Birth of a Business From Idea to Stiches

I believe that if you scratch the surface of just about anyone, you will find a potential entrepreneur.

Whatever the economic circumstances, many people want to be the captain of their own ship. The costs and benefits are weighed and, once the major decision is made, naming the business and developing a logo becomes paramount.

Every business owner dreams of the day that their business might be known by logo alone (picture the Golden Arches or the Nike Swoosh) but even if that milestone is never achieved, the name, the graphic and its attendant presentation can make the difference between being noticed and oblivion.

A catchy, well-conceived business card gives the card a better chance of being saved, not pitched in the round file. I have saved many a card that caught my fancy even if I knew I would never need the service. Maybe I like the graphic, the tag line, the card orientation. Maybe I want to use it in a seminar presentation.

Perhaps it is a great example of a logo that lends itself to embroidery. I have always thought that, barring our own in-house graphic department, communicating with artists that develop business cards and logos is important—so that we can educate them as to what works best for decorated apparel. I don’t know what the stats are on how many logos end up in stitches or ink but, considering the size of our great decorating industry, I bet it is high.

Apparel decorators most often enter the picture when the logo is already a done deal. Sometimes it is a joy—sometimes not so much.

I would love to plant the idea in a new business owner’s mind to think caps and shirts long before they are ready so that the logo is friendly to fabric as well as paper. I would also love to ask every graphic house to provide a “legend” card for their clients with the name of the font and any colors used to make it easier for any digitizer, printer or stitcher waiting down that entrepreneurial road..

 Faethom—A New Enterprise Looking for Embroidery

 When I get a call for embroidered goods to promote a corporate identity, the first thing I want to know about is the logo. If it is not embroidery friendly, I engage the owner to see if there is room for compromise.  Can small lettering be made bigger to meet the minimal needs of the needle and thread? Can some of the information be placed on the opposite chest, back or sleeve? The idea is to get the message across—or the picture that begs the potential customer’s interest—to the onlooker in as comprehensive a manner as possible. If it can’t be seen, it can’t be acted on or asked about.

I use my two best marketing and selling tools, my ears, to gauge the earnestness of the principal of the company. Over the years, I have found that the more significant the owner’s intentions, the greater the possibility of a long term relationship…and we all know that many solid accounts a sturdy business makes.

Brendan Johnson is an entrepreneur with a mission—and that includes presenting his logo in stitches for the world to see.

Johnson is an IT tech extraordinaire. After ten years on a payroll, he decided to strike out on his own. His name and business description: Faethom...Addressing the full extent of your IT needs, including infrastructure, SQL Server and data analysis.

His thought process for his company’s name and image took well over a year. He researched the etymology of the word “faethom”, an older variation of the modern word “fathom” and was struck by its several layers of meaning, both from a personal and professional perspective. More than the average choice of a catchy name, he wanted a complete concept that represents both his commitment to his mission as a business and the needs of his customers. He also wanted to convey his deep affinity for the sea.

“Personally, I appreciate the oldest meaning—outstretched arms—which was akin to showing what a man cared about, what he could wrap his arms around.”

Connections to the sea? A fathom is equal to the average reach of those outstretched arms—six feet—and a commonly used slang phrase “deep sixed” originates from burials at sea. Later the word came to represent comprehension. 

“The three key meanings I take from the word’s history are caring, comprehension and depth,” Johnson says. “From a professional perspective these meanings correspond with the three-level approach I take in addressing business needs with technical solutions. To truly understand the problem one has to care about the subject. To find all the most relevant solutions one has to comprehend the business needs. To fully implement a solution one must have the depth of knowledge to see it from start to finish.” (Sounds a lot like what we should be thinking about in our embroidery businesses, doesn’t it?)

 Choosing an Artist

 For a graphic designer, Johnson chose a colleague whose work was known to him. When he described the complexity of the company name, she appreciated the multiple levels of meaning. She was instrumental in the graphics chosen for the background on the business card and the three wave logo.  She immediately connected the three meanings of the words and three-leveled approach to business and expressed it with three shades of blue in the waves…connoting how the color changes from light to darker blue as one moves deeper through the water. “Dealing with the artist was easy,” Johnson says. “I used a stock photo web site where I found the three wave design and my background graphics.  I purchased the rights to use them.”

With the artist’s help, the vision and the reality came together.

 Turning the Thoughts into Stitches

 With a penchant for the artistic and some knowledge of the embroidery process, Johnson arrived at a logo that is very embroidery friendly. There is no preference in color except what is best suited for the medium and background.  For the triple waves it is important to stay with three shades of blue, light, medium and dark.

Johnson ascertained from his graphic artist that the font is Arial so a font conversion function in the digitizing software was used to generate the stitches. Certainly we could have digitized them “by hand” stitch by stitch, but the purpose of this exercise is to show that this project can be attempted and completed in style with minimum experience.

The letters were tweaked after arranging them to stitch center out in deference to the caps. (A cap logo will sew well on a shirt; a logo digitized for a shirt will not necessarily fare well on a cap.) The underlay on the waves was beefed up at the point where the stitching crosses the center front seam to make sure that there is no “shadow” or ditch in the stitching. The finished logo is 4 inches wide and 3806 stitches. I stitched several sew outs on fabric similar to the jacket and like caps before undertaking the job.

There are several placement and stitching choices. The waves can be stitched by themselves (to begin to be recognized on their own) on caps, cuffs, the back yoke of a jacket. The name can be arched over the keyhole of the cap with the waves on the front.

The caps were hooped with a cap-weight cutaway and some waxed paper (my favorite) was used to shim any gaps over the throat plate and grease the path of the needle.

A piece of good quality tearaway was adhered to the left chest of the jacket to provide stability—and insurance in case removal was required. Hooping the fabric taut but not tight, with as little movement as possible is the goal. Over the years, I have found that adhering the backing to the fabric creates a marriage between backing and jacket that removes as much shift as possible between the garment and the stabilizer.  I used the new magnetic Mighty Hoop by Hoopmaster to hold the jacket. With several hidden pockets, there were seams with which to contend and the Mighty Hoop takes those—and zippers—in stride. An added benefit is none of those hoop “burn” marks to worry about or remove.

I used an 80/12 sharp needle to stitch the caps and a 75/11 sharp needle to stitch the jacket and a good quality polyester thread.

 Tying it All Together

 Listening and then applying the important aspects of garment preparation, hooping, needle and thread choice and digitizing a logo that works will make any job easier.

Over the years, I have been most impressed by companies that take themselves and every step of their business development seriously. As an embroiderer, I find that the ease of working with a company that is dedicated to their image and its presentation makes my profession a real pleasure. It just seems to me that their appreciation of their own business translates to appreciation of the professionalism and time that goes into turning their ideas into the reality of embroidered garments.

I love working with people who love what they do—learning about the underpinnings of their business name, mission and goals. It makes the logo come alive for me and enhances even more my enjoyment as I turn their corporate logo into a tactile reality. You will find that your most dedicated customers are the ones in which you show the most interest. Their logo is like a child; their business card is their passport into the world of the entrepreneur.

In regard to Faethom, I am impressed by the daring spelling choice, the meaning of the shades of blue, the robustness of “three” in regard to definitions and business concepts. So often businesses are urged to “say what you do”. Faethom’s name invites the customer on a voyage of discovery. The business card which conveys the peaceful feel of the ocean depths using symbols of computer technology is a stroke of genius. Even before I knew the thought process behind it, I knew the card was a keeper.  It communicates confidence and calm in an arena that is so foreign to most of us that the feeling of control and reliability is welcome assurance. I absolutely loved giving this logo even more life through embroidery.