Penny-pinching is not smart business.

Generosity is good business.

Penny-pinching is bad business. Generosity is good business.

Listen to Jimmy Hickey of hugely successful Findlay Hats: “Lets say we’re running a trade show and we run into someone who’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been buying your hats from day one. Here’s the hat I bought from you guys the fist month you came out. This is one of the oldest hats in existence.’ As a way to reward that guy for his loyalty, we’ll like, ‘Choose any hat you see here. You can have it.’ That’s going to further dedicate that person to our brand and keep them coming back as a future customer.” Hickey is smart.

Here’s a story about someone not quite as smart as Hickey. I was recently dismayed to discover that my favourite art supply store was no longer offering free cookies. My first stop in the store had always been the cookie plate intended for the pleasure of customers, art class attendees, and staff. Then it disappeared.

As an ardent student of small business management (and a cookie addict), I conducted inquiries. It turned out that the owner had canned the cookie plate because she felt that some people were overdoing it a bit. I should mention that these were not gourmet cookies. At about $3.00 for a pack of 44 cookies they were among the cheapest on the shelf at the nearby grocery store.

But cookie quality is not the point—we liked them regardless. I think I can speak for the customers, art students, and staff alike when I say that it is the gesture we miss, not just the cookies. Something for free (doesn’t matter what it is or how small it is) gives pleasure and creates a feeling of well-being. It says: “Thanks for visiting my store and thanks for doing business with me.” It reflects well on the business and is therefore smart business.

So I think the art store owner, who in every other way is an astute business person, has made a mistake. For no more than $90 a month (less than a dinner out for two) she has backed away from an opportunity to bolster goodwill among her customers, students, and staff. And it’s not about the momentary pleasure of a single cookie; it’s about the lasting impression. It’s about the gesture.

As for the over-doing-it concern, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to control consumption by putting out just one pack a day. For anyone arriving after the cookies for the day were all gone, a plate with a few crumbs still speaks to generosity, whereas, no plate at all, does the opposite.

As Findlay Hats has demonstrated — even a small gesture of generosity is smart business. When last have you given away a few Tees to delight your customers? Why not give every visitor to your shop a gift of a hat or Tee, even if it’s a promotional hat or Tee for your business? Come on, you know it will only cost you a couple of bucks. Try it — you’ll be surprised how much goodwill and business it will return.

Credits: Felix Thea, Shopify and www.findlayhats.com

 

A tip for you

Thought of discharge printing lately?

 

 

Given any thought to discharge printing recently? Why not? A one-colour discharge print can be very appealing graphically and it has no hand at all. It may intrigue some of your customers and give them design ideas that could result in result in printing orders for your shop.

Time to plan for winter shipping

Ha, ha! I’ve ordered my winter supplies!

Winter is just around the corner and, as we all know, the Canadian winter brings with it shipping problems. But, a bit of advanced planning can save a lot of headaches.

Plastisol inks are not bothered by even Canada’s coldest temperatures provided they’re given a chance to warm up to room temperature and stirred well before you attempt to use them. And, by the way, impatiently thawing containers on the dryer or by some other heat source is not a good idea. You could trigger a gelling reaction in the bucket, particularly if you get distracted and leave the bucket there for longer than you should.

The products most sensitive to freezing are emulsions, water-based inks, and certain chemicals. Emulsions in particular will separate when thawed after freezing and cannot be reconstituted once that happens. Water-based inks run the same risk. So there are a number of reasons why ordering in a winter stock of emulsions, water-based inks, and chemicals makes sense. At 35 degrees below zero they’ll freeze solid in a short time. I once saw 55- gallon drums of emulsion freeze solid in the course of a direct truck trip from Texas to Calgary — it doesn’t take long.

Some shippers offer heated service but it’s of course quite a bit more expensive than regular shipping. And heated service has been known to fail if a vehicle breaks down or if the shipper is careless about overnight storage. Also, heated shipping is usually only offered between main centres. So if you’re outside a main centre, say, in a rural area, your winter shipments are at risk even if you request heated shipping.

All of this is just not worth the cost and hassle. Call Stanley’s and discuss your winter needs with them: Cambridge – 1 877 205 9218; Calgary – 1 877 661 1553; Edmonton – 1 888 424 7446; Richmond – 604 873 2451

A manual squeegee tip for you

Watch your squeegee angle!

