Why Only Selling Trends Could Actually Hurt Your Sales

As a distributor or decorator, clients are looking for your expertise on all the latest styles, colors, fabrications, performance features, sustainability stories and basically everything else related to apparel. Because of that, being in the know on all this definitely helps build brand loyalty and bring more money into your business.

“Understanding trends is important to your apparel sales, because it shows you have an understanding of what’s going on at retail and what’s influencing large groups of people,” says Craig Sullivan, manager of Inside Sales here at S&S Activewear“By knowing what’s trending, you also can open up a new market or sales opportunity to your client they’ve never explored or didn’t know existed. This solidifies you as a true consultant to your customers, rather than just a salesperson.”

However, depending solely on “fashion” trends to lead your sales pitches to clients can actually hurt your apparel sales. For example, it’s just not enough to present the season’s hottest color stories to your customers and say, “Hey, these are the colors of the year. Which one do you want?” You must specifically connect those colors to your client’s brand, campaign or event colors.

“Yes, you must be savvy about current fashions and decoration methods to remain fresh and valuable to your customers, but it’s key to link trends to your customers’ markets to stay relevant.”

Alison Banholzer, owner of Wear Your Spirit Warehouse

Here are five ways to use—and transcend trends—to make even more apparel sales this year.

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“How to Slay ‘The Money Monster’” SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 20 (feat. Alison Banholzer of Wear Your Spirit Warehouse)

“When you’re running a business, it’s easy to get so caught up in chasing that next sale, that you forget about the nuts and bolts of your operations. Neglecting this side of things too long can turn your business into what Alison Banholzer, owner of Wear Your Spirit Warehouse, calls “The Money Monster.” In this episode, she talks about how fine tuning your operation can actually increase your profits and finally slay that monster. She’ll also give you a rundown of the steps you can take to make your shop more efficient and successful.

Get your notebooks ready, this is going to be a great episode!

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Why You Should Never Have Just One Contact at a Client’s Organization

Sales is a huge, daily part of the decorated-apparel business. In fact, it’s arguably the part that makes or breaks your bottom line. Whether you have a dedicated sales team or you’re the sole salesperson, you need a robust client list and pipeline of prospects. However, just how strong are your connections to your clients? For example, if another screen-printing shop came along, offering better pricing or more imprinting options, would these clients still be loyal to you?

“Our shop has benefited from having multiple points of contact within a school or a team. This fosters word-of-mouth referrals and mitigates turnover issues.”

Alison Banholzer, Owner of Wear Your Spirit Warehouse

Many shop owners, probably including you, point to their strong, long-term relationships with clients as evidence of their success. Yet, the reality is that having only one contact at an organization leaves you vulnerable to being ousted as your client’s preferred decorated-apparel vendor. Even if you’ve spent countless hours nurturing the relationship, sometimes you could find yourself in a situation where that priceless contact might end up leaving that business. That could cause you to lose your advantage with that company and start over cultivating a relationship them from scratch. 

This scenario often happens when decorators work with schools, clubs and teams. “Your contact isn’t required to use any one vendor, so if they leave their position, you might lose the account,” says Alison Banholzer, owner of Wear Your Spirit Warehouse. “Our shop has benefited from having multiple points of contact within a school or a team. This fosters word-of-mouth referrals and mitigates turnover issues.”

Growing relationships with more than one person at your client’s company will serve your business for the long run. Obviously, you’ll always nurture your main point of contact at a client’s company, but you should also network further within the organization on behalf of your shop. 

Building a relationship with the whole organization

“It’s true: Never put all your eggs in one basket,” says Kristine Shreve, a decorated-apparel industry expert. “You’ll naturally have the person you deal with most often, but cultivate others in the organization as well.”  

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“How Embracing Tik Tok Can Help Your Business” SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 19 (feat. Natasha Rawls)

A lot of people think Tik Tok is all about song and dance, but it can be so much more for your business. Natasha Rawls, of The MRL Group, gives us her approach to using it and tells us how it’s not only helped her develop more meaningful, long lasting relationships with clients, but also how it’s helped build her brand recognition.

Posts like this one really help entrepreneurs connect with their customers in a more personal way that makes them more relatable outside of the everyday business.

@natasha80sbaby

Dad’s in town! ##family ##sowholesome ##chooseone ##photography101 ##throwback ##cleanfreshhype ##vibecheck ##over30 ##over70 @muscles.and.mascara

♬ Red Red Wine (Edit) – UB40

But if you’re camera shy, your posts don’t even have to include you at all. Here one she recorded at a trade show to give her audience a sneak peak at amazing new product…The QuickFlip!

@natasha80sbaby

Have you seen this 2-in-1 jacket before? Do you like it? We co-brand these with logos for meetings and events! ##swag ##WhatsYourStuf ##jacket ##fashion

♬ High Fashion (feat. Mustard) – Roddy Ricch

Here’s another one where’s she’s showing another cool demonstration on the show floor. Even if you didn’t appear in any of your posts, you can still bring something fun to your audience that will make them want to tune in. You’re still giving them a window into your personal experiences, and also giving clients who follow along something else you can talk about besides orders.

In this episode, Natasha talks more about her videos and her approach to putting these together, so be sure to listen in.

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Could Decorators & Distributors Make Money with the Booming NFT Craze?

Supreme made their claim to fame by creating limited runs of their designs with the now iconic red and white logo. Being able to grab one of the latest drops in their collection, gave you bragging rights of the highest order, and that’s what makes their brand one of the hottest out there.

