Print on demand — being just one link instead of the whole chain

The thumbnail version:

  • Print on demand is a growing phenomenon
  • There are different roles to play

The full version:

If you scroll back to February you’ll find two posts on the print-on-demand phenomenon that seems to be growing in popularity. Those two earlier posts addressed the topic from the point of view of a shop setting up its own digital sales mechanism (say, a Shopify site) and then offering a small-order, rapid-turnaround service on imprinted garments.

Print-on-demand online orders growing in popularity

But there’s another role for print shop to play. A print-on-demand chain has a number of links and instead of providing all the links a print shop may consider the viability of being just the production and shipping link in the chain. This would be in response to the many websites that sell but do not produce and are therefore just the first link in the chain. They need to partner with print shops like yours.

Some print shops are apparently doing it successfully but I’d still conduct a very careful cost/benefit analysis before considering the concept seriously. That’s not to suggest that it may not be a viable alternative to contract printing (or an additional revenue stream) but, as with all potential ventures, it must be properly planned and analyzed.

Printing and shipping for print-on-demand sellers may be an alternative or additional way to put dollars on the shop’s bottom line. I guess you have homework to do.

 

Supply chain disruptions affecting more than ink

The thumbnail version:

  • Supply chain disruptions affecting more than just ink
  • Alternatives keep the presses turning

The full version:

Ink was the first and highest-profile material to be affected by the COVID-induced supply chain disruptions but other screen printing supplies are being affected now as well. One example is aerosol pallet adhesive.

Fortunately, there is a viable alternative to aerosol adhesives—a water-based pallet adhesive by Tekmar, TB-HV Pallet Adhesive.

TB-HV is applied to the pallet with a little squeegee and lasts for many impressions without the need for an additional application.  And not only does it work well but it costs a lot less than aerosol adhesives on a per-job basis and is a lot less-damaging to the environment and your health. Inhaling airborne aerosol adhesive particles is something to be discouraged.

Clean-up is with water instead of solvents and TB-HV doesn’t turn the floor and equipment around the press sticky.

It’s a no-brainer. The crew at Stanley’s can tell you all about it.

The ink crisis updated with suggestions

The thumbnail version:

  • The ink supply chain is still in trouble

The full version:

Unfortunately the outlook at this time is not good. The ink supply chain, like many other supply chains, is still in trouble. There apparently isn’t any light at the end of the tunnel yet. Deliveries from some manufacturers like Avient (Wilflex, Rutland, QCM, Union, Printop) are going to be severely rationed for some time yet.

First and foremost, you should stay in touch with Stanley’s for updates on deliveries because it’s a fluid situation. But there are other measures you can take. For instance, not just using up ink already on the shelf but using Avient’s ink mixing software to formulate colours using colours on the shelf. Stanley’s can tell you more about this.

And as you know by now, Stanley’s offset some of the impact of this supply chain disruption by acquiring Inknovators plastisol. It’s not a total gap-filler but it can help you get by until the disruption eases.

Call your Stanley’s branch. They’re in the best position to advise and help your shop to whatever degree is possible.

Are you listening to your customers? Really listening?

The thumbnail version:

  • Customers have opinions
  • You need to know what the customers’ opinions are

The full version:

I once read that in retail, only one in twenty-five unhappy customers will actually complain—the other twenty four just take their business somewhere else. This means that as the business owner you’re denied an opportunity to fix whatever is bugging them. This is of course a problem.

I’m not sure if the one-in-twenty-five rule applies to wholesale as well but even one customer walking instead of talking, is bad for business.

So whenever you have an opportunity you have to listen to what your customers are saying. Really listen. What better measure of customer satisfaction is there? And without customer satisfaction you have no business.

You can of course subtly probe for what they’re thinking but it must be subtle, without any hint of paranoia, and without being annoyingly persistent and intrusive. Good judgement is required. And weeding out the cooks my be required too because every customer base has a few.

But one way or another, listen to your customers; they’re your bread an butter.

