During and after the coronavirus pandemic, many screen-printing shops found success by developing a local “Here for Good” campaign to help surrounding businesses in their community stay afloat during these difficult times.

In Rockford, Illinois, Jarrod Hennis developed a “Here for Good” campaign and assisted businesses in his area to raise money by selling t-shirts.  Each shirt sold helped that local business, but also kept Jarrod’s shop, the Rockford Art Deli in business as well.

On this edition of Success Stories, we’re going to discuss the Rockford Art Deli’s “Here for Good” campaign and learn how it worked, what Jarrod learned, and how this idea is laying a solid foundation for a successful future in his community of Rockford, Illinois.

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A Transcript For The Readers:

During and after the coronavirus pandemic, many screen printing shops found success by developing a local “Here for Good” campaign to help surrounding businesses in their community stay afloat during these difficult times. In Rockford, Illinois, one business owner, Jared Hennis developed a “Here for Good” campaign and assisted businesses in his area to raise money selling t-shirts. Each shirt sold helped that local business, but also kept Jared’s shop the Rockford Art Deli, in business as well. 

On this edition of Success Stories, we’re going to discuss the Rockford Art Deli’s “Here for Good” campaign and learn how it worked, what Jared learned and how this idea is laying a solid foundation for a successful future in his community of Rockford, Illinois.

So, Hey Jared, welcome to the podcast. 

Jarred Hennis: 

Hey, Marshall, thanks for having me. I always love being a part of anything that got your hands in. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Well, thanks. I know…and you’ve been in a lot of stuff over the years and I really appreciate that. So thanks again. 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah. Thank you. It’s been…it’s been super fun being a part of all the talking and the events and the, uh, you know, just trying to help other screen printers in the industry.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Right, right. So you’re ready to get going. 

Jarred Hennis:

I am.

Marshall Atkinson:

Okay. So first I want to get started with basically the idea of what is the “Here for Good” campaign. 

Where did that come from and how did you get started doing it?

Jarred Hennis: 

Yeah, so, I mean, the “Here for Good” idea in the big grand scheme of things is just a fundraiser site.

It’s what people have been doing for years is print shops of spirit wear and it’s helping an organization make money and then helping your business make money. So that’s the general overall feel of it? 

Where did it come from? 

The branding of it “Here for Good” was from one of my friends, Sloan at a Tiny Little Monster in St. Louis. 

And, she kind of branded the “Here for Good” movement and reached out to other print shops and, you know, me being one of those and I was just super stoked about what it was doing. And, you know, we were in this pandemic and what we still are and trying to figure out what we can do to help pivot and, and use our shops for a force of good.

And, she definitely nailed it on the head with the “Here for Good” style. And then everyone just kind of used what they had from that to, in their arsenal to kind of just at least get the groundwork of it going. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Yeah. And so locally, you started this and of course, we always start with that first customer.

For you, what business was that and how did you get other people to get involved and talk about how many shops, how much money you raise? Kind of all that from beginning to the end here. 

Jarred Hennis:

As a custom print shop and being in the industry for 15ish years, we have a base of our loyal customers that’ll ride or die.

That’ll do whatever we want to do and will help us out to help them out. 

So actually, Westrock Wake Park was my first business that I added on. Um, they run a local wakeboarding business, uh, cable park. So you can wakeboard on a Lake. 

Super cool concept. And, he was part of probably six businesses that I’m like, well, I need to have some shirts up.  I need to have to be able to market this. I need to have some shirts up on the site ready to go and start pitching it from there. 

So I think I started with about 12 businesses and that was on March 25th. And then really all we did was one post and one newsletter. And we ended up with over 400 businesses and sold over 10,000 t-shirts in two and a half months.

And the cool part about that was we didn’t really have to work that hard to market it because the businesses were doing it for us. You know, they were marketing to their tribe. So we started off with our small tribe and then opened it up to the community to sign up. And then really from there, it grew legs and tentacles and wings, and it went all over Rockford.

Cause you know, Rockford is 130,000 – 140,000 people, so it’s not massive. And just to see 400 businesses that we actually had to turn a lot down. One, because a lot of bad artwork, um, you know, everyone was just sending JPEGs and just not, not user ready artwork. 