Now imagine if there was a way to get your hands on the actual screen that was used to print the first Supreme logo on a t-shirt. How much do you think someone would pay for that right now? If people are willing to pay over $200 for a clay brick with a Supreme logo on it, there’s probably loads of people who would pay thousands, if not millions of dollars, to get their hands on that screen.

Seriously?! $69 million for an NFT?

That kind of hype is making its way into the digital world, which is starting to open up a whole new avenue of income for anybody in the creative space. Recently, you may have seen news that a digital artist named, Beeple, sold a high resolution image – which showed thumbnails of the 3D artwork he’s created over the course of 14 years – for a whopping $69 million on Christie’s.

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“Be Your Authentic True Self.” SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 18 (feat. Monica Maglaris)

If you’re a successful contract decorator, you know that you don’t sell ink or thread on cotton…what you sell is Trust with a capital ‘T’.

One shop in Connecticut has found a higher level of success by generating trust through hard work, creativity, getting the job done, and simply being their authentic selves.  

On today’s Success Stories podcast, we’ll speak with Monica Maglaris with Liberty Print Co about what it takes to be successful as a Certified Women-Owned and LGBT company, in this highly competitive industry. Also, find out how to get certified and how it could benefit your business.

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What’s “Brand Fill” and How It Affects You and Your Client’s Bottom Line

Brand fill is a big issue in the promo industry. While this isn’t anything new, industry pros are shining a brighter light on it because of its negative impact on Mother Earth—and the promotional industry’s reputation.

Even if you’re new to the term “brand fill,” you’re probably aware of the problem it describes. Brand fill is a reference to the cheap, useless and unwanted merch that’s given out to people, which usually just ends up getting thrown away and building up landfills – contributing to the ongoing pollution of our planet. 

“One way to help prevent cheap T-shirts’ from becoming brand fill is simple. We educate our customers on the overall ROI of spending a little bit more money up front on a better-quality shirt.”

Megan Erber, Outside Sales Manager at S&S Activewear

And of course, the demand for these low-hanging-fruit products perpetuates the cycle. That includes fast fashion’s manufacturing process that only adds to the negative effects on the environment. (And we’ve watched H&M and Forever 21 get torched in the media for their fast fashion manufacturing practices.)

On the PromoKitchen podcast, Jamie Mair, chief growth officer at Spector & Co, said that “People see ‘branded stuff’ as junk, because there’s too much brand fill that’s being made and given out. We should be focused on selling products with purpose. Instead, there’s so much brand fill and fast fashion that it’s irresponsible, and not sustainable. We clearly see the implications in the supply chain and environmentally.”

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7 Reasons For and Against Using Water-Based Inks

At screen-printing shop Night Owls, the crew only uses water-based inks. “We chose to move to an ‘ink solution’ that offers a higher-quality print for us,” says Eric Solomon, owner of the Houston-based shop. 

 “We love the way water-based ink works, we love the way it elevates our printing quality and the way it’s helped us elevate our craft.” 

Eric Solomon, owner of the Night Owls

Although design quality is always a huge factor in the printing process, another growing factor for some is how to print in a more environment friendly way. To be more “green,” do you need to move away from the traditional plastisols and toward water-based inks

Colette Wilhelm, owner of Contract Impressions in Cape Coral, FL, says that while water-based inks are touted as being better for the environment, they’re in fact, acrylic based. “However, they can give customers the great designs they crave, with a better ‘feel’ to the shirt,” she says. “We also recommend water-based inks for clients when it helps enforce their brands’ eco-friendly messaging.”

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of water-based screen-printing inks, along with some things to consider.

The Joys of Water-Based Inks

The screen printers who learn how to use water-based inks for vibrant, full-color and long-lasting designs love the versatility of the ink and its results. Here are seven reasons why they choose water-based over plastisols.

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“No, Seriously. You Should Think About Bandanas.” SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 17 (feat. Holly and Heather Trevino of Planet Apparel)

One of the most overlooked garments in the promotional and decorated apparel industry is the ubiquitous bandana.  This staple has been around our necks, heads, and faces for a very long time.

Currently, there is a renaissance happening in the marketplace for people wanting customized bandanas for their events, company  fundraisers, and giveaways.  On this episode of Success Stories, we’ll talk with Holly and Heather Trevino, owners of Planet Apparel in San Diego, California about how they have become the go-to partner for all things bandanas.

We’ll dig into some history, who are good customers for bandanas, and some tips on making your next bandana order a success.

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10 Simple Ideas That Will Save Your Shop a Lot of Money

What if you could crowdsource all kinds of interesting, innovative and easy ideas to save money in your decorating shop? We decided to do the heavy lifting for you and asked nine successful embroiderers and screen printers to share some simple ways they boost their bottom lines. 

From buying used displays and making the most of every inch of your stabilizer, to going paperless and getting free shipping from your shoppers, you’re going to love this top 10 list.

1. Buy used and save lots of cash.

Need to furnish or redecorate your office or shop? Try finding deals on things like desks from the thrift store, a conference table off of Craigslist, filing cabinets from “buy, sale, trade” groups, and display fixtures from going-out-of-business sales. “To save dollars, we don’t buy about 85% of our displays, desks and other office essentials as new,” says Tanya , owner and graphic designer at The Visual Identity Vault. “The majority of our shop’s things are new to us, and they function and look just fine.”

2. Save your extra embroidery stabilizer.

“We save all the extra embroidery backing we cut off of jobs to use for smaller projects,” says Jennie Livezey, owner of Z Shirts Custom Printing. She and her team pick up the backing scraps, mostly from left-chest embroidery. 

For example, we just ran 165 beanies and didn’t use one new piece of backing,” Livezey says. “What we cut off is the perfect size for the Fast Clamps we use on our embroidery machines.”

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