning two restaurants – Two Pesos vs. Taco Cabana. Basically, the plaintiff was complaining that the defendant’s restaurant looked a lot like their restaurant. It wasn’t any one specific thing, such as their signs were identical.

They said that the overall impression was close enough that people would get confused. That’s called ‘trade dress infringement.’

A trademark doesn’t have to be a word or an image. It can be a shape, a color, or a sound. Harley Davidson has trademarked the sound of their exhaust. They know that other companies are going to tune their engines to try and sound like a Harley.

That sound is part of the overall commercial impression of their brand.

Trademark is pretty broad. People think that they can get away with “it’s not the exact font, but it looks like it doesn’t it?” That last part is what will get you in trouble.

I live in a city and there was a little bakery in a strip mall that called itself Dough Boy. It just so happens there is General Mills plant in town. The owner of the bakery gets a cease and desist letter from General Mills saying, “You can’t use Dough Boy for a bakery. We own the trademark. And by the way, we’ve owned it for 50 years and it’s one of the most valuable assets we have.”

The owner thought that was crazy, he’s just a small bakery and his nickname in school was Dough Boy. “They can’t take that away from me.” Yes, they can. You cannot identify yourself as a bakery when another company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over decades investing in that trade name so that when customers see the name they think of them.

What happened was someone walked into the General Mills plant and said, “Hey cool, you’re opening a retail store here in town.”Don’t think that you can say, “It’s small. It doesn’t matter.”

The big companies – it matters a lot. It’s their biggest asset. They know that. They’re responsible to the shareholders.

Even if they love the little bakery, they can’t say they’re going to cut them some slack. They have fiduciary duties to their investors. Is it trademark infringement to name your child after a brand? It may not be, because here’s another thing. If Dough Boy was a hardware store, General Mills would have had a tough time shutting them down.

A member of the purchasing public is unlikely to go, “They’re selling hammers and power tools now.”

If they were selling prepared meals as a restaurant, then I don’t know. Where’s the line?  Let’s run through some examples of typical questions we get.

“Can I use words or a slogan that’s been on another shirt?”

This is a good example of where copyrights and trademarks can get confusing pretty quickly.   Copyright protects the original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. It prohibits the actual copying.

Typically short words, phrases, names, and titles are generally not protected. However, if those things become trademarks are totally protected.  If you’re copying something, I would say, don’t do it. If you really want to do it, try to get permission.

If you’re selling it, odds are at the very least you’re going to have to defend yourself, “This copyright doesn’t apply, because it’s a two-word phrase. It’s commonly used.”

For example, my niche is MMA. We’ve seen shirts all over the place that say, “My son/daughter kicks ass at MMA” or “MMA Mom”.

They’re out there and published. Is that the kind of thing we should worry about and consult an attorney on?

In general, that is the kind of short word or phrase that is so commonly used. That is probably less likely to be a problem.

However, let me give you an actual example, The Twelfth Man. I believe it was Texas Tech that was using the phrase to talk about their home field advantage.

They actually filed for and got trademark protection of The Twelfth Man.

A couple of other college football teams started using it. Texas Tech initially sent out letters telling the teams they couldn’t do that, “We own it.”

The other teams stopped and a couple of them signed license agreements. The one that didn’t comply was the Seahawks.

They wound up in litigation and ultimately settled. So now the Seahawks have the right to use “The Twelfth Man”. However, they’re paying the original trademark owner.

“Twelfth Man” is a two-word phrase. You can say it in number, letters, or pictograms. That’s still going to have a commercial impression that would make you think of that Twelfth Man.

If you try to use it you’re potentially infringing. Just like if you use the Seahawks colors you’re infringing. Because they have bought that right.

The answer to every legal question is, “It depends.” But you have to know what it depends on.

Is there a way to easily check if someone has the rights to something?

You can go to the USPTO website and there is a trademark search feature. Full disclosure on this, I as a trademark attorney do these searches. You yourself may not be able to interpret the results.

They do have a lot of self-help tools and resources. You can do a basic word search and punch in the exact phrase you’re looking for.

Going back to our biker bar analogy, if you go to a bar and there’s a guy sitting next to a woman with his arm around her, that’s probably his girlfriend. If you go and she’s sitting alone, that doesn’t mean she’s single.

If you go to this website and you don’t find the trademark information, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

When it comes to trademarks there’s something called Constructive Notice. It means you didn’t have notice, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t have looked it up. If you didn’t do it, tough luck, we’re going to treat you as if you had.

You can search the database. One word of caution is that people will say, “I searched the database. I didn’t find it. I’m good, right?” Wrong.

What’s the answer? It depends.

We also get the question about your own trademark and your own business name. How do you get and keep that trademark?

This is what I do every day. First of all, you want to start with a good mark. Most of my clients come to me when they’ve already been in business a couple of years.

The first thing to do is check what the name space looks like around your business name right now. A lot of people think they just have to register their LLC name.

All you’re doing is creating a unique name – and it can be unique by one letter.

If you don’t apply for trademark protection, a little like copyright protection, you still may have common law rights.

If you’re not in business yet I encourage you to work with a professional to help you find a name that is distinctive. I would start with that before your logo. Your logo is secondary. You’re going to change your logo.

If you can lock up the name first that is much more important. When people ask, “What kind of shoes are those?” I don’t draw them a picture. I say they’re Saucony’s. Internet searches are based on that.

The two reasons people’s trademarks don’t get registered or wind up in litigation:

  1. Confusingly similar to something else
  2. It is too descriptive

If your name describes what you do, the government is not going to give you a monopoly on those descriptive terms. Your company name is Miami T-Shirt Shop and you sell t-shirts in Miami. You’re not going to be the only one who can use those words in your name.

It doesn’t distinguish you.

If you’ve been in business for 5 years and you’ve managed to prevent anyone else from using that mark, and now the public only thinks of you when they hear that name, then there’s a Secondary Meaning way to protect that.

It’s a bad place to start. Most people want that so people will see and understand what you’re doing. A valuable trademark, however, is the opposite.

It’s the name that is distinctive, but people come to associate it with a particular business. Like Starbucks. ‘Starbuck’ comes from the book Moby Dick, it had nothing to do with coffee in 1972.

Today, when you say ‘Starbucks’ you don’t think of coffee, you think of THAT coffee. That is a strong mark.

There are a number of other reasons your trademark won’t be approved:

  • A surname
  • It’s offensive

When people give you a piece of artwork, whatever your intake form says, it should have them confirm they own or have rights to that artwork.

They will indemnify you in the event someone else thinks that it’s infringing. What that means if I bring you a piece of artwork, ask you to print it, and it turns out someone else says it’s infringing. They’re going to sue me, but they’re also going to sue you.

You want me to promise to defend you. To say that I’ll take care of it.

If we have what we think should be a trademark right now, is there something that we should do? What are our first steps?