And since it wasn’t a custom order, we just couldn’t invest in and help them get their artwork ready at the time when it first was kind of exploding.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Okay. And so you, you had 10,000 t-shirts sold. So what did that equate to in sales and you helping them out? Kind of like your, the money you raised for them was how much? 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah, so we sold the tee shirts for $25 and they got $10 from each shirt sold. So we raised over $100,000 in two and a half months that went across 400 businesses, ranging from some people that got thousands and some people that got 10 bucks. 

It was really, it all depended on how hard they sold themselves because really like, they, they were their salesmen, you know, we weren’t the salesmen for that company. We were just the catalyst for it. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

And did you say, “Hey, your success depends on how much elbow grease you’re going to put into it because we’re just facilitating the program? The money you raise is really about your fans and your customers buying into what you’re trying to do…”

Correct?

Jarred Hennis:

Correct. 

Yeah. So we sent out, you know, in the initial posts, we sent out some tips and tricks on how to promote it. We gave them a web-ready image with their t-shirt mockup on it so they could share it properly.

At the end of the day, it was, they had to promote themselves. So, you know, we had a couple of businesses that did complain and like, “Well, we only sold six shirts” and I was like, “Well, that’s because you only promoted it one time on your Instagram story so it was only there for 24 hours.” 

Marshall Atkinson:

Right. 

Jarred Hennis:

So really their success was dependent on them because people weren’t going to go to our website and scroll 50 pages of t-shirts to be like, “Oh, this one looks cool.” 

You know, it was all direct sales from that customer or their friends or someone that’s sharing it for them. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Marketing is always one of the hardest things to do, so how did you get people to sign up or participate?

I want to dig into that a little more. 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah. So we did a couple of things to start off, we made a landing page that looked really nice, had all the info on it, super easy for the business. All they had to do was fill out their business name, attach their logo.  Pick a t-shirt color and ink color. And really from there, that’s all they had to do.

And they just submitted. And then we would get back to them when it was done. So once that business came in and they signed up for it, they gave me good vector print ready artwork. We made the mockups and sent them the tips and tricks.

From there, we had a PR person that we use for all of our events. So she kind of started the initial hustle for us to get the word out. Like, “Hey, if you’re a business and you need help, sign up with Rockford Art Deli.”  

That’s a minimal cost for us…but then we had every single news station, every radio station, newspaper, everybody was here to interview us.  Because one…there wasn’t anything positive going on on March 25th. Everything was closing down. Like businesses were closing. We were a feel-good story. You know, we were, “Here for Good!” 

Everyone was jumping on anything that we were posting and sharing it for us. So, we had that on us, so we had a minimal spend on PR.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Did you have #hereforgood or anything? 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah, just #hereforgoodrkfd.  It did okay. 

Rockford is not super hip on hashtags and typing correctly. It wasn’t like it didn’t blow up or anything. But yeah, we did our own and we did get some good customer interaction, but you know, really it was some of these businesses don’t even have a Facebook page or don’t even know how to set it up properly. 

So it was really hard to tag them and promote each business because some of them were a salon in their basement or an auto mechanic in his garage. Cause it wasn’t really, there was no rules, no parameters.

I don’t even know if half of them are businesses really, but they had a business name and that sort of logo, and we kind of took it from there and it was a really fun experience. Definitely a ton of learning. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

So let’s just skip over the people who didn’t really do well and let’s just focus on the top 20% of the people who really had great success. 

What do you think set them apart from the bottom 80%, as far as getting involved, sharing what’s going on…did they do challenges like, “Hey, we’re trying to get to this number by Sunday buy now!” kind of a thing?

What did they actually do?

Jarred Hennis:

So there was a combination of all three. 

Some of them were just really big businesses…I think the number one sales was a customer that is a brewery. So they have this big base already cause everyone loves their beer. 

But truthfully the top people were salons.  I think it’s really, they hustle. They were trying to make money to pay their staff, to pay rent…because most of the salon people in the service industry.  They couldn’t file for a lot of the grants and loans because they were tip based or cash-based or 1099.  So they were kind of out of that first loop. 

So I think that the people that were posting daily or sending newsletters. So we had a lot of fitness places that were sending newsletters weekly with, “Hey, here’s some info about what’s happening, here’s some at-home fitness things.  Oh, and by the way, here’s this to help support us. And we get $10 from each t-shirt sold.” 

I would say the top 25 people are all either reputable businesses or just people that hustled and posted every single day. But the salons blew my mind. Like you don’t think about salons being popular, I guess.  But they crushed it. Like those salons were getting like $300 a week, $400 a week. Which was awesome. It was awesome seeing them. 