 

 

Pulling the squeegee at too sharp an angle fails to move all the ink through the mesh. Generally, you should aim for a 75° angle. As you flatten the angle more, you create a higher transfer of ink by increasing the surface contact. However, when you create a higher transfer of ink you can lose edge definition in the print. So, the angle of the squeegee is important in producing excellent prints.

Hats haven’t evolved for years? Not true . . . (Part II)

An example of a Findlay hat.

In the last post we saw how Findlay Hats came up with a modification to the standard hat that’s capturing the imagination of the market. According to Felix Thea’s report for Shopify, a single Reddit post went viral and resulted in $28,000 in sales.

It turns out that this success story has more to teach than just how innovation can make a ho-hum product exciting enough to catch the attention of a large audience and drive sales.

Findlay Hats is a lesson in online marketing. Backstopping the integrated online marketing drive is the e-commerce website. This is where you go to find out more about the hats, some history, a few entertaining tidbits, and most importantly, it’s where you buy them. Check out the site for a good example of a focussed, single-product site. It’s user-friendly and efficient.

Social media platforms are used to promote Findlay Hats and to drive customers to buy on the website. The product was first tested on the founder’s Instagram account where he showed a design of the hat and asked if people would buy it if he made it. The response was so encouraging that he went ahead. Then, as we already know, a single viral post on Reddit resulted in sales of $28,000. Finlay Hats also has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and LinkedIn.

This is a tale that should serve as a lesson in integrated online marketing for textile screen printers who plan to succeed long term in this competitive environment.

 

 

A fun fact for your shop

Create magic moments for your customers

 

 

Disney allows its employees to create “magic moments” for their guests. If an employee spots an opportunity to do something special for a guest, they’re authorised to do it without hesitation. It’s one of the small things that has made Disney a great success. Do you look for opportunities to create magic moments for your customers? Are your employees encouraged to do it too? It’s the small gestures that charm customers and keep them coming back.

Hats haven’t evolved for years? Not true . . .

I once suggested to a textile printer that he should consider diversifying into hats. I explained that I’d just been visiting a rural printer who seemed to be making a killing with hats, embroidering them and applying heat transfers. It seemed a natural companion to T-shirt decorating since the technology is virtually identical. It might require buying a cap press but surely an investment of between $500 and $1,000 is a very small barrier to entry. For an embroiderer it simply means acquiring cap frames.

The printer looked at me in the way you look at people when they’ve just said something so outrageous that you wonder about their sanity: “Do you know how saturated the market is with hats?”

“Yes, but they all look the same,” I said. “Why don’t you look around for an unusual hat design and with some unusual graphics you could perhaps come up with something the market hasn’t seen?”

“Listen, dude. A hat is a hat is a hat. Always has been, always will be. There’s nothing you can do to make a hat different from every other hat. You can’t make money selling hats.”

Well, he was wrong on both counts. A hat is not necessarily just a hat. And you can make money selling hats. An Oregon hat manufacturer, Findlay Hats, has proved it.

According to a piece written by Felix Thea for Shopify, the founder of Findlay Hats, Jimmy Hickey, came up with a modification to the standard hat that made it distinctive and unique. He lost his favourite hat rafting on a river when he was barely a teenager. The next time he went rafting he secured his hat on his head with a modification involving shoe laces. It wasn’t until about nine years later that he used the idea to create the Finlay hat.

An example of a Findlay hat.

The Findlay hat has a decorative lace across the front just below where the imprint or badge would usually go. The lace can be untied to fit under the chin to secure the hat when you don’t want it coming off and getting lost. There’s also a hidden pocket to hold cash and cards.

So, even something as basic as a hat can be made exciting and capture the imagination of the market. The Findlay hat certainly did — just one Reddit post that went viral boosted sales by $28,000.

Next post will be about how Findlay Hats uses the internet and social media platforms to drive its success.

Contact info: Findlay Hats

A bright idea! Dissolvable screen tape.

A bright idea . . . dissolvable screen tape!

Geoff McCue, independent inventor, has announced that he has signed an agreement to sell one of his patented inventions, dissolvable screen tape. The buyer is Kiwo, his former employer.

Geoff decided that Kiwo has the R&D and manufacturing expertise to bring the tape to market a lot faster than he could.

This screen tape does not have to be removed from a screen, instead it dissolves along with the stencil during the reclaiming process. It’s bound to be attractive to printers who detest handling the expended tape and removing the adhesive residue left on the frame. It sounds like another labour-saving productivity improvement.