All is not good that glitters

The thumbnail version:

  • Holiday prints often include glitter
  • Glitter is harmful to the environment

The full version:

Glitzy special-effects holiday prints often include glitter; they shouldn’t.

As we wrote earlier this year in a post about special effects, recent research has shown how glitter is adding to the microplastic problem in the oceans as far away as the Arctic. At 1 percent it’s not a significant part of the overall microplastic problem but we have to start somewhere and glitter is one of the easiest to start with—just stop using it. There are plenty of other ideas and materials for creating special holiday effects prints.

Here’s an interesting and alarming number regarding how plastic has found its way into our food . . . we humans now ingest an average of about five grams of plastic a week—the equivalent of a credit card, every week.

So why contribute to the problem with glitter when it can so easily be remedied?

Call Stanley’s for the materials you can use for special-effects holiday prints without resorting to glitter.

Crisis management is easier with a plan

Thumbnail version:

  • Crises will happen
  • A plan makes it easier to cope

The full version:

Crises will happen—real, potentially business-destroying crises. For example, in recent times we’ve had floods, a pandemic, and world-wide supply chain disruptions, just to name a few of the big ones. Then there are more localized crises such as building fires, equipment failure, and system hacks.

A crisis plan can help weather these unpredictable events, and it doesn’t have to be expensive to prepare. Nowadays you can find tools and templates to help small businesses develop a crisis plan. It’s going to require though that you invest some time in developing a plan, but even if you never have to use it, it will at least give you peace of mind. And if someday you do have to use it, you’ll be glad that you made the investment.

You have some homework to do.

Press coverage for your shop

The thumbnail version:

  • Advertising can be expensive
  • Self-managed press coverage is one effective low-cost alternative.

The full version:

Potential customers can’t do business with your shop if they don’t know that it exists or what it does. One solution is to buy advertising but, that can be expensive. A low-cost alternative is free press coverage.

Journalists, writers, and bloggers are always wiling to consider content they can use; they are under pressure to produce so any offer of useable material is likely to be welcome. Potentially one of those win-win situations—they get content and you get coverage.

The owner of a Canadian swimwear business built a press kit, drafted an email, and started contacting editors, writers, journalists and bloggers. She explained why they should write about her business and products. Free coverage followed, the most significant of which was in the Globe and Mail. That PR netted her 50 sales in three days; a big deal for a brand new business.

Like this idea? Why not test it?

The impact of poorly-trained employees on the customer service experience

The thumbnail version:

  • Employees are your shop’s customer experience delivery system

The full version:

In his white paper for Fosrsta, Howard Lax notes something profound: “Employees are the company’s customer experience delivery system.” And while this might sound obvious, why then do so many businesses deliver lousy customer experiences?

A delighted customer is a return customer.

Lax argues that: “If that system suffers from it’s own malaise of bad experiences and isn’t properly trained, it’s absurd to think that the firm will somehow magically delight customers.” Assuming that part of your shop’s objective is to delight customers, what are you doing to ensure that the people that have to deliver on that objective, are trained to do so?

The point is that as with any task that an employee is hired to perform, training is inevitably involved (operating equipment, completing documentation, etc.), so why not training for the task of delighting customers?

Perhaps a review of your staff training is due, assuming part of your objective is to delight customers.

More PANTONE™ smiles

The thumbnail version:

  • Humour helps, even if it’s just a smile.

The full version:

As I mentioned last month, sometimes a post serves no particular purpose other than to raise a a smile. If we can’t smile once in a while (especially in current circumstances) then shame on us!

So here is another one in that category thanks to Kari Bill. Get your PANTONE™ chart out and you’ll see that this design director for Olberding Brand Family has a pretty good eye for colour-matching.

In general the ink crisis isn’t funny, but this is . . .

Thumbnail version:

  • Ink in almost any condition is good ink in a crisis.
  • Humour is always healthy, particularly crisis humour.

