Going from Hobby to Profit as an Embroider


Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast. Here is a question our teams hears often; “How do I transition from embroidering for fun to embroidery for profit? We welcome into the show REGGIE Nominee Lisa Shaw of Sew-Bubbles.com to answer that very question. She will share with us what resources, steps, and software are needed to make that transition. She also helps us decide what to keep in-house and what to outsource. Tune in for some great information from Lisa as well as our show producer Erich Campbell carrying this show as our resident embroidery expert.

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Going from Hobby to Profit as an Embroider

Erich: Today we’re happy to bring on Lisa Shaw who’s been an educator in the home machine embroidery industry since the 90s as the owner of Bubbles’ Menagerie, focusing on the software side of machine embroidery. From 15 years as the tech support manager for Buzz Tools, to her work representing Embrilliance in social media and at trade shows, she has been supporting customers, creating online education, and teaching around the world. She’s appeared on It’s Sew Easy for PBS, written articles for Creative Machine Embroidery, and Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine and can be found teaching her own hands on 3-day events and at classes around the country. Lisa, welcome to the show!

Q1: We’ve recently talked a great deal about small shops, and the rise of the ‘cottage industry’ in your teaching, do you see a lot of home embroiders moving into selling their work? How do you find they usually get started doing hired work?

Q2. A great deal of the embroiderers you teach are really looking at this as a hobby or an artform; what do you see as the biggest hurdles they face in going from a craft they pay to enjoy to a business that brings them a profit?

Q3: In the show prep, we talked about how some of your students actually tuned in to our show and got some ideas about how they’d benefit from the differences between the cottage industry and the commercial world; can share a little about that story?

Q4. Many of the home embroiderers just starting into a commercial venture encounter some difficulty finding resources made for business, both literal resources in the way of materials and educational resources to help them make the transition; what’s out there in the way of resources to help them make money? Where should they look?

Q5. Some people see the split between home and cottage embroiderers comes down to how they are equipped, but it seems like we’re seeing more and more home embroiderers with multi-needle and sometimes even multi-head machines – do you see embroiderers using ‘commercial’ equipment in your classes, and when do you suggest that those single-needle embroiderers move to something commercial as they start to do business?

Dave Harding: Even if it is for fun make sure you establish the business by getting a bank account set up along with a Fed ID# and or a business license. From a financing, perspective money gets cheaper the longer your business has been established. To verify Time In Business we use things like Fed ID # or business lisc. This may be a little more work to start up will save you in the long run if you need to borrow money for more equipment down the road.

Paige Dyer Gaines: When setting up your business, should it be set up as an LLC?

Marlena Mack: What is the best way to market your service to the mid-size and large-sized contract embroidery companies?

Q6. You can’t talk about equipment in the embroidery world without at least looking at software; There are tons of embroiderers out there who don’t digitize, but some swear by having local control and customization; What role do you see customization and digitizing software having in making a profit? What do you think about outsourcing as it comes to digitizing?

Final Thoughts: Lisa, if you had one lesson for the folks you teach, and really for all the listeners, what would you want them to take away as it comes to transitioning from fun into profit?

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