Why we do not embroider on your personal clothing - Memphis

Customer-supplied items: Why purchasing garments through your vendor matters


One of the most common inquiries we receive at I’m In Stitches is if we work on customer-supplied items. “I have 10 vests I purchased for a great deal at Costco, Sams (insert store name here).”

Each time our sales reps respond with “Thank you for your inquiry. I’m sorry, but we do not work on customer-supplied items.”

When we first started out, I’m In Stitches allowed some customer-supplied items. The time, energy and stress from managing those projects was almost always more than if the garments were purchased through a vendor. Over-time our policies have changed and we are firm on not accepting customer-supplied items.

Purchasing garments through your vendor matters for two important reasons:

  • Hygiene (perfumes, animal dander, dust)
  • Quality Control (replaceable garments from the manufacturer)

Customer-supplied items and hygiene

The garment is going from the store it was purchased at, to a person’s house and/or vehicle, to our production area. This can lead to potential allergens (animal dander, dust and perfumes) and pests attaching to what is brought to us (roaches, bed bugs, body lice). Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. and asthma affects more than 24 million people in the U.S., including more than 6 million children. That’s ALOT of people affected by what others might bring into our shop!

  • Have you ever been to someone’s home or in someone’s car when you left with odors in your clothes? Yes!
  • Can you imagine some folks’ homes who have lots of animals that track in and out of the house, and what passengers those animals might be bringing in, and where they might land or hide? Yes!
  • How excited would you be to order new custom embroidered shirts or caps and discover that we shipped them with fleas or bed bugs that came into our shop because we took in stuff from an uncontrolled supply chain? WHAT?!

Why should we expose your order to such elements because someone else insists on supplying his or her own items?

Health regulatory oversight for embroidery and screen printing shops?

There is no health department oversight that is followed by embroidery and screen printing shops. Whereas in other industries, each state has a “safe care oversight” to ensure certain applicable standards are met. This is done through comprehensive reviews, inspections and investigations that report and identify areas of non-compliance to protect the public.

This doesn’t mean our shops or production facilities are not clean. What this means is we have no way to protect I’m In Stitches inventory, other than to restrict who and where items are brought into our business. If we accept customer-supplied items we run the risk of accepting customer-supplied pests that would infest every customer’s items in our production area. The negative reviews from that sort of situation would be difficult to overcome. Our reputation matters too much.

Reducing risk of product damage and providing better quality control

Did you know there is a 2% damage/error rate? Every 1 in 50 pieces that goes into a machine, is likely to be destroyed in the process of embroidery or screen printing. That’s not just our production facility. It’s an industry-wide statistic and has little to do with skill. Embroidery is not a perfect process. Sometimes things go wrong in the middle of a job that can destroy a garment. We simply do not like putting ourselves in the position of taking on that risk without being able to quietly and easily replace something.

For example, we suffered two brownouts resulting in loss of power in our Puyallup Embroidery shop because a bird landed on a transformer a mile away. A bird! This transformer being blown stalled machines in mid-embroider of custom embroidery on Nike Polo shirts. Power failure can cause tears in the garments or loose or stray stitches.

Imagine if we had been working on the 10 vests purchased on sale at Costco. And Costco no longer carried that vest? There is no way to recover the damaged vests and our team would be scrambling to find a solution. How would the conversation unfold? How could we prove what happened? Would the customer care and how much would the customer be willing to pay for a job that is not only incomplete, but now missing pieces that the customer had purchased? More importantly, how would we agree upon what was the right thing to do to resolve the situation?

Why is there less risk when purchasing from a vendor?

By purchasing garments from a vendor, we control how the garments are supplied to us. That way we can recover from situations beyond our control and still delight our customers.

  • We can replace the garments easily, usually within 1 business day.
  • Garments are purchased at wholesale prices
  • Lower cost to replace potentially damaged items means the cost savings is transferred to our customers.
  • Garments provided by vendors are made specifically for being embroidered

Garments provided by vendors are made specifically for being embroidered. This matters. Our suppliers manufacture clothes with the embroiderer in mind as the customer. Shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets will tend to have a spacious, flat area for the end client’s embroidered design. Some jackets even have special hidden pockets to facilitate embroidering the garment well.

You can find our FAQs about Embroidery & Screening in the About Us page dropdown. This goes over pricing, quality, order requirements and other questions our embroidery production team has been asked. Quality matters because your brand matters. Contact us about custom embroidery for your company!

* https://acaai.org/allergies/allergies-101/facts-stats/

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