The first thing that I would do is an audit. Understand what your rights are. What your challenges are.

I have clients that typically have a house brand. They have the name of the brewery. Then if they’re a production brewery they have 4 or 6 SKU’s they put in cans.

First audit each of those brands. Understand what the competition, what the name space is. I want to know if anyone else using that mark or confusingly similar.

Are there any allocations or registrations for that mark or those confusingly similar?

Could you send designs on a CD to the copyright office with the appropriate fees and paperwork?

I would probably not want to answer that question. She’s going to have to submit a sample of her design and show that she’s published it.

On a CD is probably a tangible medium, but this is not how they’re going to be used. If she published the designs on her website and said, “These are examples of my work.” That’s probably publication.

When I do trademarks it’s all electronic. There are some people who like to do it the old-fashioned way – the office charges you more for it and it takes longer.

If you just change the design by 10% you’re not going to be in copyright infringement.

If you are trying to make it technically different, but have a similar commercial impression that is a really bad idea.

If I’m the holder of that original work I’m going to claim that I’ve got common-law trademarks on that. What you’re using is confusingly similar. You’re not just having a copyright issue. The 10% rule is the kind of thing people get into trouble with all the time.

What does 10% even mean?

When I do this for clients I give them back a report. Here are the 5 names we looked at, here’s what I saw for each name.

These are the challenges. This is how serious the challenges are. This is who the challengers would be.

For example, if I had been representing that bakery, I would have said, “It’s General Mills. It’s a direct infringement. Change your name now.”

General Mills is not going to back down. And it’s completely useless for you to fight it, particularly if you’re a new brand. Your brand is meaningless to everyone but you.

Your brand becomes valuable as the public interacts with it.

Fighting a trademark dispute early in your company’s history is a waste of time. You’re better off finding a better brand name.

Some people might say that trademark fights are good because you get free publicity. However, it’s a very dangerous game to play.

The “Registered” symbol with the R in the circle. Nike does not have to put that or TM in the corner to make it trademarked. Are the TM and R just for showing off or does it actually have any purpose?

It’s your statement that you’re using it as a trademark. You’re providing some notice that you’re using the mark. You don’t have to use it every time. A lot of times you look at a press release and you might see the symbol in the first instance.

The circle R means that it is registered by the US Trademark office and it has a registration number that is currently active. Using the circle R if your name is not registered, is a big no-no.

You are saying something that is factually incorrect. You’re misrepresenting your mark as registered. That will get you into trouble.  The circle R is Actual Notice (going back to our notes on Constructive Notice). It’s helpful for you if you have to enforce the mark.

There are a couple clear instances where you should talk to an attorney. Not just about trademark and copyrights, but if you’re setting up your company and plan on developing a big brand.

It also applies to small businesses and working with contract artists.

If readers have questions they’re welcome to call us at 888-317-3556. My partner is a corporate attorney. We do federal work. You’re welcome to call us and we’ll either direct you to the appropriate resource or talk to you.

With contract artists the deal is they own any work, you want to make documentation changes that. If I contact someone to make me a logo, I want to own the logo.

It’s really important to check in with your intent. Are you attempting to cheat something else?

Just because you steal something, doesn’t mean anyone is going to find it. Just because someone steals something from you, doesn’t mean you’re going to find it.

If it is found, you can’t just call the police. You have to get an attorney and it could turn into a lot of back and forth. It might have to go to a judge. It could cost tons of money.

Should you do something about this? It depends.

It’s not always cut and dry. Act intelligently. Do your best to make good decisions.

Embroidery Machine Financing at 0%

Embroidery Machine Financing at 0%

Embroidery Machine Financing at 0%

When 0% Works and When it Doesn’t

Embroidery machine financing is just like financing any commercial equipment.


Your payment depends on 3 things:

The price of the equipment you finance

The term of the lease



And 0% doesn’t change any of that.

Your credit

It’s pretty simple math. If you finance an embroidery machine that costs $10,000, you’ll get one payment. If you finance one at $15,000, you’ll get a different number.

But it’s not exactly the price of the machine that makes the difference. It’s the amount you actually finance.

For example, if the embroidery machine you want to finance costs $15,000, but you put 10% down then your payment will be based on $13,500.

Purchase amount: $15,000Minus the down payment of $1,500 = Equals your finance amount of $13,500

Let’s just say that payment is advertised at $285/month for 60 months.

This down payment idea is particularly important because that’s one of the first things you’ll see the fine print of the ad.

Company A may list a payment of $315 on their embroidery machine.

Company B might list $285 on the same priced unit however when you read the fine print it says *with 10% down payment.


How Long Will Your Lease Last?

Embroidery machines are solid pieces of industrial equipment. They last a long, long, LONG time! 

Just like financing anything though, the number of months of your lease has a big impact on the payment. 

So, for now, let’s leave interest rates and down payments out of the equation. 

If you were to calculate payments for a $12,000 embroidery machine for 60 months you would do it like this:


$12,000/60 = $200/month

Now let’s say you wanted to pay it off sooner and only financed for 48 months. It would look like this:

$12,000/48 = $250/month

Your payment went up as the lease TERM went down.

Lastly, if you figure that same amount and extended it to 6 years or 72 months your payments would go down to $166.66/ month.


$12,000/72 = $166.66/month

Back to those low payment ads for leasing an embroidery machine now. 

You can see how the same machine at the same price can look VERY different when it comes to payments, right? 

Your Credit and the Lease Payment


No business ever advertises a lease payment based on bad credit.

Or so-so credit.

Or for a brand-new business.

Or for any other circumstance other than very good credit.

So, when you see that add for $283/month with 10% down that’s not a guarantee. It will depend on your credit too.

And that just makes sense, doesn’t it?


It’s a bigger risk for a bank to lend to a brand-new business or to someone with bad credit – so they want to make more money for taking the risk.

You can almost always get financed at some interest rate and payment, but the payment will be higher. That’s just the way it is.

If that’s your situation and you see a payment of $250 for a lease advertised, it’s probably going to be a little more for you if you’re a new business or have tough credit. If so, you might also have to add some down payment. Or cut the banks risk in some other way.

The GOOD news is that if you have to put extra money down– you’ll be in a great position when you want to lease your NEXT piece of equipment.

When 0% Financing Can be a Terrible Idea


It can be a terrible idea because there are some embroidery machine sellers online that are using the same financing approach as your local furniture store – and they shouldn’t be.

Basically, the 0% financing for an embroidery machine works, in that case, is really a “store credit card” that’s designed for face to face purchases.

Like when you go to a furniture store and they offer 0%, you’re often getting a new credit card with a preapproved balance on it.

It’s not really 0% at all.


You’re just being charged enough that the credit company gets all of its interest rate in the selling price of the equipment. 

So, it’s like saying “I’ll sell you this machine for $12,000 at $200/month financing. But they’re getting $12,500 and the bank is getting $2,500. 