They have a good tribe. You have good customer service. That means you have good followers.  That means they want to buy your product. Versus someone that doesn’t have good customer service or any online presence, they’re just running, running day by day. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

And that kind of makes sense anyway, I think because a lot of hair salons, it’s very personal that, you know, they chit chat you up while you’re getting your haircut or the latest style or whatever. Right? So there’s a lot of talking going on anyway. And typically they go to the same person for years and years, and years and years. And so, when these people are struggling, “I need to get my hair done three months from now!” You know that I need them back in business. Yeah. I’ll buy the t-shirts so they can pay their rent.

That’s kinda how it worked, right?

Jarred Hennis:

Exactly. Yeah. So it’s, you know if you already have a good business model, it really helped. There were a few that surprised me. There was like a lawyer firm that sold quite a few, which was a surprising thing. I think they just, you know, it’s really like a popularity contest. 

It’s like the more popular you were and knew how to promote and sell your business the more you sold.  

It’s like any business in general, the better you are at selling your product, the more you’re going to sell. And it helps if you have a good product, which, you know, that’s where we came in because we were reputable and, you know, Rockford Art Deli is known for having really nice t-shirts and good prints.

And so it was kind of a win-win for them. But then also we get to piggyback into their market. We got our shop into their markets. That means their customers were on our website buying 815 shirts or Rockford shirts too. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

What was on the shirts? Was it just a design with their logo or do they have like a cute and witty little saying? 

Did you have to design it? 

Did they tell you what you want? Walk us through that a little bit. 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah. So we did the first, I would say hundred. Somari salon was one of our top-selling ones and she was awesome.  She sold really well and was a big advocate for us, but we’ve never done business with her before, never met her before. I don’t even, you know, never a customer, anything. 

So she had a really cool design. She sent it in, and it was vector ready. And it was a hand putting your rock and roll fingers up, and some scissors in it and some like tattoo art kind of looking stuff on it. 

Yeah. Turned out really well. And she did extremely well.  

But most of the people that applied, some people asked for custom things, but we couldn’t handle it. You know, we were getting so much artwork and load at once. And at the time we don’t have in-house design like we have two freelance people at the moment. 

So I was trying to carry that load and do it all. So it’s just like, “Hey if you have vector ID artwork, it’s good to go. If I have to customize it or live trace it or recreate it, you’re going to the bottom of the list.  So either you can start selling now or you can wait maybe a couple of weeks and you’d get the artwork done or send us good artwork.” 

We did start sending some of the smaller, local freelance artists in town. We started just recommending them. So, to help create some revenue for them too.  But I would say two out of ten businesses had correct artwork to start.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Two out of ten. Really? 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah. Yeah. Or they didn’t know what vector was, so that was a good learning point. Most people were, saving a JPEG and exporting it as an AI file. And they were like, “No, this is vector.”

Marshall Atkinson: 

Shocker.

Jarred Hennis:

Typically what we see every day in the screen printing industry.

But, so that was, I guess, this whole nother thing of like, “Wow, these people don’t know what artwork they need. They don’t know what they have!” 

Some sign shop sold them a PNG file that was low res, and they’re like, “Yeah, this is good for you.” We had people sending pictures of their front doors and say “Hey, this is my logo”  Or a business card or a back of a t-shirt. It was pretty crazy. And it’s not crazy stuff that as print shops we see normally…we see some weird stuff out there. But it was really eye-opening for these business owners that are sending me their stuff and they’d have no idea what they have for artwork or don’t have for artwork.

It’s a big learning curve. So we actually created a page that said, “This is how to send vector artwork to Rockford Art Deli.” And we attached that or responded to every single email that had bad artwork. Cause it’s like we just didn’t have the time or the capacity to help redo all these logos.

The first a hundred we did.  We were redoing everything.  Recreating people’s logos. Cause it was, the hype, the fun.  Like, “Oh, this is fun. We can do this!” 

Until it just kept coming in. And it was hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

You ride the wave until it’s a tsunami and you can’t keep up.

Jarred Hennis:

I think we had over 500 people apply.  But we shut it off. 

We probably could have had probably 600.   But we kept…we shut it off for a while to catch up.  Turned it back on. Shut it off. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Along the way, you’ve probably stubbed your toe here or there and something just absolutely didn’t work…like the artwork part.