The full version:

Recently Matt Browning of Surge Screen Printing and Embroidery in Richmond, Kentucky, posted an item on LinkedIn with two images of a 5-gallon bucket manhandled by UPS. You have probably taken delivery of at least one similarly-distorted container in your time (the mind boggles at how shippers manage to do this, doesn’t it?), but that’s not the point.

The point is how Browning’s post drew a hilarious then-and-now comparison that’s as appropriately realistic for the times as it is funny:

2019: “Umm, our ink arrived off the UPS truck like this. Can you send us a replacement bucket please?”

2021: “Thank you, Lord, for we are truly blessed!”

Sustainability spotlight on fashion and textile industry intensifying – video

Thumbnail version:

  • COP26 climate conference preparations puts spotlight on sustainability
  • Our industry is caught up in the clothing sustainability issue

The full version:

The current fashion industry is unsustainable

The sustainability pressure on the fashion industry and textile manufacturing has been building for some time. As an integral part of the greater fashion industry, garment decorators’ futures are going to be affected. As a textile screen printer you need to be aware of developments and trends because they will affect your future. Tees are usually fingered as prime environmental offenders.

Here is a video you should watch as part of your education on this important topic; in this video Tees are singled out as major water-wasting polluters. We can’t ignore this.

Time to re-visit your business model?

More about your brand

The thumbnail version:

  • In an earlier post I addressed establishing and maintaining trust in your brand.
  • This is another useful bit of advice on the topic.

The full version:

Marry your brand

A contributor to Entrepreneur earlier this year had an interesting angle to the brand-maintenance issue—treat your brand like a relationship.

Here is an excerpt: “Like building trust, a successful relationship depends on shared values—being “equally yoked,” or lining up your values with those of whom you work or do business with. It also means your personal brand should be consistent with your values and in sync with your actions. Make sure your brand is communicating the values that mean the most to you, and that they are clear and recognizable.”

The article concludes with this: “So go ahead and tie the knot; make a lifelong commitment to your brand. Like a romantic relationship, building a powerful and compelling personal brand takes time, hard work, and commitment. The ones that last are the ones that put in the time, the intentional effort, and stay for the long haul. It’s time to renew your vows and reignite the romance with your brand.”

Give then the pickle! — The video

The thumbnail version:

  • Customer service can make or break your shop
  • Some speakers on the topic are better than others
  • This is a good one.

The full version:

I’ve listened to presentations and read many articles about the all-important topic of customer service over the years. Some are better than others.

I don’t have to say more here other than to introduce this short video presentation on customer service—it has a great message: CLICK HERE.

So, give then the pickle!

So tell me what you want, what you really, really want

The thumbnail version:

  • What topics or information on this blog would help you run your shop better?
  • What can Stanley’s do to help your shop?

The full version:

While this blog brings you relevant industry information searched out in many places and from many sources, there may be topics you’d like to see more of. Or perhaps you would like Stanley’s to make life easier for you in certain ways.

Well, now, like the Spice Girls famously sang, here’s your chance to say what you want, what you really, really want.

Let me know at michael.best@michaelbest.ca or, if you’d prefer, talk to one of the crew at Stanley’s.

Is your brand trusted? Should it be?

Thumbnail version:

  • Brand trust is a key to long-term success
  • Brand trust has to be built deliberately

The full version:

We live in a time where the brand trust for some of our public and private institutions  is at an all-time low.

Inextricably linked

For instance, a recent Canadian survey ranked trust in members of parliament, advertising practitioners, car salesmen, and owners of social media platforms at the bottom of a long list.

Apparently the so-called oldest profession wasn’t among the choices but it wouldn’t be surprising to find it ranked higher than the above group.

More to the point, a recent Gallup survey conducted in the U.S. found that while the trust level in institutions and big businesses was dropping, small business still ranked fairly high with the public. This is good news for the small business community (which includes most if not all, textile screen shops). However, brand trust doesn’t just happen, your business has to set about earning it.

The reason your business needs brand trust is obvious. If the buying public, or even business customers, have reason to not trust your brand, they’re going to avoid doing business with your shop. On the other hand, brand trust will encourage them to do business with your shop.