In that case, it just doesn’t MATTER that you’re getting 0% interest. Everything is the same. It’s just where you’re looking. 



You can never miss a payment.
You can never be late on a payment. 

Because the whole deal goes sideways if you run into any problems.  

You’re interest rate goes to the maximum allowable by law. Maybe 24%. 

And these credit arrangements are on your PERSONAL credit. Not your business credit.  

So now the next time you need to lease commercial embroidery equipment things are not looking so good. 

When 0% Financing on Embroidery Machines is OKAY


Nothing is going to change the 3 things we talked about at the beginning. 

The 3 things that determine your lease or finance payment are:

  • The price of the equipment you finance
  • The term of your lease
  • Your Credit

Some people would rather put a lot of cash down because they’re focused on the monthly payment.

Some would rather shorten the finance term because they want to pay off their equipment faster.

Some have a great credit score and want to USE it by getting lower interest for the longest term possible.

In order to qualify for a 0% LEASE deal, you’re going to have to have GREAT credit. And you’re probably going to need 2 years in business.

And there’s still some tradeoff between down payment, credit, terms and the price of the machine of course.



Some people are just really focused on the interest rate and would rather see the price of the machine go a little higher, or the term change, in order to see that.

Final Thoughts on 0% Financing for Embroidery Machines


Never do this through a store card or a credit card arrangement. The downside is just tooooooo great. 

It does not mean it’s a better deal. You might see Avancé embroidery machines advertise 0% financing. And that’s because there are people that WANT that. 

  • Just like a discounted price.
  • Just like included accessories or equipment.
  • Just like more warranty.


The thing that makes 0% a good deal? It’s what YOU care about.

Embroidery Prices & How to Price Embroidery or Monogramming – revised for 2019

Embroidery Prices & How to Price Embroidery or Monogramming – revised for 2019

image of lady learning how to price embroidery work for her monogram machine

Embroidery Prices & How to Price Embroidery or Monogramming Work

2019 Updated: We review methods of how to determine embroidery prices and embroidery cost… by the job, per Item, and per stitch

Not Knowing How to Price Embroidery or Monogramming Creates Fears.

Embroidery and Monogramming Machine shops all over the world are asking “How to price embroidery monogramming?” and “How do I determine my embroidery prices?”

They struggle with deciding on embroidery prices to their customers whenever a new job arrives.

Not to mention that when a business is new, it seems like so much is riding on correct and accurate pricing. It can be worrysome.

The result is business owners have dozens of fears regarding embroidery prices, embroidery costs, or monogramming costs. So, let’s take a look at some of those fears and how to get past them.

Fears: If My Price is Too High

  • I won’t get enough business to pay my bills each month
  • I only get one chance at embroidery prices or they will buy elsewhere
  • My competitors will take my jobs if I don’t learn how to price embroidery work
  • I will take advantage of people if my price is too high
  • People will think I am too proud
  • I will regret it if I charge too much

Fears: If My Price is Too Low

  • I won’t make enough to pay my bills each month
  • I only get one chance at pricing per stitch correctly
  • People will take advantage of me if my embroidery prices are too low
  • People will think I do cheap work if I don’t know how to price embroidery
  • I will regret I didn’t ask for more
Can you Notice all the pressure people put on themselves about pricing?

Notice how the fears and potential regrets are nearly the same in each list?

Unfortunately, deciding how to price embroidery monogramming work on a commercial machine can often become a huge procrastination point.

But it doesn’t need to be that way.

Understanding embroidery prices or monogramming with well-founded pricing models

Knowing your goals up front will help remove the fears and keep your business moving forward.

To start with, it’s important to keep pricing in perspective.  Learning how to price embroidery and monogramming jobs correctly is only one part of reaching your overall goals.

Pricing is not the thing that will make or break your business.

Pricing in the commercial embroidery and monogramming machine business is simply a tool.

It’s used to help you reach your business goals and more importantly your personal goals.

If it takes a while for you to learn how to price embroidery monogramming work, you’ll be fine.

Your potential in the embroidery business is only limited by your imagination, so let go of any fears you have about pricing and focus on your goals instead.

Start with your Goals in mind.

If you are at the start of a brand new embroidery business, then it can be tough to know what your goals should be.

That’s OK. Start by setting some smaller goals which focus on your actions rather than on your results.

Let the accomplishment of those smaller goals add up to your bigger goals.

For instance, let’s say your big goal is to hit your break-even point in your business (the point where sales cover all expenses) within the first year.

Rather than focusing on a large yearly sales goal, instead chose 4 or 5 actions you can do each day, week, or month.

Let’s say your goal was to learn how to price embroidery for the custom shoe making market?  Having that goal in mind would be critical.

image of the process showing how to price embroidery work for customers
Here’s an Example: Embrodiery Prices with Your Goals in Mind:
  • Make 10 outbound sales calls each day
  • Attend 2 business networking functions a month
  • Spend 1 hour a day for the first 2 months in training and learning
  • Take time for family each week, stop to ask how they are holding up
  • Explore 3 potential new vendors each week, etc
  • Spend an hour each month learning how to price embroidery or monogramming work.

If by chance you have an existing business and have never taken the time to write down your goals, now is a perfect time to get started.

Anyone who is searching for the best way to price embroidery or monogramming has a great opportunity to start making written goals.

These goals will inform your pricing decisions and help you decide which pricing models to use which support your overall goals.

Cost, Retail or Wholesale Strategies

Understanding pricing on a more general level is important before we can discuss pricing models.

There are three broad categories for pricing that need to be understood in order to speak the same pricing language that your customers, partners, vendors, and other colleagues will speak.

The Embroidery Cost Price

Cost pricing is often the starting point of any pricing model.  It’s unique for each business, and depends on many different factors that apply specifically to the individual business.

Costs are classified into two broad categories and it’s important to be able to have some understanding of the differences when learning how to price embroidery.

Fixed Costs – any costs that do not change with an increase or decrease in the amount of the goods or services provided.

These are expenses that the embroidery company has to pay regardless of if any business activity is conducted or any sale is made that month.

Typically this includes things such as rent, utilities, lease payments, monthly maintenance payments, owner’s salaries, and other fixed overhead costs.

These fixed costs get tracked to each job based on a number of jobs expected for each month.

For instance: if your fixed costs for a specific month are let’s say $1,450 (rent, lease payments, fixed supplies, etc.) and your Sales Volume is let’s say $5,000 then your fixed costs represent about 30% of your Sales Volume.

Imagine now if you are able to double your sales volume to  $10,000.  Now your fixed costs would now only add up to 15% of your Sales Volume.  This will leave a larger percentage (85% instead of 70%) for cost of goods and Profits!

When pricing monogramming machine jobs and items, keep in mind that any increase in sales volume effectively reduces the percentage you pay in fixed costs.  Higher sales volume leaves more $$$ for higher profits!

