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Stitches Interact


Jay Fishman, veteran digitizer and owner of Ohio-based Wicked Stitch of the East,


talks about common digitizing mistakes, the real value of automated punching tools


and dealing with overseas competition.

True digitizing is manual, not soft-

ware-based. Learn to digitize; don't

just rely on automated tools in digitizing

software. Everyone uses software now. It

used to cost $15,000 to buy a digitizing

software package, and now it's down to

$1,500, so the barrier to entry has been

significantly lowered. True digitizers

think in terms of manual digitizing. Too

many punchers today rely on auto-

digitizing with presets. While software

has become super automatic, it's not

foolproof -- you need to understand how

it auto-operates so that you can correct

designs when needed.


Software has a lot of answers, but it's

not always correct. In the time it takes

to edit what was automaticaly digitized,

you could have digitized it yourself twice.

Automation has come a long way, but

you're either going to spend your time

digitizing or editing. Great digitizers

turn the auto-functions off and don't

let software make decisions for them. If

you're classically trained, you know what

you have to do and you do it. In my shop,

we do a lot of work for dog agility events

and horse shows. If the animals' faces

aren't digitized just right, the customer

sees it immediately. Software can do a

lot of things, but it'll never replace the

human eye.


Digitizers should provide post-sale

support. People think good digitizers

are a dime a dozen. They're not. Right

now, there are growth opportunities

in supporting our decorator customers



"At the end of the day, cutomers will


figure out the difference between good


and bad digitizing, so wherever it comes


from, if the quality is poor, they'll go


somewhere else."



post-sale. They need us to answer ques-

tions and help them with challenges. We

need to answer questions, and be avail-

able to them when they need help.


There are some ways to be competi-

tive. First, service the client base you

have and always give them your best.

I've been in business for 30 years, and

my goal has always been to provide our

core customers with the best digitizing

possible. Second, don't give away designs

for free. People always want a free first

design, but it's labor-intensive and then

you might never hear from them again

because they're discount-chasers. Third,

make sure every design that leaves your

shop goes through multiple employee

checkpoints. And, whenever you hire a

new digitizer, really train that person.

She has to understand the difference

between duplicating and interpreting

a design, and know what will work in



Overseas companies are strong com-

petition because decorators send work

to them. At the end of the day, custom-

ers will figure out the difference between

good and bad digitizing, so wherever it




Horse art

comes from,

if the quality

is poor, they'll

go somewhere

else. Decora-

tors may send

work overseas

to get it done

for $15 rather

than $35

domestically. It may be harder to com-

municate with offshore digitizers and the

turn times may be longer. Similarly, a

decorator might invest in auto-digitizing

software to do the work in-house, but the

quality might be off there too. People

will return to you if your work is quality.


It's exciting to see digitizing in mixed-

media designs. People are pushing

the limits with what can be digitized.

They're looking at historical designs

too, in manual embroidery and hand

stitching. Rhinestones have been around

a long time, but now more shops are

including them in multimedia designs.





 Stitches Magazine June 2014

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