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That’s so good it should be on a T-shirt . . .

That should be here!

That should be here!

Your weekly quote:

“You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”

– Frederick B Wilcox

“Need design work to elevate your T-shirt brand?”

“Need design work to elevate your T-shirt brand?”

This was the first line in an email I’ve just received advertising design services. I was wondering how I would react if I owned a screen shop when it occurred to me that there are a number of ways a textile screen printer could react to such an email.

One way would be to read it and think I don’t have a T-shirt brand or I don’t need design work or I don’t need to elevate my brand, click on the delete button and go back to work. It would be unfortunate though because anything referencing our industry—advertisements, blog posts, magazine articles—potentially harbours a useful snippet of information or an idea. You just have to think about it a bit and allow your creative instincts to run wild for a few seconds.

Idea.What could happen? Well, it might occur to you that doing design work for others could be a viable way of adding to your business’s bottom line. You may be an artist or a graphic designer, or you may have this expertise on staff. If your in-house design resources are under-utilized, why not take on contract design work? Not every textile screen printer has in-house design resources; why not offer them your services?

What else could happen? If you’re a contract printer perhaps you have customers who could benefit from elevating their brand with a design upgrade. Offer them some added value for dealing with you by suggesting a brand graphics re-think. At the very least the customer may be grateful for the suggestion but if the idea takes off (sometimes simple ideas lead to bigger ideas) your shop might benefit greatly from additional work.

Before you click on the delete button in future, take a few seconds to see if what you’ve just read might trigger an idea or two that you can explore. One of the fascinating things that can happen when you allow your creative brain to be stimulated by something you see or read, is that you end up with great ideas unrelated to the original item (in this case needing design work to elevate your brand).

Creativity usually needs a trigger. Stuff you see and read can be that trigger (even those annoying promotional emails).

Free Rio starter kit from Wilflex!

Screen-Printing-Inks-Featured-Epic-RioIn the last post we told you about Wilflex Rio—PolyOne’s new non-Phthalate, opaque mixing system for 100% cotton and 50/50 cotton/Polyester substrates.

Well, today Wendy at the Stanley’s Calgary office let me know that Wilflex is offering printers free starter kits.

Just click on this link ( http://go.polyone.com/EpicRioSampleKit )

You’ll go directly to the appropriate page on the PolyOne site where you’ll see “Request a starter kit below” in a red box. Scroll down, fill out the required information and your free kit will be delivered through whichever Stanley’s branch you usually deal with.

There will of course be a local shipping charge for delivery from the Stanley’s branch to your print shop. Thought I’d just mention that even though you’ve probably assumed it already.

For more information on the Rio system or if you have any trouble ordering your free starter kit off the PolyOne site, the go-to person is Wendy at 1 877 661 1553 or 403 243 7722.


That’s so good it should be on a T-shirt . . .

That should be here!

That should be here!

Your weekly quote:

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

– Abraham Lincoln

Epic Rio – the new vibrant colour system from Wilflex.

Screen-Printing-Inks-Featured-Epic-RioWilflex has announced its new Epic Rio non-Phthalate, opaque colour system. It’s PANTONE approved which means that accurate formulas are available to make any PANTONE colour.

Rio is suitable for manual or automatic equipment and is particularly intended for 100% cotton and cotton/Polyester blend substrates.

Something else Wilflex would like you to know about Rio is that it provides a perfect balance of accuracy, vibrancy and opacity. How often have you been in a conversation about textile ink and someone will say: “Yes, but how opaque is it?” Well, Rio is opaque.

Rio has a nice creamy consistency and low tack that requires fewer flash units. Wet on wet printing is a breeze. And here’s something else; it’s an energy saver. Rio allows for a faster oven belt speed and cures at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stanley’s warehouses in Calgary (1 877 661 1553) and Cambridge (1 877 205 9218) can help you with information and samples.

Stanley’s new web site launched!

Stanleys logoStanley’s new corporate site is up and running.

You can link here to see the full range of screen printing, digital, and sign painting supplies.

In addition to supplies, the site lists Stanley’s offering of services such as: technical support; screen exposure and reclaiming; screen stretching; and vinyl and pre-mask slitting. There’s also a section on used equipment.

All the contact information you may need is there too.

A link on the main menu takes you to this blog as well as a soon-to-be-launched blog for the graphics and digital industry.

