Decorating Customer Provided Items

I am frequently asked if a customer can provide their own garment for decoration  .I’ve researched what other companies do and learned that most decorators will not work with a customer provided item at all due to the risk of damaging a client item.  The risk of damaging an item is always there and if it does happen, despite every effort to avoid it.  And then if an item is damaged, how to address the issue?  It is definitely scary for any shop owner, so here at Southern Stitching,  the decision to decorate a customer provided item is done on a case-by-case basis.

Embroidery items are the most requested.  Backpacks, totes etc. are pretty common items that people like personalized, and these are normally a comfortable item to take in.  Before accepting them however, it is demonstrated how the item will be hooped and explain placement options.  Items that are too large, made of material I have not worked with before or something that cannot be hooped are not accepted.

Apparel such as t-shirts, polos, jackets and caps are not commonly taken from the customer and is something I prefer to provide.  Our shop stocks standard tees and has accounts with several wholesale garment companies so we can quickly garment needed.  There are no cost savings to a customer when they provide their own garments.  Actually, the fee to decorate a provided shirt is more than one we provide.  The reason being, if an error is made or an item is damaged, the replacement cost is less.

I have taken in many provided garments and, in seven years, only ruined a couple of items.  My most recent mistake happened with an embroidery logo job.  A new customer provided a dozen western shirts and, during the sew out of the second logo, the machine messed up and ruined the shirt.  This shirt was not one I could purchase from any of my suppliers so I searched the internet and found one.  The one shirt cost more than the entire job was paying me, but I purchased a replacement because it was the right thing to do.  When these things happen it makes me rethink taking in customer provided items so I understand why some shops don’t take them.  However, I will continue to take items and make the determination on a case-by-case basis.  Though, I’ve also created a form for the customer to sign to know there is a risk that something could go wrong.