So can you share a mistake or two that happened to you and thinking through it, you wish that you had done it differently? 

And that way somebody who is thinking about maybe doing something similar to this can completely avoid that landmine. 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah. Cause this was all new to us. We’ve never done a fundraiser site before. We’ve never dabbled in any of that. 

I would say the couple of the biggest ones were to limit your options. Um, you know, there were similar shops out there that just had one logo. We were trying a different angle than that, but I would say limit your colors.  We pretty much let them pick any in colors they want. And then we had six different t-shirts that we offered, which that was a whole thing too because then everyone stopped making t-shirts and started making masks. So we were low on inventory. So keep it simple. Um, you know, one, you know, maybe two different t-shirt colors and two different inks would, would really seal the deal to make it really simple.

Communication has been the biggest issue we’ve had recently with, I would say, how many emails we get daily with the, you know:

“Oh, I haven’t gotten my shirt yet. It’s been four months.” 

“Uh, I didn’t know. It was a preorder.”

“I didn’t know it was a fundraiser.”

“I would have just rather donated directly to the company if I knew it was going to be this long.”

So I think we could have done a really, you know, but we had a small team, but I think we could have done a better job explaining the issue, like what the whole process was more and more frequent. 

You know, maybe tweaks on the website with the shipping area and just things you don’t really think about.  Cause you didn’t really think it was gonna be this big or take this long. Um, cause I mean we’re still printing shirts. We have about 2000 shirts left to print. Um, and I think the communication would have been really massive to help with that. 

So I’d say keep simple communication and try to outsource maybe, or have more help externally.

We’ve been outsourcing some stuff, but not, not this campaign because the margins were so low on it. It was hard for us to outsource anything. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Yeah, it’s kind of like throwing a party, you invite a hundred people and you know that only 30 are going to show up, but what happens when a hundred people show?

Jarred Hennis:

You’re never prepared for enough appetizers or drinks, for sure. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

How did the money part work? So you sold the shirts. Let’s say there’s a company that they sold a hundred shirts, right? 

So you owe them a thousand dollars. Just use easy back of napkin math. Did you stroke them a check? Did they have to send a W9 or something in?

How did you work that out? 

Jarred Hennis:

So every week we sent out money. So I had a shared Google doc, a spreadsheet that had each week’s sales. 

It showed how many sales that company had, how much their donation was going to be, and if they got paid or not. So that was more just for internal checks and balances. 

They had the option, which this was another issue, that we figured out later was not to offer options.

Cause I think we piggyback off a Tiny Little Monster and they offered Venmo, PayPal, and check. I was like, “Oh, that’s a good idea.”

But then I was like, with Venmo you can only send out so much a week, like $10,000 or something like that. Um, which that was a pain in the butt. 

PayPal was nice.  You could do batching with that, but we were still doing everything manually because we didn’t have a system, everything was manual. 

Um, and then check. So, yeah, we were writing checks and doing PayPal weekly, manually. So we were creating the spreadsheet. 

It was all just running a spreadsheet, copying and pasting making formulas across, you know, so we ended up having nine weeks of sales, and then tying those all into a master spreadsheet?

So the customer or the business owner could see what they were at and like where we were at, and that helped us to hold us accountable. 

I sent out a BombBomb video every week. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but it’s just a video email. So I sent those out to the businesses every single week with updates on what was happening, how they could help, how they could share more, if they could post videos or testimonies for us thanking us, just to help.

Kind of, you know, feed the beast of the social media world. And they could see where they were at. So if I missed a payment or, you know, cause there was so many people, they could be like, “Hey, I never got that payment.” 

And then that held me accountable.  But it was really fun just keeping them in the loop every week and sending him videos and getting good feedback from them. But, yeah, the payment thing was a beast.

I ended up three weeks, four weeks in I had my bookkeeper take over because I couldn’t keep up with it myself. I was doing it all myself. So she started running all the reports, I’d send her the spreadsheet, you know, the export from Shopify was sales and she would put it all in this fancy spreadsheet that talked to all the other sheets and the spreadsheet and, and made it look correct. Or made it, made it correct? 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Not “make it look correct”  It was actually correct. 

Jarred Hennis:

Correct. Yeah, no. Yeah. I mean, cause it was, yeah, I was like looking at stuff and I was like, cause we overpaid a couple of people, not a ton. Some of those were just the checks and balances. 