Variable Costs-  Variable costs fluctuate with production volume, they typically depend upon how much you sell or prepare to sell and how many orders you receive that month.

Learning to calculate and classify the variable costs of your monogramming machine business s one of the more tedious things to get a handle on when learning how to price embroidery or a monogramming job.

However, keep the task in perspective.  It is nothing more than a gathering of the costs that change with each job. For a quick rundown of the different monogramming machines out there compared to our Avancé brand, click here to learn more.

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Wholesale Embrodiery Prices

The Wholesale price is what commercial embroidery and monogramming machine businesses typically pay for blank garments, thread, backing, bobbins, etc.

Wholesaling is one of the steps in a typical supply chain, which includes manufacturers, distributors (blank garments) and retailers (most embroidery and monogramming machine services).

The apparel distributors typically have large warehouses locally where they store hundreds of thousands of garments which are blank and ready to be delivered to embroidery machine or monogramming machine shops in their local areas.

As a new startup or existing embroidery business owner, you can often show the wholesale company a copy of the embroidery machine invoice and be set up with a wholesale account.

Having purchased a commercial monogramming machine is a good indicator to Wholesalers that you mean business.  They will give you a better sense of how to price embroidery work if you know how to ask.

Embroidery Prices & Models for Machine Embroidery Jobs

There are literally dozens of ways to go about pricing machine embroidery jobs.  Pricing models help business owner’s price their embroidery work by the job, by the items, or per stitch.

However, there are a few particularly good pricing models that work best for an embroidery and monogramming business and we cover those here.

The Retail Price

Embroidery prices for retail is how most embroidery business typically gets done.  The overarching category of a typical embroidery or monogramming business is called “decorated apparel”.

Business owners in the decorated apparel industry end up purchasing a monogramming machine or commercial embroidery equipment which they use to embellish custom t-shirts or polos or dress shirts, or custom embroidered hats, etc.

Retailers and other users purchase goods from wholesalers and then sell the products at a higher price to cover costs and generate profits.

They do this by learning and using multiple pricing models.  These pricing models tell them how to price embroidery or monogramming work

Keystone Pricing embroidery jobs | Keystone Plus Pricing
This is a method of pricing embroidery jobs that is often used by embroidery & monogram shop owners.  It is supported across the board by many of the apparel distributors in the US.

Keystone pricing is a simple and easy to use retail pricing strategy where the end price is set at double the wholesale price.

Embroidery business owners and operators are typically entitled to wholesale pricing by the companies that they get their blank garments from.

Wholesale companies are not set up to deal with retail traffic and have a business model that focuses on Retail shops like those with a commercial embroidery or monogramming machine.

These wholesale companies often print their catalogs at keystone price (twice the price you pay) so that it provides a great starting point for the embroidery company when dealing with the end buyer.

The embroidery business owner can simply look at the price in the catalog and can show the pricing to the end customer.   They can know that there is already a fair profit built into the price to begin with. If new to the business, this method is a great starting point.

Many times shop owners will start with the keystone embroidery prices and add an extra fixed price to cover the cost of the specific embellishment. Other shops prefer to use a cost per thousand stitches approach.

Both are legitimate add-ons above the keystone price. Example:

  • Polo Shirt Catalog Price =$24.50 (customer sees this price as starting point)
  • Wholesale Price = $12.25 (½ catalog price – embroidery or monogramming business pays this, plus shipping)
  • Retail Pricing = $29.95 (full catalog price plus a set price for embellishment -$5.45 in this case)
  • Gross Profit = $29.95 – $12.25 or $17.70 per item.
  • Net Profit = $17.70 per item – fixed costs % and any remaining variable costs.

Another benefit to this model is that since the entire catalog has been printed with the keystone pricing it tends to eliminate further negotiation on the part of the customer.

It’s clear to them that a great effort has been made to put the catalog together, so they figure the pricing must be accurate and non-negotiable. This works to the benefit of the embroidery business owners because they have to do little to justify their price to the end user.  This all helps when trying to figure out how to price embroidery monogramming work.

However, keep in mind that this method is only a starting point.  As the wholesale cost of the item increases (say Brand Name Polos and expensive Dress Shirts) then keystone and keystone plus pricing can get quite high.

Competitors will often use other pricing models to justify bidding larger jobs at lower prices so when using this method, it’s important to keep the pricing conversation open with the customer and get feedback on how you’re pricing is holding up against the competition.

Lastly, Keep in mind, you are not actually calculating your costs with this method so be willing to negotiate if one of your other embroidery cost methods or your competition indicates the price using this method is too high.

Time and Materials Price Method |For the Embroidery and Monogramming Machine Business
Time and materials billing has long been used in the commercial construction industry.

By definition, it represents an agreement between the customer or end user and the company producing the product. In the apparel business, it’s typically used for larger custom jobs which are outside of the realm of what your business typically produces.

For instance, you might choose to use a Time and Materials approach to price out 100 high end leather jackets with multiple placements. However, Time and materials is perfectly appropriate for any job you choose.

If you don’t know your costs for a specific type of job, try a Time and Materials approach. As the shop owner, you negotiate with your customer for them to agree to pay for all the materials and cost of goods used in the making of the product.  In addition, they pay for the time it takes to produce the job.  This is all part of the “how to price embroidery monogramming work” process.

Sometimes there is an additional agreed upon mark-up for profit margin added in.  However more often than not all the fixed costs and the profit is included in the per hour price for the work.

For instance, if your fixed costs are say $1,450 per month and your shop is open for 40 hours a week.  Then that works out to about 173 hours a month which those embroidery expenses need to be divided by, or $8.38 per hour for fixed expenses.

Using this Time and Materials approach, you may decide that you intend to make $25 per hour for your work, and another $7 per hour in profit. So the fixed costs get added to your pay plus your profits to add up to in this case to $8.38+25+7 = $40.38 per hour. This figure then becomes the agreed to per hour price for your work.

It also represents the use of your equipment and resources. The customer also agrees to pay the price for materials on top of this figure. This method insures that you get the pay you deserve for the work you do.  In the case of a complex or a very large job, it makes sure you get paid enough.

It also makes sure you don’t pay too high a price for not estimating embroidery cost correctly. But it has drawbacks in that every hour the machines are not busy effectively reduces the amount of pay per hour.  So you must balance your need to get paid what your worth against keeping the machines busy.

If the machines aren’t busy, then you are paying for the fixed costs out of your pocket.  So it’s better to keep your machines moving.

It’s possible to win the battle by having the “highest price in town”, but lose the war when the bills come in at the end of the month. Making sure you have high profit work is the way to keep your hourly rate to a maximum.  But keeping your machines busy is the way to make sure you get to keep all those high profits you earn on the jobs you do.

Cost Plus Pricing for Mongramming Machine Embroidery Items
Cost plus pricing is a more complex strategy in which the selling price is determined by adding a specific profit margin or mark-up on top of the unit costs of the goods sold.

