Don’t Be a Dick


One thing I’ve learned since starting machine embroidery, it is not a cheap “hobby”, and it is even less cheap to run as a business.

Machines can run into the thousands, as can threads, I’m not kidding, look up Sulky color sets sometime. You’ll pass out that people spend that on thread.

Then you’ve got things like stabilizers, several different kinds for several different projects, tear and cut aways for t-shirts, and water soluble for lace. And if you’re one of those people who insists on using the overpriced dealers, or box stores like Joann fabric, you’re automatically spending too much. And if you’re using bulk suppliers such as World Weidner, chances are still good you’re spending an easy $100 or more to make sure you’ve got enough supplies.

I’ve already lectured people about pricing too low. And our supply costs is one reason why when you price so low, you’re hurting the rest of us just as much as yourself. You can’t possibly making up these thousands of dollars you’re investing into machines and supplies. Cheaper suppliers means you are at least saving money there, and acting like an actual business by getting the most bang for your buck, but there’s a damaging side of that as well, and I’m probably going to tick some people off in a minute here.

Embroidery designers, especially the small timer ones often seen in the Facebook embroidery groups are business people. But they are also WAHMs or retired folks who are doing the same thing you are, trying to make some money for bills, or to pay for a larger machine, or you name it, they’re doing what you do, using a skill to make people happy, and to make a few dollars.

Have you tried digitizing software? I’m pretty computer savvy and it throws me entirely. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I can do letters, and merge, but compared to designers who spend hours, or days creating a feltie, or an in the hoop zipper bag, or a stuffed toy, I’m a hack and I know it.

Looked at the cost of this software? Even the basic stuff that is the best to use for creation, and I’m not talking basic stuff that only re-sizes or does a few monograms either. I’m talking about the serious shit that some of these designers have paid anywhere from $500 to literally thousands of dollars for. Are you willing to do that? If no, then why begrudge them making the software pay for itself?

So I cut the designers some slack on pricing. After having been in contact with designers since I got my first machine last January, I’ve had a year of getting to know some of these women. And let me tell you, I’ve been impressed, awed, inspired, and incredibly grateful there are people out there, male and female, who make my business look that much better.

So when I see people begging for coupon codes, or telling a designer that their design is too expensive, and when I look, it is a feltie design for $3.50, I’m insulted and angered on the designers behalf.

I’m sorry you don’t want to pay $3.50 for that feltie design that you have to pay for once and then make thousands of times and then charge 40 cents per feltie, undercutting all of us in the same business. Make sure that you post in the groups about you can’t possibly make a profit when designs are so expensive.

You are honestly your own worst enemy. Of course it is expensive when you are so worried about cutting out the other sellers that you’re cutting your own throat.  My sympathy for you is nil.

How about you spend a few hours in front of the computer, learning the software, which, I’ve had designers who have done this for years tell me is a daily learning process, because software constantly changes, oh, and make sure  if you do this yourself, get auto digitizing software so that you deliver to the public crappy stitch outs that people can tell you are WONDERFUL while anyone who actually knows what they are doing can avoid you like the plague.

What’s that you say? You don’t want to waste your education learning to digitize? Well then, suck it up buttercup. Those designs aren’t cheap, and they shouldn’t be. These people have skills you don’t have, and probably don’t want to learn. They are no different than an architect or programmer, using a computer and some fantastic skills to create a product that you can replicate, over and over, literally, thousands of times. I can use CAD software, my own skill, and the folks who whip through Embird leave me slack jawed and in awe.

So break it down. A Creative Medley has a very cute kawaii apple feltie.

Wow, it’s $4, Yes, I get it, that’s a lot. In this house, it’s a loaf of bread and some cheese. I get that, trust me.

But now let’s figure out what we get for $4.

A cute apple, that we can now make a few thousand times, 4 at a time, or many more depending on our machine, if you have a multi needle with a giant hoop, you could be making 40 at a time.

You should be then selling those felties for at least 60 cents each. After all, this is handmade, not a cheap Chinese import. So why are you selling it for 40 cents each? Ah, yes, your competition who you want to drive out with your no profit sales. My bad, I forgot.