Halfway through this campaign, I found out there was a Shopify plugin to do affiliates and it would have solved this whole problem made everything automated through PayPal. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Oh, man. Did you, did you switch to that or are you still haven’t done it?

Jarred Hennis:

I haven’t done it yet because it was too far in where I’d have to go back and have everybody sign up.  I’d have to export like all this data in. So if I started again, I would look into something like that or an InkSoft solution or Printavo Merch or something like that. 

That would be a little bit more automated because really another, not to jump back and forth, but keeping track of how many shirts we printed.

Cause we were printing while we were still selling them because we wanted to get these shirts out. Cause you know, we’re a manual shop, like to get 10,000 shirts and 400 different designs all at once. Like still printing them. Cause you know, we can only print so many per hour and then still trying to piggyback off our own work and customer stuff still to keep the cash flow.

Marshall Atkinson: 

So let’s dig into that part of it. 

So how did you schedule the production? Did you line things up with

“We can do this many a day.” 

“This is this many set-ups”…kind of knowing your capacity and your velocity, so you could predict “we’re doing these today, these tomorrow, these on Friday” and just knowing where you are with it and just kind of check things off as you went? 

What did you do?

Jarred Hennis:

So it was the wild west in my shop. 

Every procedure I had got thrown out the window.  It was pretty much full survival mode. 

So the thing that happened was I got stuck in my office just paying people. That was my biggest thing. 

I was like, this campaign can go South If I don’t pay these people as fast as I can.  You know, like, it’s going to look like we’re ripping people off or a scam or some get rich scheme that everyone was thinking we were doing. 

So I was just stuck upstairs and I was just relying on my team downstairs to make everything happen, which I didn’t give them a lot of guidance.

I was just like, just make sure this is happening. 

So we were, I think, printing whoever sold the top shirts that week got printed that week. So that was not a very good idea. We should’ve really just waited until it was all over and printed them all at once, you know, bought all the shirts, set everything up.

But it’s been…I got it organized the last couple of weeks. Cause I went in and just made massive spreadsheets and work orders and we’ve just been printing the films out and then just kind of printing as we go. 

There’s just piles of shirts downstairs with the company name on it. 

And then I have a spreadsheet that shows if the films were burned or if they’re printed yet, if the screen’s burned, partially printed.  And then if it’s fully printed, it gets highlighted. 

So we did everything so backwards and I felt like I was restarting my entire shop because things were moving way too fast. And I mean, really like you think about it, we’re small.  

We’re a small screen printing shop. We’re not that big.  We make most of our money for retail, our own retail and we just got 400 custom jobs in two and a half months for a two-person manual shop. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

And just so everybody knows, what is the normal cadence of a custom job that comes in?

Jarred Hennis: 

Yeah. So, I mean, so normal, I mean, I would say average, we probably only get like 600 – 700 custom orders a year.

So then we just got 400 in two and a half months. 

So, you know, we just weren’t set up for that. Like I couldn’t, we couldn’t burn 400 screens at once. I, you know, and I wasn’t gonna spend ten grand to order 400 screens just to have sitting around.

You know none of this was, we were ready to print 400 films out right away.  And, I had issues of creating all the artwork and then my computer crashed and I had it all in the downloads folder instead of syncing it. 

So I had to recreate a bunch of this crappy artwork. Uh, so you know, it was a lot of these lessons we’re learned and a lot of them were very stressful and still are stressful, but really, as a print shop, we learned so many things.   

I learned a whole different vision of workflow, or to look at things differently and be like, “Oh, we need to fix this. We need to change this.” 

It was a lot of lessons learned and not being an automated, you know we’re semi-automated, but we’re, you know, we’re a small shop. So we got to learn so many things from it.

So really like the takeaways. So huge, just because my team now is like one, I had two new printers also, so I have two new, new screen printers that have been here less than six months. Printing water base inks. That have never, you know, they’ve never screen-printed before in their life. 

And then I just gave him 10,000 shirts to print.

Marshall Atkinson:

Well, it’s a lot of practice, Jared. 

Jarred Hennis: 

That’s a lot, you know, luckily it was one color. So it was like, you know, mostly white, white discharge, black base. So it was like easier things. 

But yeah, it was the best practice they can get. So now they’re fully ready for whatever I throw at them, but it was definitely lessons learned.