This is typically calculated for on a per job basis and it’s important to add in the fixed costs as well as the variable costs. Cost breakdowns must be deliberately kept and comparisons made at regular intervals.  This method is particularly hard for a start – up business to use because there is little data to base your embroidery prices  on.

Every business has a different set of costs and those costs get lower and lower as a business grows.  It is only after you have produced many jobs that you begin to get a good feel for what the final costs are for a specific niche of your business.  Over time, you learn how to price embroidery monogramming better as you go along.

This pricing model is excellent however for any business that has been in business for a year or more.  It’s important to go back and spot check the costs of former jobs.

Doing a post mortem analysis on larger jobs or specific jobs which you believe to be the most profitable is important. Spot checking your jobs allows you to compare the profits earned for each specific job type.  The goal is to keep doing more jobs which you enjoy and make the most profits on.

Compare this method to your other methods of embroidery prices and make sure your pricing is supporting your daily, weekly and monthly goals.  For instance, let’s say your machines are so busy each month that you don’t have time to make it to business meetings.

Or perhaps you are no longer able to pick up your kids from school because you are too busy. It may be time to raise your embroidery prices so that you can work less hours but still make the same amount each month. In general, you want to raise your prices every year or so anyway.

The more your customers learn to trust the quality of your work and service, then the more you can charge and still expect those customers to remain loyal. Customers will respect that  you know how to price embroidery work properly.

Price to Market Method | Embroidery Prices in Local Markets
It’s always recommended to know your costs and to make a serious effort to add up all the costs that go into the work you are getting paid to do.

However, in the beginning, as mentioned above, it can be a daunting task and this can often be a sticking point.  So another method which works very well is pricing to the market. There are all sorts of complicated ways to gather data and one can spend as much time as they want to examine every possible market influence on their local embroidery or monogramming business 

The people who will be paying for your work are often already educated about what they are willing to pay for embroidery prices.

Pricing to market is simply a process of asking around and shopping monogramming machine competitors in your local area and asking your potential customers what is the going rates for various jobs.

The thinking is that the other businesses in your area if successful are already charging a price that sustains their businesses. Using this method, it is assumed those embroidery prices will also sustain your business.

Keeping in mind, regarding how to price embroidery monogramming: it is sometimes an uphill battle to get an existing market to agree to pay a higher price for items or jobs they have bought for many years.   So when in doubt, there is nothing wrong with using the going rates for work in your area as a starting point. However, keep your eyes open for an opportunity to add value to your monogramming machine business as you go along.

It’s important that you only compare prices with other companies in your area that offer the same level of service and product as you do.

For instance, if you consistently provide a more expensive type of t-shirt than the normal for your area, then it will be important to make sure that you price according to the extra value that you bring to the local market.

Price per Thousand Stitches for Embroidery Work and Services
It has long been a standard in the embroidery industry to price jobs on a per thousand stitches basis.

There is an enormous amount of pressure and opinions that develop concerning the question of what the “right” price per thousand is. Industry software has even been designed to help out which will calculate literally every single meter of thread that goes into a specific job.

The theories and calculations and arguments can get quite intense.  How much fixed costs go into each stitch anyway? Are all stitches considered equal?  Does each machine produce the same results?

What about if I have a 4-head or a 6-head machine when another business only has a 1-head?  Should I then charge less?  On and on… To begin with, it is very hard if not impossible for even industry experts to be able to guess up front from a picture how many thousand stitches a particular design will end up with.

It’s not unusual to be off by 15 to 20% or more from the actual count when the job is finished.  Also some jobs cause more problems than others.

Sometimes a design that looks so simple to the customer, can represent a very large amount of time spent on an embroidery machine.   Sometimes a design can have a low stitch count, but be on a particular material so as to make it break thread 4 or 5 times more often.  All of which is hard to judge up front.

So it can leave your customer feeling like their price is always a moving target. The important point to realize is that the “per thousand stitches” method is essentially a “Time and Materials” method.

It is an attempt to break down the overall fixed costs and variable cost and reduce them all down to an amount you intend to get paid for every thousand stitches your machine produces. The bottom line is to keep this method in perspective of your other methods and use it to compare one model to another.

You may find that this method is most reliable for certain jobs (Typical polo left chest logos, etc.) but be very lacking in other jobs.  That’s why it’s important to keep your pricing flexible.

Be Flexible as you Price Embroidery Work and Services for Customers

No matter which methods are used to price your machine embroidery jobs, it’s important to be flexible. All markets change. What is popular this year, may change with next year’s styles. Customers may suddenly be interested in a rare and fascinating type of garment.

Be prepared to offer these unique items and make the extra profits that can be gained on these hot selling items.  How to price embroidery on lots of different items is key.

Keep following up with your customers and be prepared to ask them the tough questions about your embroidery prices so that you can match your business offerings to what your customers are buying.  Make sure to check out this commercial embroidery machine review.

The customers will tell you everything you need to be successful in your business if you keep listening and are willing to adapt to their needs on a year by year basis.

How to Price Embroidery Long Term Perspective

Lastly, keep pricing in perspective and make sure your embroidery costs & monogramming machine methods are working for you. Not the other way around.

Your job costing, pricing and business methods should be in alignment with your personal goals.  How you set your embroidery prices & costs work should reflect your personal goals.

Pricing embroidery work and monogramming machine services for customers gets easier with time so keep at it and make sure to call ColDesi, Inc. if there are specific questions you have about pricing. Our apparel industry experts will be happy to help.

How to Budget for Success in Your Embroidery Business

Your budget is your budget. It’s not about telling you that you have to put away a certain amount of money.


It’s about you being empowered to make whatever financial decisions you want. And keeping track of it.

You can spend money on the things you want and need because you’ve budgeted for it.

One of the key things Mecham says is that it’s not about the money. What are you going to do with a big pile of cash that has nothing to do? What’s the point of having $10,000 if it doesn’t have a purpose?
You think about what’s important to you. Whether it’s vacations, gadgets, saving to buy a bigger house, to enjoy fancy meals, or saving to send your kids to school.

We’ve seen time and time again, if you’re terrible with your own personal finances, it’s very unlikely that you’ll have good business money habits.
If you have good business money habits and can translate that into your personal habits, you’ll have better both.
No matter how inconvenient you make it to get that money, you have the power to take it. If your personal finances are bad and you’re backed into a corner, you don’t care how difficult it is to get the money out.

Creating a budget is about safeguarding the business. But also to make sure you’re managing both aspects of your finances well.
There are 4 rules to creating a budget.


Budget Rules

Give every dollar a job.

You pay your mortgage, you pay your electric, you pay your cell phone, etc. These are regular things that your money needs to do. At the end of the month, you may have $500, you save it. Saving in itself isn’t a job. What are you saving it for?

What happens is that your grill breaks. You see you have $3,000 in the savings account, so you buy the expensive grill. But that wasn’t something you budgeted for.  You start questioning every purchase you make. Perhaps you really want a new grill, but you’ve also noticed that somethings going wrong with your refrigerator.

