Stitches Small Business Volume 74 / October 16, 2012


Born in the USA
American manufacturing is demonstrating surprising resiliency, and apparel suppliers are finding success here at home. C.J. Mittica, editor of Stitches’sister publication Wearables, discusses the topic and shows off American-made products in this latest video.

Click here to watch the video.


As the holidays move ever closer, shops are already feeling the pressure of fourth-quarter decorated apparel orders. Here, decorators and distributors give us their suggestions for managing the holiday-rush chaos.

While customers tend to put off ordering their fourth-quarter decorated apparel, decorators and distributors say orders should be processed starting in August and continuing into early November at the latest. "Getting customers to think ahead is one of the most difficult things we do," says Donna O'Dell Hoke, president/owner of Unique Impressions (asi/348444) in Newark, DE. Allowing extra time helps alleviate some of the inevitable holiday rush stress for decorators and distributors – and their customers. "By starting early," says Andy Shuman, general manager at Topton, PA-based Rockland Embroidery (asi/734150), "you can start your sizing process and have a backup plan. You need time to anticipate and correct problems."

In addition to procrastinating customers, maintaining adequate inventory and supplies can add to the stress. Jocelyn Kollar, president of Alleycat Designs in Westland, MI, says it's important to be aware of supply levels at all times. "Make sure to monitor thread and try to bulk orders," she says. "Heat transfers arrive in a day or two so they're easy to re-stock, but direct-to-garment ink takes longer to ship." Also, look for suppliers who offer free freight, O'Dell Hoke says.

An increased workload around the holidays also means longer hours for workers. In the middle of the December holiday rush, Unique Impressions, located on the University of Delaware's campus, loses a significant portion of its student staff, so the remaining employees must schedule effectively to fulfill all orders. However, Shuman emphasizes the importance of monitoring the overtime being paid because, in the rush of things, it can quickly become financially unmanageable. "Sometimes it's not worth it to say you can do a last-minute order," Shuman says. "We try to cross-train screen printers so they can cover embroidery when screen printing drops off, and we bring in temps as needed."

The best way to moderate the chaos and stress of a busy fourth quarter is simply to plan ahead. By October, decorators should be selecting items from trustworthy suppliers to recommend to clients, says O'Dell Hoke, as well as mentioning the upcoming holidays through networking groups, e-mail newsletters and face-to-face meetings. "Personalization is what makes a gift special," O'Dell Hoke says, "but it requires a little more forethought and planning than shopping retail."



If your clients want their end-users to feel like royalty, sell them on the booming trend of quilted jackets. "In sportswear, we believe the trend has come from William and Kate wearing a lot of Barbour coats, particularly on their honeymoon last year," says Joel Freet, national sales manager at Cutter & Buck (asi/47965), a Counselor magazine Top 40 industry supplier. "They are quite the fashion plate, and quilted is a key staple in the Classic British wardrobe."

However, even those who don't aspire to be princes and princesses can appreciate the versatility of these outerwear items. "Jackets are very universal," says Marc Held, national sales director of Bodek and Rhodes (asi/40788), another Top 40 industry supplier. "Jacket sales in the promotional industry start spiking around early October and remain strong through December." Held cites the corporate marketplace as an ideal market to sell jackets into. Freet says the ski and outdoor markets are big on quilted jackets, especially in his neck of the woods: "Being based in Seattle, we wear outerwear all the time. We see a lot of unique and varied weights to the now-ubiquitous quilted jacket, and we are making our stand this winter with a heavier-weight quilted jacket coming out in our line." 

Of course, decorators must not forget the collegiate market, says Matt Foley, Northeast territory sales manager for Bodek and Rhodes. According to Foley, schools and teams embrace warm, quilted jackets, as well as quilted vests, especially in colder regions. "The colors are usually corporate colors, such as off-white, eggshell and black, and most clients want small logos on the front left chest," he says.

Noting that embroidery is the most popular medium for embellishing quilted jackets, Freet says clients have given the wardrobe staples as holiday gifts. It's a good idea: Who wouldn't appreciate a gift that so seamlessly blends fashion and functionality?


Improving SEO – search engine optimization – is key to increasing the online visibility of your company. When potential customers search for decorated apparel, you want your company's website to rank high in Google's results. So what's the secret?

Norwood (asi/74400) can offer some insight. If you search the term "promotional products" in Google, the supplier consistently comes up in the top 10 results. No other industry supplier ranks in the top 40. One way Norwood is able to rank so well is because of its use of videos, says Margit Fawbush, communications manager for Norwood and BIC Graphic (asi/40480). The company has its own YouTube channel – NorwoodPromoPod – that features product demos, behind-the-scenes tours and executive Q&A-style videos. "We know videos boost SEO," Fawbush says. "We've really increased our overall social media presence because with SEO it helps to have your name out there. We optimize a lot of our content for distributors so they can market themselves better."