And I know across the US I know there’s lessons learned for everyone. Like no one anticipated the scale that this program could get for their local business. You know, and then some were set up for it. They have autos and some weren’t, but I think, overall, you know, what, what Tiny Little Monster’s Sloan created was this really cool way for print shops to be on the line and there for their community.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Well that’s the really cool part about this is just thinking through, you know that book “StoryBrand” by Donald Miller where your customer is the hero?  And so this is one of these things where our customers are the heroes and we’re trying to help them stay afloat. 

And that’s where I think “Here For Good” really aligned with the need for apparel, the need to help, the need to be part of the community. 

And it kind of just all came together and just put a big bow on it. That’s one of the most powerful things about this whole program is the fact that it kind of just circled everything.

So great job. 

Jarred Hennis: 

Yeah, it’s been and just the friends and other print shops that got, you know, cause there was a Facebook group that Sloan started and so everyone could share ideas. And I was, I had people all over the US just reaching out to ask me questions cause they saw how popular, you know, we were, we were doing.

So it was, it was so fun just talking to all these different print shops and see how they worked and explain to them, “Hey, we already had a huge base.” Like we already, you know, Rockford Art Deli is a walk-in retail company, like we already had this huge base of people knowing who we were.

We weren’t just, you know, ABC company in the back of the room, printing shirts for all the little league teams, you know, we are in the face of our customer already. 

So it was easier for us to, you know, blow this thing up and weeks. Um, but yeah, it was, it definitely, you know, 

It made the print shops be the heroes. Like we were paying out money faster than the government was paying out money.  And we were there at this time of need.  For our customers or new customers, or just random community members that maybe aren’t going to be customers because they have a print shop. 

You know, there was no, no strings attached. Like, if you have your printer, you know, everyone’s got their printer, we weren’t trying to steal you from your printer.

We were just trying to help you out because we had the engine to do that.  But go back to your printer. That’s cool. Like, I wish your printer would have reached out and asked how they could have helped us print all these shirts, but, you know…

Marshall Atkinson: 

Did you contract any of this stuff out?

Jarred Hennis: 

No, because the margins were so low on this. 

I’ve been contracting out like, you know, our custom work that’s coming in, but so the margins were so low at this at the end of the day, uh, that we, you know, we were probably end up going to make like five bucks a shirt. 

And then we had some, we had a big hiccup with shipping.

We were split shipping things instead of, shipping them complete. So we ended up, tripling our shipping expense, just cause we were trying to get shirts out as fast as we can cause everyone got nervous downstairs and we didn’t want to get yelled at. 

Uh, so yeah, but we didn’t contract anything out and really, we actually don’t contract anything in our city anyways.  Cause none of the print shops talk to us, they’re just, they’re either intimidated of us or don’t like us, cause we’re popular. 

No one prints, no one really prints water-based in town. So we didn’t really have any like-minded people in Rockford that wants to work with us. I’ve tried to reach out to shops just because I think it’s silly and I think we should all be able to talk.

Cause I have my niche and they have their niche. Most of the time. I don’t want their business that they have. I just want to talk to them. Shoptalk. But it’s, you know, it’s a very scared industry in this area where everyone’s holding onto their work as much as they can. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Yeah.  Come on. Jared wants to be your friend.

Jarred Hennis: 

I know. I just want to be friends with everybody. Like I’m not. I’m not trying to be the king of the castle or anything. It’s just like, I got my niche. I’d rather just sell my RAD shirts every day and make my margins on that and not deal with custom work. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

So let’s finish up just really talking about the future of Rockford Art Deli.  

Right? So you just made all these fantastic friends in the community or solidified ones that you kinda knew off edge a little bit. So what are you doing with this and how has that “Here For Good” laying the groundwork for the rest of this year and into next year. 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah, that’s a good question. The whole base of it was we were investing in the long game. 

We created custom shirts for all these people, instead of just doing one design.  So that we had this long game. So we have technically not holding ransom or anything like that, but we have vector artwork now for 400 businesses in Rockford that we could, we can start sending out custom campaigns to them being like, “Hey, I know you’re an auto shop, it’s this time of the year, and we can send you this, this and this. 

And I could mock up some things and just email it to ‘em, with a price sheet or a sell card. Or, like some of our bigger customers that we do now, we’ve actually been printing their logo on new garments, a one-color logo, and being like, “Hey, I really think you’d like these three colors for your boutique this fall. Here’s these options like here’s a medium and large, just try them out, see if you like them, you know, no strings attached, but if you like them, let me know. Or attach a sales sheet with it, with these are the pricing for fifty and a hundred.”