With four branches, Stanley’s is Canada’s biggest screen printing and digital supplier. And don’t forget the two (West and East) online textile screen printing supply sites. Tour the site right now and see what Stanley’s Sign and Screen Supply can do for your business.

That’s so good it should be on a T-shirt . . .

That should be here!

That should be here!

Your weekly quote:

“Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something.”

– Wilson Mizner



Where do discarded Tees go?

But where do our Tees go from here?

But where do our Tees go from here?

So where do all our discarded Tees go? We hope of course that, like us, most people make an effort to keep them (and other clothing) out of the landfills and instead donate them to organizations we believe will give them a second chance.

It seems though that in the West we have such a glut of clothing that the second-use market can’t absorb it all. It’s because new clothing is so cheap that we can afford to be wasteful, discarding items long before it’s necessary.

Low cost and a slavish devotion to fashion fuelled by vanity create the glut of used but still good clothing. This of course does the planet no favours by unnecessarily consuming and polluting resources like water.

So where do all the discarded Tees go?

Fourteen minutes of your time spent watching this video will answer the question.

Why should you as T-shirt printer pay any attention to this? Well, for one thing, it is your industry, and for another, it might influence your views on how you conduct your business in a world becoming more and more sustainability conscious.


The fading PANTONE chart.

Replace your PANTONE chart at least every two years.

Replace your PANTONE chart at least every two years.

Your new customer chooses a colour off your PANTONE chart. You pull the formula for that PANTONE number off your Wilflex Ink Mixing System software or you order the colour from Stanley’s and they mix it according to the Wilflex software.

Either way, the ink is mixed and, like any good screen printer, you don’t just rush into production. You first print a swatch, cure it, and check it against the chosen PANTONE swatch.

Right away there’s a problem. The test swatch is a few shades different from the PANTONE colour the customer picked off your chart. The pressure is on because you really want to impress this customer—it could mean a lot of business for you in the future. So you re-mix the ink (or have Stanley’s re-mix it).

Still a problem. The second test swatch is the same as the first test swatch and not quite the shade the customer chose from your PANTONE chart. Now you’re really frustrated.

What are you going to do?

It’s easy . . .  you’re going to throw away your five-year-old PANTONE chart because it’s faded with age and you’re going to buy a new one. Okay, so PANTONE charts aren’t cheap at around $200 but spending that, say every two years, works out at under $10 a month.

For $10 a month you’ll never have to admit to a customer that you’re too damned cheap to buy one of the fundamental items a good screen shop should always have on hand.

As for your current dilemma, compare the colour the customer chose from the old chart with the new chart, pick the PANTONE number from the new chart and mix  the shade the customer chose. Problem solved.

And good luck with that new customer.

That’s so good it should be on T-shirt . . .

That should be on here.

That should be on here.

Your weekly quote:

“Yield to temptation. It may not pass your way again.”

– Robert A. Heinlein


Creativity is alive and well in the T-shirt business.

Image reproduced with permission of Freshbrewedtees.

Image reproduced with permission of Freshbrewedtees.

Freshbrewdtees of Cleveland has just demonstrated how creativity is alive and well in the T-shirt business.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship and J.R. Smith paraded around showing off his tattoos, creativity struck.

Fresbrewedtees and Smith collaborated, made a few minor changes to avoid trademark issues, and produced this winner.

The result was a T-shirt that sold over 1,000 in the first 24 hours at $35.00 each. You do the math.

Creativity and striking while the iron’s hot—the T-shirt industry at its best.

This Tee can be bought online at: http://freshbrewedtees.com/


Match chemicals with equipment.

I will not use the wrong chemical in the spot remover gun again!

I will not use the wrong chemical in the spot remover gun again!

A recent incident provided an opportunity to address a problem that arises from time-to-time.

A textile screen printer asked for a spot remover gun replacement. It was alleged that the gun’s pump had malfunctioned. The gun was replaced even though the pump showed signs of erosion due to the use of a water-based fluid. Now, as any textile screen printer knows, spot remove guns are designed to use spot remover fluid. And spot remover fluid is a solvent-based, not water-based, product.

When this happened a second time just a few months later, inquiries confirmed that the printer had again used a water-based fluid that wasn’t even a spot remover but a liquid tape reducer. The manufacturer quite correctly refused to replace the gun.