What has priority?

With every dollar having a job, you can assign your savings a job. You want to save for a vacation.


One of the ideas from “Your Need a Profit” is having separate bank accounts for everything. You’re doing the same thing. The money that goes into the Taxes account, that’s its job.


Embrace your true expenses

Your true expenses aren’t just your mortgage and electrical bills. They’re also tires for your car. New eyeglasses.
These are expenses that you know are going to come eventually.

Start budgeting for those, always.

In your business, you know you’re eventually going to run out of ink for your DTG printer.
Your equipment might be under warranty, but you know you’re eventually going to need parts and repairs. Set aside the money for this eventual expense.


Roll with the punches

Your budget is going to change all the time. You’re going to have different months. Different things are going to come up.
Perhaps rent goes up. Your local municipality passes a new law and business property taxes went up.

Prices on blanks could change. Perhaps a supplier had a standard $2/shirt. However, now some are $1.75 and others are $2.25. Your expenses have now changed.

You may decide to refinance your mortgage to get a better rate and save $100/month. You might change your cell phone plan to a lower rate.
You need to change your budget.

You can take those savings you’ve just found and move them to another priority. What is the highest priority?
It’s not about reducing your expenses. Everything on your budget is an expense. Whether it’s the luxury vacation or the groceries.
If long-term retirement savings is a priority you can perhaps move funds from reducing your cell bill into that item.


Age your money

Aging your money is essentially paying all your bills with money that you earned at least 30 days ago. You are never waiting for a paycheck to pay a bill.

The point is to age it to as old as it can get. An initial and obtainable goal is 30 days.
Getting a month ahead can be done fairly quickly. All you do is chop all the low priority stuff out. It could be that $5 morning coffee you love or Friday date night.

If you cut out that $5 coffee out for a month, that’s $100 you’re aging. And you’re not cutting it out forever.
You cut date night for 4 weeks, you have another $400.  You might need to extend it to 2 months so you can save $1,000 and that’s what gets you 30 days ahead of your bills.

Make it a goal to get 30 days ahead. Doing so will also help you see areas in your finances where you can improve. Both personally and in your business.

If you’re late on your phone bill they might charge you a $3 fee. Which might seem like nothing, but if you continue to do that, those are dollars that didn’t originally have that job. So that might be something you get on top of to gain those dollars back.  It could also be a credit card that has interest fees.

Once you’ve aged your money and you’re a month ahead you can prioritize.  You get to decide, is that $5 coffee great or do you not miss it? Do you want to bring back date night every week, switch it up to every other week, or change where you go so it costs less?

We looked at “Profits First” and that need to put money into your profits account. You can always find a way to cut your expenses by 10%.
That same philosophy applies to your personal budget as you prioritize.


What’s your priority?

Everyone gets to make their own decisions about what is important. You can read books, listen to advice from your friends, but realize what is important to you.

Some people aren’t big into vacations. They would rather spend their time going to sports games. Others aren’t into gadgets.
It’s the same philosophy in your business. What is the priority? A natural priority may be profit, but what are you going to do with that profit?
Instead of putting it into your personal profit you might be interested in starting a second business. Or expanding your business to a retail location.  Or to give it to charity.

You don’t have those choices when you’re constantly trying to figure out what credit card to charge.


Start today

Start right now with the money you have.

You can adjust as you go and find other expenses that are your priority, and others that can be reduced.  You’ll start to recognize things that you’re spending your money on that you just can’t afford.

Because you’re now paying attention to your budget you’ll get better at it. You’ll get relaxed and comfortable with your money as you go.
There’s no panic in the middle of the month when you realize you can’t pay for something. You have more control.


Little piles

With every dollar having a job, you may have set aside money for a new iPad, a present for your mom, etc.
If something happens, for example, you broke your glasses, that’s now a bigger priority. You can take a little bit from each pile to buy your new glasses.

If something big happens, you still have a plan of where you need to get back to. And you know that you can get there because you’ve already done it once. It’s much less stressful.


Taking control

You’re more prepared for the unexpected. You’re more prepared to recover.

You have this long-term plan and you’re 6 months into it. Then something happens that costs you $10,000. You look at your budget list and it eats up everything.  But now you have a recovery plan. You figured out the problem and you know how to get out of it.


Prepared for opportunities

The goal of the budget is that no matter what emergency happens, you’re ready. It also means you’re ready for opportunities.
In your business, you’ve been setting aside money.

Perhaps it’s for in case a big order comes up because it happened to you before.
Thread, rhinestones, and vinyl don’t expire. If you’ve been setting aside this money and an amazing deal comes up on Colman & Company, there’s no better time to buy it.

You could have just saved $150. And you know it’s something you’re going to need eventually so it’s not going to waste.
You might also be able to buy the larger bag of rhinestones because you have the funds available.

That over time saves you money.



  • You’re looking at the money that’s in your bank account with purpose.
  • Embrace your true expenses. You have the future in mind and this is money you will spend, but it may not show up this month.
  • If you’re living on the edge of your expenses, you’re not prepared for emergencies or opportunities.
  • Don’t be afraid to change things. If an expense goes up you need to take it from somewhere else. If an expense goes down, add that money somewhere else.
  • The act of paying attention to your budget and having goals will give you a better business.
    Have a good business!
Custom Embroidery Outsourcing

Custom Embroidery Outsourcing

Custom Embroidery Outsourcing

How to Grow Your Business Using Custom Embroidery Contractors

Let’s say you own a business and have a limited amount of time.  And like the rest of us, you have a limited set of skills that you know how to do well right now.

Maybe, on some things, the time it takes you to do things may be a little longer than someone else.  Or, you also may not be at the point in your business where you can hire a part-time or full-time employee.

It may not be right for your business – you may be content to work out of your home, and it doesn’t make sense to hire someone. But very often, It makes sense to explore your options and give part-time contractors a try.

Maximize Your Best Skills and SubContract the Rest

Why would you take one of your greatest skills and outsource it someone else? Sometimes it’s about grasping the bigger picture for your business.

You may have started this business by yourself and become good at creating designs. But you’re also trying to grow your business. In this example, you have two options:

1. You become the artist, and you hire someone to run your business.

2. You manage the business and bring someone in to do the artwork.

What are a few of the jobs/tasks you can outsource?

  • Web Development
  • Web Design
  • Digitizing
  • Accounting
  • Writing
  • Art
  • Design
  • Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Sales

Lessons I’ve Learned

In our many years of hiring outsourcers, there have been some lessons. If you hire contractors, chances are you’ll experience similar pain points. We want to help you to avoid as many as possible.

One of the signs of a good contractor is that they ask you questions about the job. They realize the rules and expectations were going to talk about below.

