It’s NOT a Food Truck!
Mom & Daughter Team Win on the Road
All Gussied Up Embroidery
Owner: Virginia Bullock and Michelle Hartman (these responses are from Michelle’s perspective)
Company: All Gussied Up Embroidery
Address: 12207 Beckley Road, Cumberland, IN 46229
Phone: 317-517-1557 and 317-517-6454
Decorating Technique: Embroidery, Vinyl
Type of business: Custom Embroidery
Tell us a little about who you are and what you do
We are a mother and daughter team building our business so that when Virginia (mom) retires, she can supplement her income; plus, this will keep her out of trouble. Our focus is mainly custom embroidery, but we also have the Graphtec cutter allowing us to do various types of vinyl.
I have also dabbled in the brush-n-bake system to create rhinestone designs. I am hoping to expand my knowledge of this technique this year.
What was your biggest hurdle in getting started?
Time is my biggest challenge. We both have full-time jobs, but it’s more of a hurdle for Virginia than me. My job is typically 40 hours per week, Monday thru Friday. This allows me to do my embroidery work in the evening and on weekends.
The spare time I have to work in the business is usually spent completing orders. I love doing this stuff but at times, I feel there is just not enough hours in the day for everything.
How do you decide what Markets to go after?
You know, this is a tough one. At first, our focus was on pets. Sadly, with the ease of online shopping, it’s hard to compete with the big online retailers. Like any other newbie, we bought products to have on hand. Items we thought our potential clients would want.
Well, the joke is on us! After 4 years, I still have products that I bought back then but can not seem to sell. But this also circle backs to my lack of time issue. I just need to make time to advertise the items and reduce our inventory.
However, lately I’ve been focusing on developing a niche market. What I mean by that is I have focused on single piece items that are custom and unique. Specifically, I have taken a picture, outsourced it to be digitized, then I embroider it onto a pillow. Voila, now the customer has a memory of that special item.
Although I do not do a lot of shirts, I am able to offer small orders to customers that may only want one or 2 things done. Whereas the larger companies want to focus on the bigger orders.
What technologies do you Use?
For embroidery, we have the Stitch Era software. For the first few years of being in business, we also had a membership with Dakota Collectibles that we paid a monthly fee for. This would allow us to obtain files that were already digitized. This also allowed us to become more familiar with how things worked. Additionally, we have Hotfix Era and Graphtec Studio at our fingertips. Earlier I mentioned I outsource my digitizing, well that’s another technology to add to my list.
What did you get from ColDesi and why?
I am not able to take the credit of finding ColDesi. My mom, Virginia, is the one that did all the research. The top thing that really sold us on ColDesi and their products was the rave reviews on support!
We had heard competitors would sell the machine but leave you hanging with technical support issues. Not ColDesi, they have been there through it all. I remember when I first started learning everything, my complaint was that there was not a late-night tech support team; however, email was the answer for me.
Although I had a day time job, I was able to respond to emails. Tech support always made sure my issue was resolved.
How do you set your pricing?
At first we were told to double our cost to get a retail cost. That may be acceptable for a $5 item, but that is not obtainable when you have a $30 item.
After 4 years, I have finally decided, whatever my cost may be, I will increase by 30%. For the time being, it appears to be working.
What products do you sell that other businesses might need?
I do not believe I sell a product another business may need. I do believe, however, that I am able to sell our embroidery service to other businesses.
What’s next for your company?
For 2019, I believe our next step is to focus on the equipment we know how to use and make it work to our advantage. I am constantly seeing new products and technology offered by other companies.
I always think, oh, that would be neat. Oh, that’s something I could see our customers wanting. The reality is that I need to focus on what I have and can offer to our clients at the moment. I have to tell myself its ok to say no. You will not win them all.
I think the most flattering thing for me is when I hear from people a year down the road that says they saw me at an event and still have my business card. Or when that customer keeps coming back. This tells me they like what I am offering.
What Advice would you give someone just starting out?
For someone starting out, I would have to say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I believe that’s the saying… Anyways, be patient. You are going to have mishaps. You are going to have success, but you must keep at it to succeed.
Focus on what you know, and what you don’t know go ahead and outsource it. Rely on ColDesi and Colman and Company for advice. Take one day at a time.
And lastly, in the world of technology that we have today, go ahead and utilize sources like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and the list goes on. You can also network with other decorators and research local sources.
Feel free to reach out to me. I am willing to share everything I know. Good luck to you!
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