Why It’s Fun

youth-active-jump-happy-40815Anyone who has had anything to do with running a business knows the pain of the days when nothing about the experience is fun.   Equipment breaks.   Supplies don’t arrive in time or arrive too soon.   The customer doesn’t like the artwork you produced.   The customer has ideas that aren’t really possible unless you had a time machine and an army of shirt decorating robots.  Your price is too high.   You turn time is too long.   Your employees don’t show up.   There’s a lot of reasons why having a business can be tough day to day.   So why do we do it?

There are a lot of reasons, but,  sometimes,  it’s just because of the days when it’s fun.

Because of the days when a blogger tries a string art kit you created and likes it.    Or the day when a crafting guru does a video demo of the new Color Your Own Mug Kit that is just perfect (and positive).   It could be the day when one of your many lovely Facebook friends, unprompted,  speaks up and recommends your company or your products to another who is asking for a recommendation.

Perhaps it’s the day when someone takes some products of yours and does something totally new and awesome with them.    Or you get a note or an e-mail in which you’re told that a product you carry inspired someone to do something they’d never tried before, and the result was better than they’d ever dreamed.   It’s definitely fun the day a you get to solve a problem;  recommending a product that helps someone out of a jam and makes their life easier.

Fun is always in the mix in when new products and possibilities arrive on the dock.   Maybe you come up with a kit that could help quilt shop owners sell remnants of fabric in a fun (and adorable) way.   Or perhaps you add some markers that extend the possibility and creativity of sublimation to a new customer base.    Maybe, one day, some cuddly rag dolls show up on your dock,  and suddenly there’s a whole new range of cute with which to play.    The almost best part,  when something new shows up,  is wondering what your amazing customers will do with these new products.   The best part is finding out.

It’s certainly a good day when you can solve a problem and help someone out.   Maybe you’re at a craft or trade show answering questions for someone who is just starting out.   Perhaps you share your knowledge and expertise in Facebook groups or on Twitter.  Maybe you write a blog, or two,  where you share knowledge and information gained from years of experience.   Some days it’s just taking a minute to encourage someone who is experiencing one of the tougher aspects of being in this industry.

So,  yeah,  running a business can be tough,  and there are days when you’re going to wonder why you’re doing it and if it’s worth it.   Those days aren’t the ones that matter though.   The days that will stick in your memory are those days  when everything goes well and you feel like you’ve done good work and made a difference.  That’s when it’s fun,  and worthwhile.

We’ve told you about some of the days when running EnMart has been fun,  but we’re more interested in hearing about your best days.   What has made running your business the most fun?   Share your answer in the comments.    We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

New Products

Every once in a while I like to go through and showcase some of the new products that have been added to the website,  just in case anyone has missed something.   We have some fun and exciting new things to show you;  some great products that could be either great ways to get new business for your company,  or just things that would be a fun way to pass the time on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The first category of new items,  as our graphic shows,  is the Pretty Twisted Craft Kits that were added in 2018.   We added three fabulous new string art kits,  Dancing DragonflySenorita Sugar Skull and No Drama Llama.  We also added Color Your Own Mug kits,  giving you the opportunity to decorate a mug that has been sublimated with an abstract design.   If fashion is your thing,  you might find our Decorate Your Own Patch Kits interesting.  These kits combine pre-made patches and pins with patches you can decorate yourself,  and also give you supplies to do the decorating.  All the Pretty Twisted Kits are designed to be fast and fun,  most can be done in a few hours,  even if you’ve never done a craft kit before.

Another fun crafting product we’ve developed is the Felting Fun Needle Felting Starter Kit.  If you’re familiar with needle felting,  this kit should be perfect for you.   It comes with everything you need to create a needle felted project,  including 10 colors of wool,  but leaves the design to your own imagination.  Felt a purse,  felt an animal,  felt whatever you like,  it’s up to you.

For those who machine embroider,  the new blankets and scarves we’re stocking would be the perfect addition.  From fleece (perfect for tailgating before the big game)  to minky (soft as a kiss,  and in baby and throw size) to scarves to keep you warm on a cold winter day,  our blanket blanks are just waiting for monograms and team logos.   The fleece blankets would be great for team booster sales.  The minky blankets, especially the baby blankets,  would be adorable when paired with a Cubbie for a lovely new baby gift.