The lesson here is that instruction to print shop employees on the use of equipment must include the apparently not-so-obvious point that the proper chemicals must be matched with the appropriate equipment.


That’s so good it should be on a T-shirt . . .

That should be here!

That should be here!

Your weekly quote:

“If you can dream it you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing started with a dream and a mouse.”

– Walt Disney.

Did you know this about synthetic fleece?

PollutionEcouterre is reporting that popular synthetic fleeces are messing up the oceans.

A study commissioned by Patagonia and carried out by the University of California Santa Barbara found that Polyester and nylon jackets can shed up to 250,000 synthetic fibres (1.7 grams of plastic) in a single wash. These fibres are fewer than 5 millimeters in length and so slip by filters from the washing machine to treatment plants to end up in rivers and eventually lakes and oceans.

Once in oceans and lakes the fibers find their way into the digestive system of birds, fish and other marine animals, where they tend to stay.

The consequence of this study is that various measures are being considered to prevent the plastic fibres from ending up in lakes and oceans. This could include washing equipment modifications, improved filtration, and improved waste water treatment.

Here we have another example of how much work our industry is facing in reversing the damage being done to ecosystems. And textile screen printers have a role to play by being aware of the problems associated with the fabrics they handle.


If you’re going to insist on using aerosol pallet adhesives . . .

Tekmar's Target AV-1 for capturing aerosol adhesive overspray and airborne particles.

Tekmar’s Target AV-1 for capturing aerosol adhesive overspray and airborne particles.

I will never understand why aerosol pallet adhesives are still being used by so many textile screen printers when much more economical and eco-friendly water-based adhesives are available.

Overspray on the floor and airborne adhesive particles easily inhaled by press operators, are just two of the obvious problems with aerosol adhesives.

However, now there is a solution. To combat these two problems, Tekmar has introduced the Target AV-1 Adhesive Vacuum.

The AV-1 is positioned under the pallet where it creates a vortex to draw airborne adhesive particles into a disposable filter.

Don’t you think that a disposable filter is a much better place for adhesive particles than the floor or an operator’s lungs?

There’s more about the AV-1 here on Tekmar’s web site. You could also can Stanley’s Calgary office at 1 800 661 1583 for more information.

That’s so good it should be on a T-shirt . . .

That should be here!

That should be here!

Your weekly quote:

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”

– John Maynard Keynes

Worrying indifference.

Come on! What is it going to take to make our industry ecologically aware?

Come on! What is it going to take to make our industry ecologically aware?

In previous posts I told you about the Clean Tee project by Nomadix. They developed a Tee made from 100% recycled materials and launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding program to finance it.

The Tee uses no dye, no chemical treatment, is made in the U.S.A., and is built to last. In short, it addresses all the things about Tees that attract the most criticism in today’s market of increasing ecological, toxic waste, and social-conscience awareness. The funding project was conducted on a reputable crowd-funding site.

In spite of all this, the crowd-funding project fell short of it’s modest $20,000 goal by more than $6,000. This reflects very badly on our industry. It leaves us with many questions and few answers. . . .

  • Is there something about this that sounds too good to be true?
  • Why wouldn’t screen printers support this project in large numbers to encourage a more eco-friendly Tee for their industry?
  • Why wouldn’t one or more of the major Tee manufacturers scoop this up?
  • Is there any commitment at all in our industry to a less toxic garment?

Whatever the reasons for this Kickstarter project failing, they seem to add up to a worrying indifference.

Not staying in touch with industry literature? Start with Images digital magazine.

Okay, so you don’t make a point of regularly reading industry magazines or books or even blogs. But why?

Actually, I know why. I’ve heard all the excuses over the years and I could list them here but I’m not going to, because they’re all BS. Discovering what others are doing in this industry, seeing the latest trends, finding out about new products, and receiving business advice will give you an advantage. Without this kind of input you’re disadvantaged. How else can anyone expect to grow as a screen printer and business owner? It requires a bit of effort though—knowledge and great ideas aren’t magically absorbed from thin air. You have to look for it in the right places.

Checking out online industry magazines.

Checking out online industry magazines.

Attending a trade show is one of the right places—every year I try to encourage Canadian textile screen printers to attend the Long Beach Show—but it’s not enough. Industry blogs, magazines and books are the other right places.

