Yes, You Should Try Influencer Marketing.

Lots of decorators will remember when embroiderer Marie Sophie Lockhart shot to veritable “decorator stardom” after a back-and-forth with rapper Drake on Instagram (she used the handle Good For Nothing Embroidery) in 2015. That led to a commissioned OVO prayer hands jacket that he wore for an entire tour. After that, Lockhart went viral,  appearing in Vogue, stitching more custom pieces for Drake, and even collaborating with Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney.

In fact, Lockhart’s experience is very similar to results that influencers today achieve for companies that want to grow brand awareness, sell more, capture leads, increase engagement, or even appear in major publications. And, yes,  influencer marketing is  heating up—and it can work for your decorating shop or distributorship.

An Association of National Advertisers (ANA) survey of brand executives shows that 75% of respondents use influencer marketing, and almost half (43%) plan to increase their spending in the next 12 months. A majority of respondents (54%) were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the performance of their influencer marketing strategies. To note, of the executives who don’t currently use influencer marketing, 27% plan to start in the next year.

“Influencers provide great visual content for decorating and design-based businesses,” says Destiny Hagest, a West Coast-based content marketing strategist.People already follow them because they love their aesthetic—leveraging those built-in audiences builds instant credibility for brands.”

Should you use influencers in your marketing plan? There’s positive proof in the numbers. A Tomson study found that businesses make $6.50 per dollar spent on influencers, with the top 13% of businesses earning $20 or even more. This is a huge ROI because businesses are finding out that customers gained from influencers are more likely to make a purchase—because they trust what the influencer says. The study also found that 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations and that 40% of consumers have purchased an item after seeing it on a social channel like Instagram or YouTube.  

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Become a Business Gifting Guru for Your Clients

Fall is nearly here, which means the holidays are right around the corner! Get ready for decked halls, celebratory countdowns and of course, gifting. When it comes to the merry season, your clients aren’t just looking to gift to friends and family, but also customers or employees. In fact, a recent study by Knack shows the corporate gifting market is worth a staggering $125 billion. A thriving market to tap into, now’s the time to channel your inner Santa and become your clients’ business gifting guru. 

Before giving you the inside scoop to steer them in the right direction, let’s go over some important guidelines.

Business Gifting Guidelines

Businesses can use corporate gifting to show appreciation and loyalty, build goodwill and express the value of their relationships. However, before you start shopping, think about these three things:

  • The Relationship: Think about the recipient of the gift to determine an appropriate type of present, regarding the relationship at hand. 
  • The Budget: Check company gifting policies for any budget limits that may be in place. According to the same study above, the sweet spot for many businesses is between $50 to $150. 
  • The Message: Consider the message the gift is meant to convey and make sure it’s thoroughly communicated. Is it showing appreciation to a client for a year of great business? Or, is it to show an employee thanks for going above and beyond? 

Remember: Corporate gifts differ from incentives and ads, so make sure they don’t contain any blatant advertising or explicit preconditions for receiving them. Pro Tip: Include your own set of business gifting guidelines on your social channels and website, to guide your clients on their gift-giving journey.

Business Gift Ideas

Now that you’re familiar with best practices, here’s a list of ideas your clients can use to create the gift for their customers and employees! 

  • Things that are Memorable: The more memorable the gift is, the better! Encourage your clients to get creative. Think about hobbies the recipients are interested in and tailor the gifts toward that. For example, camping packs with hoodies for avid hiker or scarves for those who love fashion and style.  
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How Do You Say ‘Success’ in Italian, Luca Benini?

Slam Jam: It’s the name behind some of the most notable streetwear collaborations and brands in the industry. So much of what the company does is under the radar, working closely with industry powerhouses, such as Stüssy and Carhartt WIP. But, that’s exactly how Slam Jam’s founder — Luca Benini — likes it. Among many things, the Italian native is known for pioneering streetwear culture in Europe. 

As Slam Jam celebrates 30 years of success, we’re taking a look at one of the most iconic influences in streetwear, the legendary man behind it all and our takeaways for sustaining a successful business based on Benini’s achievements.

Slam Jam and Luca Benini: Celebrating 30 Years of Success 

When Benini was growing up he had two specific dreams: to be a DJ and to sell clothing. In the end, he found a way to do both. 

The Birth and Evolution of Slam Jam

Back in the ‘80s, Benini’s main business became DJing, which fueled his passion for clothing. He quit school to work as a shop assistant, where he would print flyers of his gigs on tees — an early intersection of culture and fashion. 

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4 Ways to Manage Workplace Tension

Tension in personal situations is awkward enough, but apply that to the workplace and it can be downright uncomfortable. As a business owner, managing tension and conflict between employees is an inevitable part of the job — and if not handled promptly can put a huge dent in your bottom line. 