Speaking of Cubbies,  if you’re a quilter,  you might find our Quilt-A-Cubbies intriguing.   Each Cubbie comes with a specially designed quilt pattern that is suited to the theme of the Cubbie.  Perfect for using up scraps that you’ve never been sure what to do with,  or for shops that need ideas for how to package and sell remnants and bolt ends,  the Quilt-A-Cubbies are both adorable and useful.

Finally,  don’t miss the new backing we’ve added – R2000.   It’s a cutaway that’s perfect for performance wear.  If polymesh backing doesn’t work for your production schedule or your pocketbook,  R2000 is a less expensive option that can accomplish a lot of the same goals.  We brought the backing in after having embroiderers test it and tell us how great it was for performance wear.  Since we’ve been selling it,  we’ve had even more customers tell us the exact same thing.

The Gifts of Summer

While you couldn’t tell it by the temperatures in Northern Michigan for the last few weeks,  summer is rapidly approaching.  The start of summer means a lot of things,  graduations,  the end of the school year,  summer camp,  family reunions,  Fourth of July,  and numerous cookouts, pool parties and campfires.  All of these events,  of course,  are also opportunities for personalized gifts or promo products.   If you’re one of the businesses that wants to capitalize on the season,  we have some ideas that will help.

First,  let’s start with education.   Teacher gifts are big at the end of the year,  and it would be nice to be able to offer something more than an apple.  A personalized Owl Cubbie (owls are symbols of wisdom) would make a great gift for a special teacher or professor.   The graduate in your life would most likely treasure a Cubbie in the shape of the school mascot embroidered with the name of the school and the date of graduation.   Tigersbears, and lions are common school mascots and could be easily decorated.  The mascot option also works to commemorate sports championships,  or membership in the cheer squad or the school band.

Cubbies also make a great option for the child going to sleep away camp for the first time.   A personalized, huggable harlequin dog or adorable penguin could help ease any pangs of homesickness.  Personalized messenger bags are a great option for those going to day camp.   Luggage and bag tags can help make sure that any necessary supplies or equipment go to the right person so your favorite camper is well supplied.

Cookouts are a fertile ground for personalized cooking utensils.   Your favorite BBQ chef would love to have a personalized cutting board on which to chop onions for burgers or mushrooms for steaks.   If the BBQ pit also features a bar area,  personalized shot glasses or beer mugs will be a big hit.  Decorated coasters could help keep frosty drinks from staining patio furniture.

The Fourth of July is probably the major summer holiday and is also a great time for personalized decorated items.   Patriot variegated embroidery thread is perfect for that patriotic quilt or tablecloth for the Fourth of July celebration.  Flag patches could be used as table favors or as giveaways.  A patriotic mural could be made from sublimated tiles.

Truth be told,  every season is brimming over with events that are crying out for promotional items and personalized goods,  summer just happens to be the one that is coming up.  The trick to capitalizing on each season and the opportunities it may bring is to be alert and to think about how you can marry the circumstances of your markets to the products that are available.   Customers often don’t know what they want or need, and part of your job,  as a decorator,  is to show them the possibilities.   This post outlines a few of the options that are available for summer.   We look forward to seeing the seasonal decorative items that you all will discover and create.

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How To: Vinyl and Rhinestones on a Cubbie

Please note:  The manufacturer of Cubbies does not recommend that Cubbies be used for anything except embroidery.   This was an experiment that an EnMart customer did that we wanted to share with you.

WeIMG_3897 have long maintained that Cubbies are about a lot more than just birth announcements and can be decorated in a variety of ways,  some of which don’t involve thread.  Today we’re going to prove that to you,  by featuring a Cream Dumble,  decorated by Brandi Womack of MommaWombatCreations.   This adorable little guy is decorated with both rhinestones and vinyl.  Best of all, Brandi provided us with some hints and tips on how you can create your own decorated Dumble or other Cubbie, using these materials.

