Growing Your Business

Most of you that read this have already successfully started your embroidery or personalization business.  Now you sit there and wonder…what do I do next?  How do I take my business beyond the proverbial 9 dots?  Are the other methods and means of decoration really for me?

I can guarantee you that everyone in business; from Fortune 500 companies to the corner coffee shop go through the same thought process.  A wise college once told me, “If you are not growing, you’re shrinking.” This of course means you must annualize your income and add on some addition revenue to account for inflation.  Fortunately, in our business choosing the proper way to expand is not rocket science.  It is more a case of investigation, assimilation and making an educated decision.

I have made a career in small scale personalization using heat transfers of one kind or another, most recently utilizing digital technology.  I have considerable experience and knowledge that I believe can help you make those intelligent decisions in your business.  Yes, it comes with a commercial since we all have to pay the bills.  However, I have decided to join the Joto’s team because they have a full line of equipment and supplies, a very good business ethic and technical integrity.

In future post, I will endeavor to outline the alternatives and discuss what you need to think about and then arrange to get you needed samples and information to make a informed decision.  There is already a considerable body of instructional video on our YouTube™ site  I encourage you to spend some time and look at it.   It’s really good stuff and will give you an idea of what is involved in alternative decoration processes. In each case, I will give you some information on the market, details on the process and the cost of entry.  I intend to cover the most logical small scale decorating techniques:

  • Decoration using sublimation technology.
  • Decoration using laser and color laser technology.
  • Decoration using ink jet technology.
  • Decoration using cutter/cutter printer technology

Diversify, diversify, diversify is the mantra.  Diversity is one of the easiest opportunities for growth in small scale decoration.  It is also strategically, multiple streams of income can help fill voids in your business.  Additionally, there may be areas where you can enjoy higher margins, than in your core business.   By making intelligent decisions and targeting other markets you can “Grow Your Business Bringing Images to Life.”

If you have any questions about the business, you can e-mail at

Multi Decoration

What is Multi Decoration?  It’s when you combine two or three different technologies to decorate clothing.  An example of this would be combining cuttable heat transfer vinyl with transfer paper.

Multi Decoration is a great way to create custom one of a kind clothing pieces.  You can combine all the strengths of each technology in one piece of clothing.  For instance, cuttable transfer vinyl is great for lettering, but not so great with photographs.  On the other hand, dark laser transfer paper is great with photographs, but not as great for lettering.  So you can use both to create a design that would incorporate a photograph and lettering!

The image above was printed with MultiCut Ultra vinyl for the lettering, and CL Dark II for the photograph.

The advantage of this method compared with using only laser dark transfer paper is that I didn’t have to use a 11×17 sheet of laser dark paper (which would require me to use a laser printer that can print that size) and I didn’t have to use an optical eye on my cutter for the print-n-cut needed for the lettering if I were to use transfer paper.  In addition I’ve avoided the whole tacking procedure.

Also if I had chosen a metallic color (say gold or silver) for my lettering, I wouldn’t be able to do that with CL Dark II.

When using multi decoration, remember to try to keep the heat press off of the areas that have been imaged.  If there’s no way to keep the heat press off of imaged areas, ensure to heat press the items that need the highest temperatures first and do the ones with the lowest temperatures last.  Usually if you are combining transfer paper and transfer vinyl, you press heat transfer papers first (as they normally require high heat to apply), and then press heat transfer vinyl last (as they normally require much less heat to apply).  This will eliminate most problems with multi decoration.  And of course, test and wash one sample first before commercial production!

Advantages of Cuttable Heat Transfer Vinyl

Most corporations, sports teams, charity organizations, school teams, and other association groups have logos that are 1-3 colors so that it is easy to identify and associate with the organization.  One of the most popular methods of promoting an organization is through t-shirts, jerseys, uniforms, hats, etc.  So how do you effectively target these organizations with your business?   The answer is cuttable heat transfer vinyl!

Cuttable transfer vinyl are ideal for 1-3 color logos, graphics, numbers, lettering, and names!  They can be used in conjunction with other technologies, such as embroidery, rhinestones, screen printing, etc.

Oftentimes transfer vinyl are referred to as cad-cut material.

Cuttable heat transfer vinyl rolls are available in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures.  You create the mirrored cut lines for your 1-3 color logos in your graphics program; import it into your cutter layout program and start cutting.  After cutting, weed the excess vinyl and press on to the shirt/fabric!  It’s quick and easy!

