Posted on

Machine Embroidery is Kryptonite

I’m in production. That’s my job. In this case it means I make stuff. I run a printer, embroidery machine, and a hot iron press. Car decals and custom t-shirts are most popular, and thankfully the most straightforward to make. Embroidery, now that’s another issue. 

My mom is a sewer. She likes sewing doll clothing mostly. I’ve been familiar with how a sewing machgine works since I was much younger, but this embroidery machine boggles my mind. So many more things can go wrong with it than on a sewing machine. Also, it’s never clear whether I’ve done something wrong to it or it’s just plain malfunctioning. In one case, I had a pattern that would sew fine until it got to this one area, then it would say the thread broke even though it clearly hadn’t.  I have no idea who to troubleshoot that. You see what I mean!?

Sometimes the backing material is too light. Sometimes the thread randomly messes up when it was fine a few seconds ago. It’s very frustrating to work with a complex machine like this. It’s not that I don’t have help, but I need to be able to diagnose these problems on my own so I can ask for the solution instead of floundering like an amateur. I am an amateur. What I don’t want is for customers to think that about the store! 

I’m learning new things all the time. I actually like my job most of the time. However, I don’t want to ever run a store like this. I’m confused all the time about pricing and products and what we can and can’t do. I can tell you how long it takes me in production, but not how much that time and materials are worth. 

When I think about pricing, I usually try to make it easy on both myself and the customer. Set pricing for certain services or products. If you read my blog when I post, then you’ve seen I’ve posted a couple of ads for my services at Guru.com. You’ll probably see more like them in the future. Design, I think is best represented by a per-hour rate, while a specific product would be a flat minimum budget. For example, another product that might be a flat rate would be image editing: $1/photo with a minim price of $25 for light balancing, basic spot removal, and background removal. Given that photos like that take minutes, it’s actually less time to turn around 25 images for one client since they will likely all be similar. Thus it makes sense to change the $25 even if it’s only one image because there would be a lot of “empty time” before and after to turn the job around in production. On the other hand, if a client wants beauty editing for their products, those images would take hours per image, and vary too greatly to charge a flat fee, so charging $15/hr makes more sense. 

Did I lose you? Sorry. Talking about pricing is one of the trickiest parts of any business. I struggle with it all time. This probably won’t be the last time. 

Take it easy and remember to smile. 

Posted on

First Logo Job!

South Nashville Mosquito Control Logo

This logo is copyright to Justin Mason.

I was hired to make this a week and a half ago. Work started on Monday and I delivered the final files last night.

I learned something new: Acrobat Pro can edit text, but only if it’s on a flat line. It couldn’t edit the curved text in my design! I ended up downloading a program called Inkscape and making an SVG that could be edited with free software. I think under other circumstances a PDF or JPG can be edited in whatever software you like. However, the letting in this logo was hard to select if you don’t have Photoshop of GIMP chops. I felt it was a good use of my unpaid time to figure out how to send clients works that are editable by anyone. I don’t believe in trapping my client into coming back to me for simple color changes. I probably wouldn’t charge them for that anyway and just call it part of good service!

I came in way under budget and time for this job. Maybe that sounds stupid. I’d rather it take a little longer for happy clients. I want them to have the best I can do! This logo was done in 5.5 out of 10 hours. The client was laid back and really liked my initial sketch.

SQUISHED
SQUISHED sketch idea submitted with my proposal.

I think this sketch closed the deal. Ever since I have tried to give simple sketches. I think clients appreciate seeing how I think and having a visual reference rather than only words. Sometimes ideas are best conveyed with images. Now that I have a real job under my belt I feel beter sending out a lot of proposals. Most of them go unread I’m sure. It only takes one or 2 a week to start the ball rolling though!