In 2017, Inc. cited a landmark study on workplace conflict that found U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours a week dealing with conflict. This equates to an estimated $359 billion in paid company hours. 

Fortunately, there are effective ways to manage tension among your team to help maintain a positive work atmosphere and company culture. 

1. Acknowledge the Conflict Immediately

Don’t sit back and hope your employees will work the situation out on their own, allowing the tension to build. This can lead to negative consequences for your business, such as poor productivity and low office morale. Acknowledge the conflict between the involved parties immediately, and respectfully uncover the nature of the issue along with the facts. 

2. Decide How You Want to Meet with the Employees Involved  

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Turn Challenging Customers Into Loyal Clients

A decorator was in a bind: His customer’s event was the next day, and the PMS colors in the art file didn’t match the ones listed on the purchase order. To make matters worse, the decorator couldn’t reach his client, so his team had a 50/50 chance of choosing the correct color. Unfortunately, they chose wrong, and the client was unhappy with the order.

Customer expectations are more demanding than ever before and the need to ‘get it right’ each time is extremely high. Marshall Atkinson, a Phoenix-based decorated-apparel success coach who offers hands-on training via his Shirt Lab events, concurs and cites this statistic below as a reason why decorators and distributors need to take this seriously.

According to Microsoft, 54% of global consumers say that they have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago. In addition, 52% of people worldwide believe that companies need to take action on feedback provided by their customers.

To keep up with these dynamic requests, customer service and problem solving must be a priority in your decorated-apparel firm. “Business today doesn’t work the way it did in 1987,” Atkinson says. “You have to continuously evolve your customers’ experience. That’s on you. You have to teach your new hires how to work with all types of customers.”

4 Challenging Customer Archetypes

Here are four types of challenging customer situations—and how you can turn them into opportunities.

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The Top Seven Color Trends Predicted by Pantone for Winter 2019

Each season, Pantone Color Institute graces us with their Fashion Color Trend Report based on the stunning pieces flaunted down the runway by top designers at both New York and London Fashion Week. The Fall/Winter 2019/2020 report includes a radiant display of bold and classic colors, proving that this year is all about individuality and expression

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, describes the collections as ranging from, “easy and sophisticated to strikingly different and unique.” 

As high fashion always seems to trickle down to the mainstream, it serves as a valuable piece of information to help make guided decisions for your upcoming inventory for the colder months ahead. 

Of the total 32 colors chosen as inspirational highlights (16 for New York Fashion Week, 16 for London Fashion Week), we chose the top seven most wearable hues you can expect to see in every shade this winter—along with a few products in similar color options. 

Pantone’s Top Seven Color Trends for Winter 2019

1. Chili Pepper: Pantone 19-1557 

A spicier cousin to Pantone’s spring ‘Fiesta’ shade, Chili Pepper is listed as the leading color for fall and winter this year. Incorporate a touch of the hue for added drama within your designs by selecting tees with statement sleeves, or showing some flavor with an all-red fabric and simple embroidered logo. 

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Bobby Hundreds Turned His Passion for Art Into a Streetwear Brand

The man, the myth, the legend: Bobby Kim, better known as “Bobby Hundreds” in the industry, is one of the most coveted names in streetwear. But it wasn’t a straight shot to success. In fact, in an interview with GQ, Kim said his failures were the greatest lessons that fueled his ambition to think more creatively—and that he did. 

To understand how Kim cultivated a successful streetwear brand, just look to his undeniable passion for art.

From Art to Successful Streetwear Brand

“You’ll never make money off your art.” 

From an early age, Kim’s obsession with art was impossible to miss. As a child, he could spend hours quietly doodling to keep himself entertained. However, as he grew older, his parents made it clear he should pursue other paths. While they appreciated the arts, they never thought it was a viable career and told him he’d never make money that way. 

Despite this, he continued to take up photography, snapping photos at concerts he was attending to capture the skate culture he was fascinated with. He also began experimenting with writing, designing and other art forms. Though, it wasn’t until he moved to Japan as a young adult that he found an affinity for the streetwear lifestyle and culture. 

The first time he saw graffiti and character art incorporated onto skate shirts—the kind of art he wanted to be creating—it excited him. He especially admired the work of Nigo, the fashion designer behind “A Bathing Ape” (BAPE), and also loved how Harajuku’s Busy Works shop looked more like an art gallery than a boutique. 

At the time, Kim was able to support himself through various freelance jobs, however, the market changed after 9/11. With his parents’ old doubts still echoing in his ears and a desire to be more politically active, he eventually decided to apply to law school. Little did he know, he  would meet his business partner there.