What Do You Need to Get Started with Cuttable Heat Transfer Vinyl?

You will need a computer, a cutter, cuttable heat transfer vinyl, and a heat press.  In addition, you will need a piece of fabric to press onto.  The color of the fabric can be any color because the material is opaque!

Many vendors have special cutter packages that will save you money compared with buying the components separately.

What Can You Decorate With Transfer Vinyl?

A large selection of clothing can be decorated with vinyl.  Examples of items that can be imaged are:  t-shirts, sweaters, tank tops, jerseys, hats (with hat press), pants, shorts, socks (some limits apply), uniforms, towels, aprons, etc.

Materials can be made of either 100% cotton, 100% polyester, or any polyester/cotton blends.

Why Use Cuttable Transfer Vinyl?

Here is a list of the advantages that come with using cuttable transfer vinyl:

  • Ideal for printing 1-3 color designs, logos, names, numbering, and lettering.  Easy to add a name or a number to an existing jersey or uniform.
  • No setup time.  All you have to do is create the cut lines or have your customers send you their custom cut lines.
  • Many cutters come with their own layout software that allows you to create your cut lines, therefore eliminating the need for expensive software.  Examples are Roland with CutStudio, GCC with GCC Greatcuts.  Most cutter software is also compatible with Corel Draw and Illustrator.
  • Extremely durable!  Most cuttable transfer vinyl will last the life of the shirt.  This is great for uniforms and jerseys as they are normally worn frequently and go through a lot of wear and tear.
  • Many colors, patterns, and textures are available. Some of these cannot be replicated with traditional screen printing methods.  In addition, custom colors and patterns can be ordered but need to be in large quantities.
  • What you see is what you get.  No color management required.
  • The material is opaque, allowing you to print on any colored (white, black, red) fabric without worrying about color shifts (except in the case of dye migration).
  • Same cost to print one item or 1000 items.  So no minimum orders, and perfect for 1-up items and promotional items for small businesses, schools, charities, sports teams, parties, reunions, and many more!
  • Quick and easy to produce, allowing for same day or even same hour production.
  • A speedy production process that allows for on demand printing that reduces risk and wastage.  Just print it when you need it.  No need to preprint shirts for events or shows.
  • The cutter used for cutting transfer vinyl can also be used to cut sign vinyl for your shop’s windows, company car, etc.


With every printing method there will be limitations and so here are a few…

  • 1-3 color designs recommended.  Although you can go over 3 colors, it is better to use printable transfer vinyl due to labor and material costs.
  • Layering (when colors intersect) is required for some designs and will require separate press for each color.
  • Complex designs may require more time to weed compared with simple designs.  This will need to be factored into the pricing.

With all the advantages of transfer vinyls, it’s a great new addition to any print shop!

Preventing Dye Migration on Your 100% Colored Polyester Fabrics

What is dye migration you ask?  Some of you may have had the unfortunate experience of having white lettering on a red 100% polyester shirt turn pink after a few weeks.  This is because dye migration has occurred.

100% polyester shirts are colored using sublimation dyes and thus when you print onto the shirt, you will need a special vinyl with a BlockOut layer to prevent the sublimation dye from migrating from the shirt to your printed vinyl.

There are a large selection of colors out there that are either specially made with a blockout layer, or the pigments used have sublimation dye resistance.  The most popular colors are available with a blockout layer and should be used when imaging polyester fabrics.  For the colors that are not available with a blockout layer you should check with your supplier to ensure they are dye resistant prior to using.

The problem of dye migration may not always occur immediately after pressing.  It may occur right after pressing or over a short period of time depending on the material and the color.  However, there are tell tale signs that the shirt will have the problem of dye migration immediately after pressing.  Here is a picture of the self adhesive backing sheet of a white vinyl after it has been pressed and peeled off of a 100% polyester red jersey.

As you can see there are traces of red on the backing sheet which means that the red dye will migrate to the vinyl if the vinyl is not dye resistant.  (Note that if there are no dyes on the backing sheet after pressing the vinyl, it does not mean that dye migration will not occur.)

Luckily I used a white Blockout vinyl, so there will be no issues with dye migration!  We recommend using blockout vinyl whenever you are dealing with 100% polyester clothing just to be on the safe side.  It simply takes out the risk of dye migration.

BlockOut Jersey BlockOut Closeup BlockOut Closeup 2