It’s almost impossible to not get something out of every blog, magazine or book. At the very least, just a sentence or a picture can stimulate an idea that could turn into something beneficial for your textile screen shop.

So, here’s a suggestion to get you started. Grab your favourite drink, relax and log onto Images Magazine’s site .Click on the June digital magazine and enjoy leafing through the fifty-plus pages. Oh, pay particular attention to the article on page 56 in the June edition. Subscribe for free and it’ll turn up on your email each month.

Now find other industry blogs, newsletters and magazines. Stay ahead of the competition.


That’s so good it should be on a T-shirt . . .

That should be here!

That should be here!

Your weekly quote:

“Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitos?”

– Anon

Reading between the headlines . . .

When I was just a kid, I remember hearing one of my father’s favourite expressions for the first time: “If you throw dung at a wall long enough, some of it will stick.”

I’ve been throwing something at the wall for some time on this blog—though it’s by no means dung—and I’m going to keep throwing it for some time yet. I’ll keep going until there’s evidence that some of it’s beginning to stick. I’m talking about the inevitable upcoming changes in our industry as a result of the increasing pressure from the ecological lobby. They will affect you, the textile screen printer, and I’m determined to help by alerting you to the changes as they creep up on us.

Think I’m being alarmist? Here are the latest headlines about the clothing industry—our industry—in the Ecouterre newsletter. You read between the headlines . . .

Adidas, Parley Giving Away 50 Pairs of Shoes Made From Ocean Plastic

Wool and the Gang Launches Yarn Made From Upcycled Denim

Levi’s Launches “Collaboratory” to Boost Innovation in Sustainable Fashion

Timberland to Make Shoes, Bags From Recycled Plastic Bottles

H&M, Swedfund Pilot Sustainable Textile Factory in Ethiopia

PETA Claims Eddie Bauer, Lands’ End Use Down Ripped From Live Geese

There will be more and more attention focussed on the poor ecological and sustainability of our industry, particularly the cotton T-shirt aspect of it.

See the geese below with bare and bleeding legs and torsos after having their down stripped? Expect more and more of these disturbing and eye-catching types of images as the spotlight on the clothing industry intensifies . . .

Image source: Ecouterre.

Image source: Ecouterre.

Therefore, it seems to me to be a good time to get ahead of the game and exploit the rapidly-developing sustainability movement.


T-shirt industry’s Amazon . . . a game changer?

You can't stick your head in the sand on this one . . .

You can’t stick your head in the sand on this one . . .

A new report out today caught my eye.

“How a T-shirt company snared a whopping $58 million.”

You’d have to be blind for that headline to not get your attention. It’s a story about a T-shirt producing company, Teespring, that does for T-shirt designers what Amazon does for writers.

Should you as a contract printer take note of this? Absolutely!

This could be a game changer for contract printers and their customers.

When T-shirt designers who ordinarily use local contract printers hear that 30 of Teespring’s customers have sold more than $1 million, they’re going to take a close look at the concept. They’re going to take an even closer look when they read “The upside for sellers? A custom T-shirt design business with no money down and none of the usual hassles, like keeping an inventory of shirts that might not sell, or usual niceties, like paying for manufacturing and shipping.”

This is something you cannot afford to ignore. Click here and read the report and watch the video on CNBC. 


That’s so good it should be on a T-shirt . . .

That should be here!

That should be here!

Your weekly quote:

“Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.”

– Jose Maria de eca de Queiroz

Vent, vent, vent!

Okay, so this isn't your textile screen shop venting, but you get the message . . .

Okay, so this isn’t your textile screen shop venting, but you get the message . . .

How well do you vent? It’s an important question which is immediately followed by another important question . . .  even if you have a fancy venting system, how well are you maintaining it to ensure optimum performance?

Venting has been coming up again in discussions about the alleged toxicity of T-shirts. This kind of discussion is not going to abate. Instead, it’s going to gain momentum as the debates about the environment, climate change and sustainability rage on. In all of these discussions, clothing, and particularly cotton, seems to come up frequently. As major handlers of cotton, we can’t ignore this.

In articles with titles like “Your cotton T-shirt might be poisoning you”, “Is your T-shirt toxic?”, and “Could your sportswear be toxic?”, to name just a few, the writers allude to formaldehyde, antimony, PVC, Chlorine, and other chemicals and materials known to be hazardous to human health.

