Wednesday, May 22, 2019Embroidery's Voice and Vision


Theresa Hegel

Stitchwork is a blog that shines a spotlight on embroidery and related apparel decoration, offering everything from tips to unique stories about people in the industry.

Tips for Running a Successful Family Business

At its heart, this month’s “Can This Shop Be Saved?” feature is a family drama: A mother and daughter learning to work together professionally, without sinking their business or strangling each other. Joyce Jagger, The Embroidery Coach, had a lot of great advice for the owners of Stitches In Time in Concord, NC, much of it reflected in the magazine’s cover story.

But we also checked in with members of the Stitches Editorial Board, who provided some valuable guidance for successfully running a family business. Here are their top tips:

Follow the leader: Working with family is always a risky proposition, says Cory Dean, owner of Artwork Source. “You need to pick a leader, and give that person the power to lead. It’s very important to define the roles and responsibilities clearly. It’s a good idea to document these decisions for later reference when things are getting hairy.”

Keep ’em separated: Samanta Cortes, owner of Fashion Design Concepts Inc., recommends keeping personal and business finances separate to avoid murky waters. It’s also extremely important to separate business time from family time, to keep both your relationship and revenues healthy. “When the separation is very clear from the beginning, it could avoid problems in the future,” Cortes says.

Communication is key: The biggest mistake Jagger sees with family businesses is lack of communication. “They are so afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings that they will sometimes keep their mouth shut, rather than speak up,” Jagger explains. Scheduling a daily meeting to discuss projects, deadlines and let each other know what’s going on helps avoid mistakes, missed deadlines and hurt feelings, she adds.

Don’t sweat the small stuff: Lee Romano Sequeira, who co-owns Sparkle Plenty Designs (asi/88442) with her husband, speaks from experience. Your partner’s “work quirks” will drive you crazy from time to time, she says. You have to keep a sense of humor about the whole endeavor, and learn to laugh off the little – and sometimes even the bigger – irritations, she says.

Growing pains are inevitable: Growing a family business into something “more corporate than cottage” can be a difficult transition, and oftentimes owners don’t know how to delegate to new staff members, says Erich Campbell, digitizer for Black Duck Screen Printing and Embroidery. “I think it’s just hard for the ones who started the business by themselves on a shoestring budget and their own sweat equity to get out of their own way and let go of the labor they are used to doing, but no longer need to,” he adds. Keep the family feeling in the way you treat customers, but don’t be afraid to take on a big business mentality in other areas.


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