How to Grow Your Decorated Apparel Business

By Sean Evans
Jan 21 / 659 Views

The decorated apparel industry is rapidly expanding. New shops and ventures are popping up every year. You know that getting new clients is a huge part of staying in business, but it’s easy to get bogged down in your work and miss opportunities to grow your customer base. As competition for small and mid-sized businesses gets heated, you’ll want to have a few tricks up your sleeve to increase market share.

You can’t just expect new customers to fly to you like bees to honey. You have to implement some changes in your business model if you want to see increases in your revenue. The best techniques aren’t necessarily the most expensive. Sure, you have to spend money to make money, but don’t spend a fortune. We have some experience with this, so we’re showing you the most effective ways to grow your decorated apparel business.

Create a memorable logo

You might already have a great design picked out. We’re even willing to bet you created it yourself. Does the logo you have right now appeal to the customers you’re looking to bring in? After all, this is what decorated apparel is about! When designing or choosing a symbol to represent your business, it has to be of the very best quality. Work on it over and over until you have something with the right color and branding to portray how modern and creative your shop is.

Is most of your current client base into Old World designs and exotic patterns? Find a font that matches it, or create your own. Even if your business is more production-oriented than creative, you can hire a freelance artist to come up with the perfect visual branding. Many of them will be able to give you a few ideas at a fairly low price.

Take a look at logos for new startups, not just in the decorated apparel business. New competitors in your space will be looking to the established brands for cues on what’s trending. Casting a wider net than them will put you at an advantage as far as staying modern and interesting to new customers.

Let your work speak for itself

With a new logo in place, you want to show it off, right? This is where being in the embroidery and apparel printing biz really pays off. You’re already buying resources in bulk. Take a few of your t-shirts or ball caps and slap your brand on there. Offer to give customers free merchandise when they order over a certain threshold. Throw it in when they buy specialty items, like handkerchiefs or sports jerseys.

Do you have a big family reunion coming up? Give everyone a hoodie with your business’s name on the back. Donate shirts to local charity organizations. Any opportunity to hand out apparel for free is another chance to spread the word.

You don’t have to only advertise your business by making use of your logo. It’s less obvious, but a customer wearing your work on their sleeve is marketing enough without having your name cross-stitched into it. Offer additional perks when a client brings you new customers. Getting your name out there is as easy as doing what you do best.

Decorated Apparel Business

Specialize your product line

The largest companies may be able to produce faster on their industrial embroidery machines, but you have the advantage of being a small business. What does that mean to your customers? Craftsmanship. Nothing shows how much you know your craft like offering specialty processes to your basic lineup.

Embroidery, screen printing, rhinestone transfer, decal printing, appliqué, and heat transfer are a few of the specialized services that some smaller decorated apparel businesses can focus on. Expanding into additional services may require new decorated apparel equipment, but seizing on an opportunity before local competitors do will give you the leg-up on an established name in the game.

It pays to keep up with new tech as well. Certain processes that seemed too time-consuming to invest in before are now standard to the trade. You may have been holding off on taking on tapestry work, but equipment financing companies have made improving and acquiring equipment much more accessible. Keep your eyes peeled for the latest technology and newest ideas in decorated apparel.

Quid Pro Quo

Partnering with other businesses can be a good alternative to building a whole new product line. Even better, it can be complementary to that. Say you add a machine for appliqué and you partner with a company that does heat transfer. That means you’ll double the business for each other by offering these services in conjunction and recommending each other to customers.

It may be beneficial to work with a larger company, too. In many industries that have equipment leasing needs, working alongside a midsized or larger business means getting to learn about the machines you may be purchasing someday. Look at their production process, ask a few questions, and take away a thing or two. Not only will they be giving you work, you’ll siphon valuable experience for future ventures.

This works both ways, too. If you’re a mid-sized or larger company, consider offering orders to smaller entities. That becomes an investment for both parties.

screen printing shirts

Lease machines to increase turnaround

I doubt you’re doing work by hand, but in all likelihood you only have a handful of computer-controlled printing or embroidery machines. A handful won’t always be enough, unless you have upgraded already to multi-needle or multi-head. The former is perfect for elaborate graphic work. The latter benefits your product turnaround rate. Having more high-quality equipment will bring in more business from existing customers and net you some new ones as well.

Fitting embroidery equipment or screen printing machines into your business isn’t as tough as it sounds. Go with a lending company that understands your trade as well as you do. They’ll help you figure out the best equipment for the job and for your business’s future. Plus, it’ll be easier on your wallet. Remember— used machines are cheaper, and a good leasing company will finance used or new.

Once your company has gained some traction and expanded more, there’s the option to buy out the equipment at the end of your contract. If you’re not already leasing equipment to accelerate your business model, then your company may already be in trouble.

Expansion should be about exploration

Your embroidery company, whether small or large, brand new or more experienced, has a unique commodity to offer customers. That uniqueness may be defined by the line of products you offer, the special services in your skill-set, the companies you work alongside, or the type of equipment you use.

The point isn’t  just being unique for the sake of being unique. Be a different kind of business because it defines you, your core values, and what you want to offer to your customers.

  •  decorated apparel 
  •  embroidery 
  •  screen printing 
  •  small business 

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