So, what are you doing to bolster band trust?

Ransomware can shut your shop down

The thumbnail version:

  • Ransomware explained
  • How to protect your data

The full version:

Protect your business against ransomware criminals.

Ransomware is malware that encrypts the target victim’s data. The idea is that the attacker tries to get the victim to pay a ransom for the key to decrypt their files.

Is a small business (in this case, your shop) at risk? Probably not as much as bigger businesses and institutions that are specifically targeted for their ability to pay a substantial ransom.  However, some less-sophisticated ransomware attackers use carpet-bombing techniques by which they try to infect as many victims as possible, large and small.

So what should you do to protect your business against a ransomware attack? Well, first you need to do some reading and research to familiarize yourself with the topic, but in the meantime, here are some protective measures to implement:

  • Don’t click on email links unless you have absolute confidence in the source of the email.
  • Backup, backup, backup, preferably routinely, locally, and also offsite. If you’re attacked you can data-restore from the latest uninfected backup.
  • Protect personal information. Be suspicious if asked for access-type information (e.g. passwords or security answers such as the old favourite, your mother’s maiden name).

It’s a big topic that can’t be covered adequately in a blog post. So, you have homework to do.

Ink shortage

Thumbnail version:

  • The ink shortage continues
  • Avient (Wilflex, Rutland, Union, QCM, Printop) has published an explanatory graphic

The full version:

Here is the Avient graphic explanation of what has become known as the “ink crisis.” Contact Stanley’s for information of how they’ve worked around the shortage by introducing an additional brand—Inknovators plastisol ink.

The rush to return to “normal — a two-edged sword for the industry?

The thumbnail version:

  • There’s undoubtedly a pent-up hunger for post-pandemic “normalcy”
  • But beware the misguided optimists among us

The full version:

In the editorial of the September issue of Images Magazine, the editor, in an apparent effort to inject some optimism into a hitherto gloomy situation, writes enthusiastically about the lifting of pandemic restrictions and the return of football crowds, rock concert audiences, bar and restaurant patrons, and office workers in the UK. All while one in eighty-five citizens has COVID.

Easy there, people! This COVID thing is not beaten yet.

He sees this as “good news” for the textile decorating industry’s suppliers to these entities. But one must ask, “Is it really? And for how long?” The rush to return to “normalcy” has been a disaster in many jurisdictions that have jumped the gun.

We have examples of misguided gun-jumping right here in Canada. For instance, at the beginning of July, Alberta lifted most restrictions in order to allow for “the best summer ever.” And what was the result of the return to “normalcy”? New COVID cases went from roughly one every hour to one every minute within two months. Restrictions had to be reintroduced.

So, caution is the word, particularly in strategizing and tweaking your business model. A rush to “normalcy” might look like “great news” right now but, as recent history has shown, it can be a two-edged sword.

The North American textile ink shortage crisis updated.

The thumbnail version:

  • The ink shortage continues.
  • Stanley’s can help.

The full version:

Some of your favourite North-American brands are beginning to slowly trickle through in drips and drabs but there are still severe shortages of raw material leading to manufacturing headaches and short deliveries.

But, as previously reported, Stanley’s has lessened the impact of the manufacturing shortages by having the foresight to add the Inknovators brand of plastisol to their line. Presses that would otherwise have been idle have been able to keep turning and the reaction to Inknovators all-round quality has been encouraging.

If you have any questions about the state of the textile ink supply and what Stanley’s can do to help keep your presses turning, help is only a phone call away.

Is the condition of your shop turning away prospective customers?

The thumbnail version:

  • An untidy, dirty, disorganized shop will discourage prospective customers.

The full version:

I once saw a Tom Peters presentation in which he was explaining the importance of instilling confidence in prospective customers by attending to even small details that can shape an opinion. He used the example of a commercial airliner.

Your secret weapon for helping to attract prospective customers.