There has been no word from Kiwo yet on when this dissolvable tape will be available but as soon as Stanley’s has it, an announcement will be posted right here on the blog.

Stay tuned.

 

Eye-opening sales statistics. But just a minute . . .

I was recently going through my collection of business research material when I came across a table of sales statistics published by the National Sales Executive Association.  I believe I first saw it on LinkedIn. See what you think:

  • 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
  • 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
  • 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
  • Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact
  • 3% of sales are made on the second contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact
  • 10% of sales are made on the forth contact
  • 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Okay, so what do you think? Sound plausible to you? Think you can take it at face value and use it to gauge the performance of your shop’s sales effort?

Well, not so fast. First, there’s a valuable lesson to be learnt. And that lesson is to not take anything at face value, to consider the source, to do a little research, and to establish the credibility of the source and the material before you embrace it.

What?! It’s all BS?

For instance, check out these red flags . . .  “sales people” should be “salespeople” and “forth” should be “fourth”. But worse than that, there is no National Sales Executive Association. Askthemanager.com investigated the matter and wrote about it under the heading, “92.6% of LinkedIn Users Believe Made Up Statistics.”

The phoney Abraham Lincoln quote the author uses to make his point, does just that: “The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” — Abraham Lincoln, 1864.

So, while you certainly should measure your shop’s sales methods and diligence against statistical norms, just consider the source first.

A tip for you

Use a broad-brush approach for your screen shop marketing.

By all means market your screen shop on your web site, through social media, and by email, but don’t forget the physical world around you. Use a dual approach — both online and offline — to put your brand in front of could-be customers. And reference each in the other, for example, provide your online information (website, Facebook page, email address etc.) in your physical advertising.

Frazzled running your screen shop? Have you considered a virtual assistant? – Part II

In the previous post I promoted the idea of signing up with a virtual assistant in order to help you cope with those times when the administrative aspects of your screen shop become too much to handle. But let’s not be naïve about it — there is a downside. It’s a manageable downside but to ignore it is risky. I’m talking about the security of data passed between you and your virtual assistant.

I can best alert you to the issue by offering an excerpt from my book (as first published on my web site www.smallbusinesscharacters.com):

Your virtual assistant working on the other side of the world while you sleep. But is your data secure?

“Blind faith is not a good data-management strategy when working with a virtual assistant, particularly when the data may be sensitive. You risk exposure during transmission and after the assistant receives it. Exposure during transmission can be addressed by digital security measures to thwart hackers and other digital miscreants. The greater risk lies in placing your sensitive data in the hands of a recipient you haven’t met working in an environment you haven’t seen. You may have no reason to doubt his or her integrity, just as I had no reason to doubt my virtual assistant, but even then it would still be imprudent to throw caution to the wind.

While your virtual assistant may be the paragon of integrity, what if the person in the next cubicle has a grudge against the agency or your virtual assistant and exercises it by misappropriating your sensitive data? Your pricing or other financial data might turn up in your competitors’ inboxes. Far-fetched, you think? Not unless you’re absolutely confident of the agency’s security measures. And how are you going to know that from thirteen thousand kilometers away?

In addition to covert exposure of your sensitive data, you should be concerned about overt exposure. Haven’t we all accidentally pushed the wrong button at some time or another and sent something to where we shouldn’t have sent it? It’s possible that your virtual assistant may have built-in measures to prevent accidental mishandling of your data, but do you want to take that chance?

So does this mean that security concerns negate the benefits of engaging a virtual assistant? Not at all! If the work involves sensitive data there are precautions you can take.”

A tip for you

Use the right ink!

 

 

 

 

It shouldn’t be an issue anymore, but it is. Different plastisols are designed for different substrates. Make sure you have the right ink before you start a job and your prints on Polyester won’t bleed and those on Nylon won’t peel off (to name just a few perils of using the wrong ink).

Frazzled running your screen shop? Have you considered a virtual assistant?

I’ve used a virtual assistant at times when the administrative workload peaked to where it became too much to cope with. Every screen shop owner– in fact, almost every small business owner– will know what I’m referring to. There are those times when periodic or even routine paperwork and administrative tasks mount up and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. And once you fall behind, catching up becomes a big mountain to climb.

Not enough hours in the day? Consider a virtual assistant.

