The coastal city of Sarasota, Fla. often brings to mind boats and beaches, but the area is also home to Company Outfitters—Say It With Stitches. Owner Zachary Davy runs one storefront with two business focuses. Say It With Stitches focuses on services like monogramming and personalization, while Company Outfitters caters to small business and commercial accounts.
When asked how he got involved in the apparel decoration industry, Davy says, “It was really right place, right time,” adding that his career originally began in hospitality management. Working a diverse mix of jobs in the industry, Davy spent most of his 20s in the hospitality field first in Florida, then Nashville, Tenn. After a few years in Nashville, he returned to Sarasota in 2014.
Davy’s stepmother was running a storefront boutique in town and coincidentally was short on staff.
“When I came back home, my stepmom’s embroiderer had just quit,” Davy states, so he decided to start working at the business to help keep up with order volume. As he began to learn essential programs like embroidery software, Davy eventually found himself with the opportunity to buy the business from his stepmother.
“I spent my entire first year learning the business and establishing connections,” says Davy, adding that in recent months he’s focusing on the marketing end of the business.
Davy’s client base is largely local, but he also cites California, Texas, and Colorado as hotspots for a handful of clients as well. By not requiring minimum order limits and allowing customers to bring in their own textiles like shirts and towels, Davy says he’s been able to build a loyal client base.
“I very rarely turn away anything, unless it literally can’t fit on the machine,” stresses Davy.
Davy also explains that the greater Sarasota area also has a strong entrepreneurial culture, which is beneficial for an apparel decorator. He uses an example of one retail client who rendered the shop’s services for embroidered soft goods like towels and sheets for her home. That same client, Davy points out, also has a son who is the coach of a university football team. After seeing Davy’s previous work, the coach expressed interest in customized apparel gifts for his team. Other traditional commercial clients for the business include construction firms, restaurants, and hotels.
While apparel decoration is a different industry than hospitality, Davy says previous experiences in that world helped shape what he does now. With previous jobs, Davy explains how he was able to use his creativity on projects for his supervisors. The art of the upsell, he adds, a common technique in the hospitality industry, later became an essential part of growing Davy’s apparel decoration business.
“Being creative and having an entrepreneurial spirit, I always wanted to fix things,” says Davy. “In this business, I can do everything myself without having anybody to answer to.”
Today, Davy maintains the storefront primarily as a one-man operation, with occasional help from his stepmother. A set of two commercial embroidery machines runs on a weekly basis to fulfill orders, and Davy states that he is currently learning heat-printing techniques with a newly purchased heat press in hopes of eventually offering this service to clients. For the occasional screen-printing order, the business contracts out jobs with a Florida-based screen printer.
While his creativity and adaptability have helped the business grow, Davy says networking with other businesses has been the biggest factor in his business's evolution. That and the flexibility the company maintains with clients helps bring in new business every day.
“I always want to give my customers the ability to have their personal style instead of just falling into whatever I can offer,” says Davy.
As the business enters two years in operation, Davy says he hopes volume reaches the point of bringing on additional staff, but for now, he is enjoying the community-oriented culture his business inspires.
For more information on Company Outfitters – Say It With Stitches, visit: http://www.sayitwithstitches.net/