Smiling customers

EmbroidMe partners with small, midsize businesses

Willie Girlinghouse positions a Yukon athletic cap on a shaping device at Embroid Me. (Photo by Mindy Ragan Wood)

By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – An embroidery shop is an enterprise that conjures up personalized clothing, but EmbroidMe is a franchise that has emerged as a marketing partner for small to midsize businesses.

Willie and Angela Girlinghouse opened their own EmbroidMe, 1217 Garth Brooks Boulevard, four years ago after Willie was tired of the oil industry’s roller coaster.

“After the last layoff in 2013, I was ready to find something else. I wanted to own my own business and I started looking at different companies. EmbroidMe kept coming up and it was something that interested me. In this business, you’re making people happy,” he said.
Seeing customers smile is their goal.

“Customers come in with an idea and they’re excited. When they leave, they’re happy to see the results. We hear, ‘this is way better than I thought it would be’ a lot,” he said.

Sometimes unhappy customers come to EmbroidMe with a disaster they created by ordering online from another company. Girlinghouse said people often end up with something that does not meet their expectations because a consultant foresees problems before they start.

At EmbroidMe, the order begins with a vital interview because the product being used, the logo’s design, and the customer’s long-term needs determine the result.

“We start the interview process backwards. Is this for an event? Who are the intended users, how long do you want it to last? That way we can sell you something that is in your budget but accomplishes what you need. We don’t want to sell you something in your mind that says you need sweaters but it’s for a leaf raking party to help senior citizens. Do you really want a sweater, or do you want something that works for the weather and something you can use for the next weekend,” he said.

Collaboration between the Girlinghouses and the customer is important to develop a design concept, from pictures to logos.

“I listen to what the client wants and needs. I try to be creative to develop something that the customers want and fits their end use,” he said.

Angela Girlinghouse said it is important to establish what will work well with different art mediums.

“If you go straight to a graphic artist that may not know the difference between embroidery, screen printing, and print, they may create a logo that may look beautiful in print but does not translate well to stitches or however you’re going to decorate. We kind of coach that way. Are you going to like something in a one or two-color image or do you want 15 colors in here? I think sometimes the graphic artist gets a little too fancy,” she said.

The Girlinghouses created a logo for tee-shirts for a new taco truck owner.

“We asked them if all the wanted were tee-shirts. Yes, they told us. Come November, they wanted jackets. I said ok, how are we going to sew this? She finally realized that we could sew on a full back but not on the left chest. So, in the conversation, we came up with something that would complement the (jacket). We also ask customers how they want to use it. Do they want the logo on business cards, on a ballcap, on tee-shirts?  That can change the design, so we try to help them think ahead and invest in tomorrow, not just today,” he said. “Re-branding gets expensive quick.”

As a marketing partner, EmbroidMe helps customers think about much more than the designed logo but ways to reach customers, reward clients and encourage their staff.

With access to inventory items in the thousands, the Girlinghouses can personalize almost anything. Wine glasses can be etched with logos, and simple applications of marketing images and messages can be applied to headphones, playing cards, cell phone cleaners, candy labels and even fishing lures.

There are so many options, occasionally they double check on a customer’s unusual request to see if they can meet the need.

“We had a truck driver call us and ask if we could do mud flaps. I checked and sure enough, we can do that,” Angela said. “There’s almost no limit to what we can do here.”
EmbroidMe is re-branding as Fully Promoted because their expansion from screen printing and embroidery needed a name to reflect their broad range of services. From work apparel to logo design and product marketing, the company has outgrown the embroidery image. The company even partners with Rankology, an internet marketing firm that uses social media and search engine optimization.

Promotional products to convey a message have a long history and it may be because of how effective the practice has become. In the U.S., the first item to influence public investment was a George Washington button for his election in 1789. As the science of advertising was born in the 1940s and maturing in the 1950s, marketing on material grew.

Today, some statistics indicate that a business that uses items to reach clients may increase their bottom line when it comes to new business. Marketing blog Sage World reported that 55 percent of people conducted business with an advertiser who used promotional products and 53 percent use the product once a week and hang onto those items at least six months.

Items for wear such as lanyards, clothing, and other apparel are the top product category, followed by writing instruments, bags, calendars and drink ware.