You’ve been to the mall and seen the specialty catalogs—and every time you gaze upon a monogrammed item in either place, you think, “I could do that—and make money!” You can, but only if you approach your monogramming enterprise from a strictly business perspective. This means a dedicated work area, a commitment to putting in a set number of hours into the business each week and a dream that’s big enough to help you tackle the business of marketing, which can be an ordeal if you’ve never had to sell anything in the past. That stated, if you refuse to be intimidated, you’re ready to stitch your way to a wonderful home-based career that is creative, fun and you’ll never have to ask the boss for a day off to take the kids to the dentist.
Examine your home for a place that would make an ideal workspace. Be inventive. You might have a small bedroom that’s too crammed with furniture to offer a crafting spot, but the long closet that’s filled with junk could offer just the amount of room you need to set up shop. Clean it out, install a built-in work table with shelves and not only will you put the formerly cluttered space to good use, you’ll also be able to close the doors on your monogram business at the end of the day.
Purchase a top-of-the-line, professional embroidery machine, and you’ll need a PC with a Windows operating system to interface the software bundled with today’s embroidery machines. At the time of this writing, there are no Apple or Unix system-compatible monogramming software programs on the market, so think carefully about your budget if you are confronted with the possibility of buying both a machine and PC.
Take advantage of basic and advanced training that comes with monogramming machines purchased at retail shops. If you are buying your machine from another source, the manufacturer may be able to put you in touch with a local trainer. As an alternative, sales personnel at fabric and sewing machine retail outlets may be looking to make some extra cash by tutoring you on the more complex techniques a manual usually omits. As a bonus, embroidery divas often know shortcuts that can save you enough time and money to offset the hourly fee you paid for instruction.
Pick a name for your company that will appeal to women if you plan to focus your attention and marketing on personal embroidery projects like blankets, bibs, clothing, linens and towels. If your long-range plans are more ambitious and include seeking corporate clients to sell large quantities of monogrammed and branded items, choose a less folksy name for your enterprise.
Create a marketing system to help you sell your monogramming services. Include a brochure, a sample portfolio, a price list and a sales sheet that addresses the benefits of embroidered goods as fundraisers, personal gifts and the one-of-a-kind aspects of monogrammed products. Always keep your price list separate from information about your products just in case you decide to raise or lower a price on an item.
Create your portfolio. Photograph your best samples and place the images in a presentation case with descriptions of each item. Include several pages of lettering samples to offer clients a variety of fonts, and address practical information such as average project turn-around times, delivery and/or postage charges for shipping finished goods. Testimonials from satisfied customers are wonderful additions (have friends and relatives you've monogrammed for give you a few for starters, then replace these with actual client endorsements).
Consider launching a website. Keep the design simple and feature color pictures of completed embroidery projects. Don't post work you've done for customers unless they give you permission to do so. Keep descriptions of projects light and short, but optimize the text for search engine pick-up by using key words like monograms, embroidery, personalized clothing and linens frequently in your Web copy.
Price your services accordingly. Find out what competitors are charging and keep fees in line with them—at least when you start up. A typical monogramming machine can produce up to 1500 stitches per minute, but on average, most operators output 600 stitches a minute. Commercial monogramming businesses calculate fees based on 1,000 stitch increments at 70 cents per section. Smaller shops average $1.25 for the same number. All add a set-up charge per project (about $2). Unless you love math and are happy to make individual calculations on every job, consider setting an hourly fee and adjust it as you gain a more realistic idea of exactly how much merchandise you can produce.
Professionals recommend these software programs for beginners: Monogram Wizard and Magnificent Monograms. Once your skills are more advanced, look into Embird, Smartsizer, PE Design, Dakota Sizer, Melco Sizer and BuzzSize.