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Image reproduced with permission of Freshbrewedtees.
Freshbrewdtees of Cleveland has just demonstrated how creativity is alive and well in the T-shirt business.
When Cleveland 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/
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 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.
Ecouterre 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.
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 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
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.
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.
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 should be here!
Your weekly quote:
“Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitos?”
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 . . .
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.
Therefore, it seems to me to be a good time to get ahead of the game and exploit the rapidly-developing sustainability movement.
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 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
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!
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:
- 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.
- Donate your work to charitable events. Get it out in front of people at these events. Show them what you can do.
- Pay for peoples’ coffee or pop in t-shirt-friendly places. Give them a business card and walk away.
- Keep your web site and social media networks updated with stuff about your shop and products.
- Send hand-written thank you notes or cards to customers after an order. Enclose a Tim Horton’s or local coffee shop gift card.
- Participate in local contests by offering some of your work as prizes. Label them prominently of course.
- Create a referral program for customers. The bigger ones won’t participate but the smaller better-paying customers often do.
- 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?)
- 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 should be here!
Your weekly quote:
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”
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/
As 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 should be here!
Your weekly quote:
“Dogs have masters. Cats have staff.”
Got 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?
The 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.
A 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.
Not one of the shameful sweatshops churning out cheap Tees.
This week’s quote is actually more of a shirt design idea for appealing to the growing movement against fast fashion. Combined with an image of the appalling working conditions in some Bangladesh sewing factories it could be quite an impactful message.
“It is shameful that people buy these clothes at extremely cheap prices, without asking about their origins.”
– Suzy Menkes, Vogue international editor.
If you’re going to do this, I’d suggest getting permission from Ms. Mendes to quote her. I’d also suggest printing it on a locally-sourced garment, of course.
Unobtrusive, subtle design for old-timer.
I recently listened to a baby boomer complain that she’d looked for a T-shirt for her husband on a trip to Spain but couldn’t find anything suitable. She knows that he likes T-shirts with an outdoor theme. He’s retired and like many of his generation loves travelling, wondering in the woods or just lounging around in a T-shirt.
But not just any T-shirt. He doesn’t like “billboard” Tees with huge, garish prints. He likes something that reflects his travelling or outdoor interests but it has to be subtle—a smaller, well-designed print.
This conversation got me thinking. Are Canadian textile screen printers paying enough attention to the Tees that baby boomers would buy or do they just assume that old-timers don’t wear Tees?
Well, here are a few things to think about. Old-timers are not all fogies. Old-timers do wear Tees. Old-timers are living longer. Old-timers make up almost 30 percent of the Canadian population. Old-timers have money. Old-timers like designs that speak to their interests. Old-timers don’t like loud, garish or obscene designs.
Give old-timers the Tees they want. Perhaps give the line a name and a label that will catch their eye and you may be onto something.
In the past year, Images, the U.K.’s leading textile screen printing magazine for the past 25 years, underwent a major overhaul. In addition to the glossy magazine, they have a digital version and a great web site. In fact, the site should be on your “must visit at least monthly” reading list and you’d also do well to subscribe to the free digital version of the magazine.
Jonathan Vince (Editor) and Rachael Glazier (Features Editor) are doing a great job providing useful information and some entertaining features such as my favourite, Print Shop Pooches. It seems that pets in print shops are as popular in the U.K. as they have been in Canada for decades (and the .com companies think they created the concept!)
Just like the Stanley’s blog, Images will be of interest to anyone in business as a textile screen printer, commercial embroiderer, promotional product distributor, transfer and vinyl printer, direct-to-garment printer, wide format sublimation printer, own-brand fashion retailer, or personalised apparel supplier.
Stanley’s encourages you to stay in touch with developments in your industry, not just through this blog, but also any other good industry reading material. It’s the best way to stay ahead of your competition in technology and product ideas. And if you see anything you’d like to know more about, give Stanley’s a call at any one of the four branches: Edmonton – 780 446 4238; Calgary – 403 243 7722; Vancouver – 604 873 2451; Cambridge – 519 620 7342.
Images online: www.images-magazine.com
That should be on here.
Your weekly quote:
“I always arrive late at the office, but I make up for it by leaving early.”
– Charles Lamb
Wow! Nothing new for months. Wonder what’s going on there?
Lets assume that your carefully-researched online marketing strategy includes a web site, a blog, and a few social media networks. Maintaining this involves dedication. You knew it when you set it up but you were prepared to put in the time yourself or assign the responsibility to an employee.
At first it went well. Everything was kept current with web site updates, regular posts on the blog, and regular entries on your social network. Then things started slipping. The web site updates stopped, blog entries were made less frequently, and even the social media posts ceased. Perhaps you became very busy with the day-to-day management of the business, the assigned employee resigned, or you ran out of fresh material—whatever the reason, your online presence began to look neglected.
