Wearables talked with Geri Finio, owner of Annapolis, MD-based Studio 187 Custom Embroidery, about the biggest challenge facing the decorated-apparel industry and why decorators should emphasize the artistry of what they do, rather than focus on sheer quantity.
What’s the best business-related compliment you’ve received?
GF: That the quality of my work and the care I take is incomparable to anything they’ve previously seen. That each client walks away with a new eye for the finishing details of the embroidery process. Many of my clients say they’ll never look at embroidery the same way again and thank me for sharing the process which previously was taken for granted. They leave with a new appreciation of the skillset and history, and cherish their personalized embroidered piece with a new perspective. Whether it’s a logo on a shirt, a personalized bridal handkerchief or ribbon, or a monogrammed blanket, the labor involved is the same. Because I am also a skilled seamstress, much of my work requires hand-stitching of jacket linings, buttons, and/or deconstruction then reconstruction of garments or fabric items.
If you could eliminate one thing from your daily work schedule, what would it be and why?
GF: The clock. We have a love/hate relationship. I don’t always accept what it tells me.
What’s the biggest opportunity for the decorated-apparel market right now? The biggest challenge or obstacle?
GF: The biggest challenge is simultaneously the biggest opportunity. By that, I mean the decorated-apparel market can focus on quality decorating and focus less on a garment/blanks profit structure. This is challenging because most shops are designed to profit on garments, instead of profiting on the art, regardless of whether it is screen printing, heat press, vinyl cutting, or embroidery. It’s a complicated issue in the industry. Perhaps we’ll have shops that offer garment sales with decorating and shops that offer decorating with garments. The work and talent of the artist involved with the decorating seems to be lost on the consumers when priority is on quantity garment sales/blanks profit. Until artists receive acknowledgement and recognition for their labor and skill, consumers will continue to perceive decorated hats and shirts as “simple” requests, which equals inexpensive in their minds. Until the industry unites in a pricing system focused on quality, which will in turn inherently diminish competitive pricing wars for profit, the issue will remain complicated.
Who in the business world do you admire most or strive to emulate?
GF: The costume directors and artists who work in the motion picture industry.