Have a clear, defined description of what you want to be done

“I want a t-shirt about rabbits. Give me something funny.” Is not clear and defined. In a few sentences (5 or less) do a description of the job. Later you’ll create a more lengthy description, but when you’re initially looking for a person, you want this brief description to help you weed away all the people who aren’t qualified.

Examples: if you’re hiring an accountant, you would want to specify that they need to be an expert in QuickBooks (if that is the program you’re going to use). Perhaps they need to be local so they can come to you.

Have a budget

How much are you willing to or can afford to pay? But also, figure out how much you should expect to pay.

If you decide you want to outsource the digitizing of artwork, do the research to find out what the range is. Then determine if you can afford it.

Be as open-minded as you can. You might be thinking about outsourcing someone to do your books. Looking at the numbers you’re concerned about how much it will cost.

Why are you considering outsourcing in the first place? Have you made mistakes in the past that have cost you money?

Does it take too much of your time? What has doing it yourself cost you in the past (labor and error cost)? That helps to define whether the cost is worth it.

Put a good job description together

Is this going to be a one time job or ongoing work? Do you need someone to provide work on a regular basis or occasionally and not on any regular schedule?

“I’m looking for a partner to help me develop the graphic image for my company, by producing t-shirt designs on a regular basis. Likely have 5-15 different jobs per month. Looking for someone who’s available long-term.” or “I have one big job and need help with x, y, z.”

Depending on the type of job and the task, the job description may be a few extra bullet points or may go into more details – the days of the week they need to be available or expected delivery dates of work. You can also put technical specs in the description.

If you were to hand this job description over to someone else, they would be able to find the right person for the job based on what you wrote.


Define when you want the whole project done and when you want parts of the project done (if it’s a big enough project).

For example: If you’re getting a new website done and you want it to launch in two months, you don’t want to say “I want the website done by X date.” You want to put some milestones in between.  – Review the outline/wireframes within two weeks.  – E-commerce part ready by x date

Communication Standards

Do you need to hear from them every day to give you a progress report? Or a weekly check-in for bigger projects.

What you want to avoid is if you need a project done in 10 days and you hear from them on day nine that they haven’t even started yet.

Now they have all these questions. Or they had another project come up, and now your project is going to be late. Or they disappear completely. You may also want to set expectations that if you email them, they need to reply within 24 hours, and you’ll do the same if they email you.

100% agreement of expectations

Everyone signs off on the work that’s being done, how much is being paid, when the delivery date is, and the other terms of the agreement.

One good tip is to ask the contractor to describe back to you the job in their own words. This could be formal like a contract or verbal if you are working with a local artist on a small project.
If someone does this for a living, they may have a customer expectation document/contract.

Another big thing is that friends and family do not get a pass on this process. This is where the potential for real issues takes place. It could be your son who’s doing some graphic design for you, and they mess up.

Unfortunately, now it’s a business issue. If you late pay your own family, it’s now a personal issue. You may want to give your family a shot, but you also may need a professional and the ability to fire that person if it doesn’t work out.

Protect your private information

This includes passwords, bank account information, etc. Be wary about when it’s okay to give out passwords and to what.

Do they need access? Often you can create secondary accounts that provide contractors access to only what they need. For example WordPress, Bing Ads, Facebook Advertising, and Google Ad Words.

If you’re unsure of how to set up accounts for sub-contractors, you can always contact the service and get more information.

Where can you find contractors?

  • Ask for referrals – Talk to other business professionals and see who they work with. Then do your research to find out if that contractor will work for what you need. Ask questions such as: How long have you worked with them? Did they make any major mistakes that have cost you money?
  • Go to Craigslist – We have found good people to work with on Craigslist. With any source or service, you go through you need to ensure you’re following all the steps above and asking for referrals to ensure they are a professional.
  • Outsourcing services –, Upwork. – The benefit of sites like this is that you have a 3rd party go-between. You put the funds into Escrow (holding place), and you have some recourse if the contractor disappears or doesn’t do the work properly.
  • The contractor has a vested interest in completing the work. Plus there is the opportunity to leave reviews about the contractor. They want a good review so that other companies will want to hire them.

Tackling Your To Do List

Take a look at your To Do List. What is something that needs to get done that you don’t have time for? What’s been on the list for the past month that you haven’t been able to get done? What eats up a lot of your time?

What would happen if you hired someone to do one of those tasks? What’s the opportunity you would gain? How would that help your business?

Hiring a contractor is a bit of a mindset shift. People look at it as something they’ve spent money on. Remember that this is for the betterment of your business, it’s an investment.

Can you afford not to hire that contractor? Are you turning away jobs because you’re spending too much time digitizing? Are your accounting mistakes costing you fines?

Look at the hours you’re spending on tasks. Can you pay someone else the same amount of money (or slightly more) to do the task in less time and with better quality?

Be Bold and Go For It

You may be hesitant to hire people from outside the USA. You can easily hire from other countries, and they do great work.

They’re not necessarily inexpensive, but we sometimes can’t find people with those particular skills locally. Or they’re just more available or their time works better for us. I’ve worked with contractors because they’re working overnight. We can give them a job during our day, they work on it “overnight,” and when we get to work in the morning, it’s done.

To help you get your feet wet in hiring contractors, you may want to find something simple in your business, like digitizing and hire someone to do it for you. It may be one time that you get them to do this for you, or you try it out for a month. It also gives you that connection so if you’re ever in a pinch you’ve potentially got someone to reach out to for that particular task. Either way, you know how to go about hiring a contractor for another job.

Ready to Start or Expand Your Embroidery Business?

Chat with us below, call us at 877-793-3278 or click button and let us help you get your business growing.

Professional Embroidery Machine Options For Start-ups 2018

Professional Embroidery Machine Options For Start-ups 2018

Comparing Single Head vs. Multi-head Professional Embroidery Machine

Return on Investment

The Avancé professional embroidery machine line is a serious game-changer in the market.  The brand’s low price is combined with the highest quality parts and TONS of great features.

Each machine comes standard with 15 needles, a large sewing field and full color LCD monitors.  Plus, single-heads come with a 2-year trade up program that cannot be found anywhere else.  Add to that the industry’s best training and support and it’s easy to see why the Avancé brand is the right choice for professional embroidery machine owners who are looking for the best return on investment.

Here we compare line by line the costs and profits that EACH level of machine provides.  We compare single-head VS multi-head options to help you decide which professional embroidery machine makes the most sense for your professional embroidery business.


Production Time Comparison

Let’s compare a sample logo design. You can see the image of the Avancé 1501C control panel on the right already loaded with the ColDesi logo design.

This logo file is 9,970 stitches, and as you can see the speed is set for 750 stitches per minute, which is average for this type of sew out.

To get an estimate of how long it will take to embroider each design.  You’ll also want to know how to price your embroidery.  However to get the time, just divide the number of stitches by the stitches per minute:

9,970 stitches/750 stitches per minute = 13.29 minutes to completion

This calculation is just an estimate because it does not allow for thread color changes, geography of the design, etc. When we ran this design for the video on the right, it took almost exactly 15 minutes to run.