While Norwood improves its website SEO in part through social media, Clayton Kendall (asi/162968) emphasizes content to better its rank. The Pittsburgh-based firm has steadily climbed into the top 20 in page rank among ad specialty companies. "We try to write a new blog post three times a week," says Dan Broudy, vice president of sales at Clayton Kendall. "It's important that we provide unique content and link with other relevant websites."

Like Norwood, Clayton Kendall has a team dedicated to SEO planning and adaptation. "When you have an online commerce website, SEO is extremely important," Broudy says. "You have to stay current." To keep up on the latest SEO trends, Broudy believes in continuing education. "I've researched best practices, gone to seminars and picked up what I could," he says. "Google always keeps you guessing."

Speaking of Google, the Internet giant says that about 20% of searches are related to location. That's 2.3 billion local searches every month. Google Places – a free platform – allows smaller businesses greater recognition. To list your business in Google Places (which links to Google Maps), you simply need a Gmail account and a primary phone number. After verifying the listing (either by phone, postcard or SMS text), you can personalize it by adding your company's physical address, e-mail and website. "You can also add pictures, improve your company's description and respond to negative reviews," says Scott Salwolke, owner of Ad Hoc Marketing.


In her new blog post, The Embroidery Coach Joyce Jagger explains how gift-giving can help your embroidery business. "I have found," she writes, "that giving a simple gift to the person who placed the order for an organization or business works wonders for increasing your name recognition and bringing in new business. When they receive a gift from you, they will remember you, and they very quickly pass on your name to other people. This inspires people to help you spread your name, and there is no better way to do it than to show your appreciation by giving gifts to your buyers."

Read the full post – click here.

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Yoke Back: A piece of fabric that connects the back of a garment to the shoulders. This allows the garment to lie flat.

Zigzag Machine: A machine that features a needle that swings left and right, laying down the stitches in a zigzag pattern. Offers high-speed sewing. Ideal for monogramming and personalization.

Zigzag Stitch: Stitches that diagonally go from one side of an area to be sewn to the other side. Diagonals may be placed closely together to form a satin stitch.

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American Embroidery Supply offers Super Strength Rayon, a thread with a 120 denier two-ply 40 weight that fits an 11.75 size needle. It comes in solid and variegated colors.

Americanna Co. (asi/35730) has hired Kim Walsh as sales and marketing director.

Ash City (asi/37127) announced that Shawna Tickle and Peter Strob have been hired as sales representatives. Tickle will be responsible for AZ, UT, NM, WY and CO, and Strob will be responsible for NC, SC and southwest VA.

Bag Makers (asi/37940) has announced that Lisa Surber has joined the company's sales team and will be responsible for distributor clients in OK, MO and KS. The company has also added Allison Sidote to its sales team. She will be responsible for distributor clients in MI, IN, OH and KY.

CafePress Inc. will donate a portion of its sales – from now through Oct. 31 – to, an online resource for breast health and breast cancer information and support.

Carolina Made (asi/43993) has announced a partnership with DRI Duck (asi/50835). Carolina Made will add DRI Duck's outdoor apparel and headwear to its current product line. This expands Carolina Made's relationship with DRI Duck, as it had already been carrying DRI Duck's Authentic Wildlife Series headwear.

Cotswold 2.5-ounce premium cutaway offers optimal stability because it is a "wet-laid" soft, dense nondirectional nonwoven. One layer is all you need to match the stitch count and density with the weight and stretch of your material.

Ennis (asi/52493), parent company of Alstyle Apparel (asi/34817), has announced its sales for the six-month period ended August 31 increased 2.7%, rising to a total of $280.9 million. Print revenues were up year-over-year by 27.2%, reaching $173.4 million, but apparel sales at Ennis slipped to $107.5 million, a decrease of 21.7%.

Flexfit was the official hat sponsor of the 2012 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open for the fourth consecutive year. The PGA TOUR event took place Oct. 1 to 7 at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.

Gildan was named Company of the Month for September by the International OEKO-TEX Association and has been nominated for the OEKO-TEX Sustainability Award.

Graphics One launches the GO Cubix 308 UV at the SGIA Expo in Las Vegas this month. The GO Cubix 308 UV is a unique industrial UV flatbed printer offering a print width of 30" and an eight-color channel system for printing rigid substrates.

Great Dane Graphics has a great collection of holiday stock art designs that are royalty-free.

Grossman Marketing Group (asi/215205) has renewed its strategic marketing partnership as the preferred print and promotional partner of the Boston Celtics.

Hanesbrands (asi/59528) has announced that the Hanes Beefy-T was named one of Carson Daly's style essentials in the September issue of GQ magazine.

Imprintables Warehouse
(asi/58475) has promoted Kayla Bierce from account manager/customer service to sales representative. Bierce’s new responsibilities will include helping new customers set up accounts, assisting with information and education about Imprintables products, and working trade shows.
top Logomark (asi/67866) announces that Errol Bouchet has been promoted to the position of vice president, production and operations.

National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP) will host the Embroidery Trade Show in Columbus, OH, in 2013. The Embroidery Trade Show will be held February 15-16 at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel. Register at Membership in NNEP is not required to attend the show.