This can cause excessive stress. And excessive stress is a huge problem in the small business community. There is of course the option of hiring part-time or even full-time help but its not always the ideal solution for a small business. The payroll budget needs to be kept in check and shouldn’t be burdened with additional (and often excessive expense) if it’s not absolutely necessary.

This is where a virtual assistant can be invaluable to a screen shop owner. For all those peak paperwork times or when there are administrative tasks you cant get to, your virtual assistant can be your stress reliever.

You need to research the topic (Googling “virtual assistant” is a good way to start) but, briefly, here’s how it worked for me. I signed up with Brickwork India, one of the biggest and the best (there are many others, so you have options). The biggest advantage offshore services have is price. I had to have a few thousand line items costed and priced on an Excel spreadsheet (I provided the structure and formulas) and I believe it cost me less than $200. Try getting a job like this done properly and at that cost locally by part-time help.

A virtual assistant can handle Just about anything you don’t have the time for: bookkeeping; data base entries; industry research; and a host of other tasks.

There are however a few precautions to keep in mind. We’ll address them in the next post.

 

A tip for you

A socially-responsible exercise involving your employees..

 

 

If you like to position your screen shop as  a socially-responsible business, here’s an idea to show this and involve your employees in a feel-good exercise . . . give them a day off to work in a homeless shelter or clean up a local park (perhaps in groups if you don’t want to shut down entirely for a day).

Using the “decoy effect” in your business

Many years ago a friend who owned a successful screen printing equipment supply business explained one of his marketing tactics. He was a great observer of human behaviour and noticed that, given the choice of three items of equipment with slightly different features and priced at three different levels, customers would inevitably choose the middle one.

Have you tried the ‘decoy effect’ in your business?

I was reminded of my friend recently when Shopify published an article on a similar concept. It’s called the “decoy effect.” They used the iPhone to illustrate the concept: ” . . . let’s say you’re buying a new iPhone. Option A is $500 for 30GB and Option B is $400 for 20GB.”

They say that, given these two choices, you would buy A or B depending upon your price and storage priorities. Shopify goes on to say: “But now Apple has released another option, Option C. At $550 it’s more expensive than both A and B but has slightly less storage (25GB) than A.”

Option C is the decoy.

The result is that nobody who thinks about it is going to buy C, but it causes A to be chosen more often than if only A or B were offered. And A is what Apple wants to sell most of.

How can you apply the “decoy effect” in your screen shop?

 

A tip for you

Think about your future online marketing strategy.

 

 

 

If you’re wondering about elements of your marketing strategy for the near future, here are two things to know . . . Research says that Generation Z (1996 and younger) will be 40% of all consumers by 2020 and 79 percent of them show symptoms of emotional stress when separated from their personal electronic devices. What’s your online marketing strategy going to look like?

What do guerrillas and Tees have in common?

I have no idea what guerrillas and Tees may have in common — and the picture has very little to with this post, even if it features a guerilla and a Tee — but bear with me, I have an idea for you . . .

I was reading a Shopify article on low-cost guerilla marketing for small businesses when my mind wandered to how textile screen shops could use guerilla marketing to expand their customer base. I don’t have to tell you how Textile screen shops are always looking for ways to be busier and more profitable in a competitive market.  We know that creating new business is one way to do this. But the question is, how?

The article mentioned strategically-located signs and banners. Not a bad idea but, better still, I thought, what about a billboard? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a billboard promoting a contract textile screen printer. And I have no idea why not. Don’t you think that a well-located billboard of a very simple design can convey to a target audience (corporate types in charge of promotion) that putting their message on a Tee might be a great idea and that yours is the shop to do it? They may never have considered Tees before, and even if they had, they may never have heard of your shop before.

So what about a billboard design with a simple question (drivers-by have to be able to get the message quickly): “Ever thought of putting your corporate message on a t-shirt?” Perhaps add “We’ll do it”. Include your phone number and web site address in big, bold text. With some thought you could probably come up with a great eye-catching design and message (just remember that it must be simple, easy to read in a couple of seconds, and memorable).

There are two outcomes you’d hope for . . . First, it will spur on people who have been thinking about using Tees as part of their promotional programs and they will now know where to have it done. Second, people who may never have thought about it might now do so and know where to get it done.

A tip for you

Generation Z is having an impact on online retailing.

 

 

If you have a textile screen shop with an online store selling direct, or if you’re thinking of launching an online store, here is a tip from CMO.com in a post about Generation Z: “55 percent of those 18 years of age and younger would rather buy clothes online . . . ” Considering that generation Z will apparently account for 40% of all consumers by 2020, this is something to take note of.

