So great to meet you! Please tell us a little about yourself and what business did you start?
My name is Pawel Nijakowski; the main business I run is Patchion LTD, a custom embroidery workshop and web store. We produce personalized patches for companies, NGOs, teams, sports clubs, etc.
We also offer embroidery on clothing, e.g. on sweatshirts or T-shirts. We embroider on caps and even make embroidered fridge magnets – gaining great popularity recently.
The online store has several thousand different universal ready-made products; these are various patches, e.g., flags, coats of arms, flowers, animals, or those related to essential sports, cultural or political events. The products are stored in a warehouse near London and smaller warehouses in Hamburg (Germany) and Poznań (Poland). Thanks to this solution, we can quickly deliver goods to recipients in the UK and throughout Europe. You can visit our web store at Patchion.com.
Now I look at the Grind Success logo, and I am convinced that making it in the form of embroidery would be an exquisite accessory for you. I suggest we talk about that after the interview.
What’s your backstory, and how did you come up with the idea of Patchion LTD?
It was started together with my sister 18 years ago. We began as a small in-house business with only a basic embroidery machine model. We grew slowly and carefully then, after a few months we received our first orders from the aborad. It was a moment when we caught the wind in our sails.
The awareness that our products travel worldwide was fundamental to me. We only seem to produce patches, but the fact that we have buyers on the other side of the planet makes me realize that I am doing something useful for people. It added and still adds strength and motivation for further work.
Aside from business, do you have any favorite products in your online store which you like the most?
Yes, there is one patch I like most. It is the Flag of the Earth, designed by James W. Cadle, which symbolizes the Earth (the center blue round part), the Sun (the yellow disk on the left), and the Moon (the white disk on the right). The Earth and its most critical celestial neighbors – the Sun and Moon – are overlaid on a backdrop of the darkness of space.
For me, it is more important to be a human being, a citizen of the planet earth, than nationality and the political division of the world. I have the feeling that the flags of the countries divide people. The flag of the Earth is common to all humans. I would rather wave the flag of the Earth than the flag of any country.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I think that our most significant advantage is the quality of the designs. We employ engineers and professionals, and artists who know how to give appropriate visual plasticity to flat logos using threads.
Customers often receive more than a simple patch. We make a work of art. We need to look at each graphic and think about what’s next with it? Each time we have to create a unique texture that threads will create. This is a massive challenge because when doing this work, we must refer to the graphic’s overall image and the history, meaning, and symbolism of the logotype we are working on.
Customers appreciate it, and I believe that this is why they come back to us and recommend us so often. I read messages from satisfied users of Patchion LTD products very often.
What is your main tactic for making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
The key tactic is to make customers aware that computer embroidery is not the same as printing. Each pattern requires many hours of work on the design and the layout of the threads. Before starting production, we often have to make a trial embroidery several times.
I think customers appreciate it because there is often a perception that the JPG file is sent directly to the machine and creates a patch, which is not true even for vector files.
How did you survive the problematic spring of 2020 when the pandemic began?
It wasn’t a hard time for our business. Most of the production is located in the UK, and we also use subcontractors in Europe. We were independent of Asian suppliers and service providers.
The essential advantage is that we have our embroidery machines locally in the UK and an ample supply of thread spools in stock, which was enough for us to survive for several weeks. Of course, the demand for patches has decreased significantly, but we have managed to switch to the production to face masks.
It was a time when nobody thought about money; cooperation and the good of the closest family and colleagues were more important than business. Whenever we had a moment of rest, we put up badges for charity auctions, the total proceeds of which were allocated to support the NHS.
How are you doing today, and what does the future look like?
For three months now, the war in Ukraine means that we have many orders for such patches as blue and yellow flags or a coat of arms with a trident. In addition, patches are often ordered, referring to the tragedy that takes place in Eastern Europe.
As in the previous question, we also try to launch charity auctions where the income is automatically allocated to support the victims. eBay makes this process very easy, and no commission is charged for charity auctions.
Personally, I think that all clothing companies should introduce elements related to insignias of Ukraine into their offer, e.g. clothing in the colors of Ukraine. Indeed, such actions will increase the morale of the defending country.
And in a broader context, we are constantly trying to expand our workshop. We focus on more modern machines that can make a patch faster without losing quality. We test various embroidery design software and try to choose the one that will guarantee the best embroidery to our customers.
For several months we have been trying to introduce ecological threads and backings to our offer, and we are also trying to provide zero-waste services. There is still a long way to go and many obstacles to overcome.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have learned that owning and managing a business is not easy and quick. Nothing comes by itself; you have to work for everything yourself. The company requires constant supervision so that it remains on the right track. Sometimes the times are more challenging, and sometimes this train keeps going forward by itself.
Though it seems obvious now, my most significant discovery was listening to my clients. The clients have the best tips and give the best hints; the clients are the coaches. Just do what your customers expect from you.
The world is changing, and customers are changing with it. You need to have much patience and be ready to change constantly. You can’t get stuck because it will be hard to wake up.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We are still a bit old-fashioned team that operates with emails, phone, and fax. Some customers are still sending us drawings with Royal Mail.
Instead, we use modern and advanced IT solutions to design embroidery patterns. However, I would not like to publicly disclose which solution we use, primarily since we often use the capabilities of several programs for one project. We get unique visual effects that you will not find in the competition thanks to this.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Define your strengths, define your advantages precisely, think about your resources and what you already have, and think about how you can combine it all into one whole. It is crucial to focus on the past and experience. I can see that many of my friends often start over from scratch, totally from scratch.
Of course, such an approach is possible, but it is a difficult task, in my opinion. It is much better and easier to put together existing puzzles instead of just cutting out new pieces of the puzzle. After all, we function as a society; we are a civilization that draws on the knowledge and resources of previous generations.
I don’t understand why people often make it a point of honor to start from scratch in business. Everyone has strengths, virtues, talents, or resources and should base their future business on them.
Where can our readers keep up-to-date with you?
The best place to follow my moves is the Patchion LTD website; you can visit us at https://www.patchion.uk. To follow my profile, visit Linkedin
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