Explore Niches within the Embroidery Market

Have you ever thought about what could set your machine embroidery business apart from the ordinary? Here's a little secret from the pros: target a niche. Embroidery businesses that stand out in niche markets are those that specialize in a particular kind of embroidery rather than trying to cater to all needs. They tailor their skills to a specific type of embroidery service, and they promote it consistently.


This laser focus not only makes them experts in their fields but also allows them to more precisely customize their offerings. They use their deeper and more experienced understanding of the market to create specialized products that perfectly meet the needs of their targeted customers.


Niche embroidery success


If you haven't already jumped on the niche bandwagon, there's never a bad time to start. You should consider specializing in embroidery for specific industries or groups, such as sports team, schools, or hobbyist organizations. Tailoring your services to meet the needs of these kind of markets will help you become an expert in the field, gain a growing reputation, and attract a loyal customer base.


The most common question, however, is, how do I find a niche?


Local and Natural Niches


Imagine, for instance, becoming the go-to professional embroiderer for local or regional sports teams or fitness-related businesses. Businesses and organizations within that niche will be much more likely to turn to you for their embroidery needs. The first and most natural thing to do is start local.


Madeira USA recently had an opportunity to talk to the well-known Embroidery Coach, Joyce Jagger about the niche embroidery market. She offered the following first step in connecting locally: "Sometimes the chamber of commerce can help get your foot in the door and connect you with the right people."


"Embroiderers should try connecting with local boutiques, apparel shops, or artisan markets," says Alexis Galloway of sewsweetacademy.com in Augusta, Georgia. "Offer to provide embroidery customization for [an organization's] existing products or launch-limited time co-branded collections. Build relationships with event and wedding planners, because personalized embroidered items can be a unique touch for their clients' special occasions."


Targeting niche in embroidery


It’s also important to remember that sometimes, the niche finds you naturally. This can happen more often than you might anticipate.  When it does, you have a ready-made opportunity to capitalize on it. Jagger relates a couple of examples from her own experience: “Niches can sometimes come by accident, literally. Who is ordering from you the most? For instance, my son-in-law is a state trooper and he wanted the state trooper logo on some golf shirts for a boating class. Once I had the logo digitized and people attended the class, they couldn't believe the quality and wanted to know where it came from. Next thing you know, I had work coming in from all over the state. It started with the state trooper logo, then spread by word of mouth from the state offices.”
When Jagger’s daughter got married, she did special embroidery for her wedding. ”Friends saw that and all of a sudden, I had a wedding niche with all sorts of things like pillows, gowns, you name it. I didn’t find the niches, they found me.” 


Embroidery wedding industry


Look For Ways to Stand Out in Front

Part of pursuing and keeping a niche entails staying up to date with trends within it.  Jagger told us how she keeps her eyes open to what’s new and trending within the market. “I’ve always paid attention to what was in the [industry] magazines; these days Impressions Magazine has some great content.”
Staying on top of your niche also benefits from being open to innovating. Finding new or better approaches to the many things people want personalized can open up a path for you that few have taken.  Stan Cocheo of Make It Sew Enterprise, LLC had this to say regarding innovation in the embroidery industry:
"When someone brings me a specialty item such as a martial arts belt, how am I going to achieve this goal and embroider this? Innovation is finding ways to accomplish what you’re after; it's thinking outside the box and finding solutions. The most important thing is using the technology at hand and becoming creative in your way."


Embroidering what you love


Do What You Love


Is there a particular hobby or interest in which you have an interest or are already involved?  Perhaps you’re passionate about horses, wine tasting, or extreme sports. If so, consider targeting that market for embroidered items that cater to it. Your knowledge, enthusiasm, and passion for it could translate into niche embroidery work that’s both outstanding and personally enjoyable. 
For Cocheo, it’s the music scene. “I go after the musicians and bands, as I have a background in music, and that industry has done a lot for me. It increases the connection. Because it being its own niche it has brought me closer to the communities that have done so much for me, and it's a way of paying them back.”
A close connection with the interest group you’re embroidering for can easily lead to new ideas and adjacent markets.  Cocheo shares a new direction he’s planning related to his work for his musician clientele. “Embroidery to me is artwork and as such is completely based on the original art. I have been developing an idea, where I would like to take a photo of someone's tattoo, digitize and embroider it. Put that tattoo design onto a jacket or shirt, in the place where the tattoo had been located. I also seek out graphic artists to work with to turn what they do into embroidered recreations of their art.” Cocheo is a veritable idea factory.   “If a motorcycle company makes bespoke bikes, they need jackets. Why not embroider the jackets with a nice digitized photo of the bike?”


The Small Job Niche (and How Small Can Lead to Bigger)


Niches can often be found when you solve a problem or meet a need others aren’t interested in.  Whether it's addressing a common struggle or fulfilling an unmet demand, a specialized approach can ensure your offerings resonate deeply with your targeted clientele. Rather than attempting to serve a broad audience, you have the potential to excel by targeting precise pain points or needs within a specific market. 
Cocheo told us, “I can take care of a wider range of customers. I am able to take care of the small customers who want their own specific image or you know, one-shot things that nobody else would be interested in approaching. I had a customer come to me and they were a fan of a well-known baseball player and I had to put his name on a tiny jersey.” 
Jagger explains her willingness to work small and do a one-off item in order to connect with potential customers.  “I would send them a sample or a cap, sometimes send them a golf shirt with their logo on it. For anyone that was questioning it that hadn’t seen my work, we would send them a finished product.”  This approach can work because potential clients don’t have to imagine their brand on an item; they’re holding it in their hands.


3D Puff Embroidery


As a professional embroiderer, you’ll find that focusing on special interest markets can bring you the most success when you closely align your services with their specific needs. Instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, find your niche, master it, and watch your embroidery business flourish.  
Keep in mind, however, that what is most important is honing your embroidery skills and doing excellent work. Jagger’s advice:  “The number one thing you should do is ensure you are putting out high-quality embroidery because your work will speak for itself. Just make sure that you are staying active, promoting yourself, and networking as much as you can.”