The infinity heart was a design that Brandi created herself,  because she couldn’t find an existing design that she liked.  At first the heart and the infinity symbol were intended to both be vinyl,  but Brandi decided to add a little bling to the design by creating the infinity symbol from rhinestones instead.   Templates were created using a Silhouette Cameo.   Sticky flock with hotflex tape was used for the rhinestone template.  The vinyl is Siser Easyweed.  The vinyl was pressed to the ear using a heat press set at 310 degrees.  It only needed to be tacked in place, so it was only pressed for a few seconds.  The rhinestones required that the temperature on the heat press be bumped up to 325 degrees and required a press time of 25 seconds.

The other ear has a vinyl monogram featuring the initials of both Brandi and her husband.It was created offset in two layers.  It was pressed at 310 degrees to tack it into place and then pressed for a full 22 seconds to secure it to the Dumble.  Please keep in mind that pressing temperatures will vary based on the type of vinyl used for the project.

Finally,  Brandi added the jaunty bow around Mr. Dumble’s neck as the finishing touch.   The bow was created using ribbon and floral wire.   The first step was to fold the ribbon end over end and then twisting floral wire around the middle of the folded ribbon to hold the bundle together.  Then the ribbon was fluffed until it achieved the desired fullness.  After that,  a longer piece was cut to go around the Dumble’s neck,  using a noose like loop.   Additional floral wire secured the bow to the loop for the neck.  The wire was trimmed as short as it could be to match the length of the ribbons. Once the wire was trimmed,  the bow was slipped over the neck,  and the ends of the ribbon were trimmed to a length that suited the size of the Dumble.

This is a great design for an anniversary or wedding gift,  and would be a treasured memento for any couple.   It also goes to show that vinyl and rhinestones can be an elegant way to decorate a Cubbie.

To see more of Brandi Womack’s work,  visit MommaWombatCreations on Facebook.

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New Ways to Use Embroiderable Stuffed Animals

medium_qf4KrRRQeKKCHueje3tA_CowOne of the fun things about the Cubbies embroiderable stuffed animals is that there are new designs coming out on a regular basis.   We have the most fun deciding which animals to bring in,  and figuring out unique ideas for how they can be used.  Embroidery and sublimation are,  of course,  two ways these cuddly little friends can be decorated,  but the type of decoration that is put on them can change based on the use to which the animal will be put.

Take school mascots for instance.   Schools use lions (we have one),  mustangs ( we have an adorable harlequin horse), bears (in white or brown),  or ducks as mascots.   We also have owls which could be gifted to an especially wise graduate.   Simply add the graduation date,  the school name and the graduate’s name,  or use any of these graduation themed designs to make a memento of graduation any graduate would be proud to own.

If you live in the country or have your business in an area where a lot of people farm or ranch,  the harlequin horse would be a great souvenir for a horse farm or riding stable.   A dairy farm, especially one that sells milk or cheese,  would probably love their very own embroidered cow souvenir.  Ducks,  lambs and pigs would also fit into this category.    These cute farm themed designs from Embroidery Library would be adorable on any of these animals.

Speaking of pigs,  what could make a more perfect mascot for a BBQ restaurant?   Yes,  I know it sounds a bit weird,  but think of how many BBQ restaurants use a pig in their logo.  A cow could also work in this situation, depending on the types of meats served.   Creative Connections has some cute BBQ and restaurant themed embroidery designs that could be used to turn a Cubbie into a fun restaurant souvenir.

Finally,  let’s not forget the Dumbles and the fact that baby themed items are a fast growing market for Cubbies.   Subway art birth announcements can be used to commemorate a birth.   You can find examples of digitized subway art birth announcement designs here and here.  The Embroidery Library also has a wide array of baby and child themed designs,  many of which would suit a Cubbie admirably.

The main thing to remember,  when working with Cubbies,  is to think outside the box.   An embroidered or sublimated Cubbie can be used for many different purposes,  as a mascot,  a memento,  a souvenir,  a promotional item or a collectible.  Your job,  as the decorator,  is to help your customers see all the possibilities in this simple embroiderable stuffed animal.

Trendy Thursday:Gifts that Give

morts moose munchies copyWe’ve talked before on this blog about what can be done with an embroiderable stuffed animal but,  given the holiday season is now upon us,  I thought it would be fun to talk about using these animals as gifts.   They do,  of course,  make great personalized gifts all on their own.  Almost any child  or adult  would love a cuddly friend emblazoned with their name or commemorating a special location or event.   What makes these animals really fun, however,  is that their gift potential doesn’t stop with simply embroidering a name or a logo on them.   There’s so much more than that which can be done.