So what is a caring textile screen printer to do? Well, you can be careful about the sourcing of your materials but, admittedly, you are pretty much at the mercy of the manufacturers. Relying on their assurances and labels is about all you can do when it comes to the toxicity of garments and other materials but you can also vent really well. It’s in the dryer where a lot of the toxic stuff burns off so for the sake of everyone in your shop . .   vent, vent, vent!

Diversifying into better-paying customers.

Service and quality.

Service and quality.

I was recently reviewing some past material on attracting customers and boosting business when it occurred to me that it was time to revisit the topic on this blog.

The Canadian textile screen printing industry is very competitive, yet a lack of creative marketing to attract business remains one of its problems. The primary business-boosting technique seems to be price cutting.

It’s particularly bad in the big urban areas like Toronto where some printers seem to be willing to put their business at risk when their sole marketing strategy is under-pricing the competition. A ruthless set of influential customers know that screen printers will buckle under threat of them taking their business elsewhere and the result is ridiculously low per-print prices by which everyone but the screen printers benefit.

Who really wants to live this kind of business life? Remember Robert Townsend’s question of many years ago: “If you’re not in business for fun or profit what the hell are you doing here?”

Aside from managing for price pressure being a lousy way to run a business, the risk to screen printers who allow ruthless customers to squeeze and squeeze them is that sooner or later they’ll be squeezed dry. This has been going on for so long now that nobody questions it anymore. It has become the norm. Somehow, someone, somewhere has to break this mould.

So here are some creative but inexpensive ideas for marketing your business, to diversify your customer base, and begin to focus on customers who value your business for quality and service rather than absurdly low pricing:

  1. Build an email list of desirable customers, get their permission to email them, and then stay in touch with emails informing them of what your business can offer. Give them ideas that will come back to your business in T-shirt orders. It only takes time, and little money to do this.
  2. Donate your work to charitable events. Get it out in front of people at these events. Show them what you can do.
  3. Pay for peoples’ coffee or pop in t-shirt-friendly places. Give them a business card and walk away.
  4. Keep your web site and social media networks updated with stuff about your shop and products.
  5. Send hand-written thank you notes or cards to customers after an order. Enclose a Tim Horton’s or local coffee shop gift card.
  6. Participate in local contests by offering some of your work as prizes. Label them prominently of course.
  7. Create a referral program for customers. The bigger ones won’t participate but the smaller better-paying customers often do.
  8. Create product-use sheets to enclose with orders. Include how information on how to care for the garment or any other useful information. (Hint: How many people know that they shouldn’t iron a plastisol print?)
  9. Write good reviews for local businesses. Where are they going to go when they need Tees, especially after you explain to them why they need tees?

These are just some ideas. All it takes is imagination and creativity to begin to diversify your customer base with better-paying customers who appreciate quality and service and will pay for it.

That’s so good it should be on a T-shirt . . .

That should be here!

That should be here!

Your weekly quote:

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

-Oscar Wilde

Another Tee and hoodie manufacturer funds a living wage.

Made for a fair wage.

Made for a fair wage.

Ecouterre is reporting that Continental Clothing, a London-based apparel manufacturer and wholesaler is launching Fair Share.

Fair Share is a line of certified-organic T-shirts and hoodies with a built-in price premium. The idea is that the premium goes directly to the Indian garment workers. The premiums, which seem to be very low in Canadian consumer terms—about 20 cents for a Tee and $1.00 for a hoodie—are tacked onto the shelf price.

The initiative follows an investigation into the wage needed by garment workers to pay for basic needs (needs we’d consider basic rights such as food, housing, clothing education and transport). The premium per garment is based on the difference between what is deemed to be such a wage and what the workers are actually being paid.

Its an interesting concept but, again, success or failure will depend upon the buying public’s participation. And, unfortunately, so far the greater part of the buying public has shown little interest in the plight of garment workers in offshore locations even when a small sacrifice this side can have a huge impact on the other side. In fact, sadly too, our industry has shown little interest.

Printers could begin to make a difference even by gradually phasing out garments of dubious origin and seeking out garments such as those made under the “Fair Share” program. And it’s not all altruism either, it’s a niche that can be exploited for business gain among the small but growing consumer base that cares about social issues like fair wages and sustainability.

