In 1995 my wife decided she hated her day job. The pay was meager, the commute was terrible and most importantly she felt she could achieve more with her life. At the time I was a textile machine salesmen. I sold serious industrial textile equipment which ranged from 3 ton, 15 headed embroidery machines to smaller single head embroidery machines that you can easily run out of your garage. So one day I suggested she buy a used single head machine and our business was born.
We canvased the neighborhood for local business, schools, police and fire stations for people that wanted to have their custom logo embroidered on shirts, hats and polo shirts and we found that it was pretty easy to find business. In one year the business began to grow steadily and it became apparent that our single head embroidery machine was unable to keep up with production.
At this point we had to make a strategic decision. Do we invest more money and grow the business? Well, we bought a 6 head embroidery machine for $50,000.00 (which barely fit in our garage). The business grew and our new machine could keep pace with it quite well. We hired an employee to help run it as well.
I know what you are wondering. How much money did you make? I can tell you that there were months were we netted $9,000.00 per month, but that was working pretty hard and we started losing the work-life balance. Then my wife gave birth to two children and had to make another strategic decision about how hard we wanted to work. I had my own day job and was working with my wife late in the evening to help her get orders out the door. Something had to give, so this is what we decided to do.
We fired about 20% of our customers, starting with the customers that demanded net 30 and 60 day terms, and to be honest we also fired customers that were too demanding (and somewhat jerky). I am a nice guy, but I have to admit I took pleasure in firing some of these clients. The end result was we were able to still net around $60,000.o0 per year working on average 4 hours a day for some really nice companies that treated us with respect and paid their bills on time.
Flash forward to the present, we sold the 6 head and bought a newer, faster 4 head Barudan Embroidery Machine. We purchased it used for about $30,000.00. I know that seems expensive, but remember we bought the first machine, a single head, for about $8,000.00. If the barriers to entry in this business seem high to you…that’s a good thing. It prevents everyone from being able to enter too. For example, you can get started in the screen print business for $1,000.00. However, look around in your neighborhood, you will quickly discover that screenprinters outnumber embroidery shops 5 to 1. Secondly, you might also notice that embroidered goods command a much higher price than screenprinted items.
The decision to stay small at not get too big panned out to be a great decision. China crushed the big embroidery shop business in this country. I am talking about business that I sold machinery to that had 10 or more 12 head embroidery machines and did major production. That business all was sent overseas which eventually forced me to have to find a new day job ( I don’t sell embroidery machines any more). But the small local shops stayed alive and thrived. Think about it; if you need 50 embroidered hats for you small business or high school team are you going to arrange a shipment from China, when I can turn that order around in 3 days for the price of $8.00 per hat? By the way the hats cost me $2 -3.00 a piece and take me about an hour to complete the order.
Let’s do the math on that. $5.00 profit per hat x 50 hats = $250.00 gross profit.
If that hats cost $3.00 each that is a cost of $50 x $3 = $150 dollars cost of goods.
The net profit is $100.00 for one hours of work. I will work for $100.00 per hour anytime.
So that’s my wife’s work from home story. It’s been a rewarding career for her that has enabled her to make money and still be a mother. There is another point to make here. Not every work from home opportunity has to be an online opportunity. There are still honest to goodness businesses that still make something in this country. God Bless America and the opportunity to earn a buck in this great country of ours!
That was 1995, today her business is still going strong (though the recession slowed it down a bit). The greatest thing about it was she was able to work at home, make money and raise two wonderful children at the same time. If you would like to ask questions about getting started in the embroidery business please leave a comment in this post. I am happy to tell you all about it.
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