But right now they’re, you know, we have all these businesses that want like the biggest thing is we were there when they needed us most, you know, they’re their print shop wasn’t there when they needed us the most like they closed down and didn’t open back up until July. Or June, you know, we were there trying to help make them money through the time they were all closed. 

So we, you know, we have that badge on us of like, “Hey, Rockford Art Deli stuck their neck out and you know, maybe lost money at the end of the day on this campaign to help them make some money.” 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Are you building that out now or is it in the planning? What are you doing? 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah. So a little bit of both. Um, I have reached out to a few people, some of my bigger businesses, you know, or a lot of, a lot of the businesses too, just like, “Hey, I know you’re printing my shirts.  Can I add on fifty or a hundred more just to sell in my shop?” 

And that was with us not even marketing that yet. Cause, during the campaign, I had this, this top of the few people about how we were upselling. And I was like, I just feel bad about upselling when I just said no, no risk, no strings attached during the whole campaign.

You know, like I didn’t want to. Be like, well, “Hey, I’m making all this money, but Hey, if you want to order 50 more shirts, you know, I know I just paid you some money, but you can pay me that money back.” 

So I wanted to wait until things got back to a little normalized, but now we’ll start building out some mailing campaigns.  Cause you know, I have, I have all their contact info. I have all their emails. 

So we’ll probably pick the top 50 sales and kind of work with them first. Uh, but just see like what their business is and then reach out and ask them what we can help them with. See where they’re at.

Maybe they just started opening again and they need to make some more money. So, you know, t-shirts, you can make money on…there’s good margins on that. Let me make some shirts for your business to sell and you can help make some money. 

We have talked about maybe doing a plan B or like a version two of “Here For Good.”

But curating it a little bit more and picking some of the businesses that we know have similar thinking processes and values as we do and may partner up with them and sell their shirts in our retail space and online. Cause a lot of these places, you know, at the end of the day, like they don’t sell retail.

We do.

You know, like, the breweries, they sell beer.  They can sell a shirt here and there, but not all of them are really good at it, but we are. 

So how can I sell shirts and make some money and then help them make some money too?  But I think really it’s all just through email campaigning right now. Cause no one still wants to be out in the world.

So we use a, we use Klaviyo for that, which has been super powerful.  And you can create different segments and really whatever you want…but you can pick your target markets…who bought stuff through Shopify and you can just target those people, of like, “Hey, anyone that bought a “Here For Good” shirt.

Maybe these guys that are into donations or, you know, a template just for special business packages, you know, buy a t-shirt and get 50 hats. 

Or, but I think it’s really like targeting the ones that are going to sell well because not all of them will, you know, that, you know, you know, the 80% of them are going to do okay with this 20% are going to really do well.

And I’ll probably focus on, you know, it’s a little more flipped here, but I think I’ll probably focus on the 20% top people and, and, and see what we can help them within their business. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

And you know, that hair salon, with the rock and roll design, they’re going to be someone that for years and talking about you forever.

And then that needs to go on a water bottle. And wouldn’t it be really cool to be on the apron? Right? 

There’s all those opportunities out there. 

Jarred Hennis:

Yeah. And it’s, it’s endless, like, it’s, it’s really cool. 

Right now. I just want to get the shirts…the last, these 2000 done and then start heavily marketing again.

Cause you know, we’re, we’re stuck in that thing of, I just want to get the shirts…this, this project off the table before I start adding more projects because my team, you know, like my team stressed out, like they definitely need some time off and you know, it’s, it’s a lot of manual printing going on downstairs.

It’s um…  Anyhow. I don’t even think if we would have had an auto, it would have helped solve the issue with this. I mean, it’s, you know, the runs aren’t massive, you know, like the most, I think one shop sold like 200, but really it was all hundreds, you know, fifties, eighties, like they, weren’t huge runs. It’s all one color.

So it’s not like a lot of work. Um, and we didn’t add any extra stuff to, as some people put like a “Here For Good” logo on it, or, some people asked us if we’d print the “Here For Good” logo on it. 

And we’re like, no…just trying to make it least amount of work possible.

Marshall Atkinson: 

So did you ship it or do they come by and pick it up?

Jarred Hennis: 

So yeah. So say, say you went on the website and there was six businesses that you really loved and you bought a shirt from each business.