The secret to the embroiderable stuffed animal’s gift potential is in its construction.  In order to be suitable to be embroidered,  a stuffed animal blank has to be filled with a stuffing pod or something that can be removed.   When the pod is removed,  the animal can be hooped and embroidered.   Once the embroidery is finished,  the stuffing is replaced and the animal can be gifted.    The fun part of the whole thing is that the animal is constructed so there is extra room in the body where the stuffing pod fits.   This is the perfect space to turn a gift that people love to get into a gift that gives something extra.

Maybe it’s a bear embroidered with a few lines from a favorite love poem,  with a beautiful piece of jewelry tucked inside.   It could be tickets to a hockey game inside a penguin embroidered with the logo of a favored team.    Perhaps it’s a sonogram picture tucked inside a lamb that commemorates baby’s first Christmas,  a perfect gift for grandparents to be.   Like Mort’s Moose Munchies,  pictured above,  the stomach compartment could be the perfect place to store a favorite treat before it makes its way into your stomach.     The animal becomes the gift and the wrapping for the gift,   creating a unique packaging opportunity that allows the gift giver to say something special about the gift they’re giving.

One of the trends in gift giving in recent years has been the giving of sustainable gifts,  presents that are environmentally friendly and which cause less waste.    Using embroiderable stuffed animals as both gift and wrapping completely supports this trend.   There will be no wrapping paper or bows to throw away,  and no cardboard box to recycle.   Instead the recipient and the giver get two gifts in one.   The recipient gets both an adorable stuffed animal and the gift that’s tucked inside,  and the giver gets to be both environmentally conscious and known as the best gift giver around.  Everybody wins.

Ideas for Selling Embroiderable Stuffed Animals

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Courtesy of Strikke Knits

Whenever you see a picture of an embroidered stuffed animal,  it is primarily shown in the arms of a delighted looking child,  or placed near the crib or seat of a cute as a button baby.  Since these are stuffed animals,  it isn’t all that odd that many people who sell them tend to think of babies and children, or the parents of the babies and children,  as a natural market. The problem starts when that market is thought of as the only market for these animals.  Embroiderable stuffed animals are far more versatile than most people realize.   Here are some other ways they can be used.

Like the adorable penguin in the picture above,  stuffed animals can be embroidered with the names and dates of local festivals.  There are enough different types of animals that one of them should be able to be made to fit the theme of the event for which they would be made. If a festival happens every year,  it could be a fun idea to have a new animal for every year,  so frequent festival goers can form their own collections.  Since almost every town or city has at least one festival of some kind during the year,  this could potentially be a very lucrative market.

Local attractions or businesses are another great market for these adorable embroiderables.  A lion or an elephant for a local zoo seems like a no brainer,  but what about an owl for a local college (an animal that’s supposed to be wise and learned) or a hedgehog for a local self defense class ( hedgehogs are supposed to be calm and collected and know how to protect themselves in a crisis).  The trick is to come up with a connection between the animals and the attraction or business in question.

Don’t underestimate the value of these using these animals as advertisements as well.  The body that surrounds the stuffing pod inside the animal is large enough to hold a variety of items,  or even to hold a hot or cold pack to soothe a child’s injury.   If you know of a snack mix or candy that uses a particular animal as a theme,  you might sell them animals embroidered with the company logo that also hold a sweet or savory surprise.  Pediatricians might love animals embroidered with the name of their practice and equipped with a reusable hot or cold pack to put on little sprained ankles or broken arms.  An embroiderable stuffed animal is also an advertisement that keeps on working,  since most people will keep the animal much after its initial use has expired.

Finally,  don’t forget these cuddly animals are perfect for holidays and life events.  Embroidered stockings will be hung by the chimney with even more care. An embroidered reindeer is an adorable memento of baby’s first Christmas.  A bear with “I love you” embroidered on his stomach is a great way to deliver an engagement ring or a Valentine’s gift.  An embroidered duck makes a perfect addition to an Easter basket.  An owl embroidered with a high school or college logo and graduation date could make a lovely keepsake for a new graduate.