He pointed that we all like to have the confidence that when we get onto an aircraft it has been properly maintained and prepared. We don’t want to see or hear anything that might undermine that confidence. Then as you settle into your seat and lower the fold-up tray, you notice a coffee cup stain and crumbs on the tray.

The first thing through your mind is, if they don’t maintain the cabin properly, do they maintain the engines properly? You wonder if the dirty tray speaks to a generally lackadaisical attitude that extends to engine maintenance? And what does this say about the overall mechanical soundness of the aircraft?

The message for every business, including your textile screen printing shop, is that appearance has an impact on a prospective customer’s initial and probably lasting impression. A messy shop is bound to create a bad impression and doubts about the quality of your output. On the other hand, a clean, organized shop is bound to help get you off to a good start with a prospective customer.

There are of course other good reasons to run a clean and organized shop, but don’t underestimate the impact on prospective customers.

Hey boss, are you highly toxic?

The thumbnail version:

  • A lot of bosses are “toxic”
  • The toxicity affects productivity

The full version:

Harvard Business Review (HBR) published the results of a survey by Life Meets Work. One of the finding was that 56 percent of American workers (can we assume Canadian as well?) claim that their boss is “highly toxic.” To add to this, the American Psychological Association found that 75 percent of Americans say that their boss is the most stressful part of their workday.

So, what would your shop’s employees say if asked the same questions? You may want to consider that because if you’re one of those “toxic” bosses it’s likely having a detrimental effect on your business. Do you want your employees to stay because you’re a great boss who creates a great work environment or are you okay knowing that they’re unhappy and only staying for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They don’t have the energy to look for a new job.
  • They need the salary and cannot afford a pay cut.
  • They feel that they don’t have the skills to get another job.
  • They hope things might get better.

Maybe if you hope to run a happy, productive shop, a little introspection might be in order.

Cotton in the news again for giving rise to a science known as element analysis.

The thumbnail version:

  • The cotton in a T-shirt can take a long and complex journey
  • Until recently there was no easy way to pin down its origin

The full version:

The Guardian recently ran a story about how, fives years ago, Welspun was mired in a scandal. Welspun, a manufacturer of more than 45 million meters of cotton a year, labelled it’s cotton as “Egyptian” until some of it’s customers conducted inquiries and found that in fact much of the cotton labeled in this way was not Egyptian.

Not from where it says it’s from?

And here’s the part of the story that showed how complex the supply chain in T-shirt manufacturing can be and how difficult it is to trace the origins of the cotton in a particular Tee. Quoting from the Guardian: “The cotton business is a labyrinthine, and the supply chains of products—running from the source farm to the shop shelf—have grown increasingly complex. A T-shirt sold in New Delhi might be made of cotton grown in India, blended in other cotton from Australia, spun into yarn in Vietnam, woven into cloth in Turkey, sown and cut in Portugal, bought by a Norwegian company, and shipped back to India.”

And this, writes the Guardian, is a relatively simple supply chain.

Things have become a whole lot more transparent since the origin of the cotton on a T-shirt can be pinned down to a specific farm. This is due to a geochemist, Prof Russel Frew of New Zealand, researching and developing the science known as element analysis.

Now well-known cotton brands are using element analysis to avoid any unpleasant surprises about the origin of their cotton such as, for instance, finding that the raw materials of some of their products were harvested with child or forced labour.

Have you ever wondered about the origin and the journey of the cotton in the Tees you are asked to print?

Pantone toast

The thumbnail version:

  • It’s more about the smile than the message

The full version:

I’ve been unable to find the designer of this piece to give proper credit but it’s just too clever and too pertinent to an aspect of our industry to not show,

There’s no particular business message or technical tip in this post. But if it puts a smile on your face (or stimulates a T-shirt design idea), it will be mission accomplished . . .

Lousy customer service

The thumbnail version:

  • Most businesses think they provide great customer service
  • Most customers think they don’t

The full version:

I think it is fair to say that most businesses will claim that they care about their customer service. But I think it’s also fair to say that customers will say that customer service is mostly lousy.

