The Embroidery Adventure

Custom Embroidery
I spent over an hour and several phone calls today trying to find a place that could embroider a logo and two lines of text on a polo shirt for a reasonable amount of money. After several phone calls, several quotes, and an hour or so, I decided I’d stop wasting my time and just pay the money. In the process, though, I learned a few things that I can pass onto you.

Explain the process.
I’m not sure about the average customer, but I knew essentially nothing about embroidery. I (stupidly) assumed you could bring in your logo on a flash drive, tell them what you wanted, and leave with a shirt in 15 minutes. I was totally wrong. They need the logo, they have to digitize it (a process that they charge you like $40 – $80 for), and then they need a few days to actually embroider the shirt. Some companies buy the shirts for you, others won’t. The point is the process isn’t super straight forward and none of the companies I talked to explained it on their web site. They assumed I knew a lot more about the process than I did. Never underestimate the value of a “dumbed down” page on your web site that explains what you do and how it all works.

Communicate expected times.
As mentioned above, the process of digitizing a logo is a bit tedious and also the most expensive part of the process (at least when you only need a couple of items embroidered). There was no set fee at any of the companies I called for digitizing. Instead, I had to email the logo to each one of them and wait for a quote. At one company, the guy called me back after a few minutes, at another, the lady emailed me after a few hours, and with others, I still haven’t heard from them almost a full day later. When you ask a potential customer to spend time to send you information required to produce a quote, be sure to communicate how long it’ll take to get that quote.

My two generic collared shirts ended up costing about $60 each, between the actual shirt, the embroidery fee, and then the “setup fee” for the embroidery. For my $120, I’ll get my two shirts and now I’ll know about the process of embroidery. Maybe it was worth it after all.

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2 Responses to “The Embroidery Adventure”

  1. Donna - NeedleUp Digitizing said:

    May 09, 08 at 11:46 am

    Enjoyed reading your post. As someone who has been on the other side of the digitizing service counter for over 16 years, I know we tend to assume that anyone contacting us for embroidery digitizing must already know what they want or at least have a cursory understanding of it to know to contact us. In an industry that moves so fast, I try to remember to slow down on a hectic day, listen to what the customer needs and explain the process and what is possible with thread.

    I really feel that the time it takes for a company to respond to a voice mail or quote request, reflects ultimately the kind of customer service you’ll receive. Obviously, a digitizer may not always be able to respond within an hour but if it takes days just to get the quote, imagine what the turn time might be. A commercial digitizer that cannot turn a basic design in 2 days (except for maybe at Christmas time) gets left in the industry’s dust.

    There’s one other thing that you should have gotten for your $120. A copy of your stitch file so that you can have more shirts produced in the future anywhere, without having to go through the digitizing process and paying for the “set-up” fee again. Some embroidery companies will not release the stitch file, holding you hostage to use them for production next time. For that reason, many people choose to search out a freelance digitizing company not associated with an embroidery shop. It’s your logo and you should have a copy of the file to take anywhere you wish to have it produced.

  2. Service Untitled said:

    May 09, 08 at 4:31 pm


    Thanks for the insightful comment!

    I agree with you about responding to voicemails and quote requests. Sometimes, it takes longer, but in general, the faster a company does it, the more it shows about how willing they are to help you.

    I’ve read that I should get my file. I’ll have to ask the company I decided to go with if I can have it. If not, it sounds like I made the wrong choice.

    I need a NeedleUp near me!