The sample order we’ll use for comparison is embroidering this ColDesi logo onto 50 garments.

Single Head Results

To complete this job with a single head Avancé 1501C professional 15 need machine would take:

1 garment in 15 minutes = approximately 4 per hour50 garments/4 per hour = 12.5 Hours to complete the order

When using a 4-head machine, like the Avancé 1504 shown in the other demonstration video on your right, the set-up time is comparable.

You load the design into the control panel in a similar way and hooping your garments takes the same amount of time each. BUT the math is much different!

Multi Head Results

New for 2017
Introducing the Avancé 1502 2 Head Professional Embroidery Machine

Choosing the 2-head machine up front is like getting an instant efficiency upgrade.  Labor costs per head are nearly halved, and there is nearly $3,000 savings per head compared to networked single-head machines.

Jobs load up the same way as a single head and color selection is handled the same.  The 2 head machine can be placed on a table top or counter if needed and while much heavier, it can be transported to retail events to maximize your output and profits. The Avancé 1502 is a great upgrade which helps you get paid at twice the rate of single heads.

4 Head Production Comparison

With the 4-head machine, you are just loading the design once, then embroidering 4 garments simultaneously. Now you will produce 4 garments in that same 15 minutes!

4 garments in 15 minutes = 16 garments per hour
50 garments/16 per hour = slightly more than 3 hours to complete the order

In that one, long 12.5-hour day I could either complete ONE 50 garment order on a single head or FOUR of them on the 4-head machine. You will literally make FOUR TIMES THE SALES in the same amount of time.

The 1506C Difference

Guess what happens when you choose a 6-head professional embroidery machine like the Avancé 1506C?

The math just gets better because the time it takes to complete each design is constant, but the number of designs you can produce in the same period increases by the number of heads. Our ColDesi logo job that we’ve been comparing changes in this way:

6 garments in 15 minutes = 24 garments per hour

50 garments/24 per hour = a very little more than 2 hours to complete the order

Now how I can produce 6 times the number of garments in that long 12.5-hour day, which means I can make more than SIX TIMES THE SALES with the 1506C than I would with the 1501C.

The Avancé 1506C – Compact 6 head professional embroidery machine comes with installation and training.

Productivity vs. Price

Let’s compare this in an even more important way, because how many jobs you can do in an hour, or day or week, is the limit of how much money you can make in the embroidery business.

Pricing below are sample numbers for the purposes of comparison only. Your actual cost may be different. Please contact us for current price comparisons.


Save more by upgrading now

Instant Upgrade to 1502:  Saves about $3,000 per head

Upgrade to 1504:  Saves about $4,800 per head

Upgrade to 1506:  Saves over $6,000 PER HEAD Wow!

** Compared to individual networked single-heads.

Commercial Machine Price Comparison

We’ve seen very clearly what the productivity benefit is when you upgrade to a 4 or 6 head unit from the 15 needle single head, but what about the pricing?

Budget aside, when comparing prices of multi head systems the most useful comparison to make is “price per head”.


Pricing below are sample numbers for the purposes of comparison only. Your actual cost may be different. Please contact us for current price comparisons.

The table above clearly shows what a value the multi head machines are in a price comparison.

The value of the single head machine is the MSRP, but you are paying almost 40% less per head for the 4-head machine and over 51% less with the 6 head.

The Avancé 1506C is TWICE the value per head of the 1501C when you look at it this way

Sales & Marketing Advantages

Of course, you can obviously start your business and make a good living with your single head professional machine, but there are distinct advantages to a multi head bringing in more business as well as producing it.

Turnaround Time

The ability to do 4x or 6x the work in the same time means that you can offer what many other embroiderers cannot; faster delivery. Imagine a business shopping for 100 polos embroidered with their company logo and the difference between offering to complete the order in 4 hours with your 6 head or in 6 hours with your 4-head machine vs. a 3 or 4-day delivery.

Business Image

There is no question that the Avancé 1501C is a high quality commercial machine. It’s obviously built well and looks like a real piece of business hardware. But it’s also constructed in a small format so it fit in a small home or side office and can even roll into a closet when not in use. If your website or company brochures have pictures of a 1504 or 1506C, which are larger and have a much more industrial look you may get larger clients and more work. Perceived capabilities are important for marketing! Also consider the impression made if a potential client visits your place of business and how the Multihead will appear vs. the single head machine.

Embroidery Return on Investment

There are many factors that go into the sales and profitability of your new embroidery business, here are just a few:

Will you work from home, lease warehouse space or be in a retail environment?

What is your local competition like?

Will you be a one person show or hire employees?

What will your pricing strategies be?

Are you taking a salary?

Can you manage your business expenses?

The ROI of your equipment purchase will be influenced by all those factors and more, but we can make some simple estimates based on the things discussed in this article and a few assumptions.


Assumption #1

You can make $40/hour running a single head Avancé – which is a common goal in the embroidery business for startups.

Assumption #2

You can fill 40 hours of work with business – this is less likely when you first start out and much more likely as you grow your business. You can change this number to do your own estimates.

Assumption #3

You are charging $1.25 per thousand stitches. We recommend using the Market Down pricing model described in this article, but that means customizing this scenario by local market, which we can’t do here. The $1.25/m is a mid-range price derived from a quick survey of our own embroidery pros.

Let’s use that ColDesi logo job as our example again:

At approximately 8000 stitches x $1.25 per thousand you would charge $10 for each finished design. You can finish 4 designs per hour, so running this on your single head machine would mean revenues of $40/hour.


Here’s another table to compare your potential income depending on the machine you are using:

See How To Price Embroidery

We did a complete guide to pricing that shows you the different formulas for pricing embroidery work.

Using these figures, you can see that if you can keep your machines running for 40 hours per week, you can make $1,600/week with your single head machine and up to $9,600/week with your 1506C!
24 designs per hour x 8 hours per day = 192 designs/day

192 designs x $10 each = $1,920/day in sales

$1,920/day x 5 days = $9,600 per week

The Avancé 1506C is $23,000 more than the 1501C single head embroidery machine, so that means a much bigger investment up front. But as you can see above, you can also make up to an additional $8,000/week with the 1506C so it will take you less than 3 weeks of sales to pay for the difference in machine price.

Estimating Your ROI Numbers

These scenarios and pricing are all made to be as simple and clear as possible and represent an ideal business. Some designs need to be run slower; you may encounter production delays for maintenance or repairs. On the other hand, it does not take into consideration the profit on the blank shirts, the fact that you can be more profitable with caps, or any number of factors that may make your results idea. But they are as true and accurate as we could make them and represent good information to help you make your buying decision!

Ready to Start or Expand Your Embroidery Business?

Chat with us below, call us at 877-793-3278 or click button and let us help you get your business growing.