Customers and others who had become reliant on finding something new on your various platforms now noticed the neglect. They began to wonder if there was something wrong with the business. People logging on for the first time noticed that entries were infrequent and that the last one was some time ago. It created a bad impression in the same way as a store window still with last season’s clothes on the mannequins.
This might not be true of your online strategy but I’ll bet you recognize this from web sites, blogs and social media networks you’ve visited.
People want to give their business to those keen to have it—keen enough to project a dynamic, energetic attitude.
An outdated online presence does not project a dynamic, energetic attitude. It projects indifference. Customers don’t like indifference.
The moral of the story is that it’s best to not have an online presence if it’s not going to be kept current. Not having an online presence will not enhance the impression of your screen shop but hopefully it won’t create a negative impression, as a neglected presence is bound to do.
The solution? Maintain a current online presence, even if its just a limited presence.
In love with your online marketing strategy.
Some time ago I posted an article about B.J. Mendelson’s book Social Media is Bullshit in which he contends that while social media might be fine for personal use, it has no benefit for businesses.
Subsequent to that I’ve posted articles suggesting how social media can be used to boost your business, particularly in the case of textile shops with their own T-shirt line (see post on this blog on April 5th, 2016).
So who do you believe, B.J. Mendelson or those who argue that social media does indeed have a role to play in promoting business? Well, I recently met with a social media expert as part of my the research for my small business book. What he had to say made sense to me, it might make sense to you too.
Carsen Kendal, is a social media marketing specialist with Vovia Online Marketing, an international online marketing consultancy firm headquartered in Calgary. He points out that about five years ago B.J. Mendelson might have had a point, but much has changed since his book was published in 2012. Carsen says that businesses need an a well-considered online marketing strategy. For many businesses this might include a web site, a blog and one or more social media networks such Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or one of the other 211 listed by Wikipedia (excluding dating networks).
Carsen cautions though that it’s good practice to work with a limited number of well-chosen social media networks and do them well, rather than many, and do them poorly. How you choose the social media networks will depend upon your target audience. Researching the reach of each, the demographic it’s popular with, and getting some professional assistance will help you narrow down the options.
Next post . . . managing your social media strategy.
None of your business why I’m crossing the road!
Your weekly quote:
“I dream of a tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives.”
Camps provide opportunities for textile screen printers.
If the demand for Wilflex custom colours is anything to go by, then the busy season is underway in the Canadian textile screen printing industry. Add to that the conclusions of the Stitches’ State of the Industry Survey, and 2016 should be the best year of the last eight for T-shirt printers.
But even so, contract textile screen printers know they’re in a competitive market and can’t sit around and wait for new business to find its way to them. They have to go out and find it or even create it. A recent article for InkSoft by Kevin Majka suggests that one good option for expanding your business is summer camps. Majka, a former Boy Scout knows a thing or two about camps. He says: “Too many print shops undervalue and grossly underestimate the selling opportunities available from summer camps and their participants. Getting into this space is profitable, fun and a great way to diversify your business.”
Its not too late for this summer. Majka says that some of the larger camp organizations will quite often start planning eleven months in advance but that there are still opportunities up to a month before camp starts.
Finding the camp organizations and then calling up and asking whoever answers the phone if they need T-shirts, isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to research the organization and the type of camps they run. Then, with a view to supplying the Tees and other products you may have, try to find out if there are suggestions you can make for improving the camp experience for the participants. A lot of people who order Tees don’t know about special effects, soft hand, athletic wear, nylon printing and all the other neat stuff screen printing can accomplish.
Here’s one more idea . . . if you don’t have someone to dedicate to investigating the whole summer camp scene, perhaps a summer student can be hired for the job. Make it their job for a few months to get you into the business of supplying summer camps. If you can find someone with summer camp experience, even better. They could identify the target market and put together an irresistible package for camp organizers. Do it well and you could become the go-to printer for summer camp organizers.
The apparel industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Time to begin the cleanup.
Ecouterre, the online advocate of sustainable fashion, has just reported on what is known as the Clean Tee. A California company, Nomadix, claims that their Clean Tee is made of the lowest-impact yarn in the world.
The yarn is made of used clothing and offcuts. The cotton undergoes a colour-matching process that creates blends without the need for water or additional dyes. This is of course a critical point because, as has been mentioned before on this blog site, a single Tee takes about 2,700 liters of water to produce. Nomadix claims that by the time the Clean Tee has been produced, the process has consumed only 30 liters.
The recycled cotton fibers are mixed with recycled polyester (derived from plastic bottles) and spun into a soft yarn. The yarn is then woven into fabric.
Nomadix currently has a Kickstarter crowd-funding program that includes a video explanation of the manufacturing process. You can see it by clicking here.
If this Tee hits the market in a big way, the question for textile screen printers will become one of which ink to use. But no worries—Stanley’s will have you covered. Until then it’s going to be interesting to see if this innovation succeeds.
Your weekly quote:
“My wife wanted a cat. I didn’t want a cat. So we compromised and got a cat.”
– seen on a T-shirt.