JQ Designs featured in the Courier News

  • Aug 21, 2019

Down to Business: Designing shirts for companies, sports teams and events more than ink or thread, South Elgin biz owner says


By Erin Sauder
Elgin Courier-News | Aug 09, 2019 | 12:57 PM

image credit: Janet Aldred launched JQ Designs 17 years ago as a home-based business, but it's now a retail storefront in South Elgin. (Erin Sauder / The Courier-News)

Years in business: 17

What does this business do?JQ Designs is a neighborhood embroidery and screenprint shop. We offer a wide range of items, including family reunion T-shirts, polo shirts with corporate logos, work wear, and a full range of promotional items.”


How many full-time and part-time workers do you employ? “Currently, we are a staff of two.”


What was the impetus for starting this business? “Originally JQ Designs was a home-based business, which I started so I could be home with my kids and still work. As my kids and business grew, JQ Designs moved to a retail storefront.”


Where does most of your business come from? “ ... from businesses, sports teams, and schools in the Fox Valley.”


What are some of your favorite product trends right now? “I really like that the promotional apparel industry is closely following the retail industry. When I started in this business, if you wanted your logo on a shirt, it was a men’s boxy cut polo shirt. Period. Now the choices are amazing. Technical fabrics, trendy styles, and even name brands like Under Armour, Nike, Cutter & Buck and Antiqua are all available.”


What are some of the more creative promotional items your company has worked on? “Mixed media designs which combine state of the art digital printing and embroidery can be very creative. I have a client who has a stained glass window as part of their logo. By combining print and embroidery in the same design, it truly made the design come to life.”


What is the best thing about your location?Our shop is easy to get to with ample parking. We are very close to the intersection of Route 31 and Sundown Road.”


When is your busiest time of year? “Traditionally, busy seasons were spring and fall. As our customer base had grown, as well as the types of clients we serve, the workload is much more even throughout the year.”


What is the most popular service you provide? “Consulting with our customers to help them select the key apparel and promotional items that will work well with their logo. Our customers appreciate the wealth of samples we have in our showroom, as well as our knowledge of fabrics and processes. Being able to actually see, feel and try on the garments before we decorate them is a plus.”


What is the thing you most like to do as part of your business? “I love keeping up on what’s new in the industry so I can share that with my clients. To me, it’s not about the ink, or the thread, but how well the logo or brand gets represented.”


What is your least favorite thing to do? “I don’t really like paperwork or taking out the trash.”


What is the best thing about owning your own business? “It’s really satisfying to look back and see all that I have done and learned over the years. I have grown professionally and personally.”


What is the biggest misconception about your business? “Some people think it’s really easy.”


If you weren’t doing this, what line of work would you be in? “I used to be a manufacturing consultant where I did training and process improvement. I’d probably go back to that.”


How has your business changed over the years? “Oh, it’s changed so much and grown tremendously. It started with one embroidery machine in my basement with a customer base that was mostly individuals. Now, we have several pieces of state-of-the-art equipment and our customer base is much more varied with individuals, small businesses, schools, leagues and corporations.”


Do you have any future plans to expand? “We likely will expand our staff in the coming months.”


What do you wish someone had told you before you started? “Be prepared for anything.”


Erin Sauder is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.


  • Category: Business Advice, Case Studies, Lifestyle
  • Tags: Commercial embroidery, embroidery, promotional products, screen printing, DTG, direct to garment, 3D embroidery, jq designs, janet aldred,
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