Penn Emblem Co. (asi/62485) offers Reflective Emblems that keep the wearer visible and safe. Each emblem is made of Scotchlite by 3M and can feature a company logo or simple text.

Proforma (asi/300094) has completed its three-year, $5 million investment in developing an enterprise solutions technology platform, designed to significantly increase Proforma franchise owners’ North American and global enterprise client base.

Pro Towels (asi/79750) is the new name of the towel supplier formerly known as Pro Towels, Etc.

Roland DGA announces that has declared KA Grafix of Fredericksburg, VA, the grand prize winner in the forum’s 7th Anniversary Design Contest Extravaganza. As the contest winner, KA Grafix will receive a new Roland VersaStudio BN-20 T-shirt printing press, complete with a supply of inks and media. Additionally, Roland has introduced new SoftSign Woven Polyester, WallFlair Removable Fabric, and WallFlair Removable Vinyl to its extensive product lineup of certified media.

Royal Apparel
(asi/83731) offers an organic cotton pullover sweatshirt. The men's hooded pullover sweatshirt, style 21052ORG, is made of the finest-quality, super-heavyweight fleece available in 100% organic cotton.

Stahls' ID Direct (asi/88984) is offering a free shirt platen with the purchase of any Hotronix or MAXX clam-style heat press during October.

Stitch Designers (asi/741145) has hired Adam Hitt to serve as its national accounts manager.

Tajima recently released the Lochrose Rhinestone Attaching Device, a machine attachment that allows an embroiderer to "sew" Swarovski crystals onto fabric. Specially made crystals feature a hole to allow a needle to go through to attach the crystal to the material. A clear thread is used to create a cross stitch, which holds the stone firmly in place.

TSC Apparel (asi/90518) recently celebrated the opening of its newest warehouse location with a New York Premiere Event.

Winross (asi/97231) has joined ASI as a supplier decorator member.  

Workhorse now offers the Powerhouse 5208, an 8-foot-long extra-wide dryer that allows for higher productivity in a small space.


We are pleased to notify you that our new digital edition of Stitches is available for online viewing. We hope you enjoy the interactivity and rich media features of your digital edition of Stitches.

Start reading the issue today!

Sept. 20, 2012, Philadelphia (Super City)
Advantages Roadshow
(800) 546-3300;

Sept. 20-22, 2012, Philadelphia
NBM Show
(303) 469-0424;

Sept. 23-24, 2012, Syracuse, NY
New England Apparel Club Show
(781) 326-9223;

Sept 27-29, 2012, Ft. Worth
ISS Shows
(508) 743-0532;

Oct. 13-15, 2012, Galveston Island, TX
Galveston Gift & Resort Merchandise Show
(678) 285-3976;

Oct. 14-17, 2012, Marlboro, MA
New England Apparel Club Show
(781) 326-9223;

Oct. 20-22, 2012, Panama City, FL
Gulf Coast Gift Show
(678) 285-3976;

October 27-30, 2012, Ocean City, MD
Ocean City Resort Gift Expo
(678) 285-3976;

Ask Phil presented by FLEXFIT

Wine & Yoga
Q: Hi Phil, I need a source for wholesale yoga mat bags without a huge minimum. Any suggestions? – Debbie

A: No need to get all bent out of shape. Yoga mat bags are available from Fiel (asi/53509); (800) 851-3435;; products YMB001 and YMB002. ACRO (asi/30981); (888) 747-2276;; also offers low-minimum bags, product 10008, to help stretch your advertising message. Or, meditate while contemplating products 7907 and 7007 from Atmec (asi/37435); (888) 364-2558;

Sales Tip: Yoga mats fit in perfectly to corporate wellness programs, encouraging healthy behavior. They can be given as gifts to employees who reach health milestones during get-fit company initiatives.

Q: Hi Phil, I had a supplier that carried terrific backpacks that included a coffee thermos, cups, spoons, sugar and cream containers, and also wine backpacks with glasses and other wine accessories. My supplier has discontinued these items. Do you know of another source? – Sue

A: I’ll drink to that! You can find both coffee and wine backpacks from Nissin Cap and Bag (asi/30107); (800) 548-8443;, as well as Binaco (asi/40544); (800) 660-0968; In addition, Picnic at Ascot (asi/78060); (866) 226-3102;; and San Global (asi/84836); (818) 641-1215;; have everything you need to make a tasteful impression.

Sales Tip: Wine backpacks could make a classy gift for your corporate clients to give to their best customers during the holiday season.

Howdy! Ol’ Phil has left behind the horse-and-buggy and finally entered the 21st century! Which is to say, I have a Facebook page. “Like” my page – – to connect with other fans, learn about products and chat about, well, any old thing you like. Thanks!

Got a question for Phil? If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the Embroiderers Sourcing Guide, write to: Stitches, Attn: Phil Stitch, 4800 Street Road, Trevose, PA 19053. Or fax your question to: (215) 953-3107. For the quickest response, e-mail For RN inquiries, visit for the RN database link.

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