Whether you need extra income or just enjoy sharing your work, you can turn your embroidery hobby into your own small business. With just a machine, embroidering supplies and some plain items to embellish, you can fill personalized orders for people all over the world.
Plan your business. This includes what you will sell, where you will sell and whether you will work with anyone else. Planning now will help you make choices for your business more easily.
Give your business a distinct name. It must distinguish you from other businesses, especially other local embroidery businesses, so contact the county clerk and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make sure your name is reasonably unique.
Check with the local U.S. Small Business Administration to find out whether any permit or license requirements apply to embroidery businesses in your area. There will likely be none, but it's best to know the law to avoid repercussions.
Purchase plain cloth items to embroider, such as towels, t-shirts and portable music player covers. These are common items that people may want to customize, but you might also buy plain fabric and picture frames if you enjoy embroidering scenes, for example. Buy wholesale to reduce costs.
Replenish your embroidery supplies with a variety of machine needles and thread colors. Since the items you embroider will be plain, much of the variety between items will come from the colors you use.
Combine the costs from steps 3 and 5 and divide the total by the number of items from step 4. Add this amount to the cost of each item from step 4 to determine how much you need to charge for each item to break even. For example, if your costs in steps 3 and 5 total $150 and you bought a total of 300 items to embroider, you must add 50 cents to the cost of each item in order to break even. Embroiderers often mark up items as much as 200 percent to make a decent profit, according to Embroidery Library.
Embroider at least one of each cloth item to serve as examples of your product. Photograph each item separately against a white background to accurately highlight what it looks like.
Get an account with an online marketplace such as ArtFire, Etsy or Zibbet. These websites specialize in handmade goods. Make your user name the same as your business name.
Upload your product pictures to your seller account. Include the name of each product, a brief description and your minimum price. Invite custom orders.
Assess each customer order as you receive it and return a price quote depending on the complexity of the request. Take pictures of all orders to use as product examples.
Have magnetic signs made for your car, as well as business cards to hand out as you go about your day. Think locally as well as globally. The Internet will be a good place for you to find customers, but don't forget the needs of the people in your town. Speak to the recreation center in your town about doing all the jerseys for local sports teams, for example, or try to pick up corporate clients by offering to embroider the company name on uniforms, scrubs and t-shirts.
Beware of trademark issues. If you have clients asking for trademarks to be embroidered that do not belong to them, you may have problems if you use a trademark from a company without permission.