What are these?

I have no idea . . .

Do you have any idea what these are: BACX; CUPRO; ROICA; ECOTEC; and RE.VERSO?

Are they:

  1. Mexican-manufactured automatics;
  2. New Wilflex/Rutland colours by PolyOne to celebrate the merger;
  3. Lung diseases caused by aerosol adhesives;
  4. Different mesh weaves;
  5. Types of eco-friendly fabric; or
  6. Varieties of organic cotton grown in Egypt?

If you picked “(5) Types of eco-friendly fabric”, you’d be right. And why does this matter? Well, besides the fact that it’s an interesting snippet of information about our industry, you may be called upon soon to print on one or more of these fabrics. If this happens you don’t want to have to admit to your customer that you’ve never heard of the stuff before. You should also know which ink to use. So here are the details of these new fashion fabrics:

BACX:  Manufactured in Italy by Centro Seta. It’s a blended silk textile that incorporates Newlife fibres and a silk yarn regenerated from spinning waste.

CUPRO: A Japanese fabric from the silky cotton fibres that stick to the seeds of the cotton plant after it’s been ginned. It handles like Rayon but breathes and regulates body temperature like cotton.

RE.VERSO: Another Italian fabric. It consists of up-cycled wool and Cashmere manufacturing offcuts. Ecologists love RE.VERSO because it uses almost 90 percent less water, uses almost 80 percent less energy, and generates more than 90% fewer carbon emissions than its conventional alternatives.

ECOTEC: Yet another Italian fabric. It’s woven from 100 percent pre-dyed, pre-consumer cotton scraps.

ROICA: Japanese again. Its a stretch fabric made of about 50 percent reclaimed pre-industrial waste. Applications include sportswear, lingerie, underwear, and outerwear.

These fabrics are in the market already from fashion houses to retailers like Marks & Spencer and under labels like Giorgio Armani. They could be on your press soon too.

Complaints from a customer’s perspective.

It’s not what you promised!

Customer complaints are part and parcel of running a print shop. You already know this. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t frustrated by complaints when they occur, even when you ought to know better — when you know that the complaint is justified.

I recently saw a business writer identify the cause of most customer complaints (ignoring for now the habitual complainers you can’t do much about) as a disconnect between the customer’s expectation and reality. I like this because it gives me, from a customer’s perspective, simple guidelines by which to convey to you, a textile shop owner, how to avoid my complaints.

So first the “expectation” part. Be absolutely transparent with me about what I might expect from the product. Don’t exaggerate its pros and don’t hide its cons. Give me accurate information of when I might expect delivery. If my expectations as to quality and delivery are not met I’m going to be disappointed and possibly mad. And then you’re going to get a complaint. And you’d better hope I complain so that you can try to keep me as a customer because a high number of customers don’t complain — they just go away and never do business with you again.

Now for the “reality” part. Unfortunately, stuff happens and sometimes, even with the best will in the world, you’ll fail to match reality with my expectations. Then you should hope that I’ll complain so that you can deal with it and retain my business. The secret is to realize that I want a solution, and I want it fast. And assuming that I’m not one of those “nut-job” habitual complainers, you should throw resources at meeting my expectation of a quick solution.

Follow this and we can keep doing business (assuming you want to), but fail to and I’ll probably end up with one of your competitors.

There, that’s a customer’s perspective. But you probably already knew this because you’re a customer too — you just have to keep it in mind when you’re wearing your print shop owner’s hat.

 

A tip for you

Remember it’s supposed to be fun . . .

 

 

 

From Richard Branson . . . “Fun is one of the most important — and underrated — ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to try something else”. Textile screen printing has many fun elements — creativity, art, and humour, for starters. Ask yourself — are you having fun?

Does your website suck? You may be turning customers away.

Is this customer on your website?

There are a few things you need to know about your site and its functionality as it affects one of its main user groups — your customers and potential customers.

Thinking of your website as a digital storefront is a good way to understand why you just can’t afford to have a website that sucks. While most businesses wouldn’t dream of having a messy, disorganized, confusing, hard-to-find storefront, many have websites that are exactly like that.

And just as walk-up potential customers may decline to enter a neglected storefront  — and don’t think it doesn’t happen because I turned away at the door of a messy restaurant in Nanton, Alberta recently even though I was really hungry — online customers will click off a web site that sucks in an instant.

