Owner: Wendy Merkey
Year Established: 2007
Type of business: Embroidery
Starting a Home-Based Embroidery Business.
How did your business get started and why?
I have always had an interest in embroidery, doing it by hand when I was younger and then seeing a friend of mine at local fairs and farm shows with her single head machine. I dreamed a lot of having my own commercial machine after that.
What made you choose decorated apparel?
I have always loved the look of embroidery.
What type of equipment did you purchase and why?
I started with a used 4-head Tajima because I bought it from a local embroiderer and I was totally new to the embroidery business. Very quickly I realized the need for a single head and found a single head SWF locally and purchased it. My husband set a two-year goal for me and when I reached the goal he set we purchased a new 6-head SWF through Scott Levine.
Who is your target market?
Most of my work is for our local sports store. They do screen printing for the local schools and businesses.
How did you decide what market to go after?
I purchased my first machine from a lady who originally did the embroidery for the local sports store. So when she stopped embroidering they decided to use my service. So I guess you could say I got lucky to start my business!
How did you determine pricing?
That was the hardest part of the business for me. I was fortunate enough to get some guidance from other embroiderers.
What is your product range?
I do almost anything that is brought to me.
How do you reach out to new customers?
Most of my business has been word of mouth, however, I NEVER go anywhere without my logo on my shirt or jacket! Best form of advertisement there is. I have picked up jobs from the grocery store, the pet store, etc.
Where are you with your business now?
I have a total of 11 heads and recently purchased an Ioline cutter and a heat press. I love doing appliqué.
Name something interesting about your business that you want people to know about?
I’m not sure if you would call it interesting or not but I love being able to work out of my home while tending to our farm and also my granddaughters when needed. I love having the flexibility of being my own boss and working from home. I have my business in our daylight basement which has sliding glass doors so I can watch our miniature Hereford cows and our miniature horses play right outside in the pasture.
What is your most challenging obstacle?
Pricing out jobs.
What advice would you give someone starting?
First of all, always wear your logo. Another thing, when waiting in line somewhere such as the grocery store, tell people what you do. I am the type of person who always talks to people when I am out and about. Strike up a conversation and it goes from there.
What is your greatest achievement in your business and the reason why it is all worth it?
I am so happy that every goal my husband and I have set, I have reached. Basically I think about embroidery around the clock. I love learning new things and take advantage of every opportunity I can get to learn something new in the embroidery business. The person who taught me how to run the machines told me the first day that she really wanted to have someone that has a true passion for embroidery and I told her she found that person. I am thrilled that I got to the point of purchasing a cutter and heat press because when I went to my 1st ISS show in Atlantic City, I truly thought I would not ever be able to get to that point! It scared the daylights out of me. Another huge achievement I feel I have made is not laying awake in bed at night worrying about the embroidery job I have to do the next day and wondering if I can really do a good job at it!
What’s on your equipment wish list?
I would like to have another single head embroidery machine!
Interested in starting a custom apparel business?
Choose to subscribe below and we'll keep you up to date with Success Stories, Business Tips especially for apparel decorators and our special pricing deals.