A Turning Point 

While studying law, Kim met Ben Shenassafar after noticing a particularly cool pair of shoes Shenassafar wore. After learning they shared a similar taste in style, the two began developing an idea for a company named, The Hundreds.

After excelling in law school after his first year, he landed a cushy internship at a great firm working for a notable man named Abe Edelman. Tragically, at the age of 48, Edelman was dying of cancer. With his time left, Kim and Edelman grew fond of one another and he would occasionally share his art with Edelman as he drew during his lunch break. 

On the last day of the internship, Edelman told Kim something he’d never forget. After a string of compliments on Bobby’s ability and bright future, he said Kim should never become a lawyer. To be specific, Edelman said, “Do you want to be forty years old and realize you spent the entirety of your life doing something that you never really cared about?”

With art always at the forefront of his dreams, Kim decided to finally turn the sketches in his black book into printed pieces. If only he knew then the impact his brand would make.

From Idea to Reality

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The Hundreds X LDRS. Thursday.

A post shared by The Hundreds (@thehundreds) on

In the summer of 2003, Kim (the “artist”) and Shenassafar (the “business guy”) walked in cold to Fred Segal to pitch their line. They spoke to the manager of the store and acted shocked that he hadn’t heard of their brand. Their passion (and bluffing) skills shone through in their pitch and the manager agreed to sell a few of their shirt designs as a test run. 

As The Hundreds grew, they were eventually able to open up their own store, allowing them to cultivate a community around the brand—just like he used to find in skate parks as a teenager. Nowadays, they do a lot of artist collaborations, featuring the original artwork in the shop whenever possible. 

A lot of valuable lessons can be learned from Kim’s story, but if nothing else, remember these three things: 

  1. Turn negative feedback into positive energy.
  2. Believe in your work or no one else will.
  3. Stay true to your dreams, because your passions can oftentimes lead you to success.

What streetwear icons inspire you the most? Let us know in the comments!

The Fair Use Defense: What is it and How does it Apply to Businesses?

The proliferation of appropriation art—or art that intentionally copies another person’s work and alters it in some way—has been at the forefront of a series of copyright infringement cases over the last few decades. A common defense used in this age-old strategy is “fair use” under U.S. copyright law. This claim has provoked a longstanding debate among the industry. 

To some, the ability to claim “fair use” opens up the possibility to creatively expand upon existing visual works. However, others fear it opens up their material to exploitation at the hands of well-known artists and companies who make minor “cosmetic upgrades” and then take credit for the work as their own.

Of the 64 percent of professional photographers who had their work stolen in 2016, commercial businesses were responsible for 28 percent of the theft. 

As a business owner and decorator, it’s important to thoroughly understand the difference between “fair use” and copyright infringement to avoid costly lawsuits. But don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you. 

*Please note, this article should not be taken as legal advice. Always consult with your personal legal advisor before relying upon the information provided. 

The Fair Use Defense 

What is Fair Use?

“Fair use” is outlined in a set of guidelines found in Title 17, Section 107 of the U.S. copyright act. It allows the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the owner in specific cases. Essentially, the guidelines give people the ability to build upon the work of another so long as it doesn’t deprive the original artist of the right to “control and benefit from their works.” 

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6 Steps to Find (and Keep) Your Dream Employees

Employees who love their jobs perform better and stay with their companies longer. However, according to Gallup, only 15% of employees worldwide are truly engaged in their current roles. Put another way, this year, 52% of U.S. workers plan to hunt for a new job, and of those, 54% landed their current job less than a year ago, Adtaxi reports.

That speaks to a larger trend of smart business owners creating cultures that appeal to workers’ needs, like a work-life balance or flex time. But first, you need to find, train and retain the right employees.

“The most difficult aspect of hiring and training employees is finding the right match for the employee and your company,” says Linda Gadwood, owner of Omaha, NE-based LogoLinda LLC.. “From the company side, [that means finding] someone who’ll show up and be fully engaged with my business. From the employee side, [they’re looking for] a company that allows them to use their talents.”

We asked four industry business owners and experts to weigh in on six key areas for finding and retaining the best employees.

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5 Keys to Transform Your Business into a Lifestyle Brand

In today’s digital era, anyone can have an idea and start a business. Only a few, however, can truly become lifestyle brands with a devoted customer base. Great lifestyle brands have personality, influence behavior and create a strong connection with their audience. 

Here are five keys that will transform your business into one of the greats by building customer retention, brand loyalty and overall profit growth.

1. Understand Your Audience 

Integral to all facets of a business, you need to thoroughly understand your audience. The best way to do this is by creating buyer personas—or semi-fictional characters who represent your optimal consumers based on detailed market research. 

The most important things to include when developing these personas are:

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