Link to Ecouterre: http://www.ecouterre.com/



Clean Tee Kickstarter program into last 16 days.

Clean TeeAs we posted in April, the Nomadix team is trying to raise $20,000 to continue funding the Clean Apparel Tee made from 100% recycled materials. As of right now they’re about halfway there with 16 days to go.

The response to the project has not been overwhelming by any means. The question is, why?

Consider the facts. This shirt uses no dye, no chemical treatment, it’s made in the USA, it’s very soft, and it’s built to last. That’s remarkable and an important breakthrough if you consider that annual conventional apparel production produces 57 billion pounds of toxic waste such as formaldehyde and heavy metals.

Just one year’s production of cotton for apparel consumes 40 trillion gallons of water—that’s the equivalent of 64 ounces of water for every person on earth, every day for 31 years.

Cotton production the USA alone consumes 12.8 billion pounds of pesticide every year. A lot of it ends up in rivers and waterways. Then there’s the 228 million gallons of wastewater produced every year in the dyeing of cotton.

Why wouldn’t those of us in this industry concerned about the environment support this project? For $25 you can be in on the ground floor of something momentous in our industry. And if it doesn’t bear any fruit? Well, then it’s $25.00 down the drain. That’s a lot less than the cost of a case of beer—which is guaranteed to go down the drain anyway.

Link to Kickstarter program for the Clean Tee: Click here



That’s so good it should be on a T-shirt . . .

That should be here!

That should be here!

Your weekly quote:

“Dogs have masters. Cats have staff.”

– Anon

Vintage Tees worth a small fortune . . .

Addidias RUN DMC teeGot any vintage Tees stuck away in the back of an old cupboard in the shop? How about your bottom drawer at home? Grandpa got any stuck away in a chest in the garage? It may be time to do some digging.

Defunkd, the online vintage T-shirt collective, is worth a visit. They have a large selection of vintage tees for sale. How does U.S.$13,000 sound? That’s the asking price for the Adidas RUN DMC shirt in the illustration. Got one?

Rolling Stones at Knebworth tour shirtThe next shirt on the list is a Rolling StoneS 1976 Knebworth tour shirt. Asking price? U.S.$9,235.00. Got one of these?

There are a number of others with asking prices in the thousands and many in the hundreds. So, those old shirts the family has been hanging onto . . .  maybe its time to cash in.


T-shirts for Fort McMurray?

Fort McMurrayA national newspaper story about a Toronto imprinted T-shirt company that had designed a Tee to raise funds for the victims of the Fort McMurray fire, caught my eye.

The Canadian-manufactured and printed Tee is priced at $48.00. It was estimated that, after production costs, approximately $24.00 per sale would be donated to the Red Cross fund for the fire.

At about the same time I saw report online about a couple of Edmonton textile screen printing shops donating Tees directly to victims of the fire.

All of these efforts will be appreciated, of course, but are they all as effective or even as philanthropic as they are portrayed to be?

I found that the Toronto company is not a printer and therefore the production cost it mentioned was the amount paid to the contract printer. This obviously means that the printer (and possibly others) was making money off the job (we all know that the cost of a printed Tee is nowhere near $24.00, so who are the others?).

From the shirt purchaser’s perspective, there’s a chance that unless they read the newspaper article, they’d think they were donating $48.00 to the Fort McMurray fire victims. This would of course not be true. They’d be donating $24.00 to the cause and $24.00 to one or more bottom lines.

When I enquired about what seemed to be an excessively high cost of production, I was told by a representative of the company in question that a Tee printed with “Fort McMurray” in black would encourage others to buy one and so donate to the cause. Really? With the world-wide, 24/7 news reports some people still needed a $48.00 Tee-shirt to tell them that there was a devastating fire in Fort McMurray?

It must be said that, by contrast, the Edmonton donations of Tees directly to the victims seem more appropriate; no fuss, no red tape, no administrative fees, no big profits for anyone.

This is the one time I’d discourage buying a T-shirt. If you have $48.00 to give to the cause, send it directly to the Red Cross or some other credible charity working with the victims. At least they’ll get the whole $48.00. You don’t need a T-shirt to announce that you’ve made a $48.00 donation (which is really just a $24.00 donation).

Do it quietly for the cause—that’s the best and most sensible kind of philanthropy.