So ask yourself (better still, ask someone who’ll give you an honest answer): “Does my website suck?”

Specifically:

  • Is it user friendly or is it hard to navigate?
  • Is it clean and organized? Is it mobile-responsive?
  • Do we understand that nearly one third of smartphone users will immediately navigate away if the site takes too long to load or is not instantly responsive?
  • Are we allowing for the fact that more than half of all Google searches are now happening on smartphones and tablets.
  • Are we aware that 40% of customers will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load?
  • Have we avoided frustrating customers by including our hours of operation, location, phone number, email address, and our social media links where they can easily find them?

You probably have work to do on your site. Don’t delay. You may be turning customers away.

One tried and tested way to find out what to offer your fashion customers

Consulting the fashion experts.

If you’re a textile screen printer you can sit and wait for your customers to approach you or you can approach them. For instance, if you have fashion retail customers you can be proactive by showing them samples of fashion trends which may then translate into orders for your shop.

But as a Canadian printer how do you do this? How do you gain insight into what is coming down the T-shirt fashion pike? Here’s one idea that a shop used successfully year after year . . .

Round up a couple of people from your target market, say teenage relatives, and take them to California or some other fashion-leading market and tour the cool stores. Turn them loose and take note of what they flip over. If they declare something to be, “like amazing!”, buy it.

Naturally choose your “consultants” carefully. Your computer-nerd niece isn’t going to be much help pointing out cool stuff. You need fashion-aware kids who represent the broader fashion market — remember this exercise is about clothing, not calculus.

Bring back the selected items and use them to generate ideas. Produce samples and show them to your retail customers. Get them excited. Make them reliant on your input.

Before you dismiss this idea as too expensive, how about combining it with a trade show attendance, which you should be doing anyway? Think about it.

Textile screen printing suddenly has a well-muscled, dominant force in ink

Suddenly — a dominant force in textile screen printing ink.

On June 8th, PolyOne Corporation (Wilflex Inks) announced the acquisition of Rutland Holding Company Inc. This means that PolyOne now owns the following brands of premier-quality plastisol and water-based inks:

  • Wilflex
  • Rutland
  • PRINTOP
  • QCM
  • Union Ink

PolyOne’s Robert Patterson, chairman, president, and CEO, noted that: “Colour and technology play an increasingly pivotal role for our customers in the apparel industry who have demanding performance expectations for how products look and feel. We have long distinguished ourselves in the industry as more than just a product provider, and we are thrilled to welcome Rutland to the PolyOne family as they share our passion for innovation and customer service.”

According to my sources at Wilfex, we shouldn’t see any changes in the short term but It remains to be seen how this is going to affect the textile screen printing ink market in North America in the longer term. Stay tuned . . .

A tip for you

You must know what your target market values.

 

 

This comes from two Generation Z marketers who have been advising Fortune 500 companies for a few years . . .  Generation Z seeks quality. They are cost conscious but they look for great value and place more importance on value than they do on “cool”.

From Denmark — the environmental cost of every Tee

Nice-looking Tees but at a cost of $3.40 to the environment?

If we as an industry are to operate responsibly, we need to keep abreast of the sustainability aspects of what we do. This doesn’t by any means suggest that we should shut down the presses and dryers, send everyone home, lock the doors, and go tree hugging. It just means that we need to be aware and, wherever possible, help to make a difference.

According to Ecouterre, a study out of Denmark by the IC Group (Tiger and Peak Performance brands) and endorsed by the head of the Danish Ministry of the Environment has used a process of “natural capital accounting” to show that the cost to the environment of producing a single cotton Tee is $3.40 (U.S.). It takes into account such things as the impact of fertilizer, water use, and carbon dioxide emissions.

The corporate responsibility manager of the IC Group is quoted as admitting what a lot of people have been telling the textile industry for some years now: “We in the clothing industry are well aware that we have some hefty environmental challenges.”

Collectively the textile screen-printing industry has a role to play in meeting the obvious environmental challenges too. For one thing, we can be mindful of the inks and chemicals we use and how we dispose of them.

We should also stay in touch with developments on the textile sustainability front not only in case it presents business opportunities but also to avoid being left behind as our competitors adapt.

An environmental impact of $3.40 per Tee! To put it in perspective, in a small country like Denmark with a population of under 6 million, the environmental impact of cotton Tees is $510 million every year.