You get customer service. You can contact this seller anytime, ask for help, run ideas by her, or even contact her for custom work. And for this same $4, she has to be polite to you when you’re abusing her because you don’t take care of your machine, so this design didn’t stitch out right, or bad mouth her in the groups because $4 is too expensive for a feltie file. After all, you’ve paid for the right to be an asshole.

So for $4, you’re getting more than a file.

So why are you entitled to a coupon now? Why are you bullying that digitizer into holding a sale? I’ve seen big places like Just Peachy have sales, where she does things for 90% off, or places like Urban Threads have sales, but they have them because they are big enough to call the shots. They’ve established themselves. Having a big sale is not going to hurt them, not with the daily traffic they do get. They can ignore requests for sales because they can afford to.

Little digitizers on the other hand, seem fair game for people to be abusive, rude, obnoxious and just plain assholes. It is as if that WAHM or retired person is suddenly no longer worthy of your respect. I’m not sure if this is because the smaller designers are more visible in the groups, so people figure they can treat them like this, or if people with embroidery machines  are just spoiled brats with expensive toys.  So far spoiled brat is winning.

Knock it off. You are not entitled to a coupon, that designer is not obligated to hold a sale, and you are not forced to buy their items, period. If you feel they are too expensive, wait until THEY offer a sale.

I realize that as Americans, we have to have that “Yankee thrift”. But there’s “thrift” and there’s being a cheap jerk. And so many people cross that line in the embroidery world. I’ve seen downright abusive wall posts from people demanding a coupon code so that they could save $2 on a $3.50 purchase.

Wait for a sale. I’ve yet to see a digitizer who didn’t have a sale every so often, even if it was once a year. Embroidery-Outlet, a favorite place for ITH stuffed plushies, only does one sale a year, near Christmas, when all her designs are $5.00 and she holds it for a month. It is a huge sale and her bandwidth is often killed by eager customers snatching up her entire catalog of designs.

And some designers, don’t do sales at all. Chances are excellent, those designs are worth it. Sonia Showalter, never does sales, and still manages to have plenty of fans of her work who follow her eagerly.

In your cost of handmade, these designs should be part of your pricing formula. If they aren’t, that’s part of your pricing issue. At the very least, take that cost of $4.00 and divide by the possible number of felties you’ll make from this one design. Include that in your cost of materials. Files are a business investment. They are part of your supplies and tools. Treat them with a bit more respect, without them, you’d be using factory installed fonts.

So the next time you want to whine or complain about a design being “too expensive”, stop, and think. And employ Wheaton’s Law and don’t be a dick.



Filed under Business, Musings

12 responses to “Don’t Be a Dick

  1. Pingback: Don’t Be a Dick Part 2 | Dirty Girl Designs

  2. Lori

    I totally agree with you! I just do this for the fun of it. I only make for family and friends. I don’t mind paying for the designs, I figure anything I buy I will make several times, lowering the cost per item I make. I can’t imagine actually asking someone to have a sale! That’s very rude in my opinion!

  3. Kris

    These words are so amazing they should be set to music. 🙂

  4. Jaie

    Oh lord, don’t say that, my filker friend Heather may hear you. And you know, if they were “asking” for a sale, it’d be one thing, but people are DEMANDING sales, and then being very angry when they MISS the sale.

  5. Rebecca

    Well said!

  6. Melody Goggin

    Great article. Thanks for sharing

  7. Oh My Gosh! You are my New Best friend! I need to friend you, because you just spoke volumes!!! A Huge Thank you from Applique Junkie!

  8. Ohhhhh my Thanks from the bottom of my heart.This diva loves you and you just read my mind!!! Thank You Thank You LOVE The Applique Diva!!!

    • Jaie

      It’s funny this is getting attention now, I wrote this a while back, but I’m not shocked that people STILL cannot grasp that without you ladies, we’d be pounding salt and making quilts instead of awesome stuff.

  9. Dawn M.

    Great article

  10. Tamie

    Great article!

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