Making More Money in the Embroidery Business – Think Outside the Box

Doing MORE than just Shirts

If you’re already IN the embroidery business, making your embroidery machine run day and night, it is easy to fall into a routine selling the traditional; embroidered shirts, embroidered hats or caps and jackets to all your customers. There’s a good reason for that too:

These products are simple to sell, your customers need and want them, and it is a straight forward process to get the blanks and do embroidery on these items. Yet as an embroidery professional, you can offer so much more! If a needle can get through the material and you can get it under that same needle on the machine, there is the potential for selling through your embroidery business.

Selling your embroidery machine products

When you open your mindset to a wider range of product possibilities, you will have a whole slew of answers the next time your customers ask you that dreaded question:

“So, what else can you show me?”

If you’re dealing directly with a business owner there are product opportunities well beyond the traditional apparel and headwear options.


These people have a need to expand the awareness of their brand and even their brand promise. They may have sales representatives, technicians and service people out on the road. Think about all the things that could be useful to these “road warriors.” Brainstorm product ideas to keep their samples, equipment, tools, computers and supplies handy, organized and easily identified as company property. All of these products can be seen as mini billboards for that company and are ideal locations to reinforce the company’s brand and logo.

Embroidery on Luggage

Your Embroidery Business becomes a Marketing Business

Suggest these product ideas to your customers:

  • Umbrellas
  • calendar or day planner covers
  • portfolios and binders
  • specialized bags
  • basket liners
  • cargo organizers
  • tote bags and market totes for tools, samples and cargo.


There are products to help organize the passenger seat “offices” people work out of daily. Nothing says your traveling team is company all the way to the customer like a well-organized employee. If their staff travels by air, an embroidered wallet or badge holder is just the thing to keep photo ids and other essentials handy. Branded luggage is another option.

Look for more business opportunities to keep your embroidery machine working

At the home office, their staff can sport company neckties. Gloves and scarves can be embroidered with the company logo or be personalized with initials. CD holders can be logo’d and so can business card cases. Embroidered notepaper is an unexpected product that will catch their eye. This notepaper can be embroidered with a monogram, company logo or an expression or tag line. These are a great way for company leadership to send an “atta boy” to a staff member. It is perfect for when they want to send a message that will be remembered.

If the customer is hosting an outdoor event or wants ideas for incentives or gifts, many recreation products can be embroidered and logo’d. Also:

  • Golf bags, golf bag covers and head covers can be emblazoned with the company name or logo
  • Insulated can wraps can now be embroidered to go around water bottles and canned beverages.
  • There are several choices of the ever-popular portable chairs in a bag.
  • beach chairs
  • towels
  • beach blankets
  • Custom hat bands for the sun hats are excellent suggestions.

If they are launching an employee health program, embroidered sport towels, yoga mats, yoga bags, gym bags or shoe bags might be of interest.

If your customer owns a retail establishment, look around for opportunities slip in embroidered branding in their business or restaurant. Restaurants have public bathrooms. Spare rolls of TP can be wrapped in an embroidered cover with a Velcro or snap closure. Extra paper towels can be wrapped or bundled in a custom cover. If they have fabric hand towels, they could definitely carry the brand on them! They come in a wide range of colors. If they have a sports bar, why not offer custom sports theme bar stools sporting the company name.


If your customer is looking for more personal ideas, such as gifts for babies or new homes, present some interesting embroidered options. Photo albums can be embroidered. Afghans, throws and baby blankets can be embroidered. Diaper bags for moms and understated bags for dads are now offered in a wide variety of styles. Gift baskets from the office can be enhanced with embroidered liners and personalized gifts can be added.


Some of the items mentioned are embroiderable after they are manufactured. Some of these products need to be embroidered before they are assembled. The key point to remember is that you can find something embroiderable that will suit your customers’ needs. If they select something that requires embroidery before assembly, you will need to work with the manufacturer to complete that order.


Move beyond the comfort zone of shirts, caps and jackets and become a “solution provider” for your customers!  When you do so, you will become their “go to” person whenever they need a fresh idea. The options are just about endless. The only limit is your own imagination, and your customers’ budgets.



By: Jennifer Cox

President, National Network of Embroidery Professionals