You call this customer service!

For instance, I bet that I could list at least a dozen instances of lousy customer service I’ve endured in the past month if I put my mind to it—starting with a major international courier all the way across the board to the local appliance repair man.

So what’s going on? What are customer service providers missing? Well, according to a white paper by Howard Lax, there are ten causes:

  1. Lack of commitment from the top.
  2. Inside-out view of the world.
  3. Rising customer expectations.
  4. Sub-standard employee experiences and poorly-trained employees.
  5. Corporate culture.
  6. Misperception and failure to listen.
  7. Failure of measurement and analysis.
  8. Failure to act.
  9. Cost / benefit challenges.
  10. Lack of clarity of objectives.

These all apply to all businesses, but some more than others in the case of textile screen printing shops. We’ll explore them in more detail in upcoming posts.

Customer acquisition cost . . . Do you know what it is?

The thumbnail version:

  • Customer Acquisition Cost is an important measurement
  • If acquisition cost exceeds the benefit, the acquisition makes no sense

The full version:

If yours is one of those reactive shops where everyone sits around waiting for business to turn up, then this post is not for you. But if yours is one of those proactive shops hustling for growth by acquiring new customers, then the concept of Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is something you should know about.

What is my CAC?

Roxanne Voidonicolas writing for Shopify, defines CAC as the cost to your shop of acquiring a single customer.  She includes in those costs: ” . . .  product costs, labour costs, marketing costs, and any other cost that contributed to getting your product into a customer’s hands.”

If you know your CAC, then you have an idea of how much you must earn from each customer in order to have a profitable shop. In other words, if you’re spending more to acquire customers than customers are spending on your shop, your business model is not viable.

I would suggest though one exception to this viability concern is if the new customer has a high likelihood of becoming a repeat customer which would obviously amortize the CAC.

I’ll  address this important concept in more depth in upcoming posts, but in the meantime, here is a basic formula that explains the CAC concept:

Total Marketing spend ($500) / New customers (10) = CAC ($50 per customer)

Cyber security — your biggest risk might be Matt

The thumbnail version:

  • Cyber security lapses can come form within your shop
  • Staff training is essential

The full version:

I recently received an email from my internet security provider, Eset. The message reminded me that it was time to post my annual cyber security reminder. It’s an important topic that’s becoming more important with each passing day—there are a growing number of bad guys out there on the net and their “break-and-enter” tools are becoming more sophisticated.

Don’t let Matt allow a cybercriminal in for lack of  training.

Eset’s opening sentence raises an important point: “We have a question for you: Who’s the bigger security thereat? A cybercrime mastermind, or Matt in Marketing?”

That point being that even if you subscribe to a virus-detection or some other form of internet security service, a staff member can still be a chink in your internet security armour.

The answer is to make sure that all your staff members with access to your shop’s computers are properly versed in being alert to potential cybercriminal activity. Some of the bad email approaches can be quite subtle and look like legitimate emails from legitimate sources—that is why training and ongoing sharing of information on the topic is essential.

Don’t let Matt mess it up for lack of training.

We’ve tested Inknovators plastisol — the results are in

The thumbnail version:

  • Stanley’s doesn’t offer untested products.
  • Inknovators plastisol has passed the tests

The full version:

Wendy has been overseeing the introduction of Inknovators plastisol, the new brand being offered by Stanley’s as a solution to the Wilflex and Rutland supply shortages. Of course part of the process was testing the ink to ensure that it met the standards Stanley’s customers have come to expect.

Tests were conducted by Craig at Stanley’s Cambridge warehouse and by Reid Gennutt in his Calgary print shop. In both instances the tests met the standards required for ease of application, curability, opacity, colour accuracy, and washing.