Cause you’re like, wow, I want to support local. I want to support all these local communities. 

Well, we weren’t printing all six of those businesses at once. So then, what’s the process of shipping? Do you completely ship them all when they’re done, which one could have sold 201 could have sold one t-shirt uh, you know, so how do you prioritize that?

And that’s been a lot of the hiccups. I would love to know insight on anyone that had a better idea on that, but we, so we lost a lot of money on shipping, um, a lot of, lot of money. 

Uh, so I think, halfway through, we then added on delivery. So we’re charging five bucks for delivery and I was paying my friend’s wife five bucks to deliver it.  So it was a no money thing, but it was just convenience. 

And then we started doing curbside pickup really only a couple of weeks ago because we didn’t have enough people, you know, cause the whole protocol is then I have to have someone just answering the phone, running shirts out all day while someone is packing and you know, it was, we just didn’t have the manpower and I didn’t really want to hire more people on it at the moment.

Uh, so yeah, so right now we’re still doing shipping and local delivery and curbside pickup, but it was all shipping. 

At the start it was flat rate shipping, someone asked if they could pick it up in the store, but you know, how do you manage 8,000 orders? You know, that’s the, that’s the hard part of 8,000 orders was the, I think that’s what we ended up having over the two and a half months.

Marshall Atkinson: 

So all in all looking back. You give it two thumbs up? 

Jarred Hennis: 

Uh, yeah, I mean, for sure, like, you know, it was a learning experience. We learned a lot. We are going to grow from this, you know, it helped us, it gave us cashflow for two months. Uh, you know, and now it’s just back to the normal grind to figuring out what the new normal is.

But the badge on this whole thing was we got to pay out a $100,000 to 400 businesses in our community. 

You know, some people got to pay their rent. 

Some people got to pay their staff. 

Some people just paid an electric bill or background. 

Some people just bought a dinner for themselves to feel a little bit good.

But it helped a lot of people. And we were getting, you know, praises from some businesses, like “my checking account and just went overdraft. And I put in, this is what, you know, it came at the perfect time. I got to put it in, so even my account back out, um, you know, and that’s what it was all about. 

It was all about using my business, you know, RAD for the force of good, that was at the end of the day, what it was for.

Marshall Atkinson: 

And that’s got to make you super happy. I’m just, I’m just happy listening to it. 

Jarred Hennis: 

Yeah. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s, uh, every time there’s a negative email or a negative response to us at every day, I just go back to my staff and I was like, you guys, we did such a huge thing in Rockford. Don’t let that one email that one person ruin it for you because this is massive. 

Like how many businesses in the city donate over $100,000 in a year? 

You know, we just did it in two and a half months. 

On top of that, we donate 1% of all of our gross sales to an environmental nonprofit. So we were, you know, we’re donating to two things, two businesses and two nonprofits.

So that was kind of a cool thing too, was that customers supported their business, but also supporting the environment without them really knowing it. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Well, you should market that. 

Jarred Hennis: 

Yeah. I mean, we were, but it’s, you know, it’s, it’s back to the, it’s hard to get everyone to actually read and listen to what we’re talking about.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Ain’t that the truth. All right. Cool. 

So thanks so much, Jared. I really appreciate hearing about the success that you’ve had on the podcast. 

It was really fun digging into how everything worked and I love just hearing that whole story and I just think it’s awesome. 

So great job. 

Huge shout out to your team for totally kicking butt too!

Jarred Hennis: 

Yeah, thanks. Marshall. It’s always a pleasure. And, uh, I look forward to the future and I look forward to helping any other screen printing shop out there, if they have questions or comments or advice.  I’m always a student and I’m always trying to learn and become a better person.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Yeah. So for anyone that wants to get in touch with you, or learn more about the “Here For Good” campaign or Rockford Art Deli in general, what is the best way for them to get a hold of you?

Jarred Hennis:

I would say email directly to me, and that’s jared@rockfordartdeli.com, or, you know, just rockfordartdeli.com and then that, that email will, will filter to me eventually.

But yeah, really, you know, the websites, I would say the best social media is great too. Um, we have the Rockford Art Deli Instagram, and then, you know, my personal is pirateninjaprintshop. That’s my, my old, my old name that I can’t let go of. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Right. Awesome. Well, Hey, thanks so much, Jared. Appreciate you.

Jarred Hennis:

Thank you, Marshall.

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