How To Be Successful In Selling Embroidery


1. Pick up the phone to turn your prospect into a customer

Jim Mickelson started Northwest Custom Apparel in 1977 and taught himself how to sell custom embroidery while working on the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Jim was selling embroidery before computers, fax machines, and the internet. Above all, Jim will teach you some of his proven embroidery sales tips to make your embroidery shop money. Below is an Old Skool business tip on using the telephone to close embroidery deals. This is a touch-tone telephone with big buttons and plugs into the wall.

2. Call your Prospect on the Telephone

First, you must know how to talk on the telephone to close an embroidery sale. Time is ticking when you get a new prospect, so you need to call them ASAP using a TELEPHONE. Despite the ease of Emailing back and forth, hoping they will place an order with you is like praying to the gods. It would help if you were proactive by using the resources at hand. Emailing can be used once you make a connection with your lead.

Remember, have your #2 Ticonderoga pencil and yellow sheet notepad ready. Taking notes is essential when on the phone. It’s not like email, where you have an electronic trail of messages. Many forget to get the person’s company name, full name, mailing address, and email address. You want a physical address to put them on your postcard mailing list for further follow-up throughout the year.

Woman on Telephone
Pay attention and write notes as you talk to your prospect

3. Follow Up with your prospect

How many times should you follow up with your prospect? I suggest you contact a prospect as soon as that lead comes across your desk. Pick up the phone and dial for dollars. Once you contact the lead, you can schedule another time to follow up again. Don’t be too pushy, but don’t be too shy to follow up. You can follow up by using the telephone or email.

Above all, don’t forget to send them a Thank You card. Thank you cards keep your name on the top of the prospect’s mind. They may need your embroidery services immediately, but after 6-12 months, they may be circling back. More importantly, you can get a referral from them. If you take good care of your prospects, they will likely mention your embroidery shop to their friends and family.

Writing Thank you Cards. Man with blue sweater
Jim sends thank you cards are a great way to follow up with your prospect

4. Send an Embroidered Sample

Furthermore, you can create an embroidered sample and mail it to your prospect to close the deal. They will be surprised, and you will always get a call back to say “Thanks.” You are building your brand by doing this, and the lead will be turned into a customer.

We digitize and sample an embroidered cap for a potential prospect. We call these our “WOW” boxes. Customers get the box, and when they open it, they say, “WOW”! You will be spending $50- $75.00 for the embroidery digitizing and sampling, but your closing rate will increase by 40%.

Many vendors like Sanmar have end-of-the-year rebates so that you can purchase sample apparel. We prefer to send out brand-name gifts like North Face, Carhartt, or Travis Mathew. They have much more of a perceived value, and they are free to you.

The days of sending out foam trucker caps and satin baseball jackets in the 1980s are long gone. Who knows, maybe one day, the satin jacket will return in style like the trucker cap.

Sample Boxes
Send Sample Boxes to your Customer with their logo embroidered on the cap.

5. Send a promotional product.

Additionally, you can mail your prospect a custom coffee mug with your logo emblazed on it. The prospect will keep this mug on their desk and view your logo daily. This is a great marketing tip. You can purchase your promotional coffee mugs at Northwest Custom Apparel. We have a partnership with a custom drinkware supplier in Los Angeles that does an excellent job. I recommend tossing a bag of Ghiradelli Premium Hot Cocoa inside the mug. You can find the hot cocoa packets at your local Costco.

Coffee Mug with Sasquatch
Imprint your business name or mascot on a coffee mug. Your prospects will love you.

Have Embroider Sales Questions? Contact Jim Mickelson

In conclusion, if you have a question, Jim has the answer. You can contact Jim at [email protected]. You can also use the TELEPHONE to reach Jim at Northwest Custom Apparel at 253-922-5793

Bonus Tip Have an Open House

Have an open house or a BBQ once a year. Customers and the community love food and giveaways. It can be as simple as hotdogs, soda, and chips. We call and direct mail our customers one month before the Open House. In 2019 we did such a great job inviting our customers we ran out of hot dogs. Luckily we have a Costco down the street in Fife.

You can personalize beanies with the customer’s name if you have a single-head machine. You will have 50 people standing in line just for a $3.00 beanie. Make the open house fun; your customers, staff, and community will love it.

Jim Mickelson, Erik Mickelson at Northwest Custom Apparel's open house
Another idea is having an Open House. Customers love free food and giveaways.
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Antonio Massey

Production Team: Folder

Antonio Massey recently joined NWCA in June of 2022. His role on the Production Team has greatly improved our processes and productivity. Antonio is always willing to lift heavy boxes or help his co-workers during busy times. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog and mastering video games.


Alicia Wada

Shipping Clerk

Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.


Erik Mickelson


Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.



Ruth Nhoung

Production Manager

Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.


Steve Deland

Art Director

Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.



Taylar Hanson


Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Nika Lao


Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.


Bradley Wright


Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.


Dominic Nguyen

DTG Operator

Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.


Sothea Tann

Production Team: Trimmer

Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.


Brian Beardsley

DTG Supervisor

Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.


UT Tri Tran

Embroidery Machine Operator

UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.



Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.


Sreynai Meang

Embroidery Machine Operator

SreynaiMeang is a hard-working Machine Operator. She is most passionate about helping people. Sreynai, who goes by Nai, likes to exercise in her free time and talk with her family in Cambodia.


Kanha Chhorn

Embroidery Machine Operator

Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.


Savy Som

Embroidery Machine Operator

SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.



Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.


Jim Mickelson


Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.

Northwest Custom Apparel
Northwest Custom Apparel
152 Google reviews
Janice Herron
Janice Herron
Love their amazing customer service! From ordering over the phone, through email, or in person at Northwest Custom Apparel, everyone is very helpful, and very nice! Always! We have been ordering our apparel for our local small business through them for many years! Thank you Thank you!
Morgan Pero
Morgan Pero
Excellent people, products and customer service!
Drew Halverson
Drew Halverson
Great product offerings/results, swift communication, and helpful staff. Highly recommend!
Tim s
Tim s
Northwest Custom apparel always does great work! We have been a customer for over 25 years and are always satisfied with the products we get!!
NW Custom Apparel treats us like we’re their only customer! Everyone is always so friendly and helpful. They’re great!
Randy Birch
Randy Birch
We us Northwest Custom Apparel for our work shirts and they are incredible. The staff is super friendly, the quality of workmanship is outstanding and they stand by the work they do. I love this place.
Heidi Christiansen
Heidi Christiansen
The company I work for has been buying custom apparel for the team members for years now. We love working with NW Custom Apparel because the process is easy, delivery is timely, and materials are high quality. Anytime I’ve ever had an issue, they’re quick to resolve it. We’ve purchased both embroidered items and DTG graphic tees. We’ve purchased blankets, shirts, jackets, hoodies, etc. Everything ends up looking super professional, and our team members always have positive things to say. Ally is always there at the warehouse with a smile and a friendly greeting when I pick up materials. She is so helpful and respectful. Taylar is a wonderful customer service rep. I’ve sent her some complicated orders—like 20 different items with all different colorways and styles or 150 items with three different styles—and she is so good at getting everything just right. I plan to continue purchasing from NW Custom for high-quality custom apparel.
Hoa DeBusk
Hoa DeBusk
Have used them for years. Knowledgeable team that is always so helpful in recommending options or creating designs. Great quality too for embroidery or digital prints. Very happy with them as a vendor.
Stacey Perez
Stacey Perez
We use Northwest Custom Apparel for all of our professional embroidery needs for the orthodontic office I work at. They do great work, are quick and have never missed a deadline. Highly recommend if you need any custom apparel needs.