Craig’s test prints are shown here and some of Reid’s extensive comments are as follows:

  • ” . . .the ink is very smooth and light. It stirs wonderfully and spreads onto the screen with ease.
  • “Flooding the screen was no effort and the ink passed through the screen very nicely.”
  • “I ran the shirt through the conveyor dryer for a total of about 35 -40 seconds, the ink on the shirt reaching about 350 degrees.”
  • “I ran the shirt through a standard cold wash cycle with cold water. It was run on its own and not turned inside out. Given no special treatment or anything. The prints held up beautifully and they look as good as they did coming out of the dryer.”
  • “It prints and cures nicely and definitely would work as a good substitute for Wilflex if the products are not going to be available for some time.”

So, there you have it!

Stanley’s is on standby to deal with your ink requests.

An important tip from a courier horror story

The thumbnail version:

  • Courier companies can lose your valuable stuff
  • Be prepared for such an eventuality

The full version:

It doesn’t always end like this!

Bad experiences often have something to teach us, though it might be difficult to see it at the time, particularly if you’re so mad that you’re fit to be tied. But later, in retrospect, there are usually a few tips worth keeping in mind.

I have just such a situation to tell you about and an important tip that came out of it.

Three weeks ago I shipped an original botanical art painting that had been selected for a prestigious travelling exhibition starting in New York. It was then to travel to other main centers in the US until 2023.

The big international express courier company “lost” the package.

Well, we’re not even sure that “lost” is right because the story changed five times over three weeks of inquiries. It started with “we have the package but the contents have been removed,” then moved to “the package is missing,” then back to “we have the package but the painting is missing,” then back again to “the package is missing,” then finally, “we have the package, it’s badly damaged and the contents are missing. File a claim.”

Here’s the important tip . . . if you ship anything of value, take images of the item, the step-by-step packing process, and the package ready for handing to the courier. These images will prove invaluable when the courier company asks for a description of what they’re looking for. And then when they can’t find the package, the images are helpful  for negotiating with their claims department for compensation.

Fortunately I did this. It didn’t help in the search for the “lost” package but it’s sure helping in the discussions about compensation.

The North Amercan textile ink shortage is real, serious, and widespread.

The thumbnail version:

  • There is a critical shortage of textile ink raw materials in North America
  • Stanley’s has a workaround

The full version:

Stanley’s has been addressing this shortage proactively by adding a new brand, Inknovators, to its offering. A recent email to all customers who have consented to be on Stanley’s email list, explained this in some detail.

A recent article by Christopher Ruvo in PROMOGRAM confirmed that all North American printers are in the same boat. Quoting various industry members on the supply side, he points out that this situation is due to not just COVID-related disruptions but also a slew of other supply problems. And the outlook is not good either, some are predicting that the situation will continue well into 2022.

Stanley’s has tested Inknovators plastisol; we’ll provide an assessment by a textile screen printer in an upcoming post.

Talk to Stanley’s about ways around the ink shortage.

Tees from seaweed

The thumbnail version:

  • Tees are now being made from seaweed
  • Seaweed has a hugely positive sustainability profile

The full version:

Tees from seaweed by Inland Sea. Image provided by Inland Sea.

Inland Sea, a UK business owned by entrepreneur, Adam Costello, has announced the creation of tees made of a patented fiber, SeaCell, manufactured from Bladderwack seaweed found in the Atlantic ocean.

An interesting fact about seaweed is that it is a mass absorber of CO2 and it grows relatively quickly compared with trees. This gives it a positive sustainability profile as a raw material in a clothing industry that is increasingly coming under scrutiny for a lack of sustainability.

The seaweed is processed into SeaCell fiber using an environmentally-friendly technology by Smartfiber of Germany. The process embeds the seaweed within a natural fiber to ensure that the positive properties of the seaweed is permanently preserved.

The 100% biodegradable garments are available through Inland Sea but Costello’s intention is to create a demand for them among other independent ethical clothing brands as well. Inland Sea’s website  currently lists the Tees at £34.99 (CAD60) but, as with any new innovation, the price is bound to come down as demand increases and manufacturing cranks up.

If you’re looking to position your Canadian shop favourably on the sustainability scale, you should consider beginning a conversation with Adam Costello. Who knows where it might lead?