Custom Patch Interview Series with The CEO of Patches by The/Studio: Joseph Heller October 3, 2015
Introducing Joseph Heller
I really wanted our customers to get to know the man behind Patches by The/Studio. The CEO of Patches by The/Studio is very fascinating , he lives , breathes and sleeps (he never really sleeps) custom patches.
This interview will be sure to inspire you and I am confident that you will gain knowledge about embroidered patches. Enjoy!
Jehan Loren:Introduce yourself !
Joseph Heller: My name is Joseph Heller and I am the CEO of The/Studio. I love the products that we produce, I love the interesting stories that each of our customers have, and I love the people I work with.
Jehan Loren: How did you get started with custom patches?
Joseph Heller: Our original business was doing the digitized CAD designs for embroidery. I remember our first patch order. One of our customers that we had a long term relationship with, called me up and told me that he needed a custom paintball patch to be produced. His company focused on direct embroidery to caps, shirts and bags and they didn’t have the resources to produce patches. I told him that we wanted to do the order, and we produced our first patch order of 100 custom paintball patches.
Jehan Loren:What is a good early story about your custom patch business?
Joseph Heller: I have lots of good stories. Some crazy, some funny, some ridiculous. Hmm… I remember our first big order was for 40,000 custom patches for Mott’s Apple Sauce. Mott’s was doing a promotion where they were handing out free patches as a promotional gift. I didn’t mention it was a Wednesday and they needed 40,000 patches for their event the following Tuesday. Nobody could do the order for them. We took the order and fulfilled the delivery in time. Here goes another one by the way. 95% of all custom embroidered patches are manufactured in China. Ours are no exception. During Chinese New Year production always grinds to a halt because of the long holiday. There were not enough factory staff to cut the patches because everyone had already gone home for Chinese New Year. I worked in the factory for 4 days and did everything from watching the embroidery machines to cutting patches to make sure our orders got out on time.
Jehan Loren: What are some interesting statistics in the patch industry
Joseph Heller: 95% of all custom patches are made in China. That’s the only statistic I actually know. haha.
Jehan Loren: What makes Patches by The/Studio unique , in comparison to your competitors?
Joseph Heller: I think the three things that separate us are our level of service, our in house design team and our quick turnaround times. Customer service is the focus of our company, because we believe that only good things come from having excellent service. We have both an in house graphic design team as well as digitzing team. This means that we can help our customers with their design, and we also know how to make the patch look beautiful. Lastly we have the quickest turnaround time in the industry. We recently produced 250,000 patches in 3 weeks. We will literally do anything to make sure your patch ships by your deadline.
Jehan Loren: How many custom patches do you own?
Joseph Heller: A few. The one I like the best is our company had a paintball company event and we made patches for our company event.
Jehan Loren:What do you adhere your custom embroidered patches to?
Joseph Heller: This one was Velcro, and we put it on our paintball uniforms.
Jehan Loren: Is there a customer experience you are most proud of?
Joseph Heller:There are tons of things we are proud of, and the staff in my company makes me proud everyday when they deal with our customers. However, one that I can think of was a biker patch that we did years ago.
The customer was really picky and kept submitting edits for us to make changes to the patch. The problem is that custom biker patches are huge, and they take about 12 to 24 hours to sew out. The customer was picking out small problems with the patch that 98% of our customers would have never noticed.
Furthermore, he wasn’t being very understanding that it took a few days to get the edit back to him, because we of course had other samples to sew out. I’m sure almost every other company would have started charging him for the sample, or would have canceled his order. However, the sales rep came to me and said she was conflicted because she knew it was our company policy to continue to do free edits, but she felt the customer was wasting our time and money.
I told her emphatically that we could not cancel the order, and we got on a conference call with the customer. We spent a long time educating him about how patches are produced, and we told him that we would work on his patch for over a year if that is what it took to get right, but that he had to understand that embroidery was not a perfect science and is more of an artwork. Its not like printing where everything will be 100% the same as what you see on the screen.
After a few more edits the customer said he wanted to go ahead with production and he doubled the size of his order. He loved the patches, still orders from us, and has even recommended a lot of other bikers to us.
Jehan Loren:What is your favorite custom emblem?
Joseph Heller:I don’t have a favorite, because we have done a lot of cool patches. But I specifically like biker, police, military and fire department patches. They usually have some interesting designs. I also like patches we have done for small boutique fashion brands.
Jehan Loren: What have custom patches taught you?
Joseph Heller:I will always remember one day when I invited a Chinese friend to our China office. As she was looking at our patches, she said with amazement “this is freedom”. China is basically a free country now, but she wasn’t talking about that type of freedom. She was talking about the freedom and diversity of thought in America and the West. We have custom embroidered patches for biker groups, girl scouts, boy scouts, music events, proms, sports teams, etc… Patches really reflect how involved Americans are socially in the country. There are millions of organizations and interests in the US and its truly amazing.
Jehan Loren:Who are some of your most notable clients?
Joseph Heller: Tons tons tons. But just to name a few patches we have done for famous brands or events are as follows: Secret Service, FBI, American Idol, NFL, US Olympic Team, Timberland, Google, Nike and I could go on forever.
Jehan Loren:What are some of the greatest challenges in your business?
Joseph Heller: Business always has its challenges. Our first priority is to make the customer happy, then our staff and then our suppliers that work with us. Its difficult keeping everyone happy, but you have to keep everyone happy for everyone to be happy. Its a challenge, but we are good at doing it.
Jehan Loren:Where do you see Patches by The/Studio in 5 years?
Joseph Heller: I see us expanding into a lot more products, and giving our customers the chance to create other cool products such as jeans, jackets, uniforms, etc…
Jehan Loren: Where do you see Patches by The/Studio in 10 years?
Joseph Heller: Same as 5 year plan.
Jehan Loren:What is some advice you can give our patch customers?
Joseph Heller: Plan ahead. A patch can be a beautiful product. Whether its for a team, or company your patch is something that you and everyone in your organization can cherish for years. We have had customers that kept their patches from WWII and Vietnam, and biker patches they made 40 years ago. A patch can be a keepsake. If you plan ahead you can work with our artist and you will have enough time to make edits if something isn’t 100% right. You should never feel rushed to just accept a custom patch, because there isn’t enough time before your event.
Thank you Joseph for sharing your custom patch story with us! It’s been an honor to get inside the mind of a patch genius!
Below is a picture of one of Joseph Heller’s favorite patches.