Russell Athletic Is Back and On The Streetwear Scene

Crewneck sweatshirts — you know them, you love them, you break them out the moment a brisk wind hits your cheek and a leaf falls to the ground. They’re a classic, All-American comfort staple that will never go out of style, and we have Russell Athletic to thank for that. 

While there have been many variations over the years, the first crewneck was invented and put into production in 1930 by Benjamin Russell’s son and former Crimson Tide football player: Benjamin Russell Jr. The iconic new sweatshirt swapped the uncomfortable, itchy wool of practice football jerseys of the time for durable cotton, and featured the iconic “Eagle R” logo. In the decades since the first prototype, the brand has become a well-known and trusted name in sportswear and athleisure. 

Though, even with such an iconic contribution to apparel, the Russell name eventually fell out of the front pages — until recently. 

The once popular logo and brand has traveled from the field to the streets, and we’re all in. 

The Ultimate ‘90s Resurgence

After decades as the go-to for uniforming needs (from local sports teams to the U.S. Navy), Russell Athletic solidified their spot as a sportswear giant when they were tapped by both the NFL and MLB as the favorite to outfit teams in the 1990s. With the nation’s biggest sports stars rocking the brand, business was booming. Little did they know the classic athletic aesthetic they were producing in the ‘90s would set them up to Continue reading “Russell Athletic Is Back and On The Streetwear Scene”

5 Reasons Vacation is a Must for You and Your Employees

In the United States, we often labor under the notion that time is money. Sometimes it feels as though the American way is all work and no play, and the statistics back it up. 

To start, the U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee its workers paid vacation. According to a recently revised report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, that means 23% of workers have no paid vacation and 22% of workers have no paid holidays. In comparison, the European Union’s Working Time Directive requires its member countries to provide European workers at least 20 paid vacation days a year — something many U.S. workers will never receive. 

Of those Americans who do have paid time off (PTO), more than half leave the time unused. The U.S. Travel Association reported that just last year, 768 million paid vacation days were left behind by employees. Maybe it’s because Continue reading “5 Reasons Vacation is a Must for You and Your Employees”

4 Tips to Get Ahead of Tax Season for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, you know that every penny counts come tax season. To complicate things further, you’re dealing with changes to tax laws yearly. Although these tax reforms may only impact small businesses minimally, it’s important to be aware of any new tax law reforms and how, or if, they apply to your business. 

For a small business, maximizing deductions and lowering your tax bill can be the difference between a profitable year and another year of scraping by. So, understanding where you can take additional deductions can save you major dollars and headaches. It’s imperative to speak with a tax professional for specific tax knowledge, but in the meantime, these tax season tips can help you get a head start. 

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5 Examples of Winning Video Strategies That’ll Turn Customers Into Fans

Businesses miss a huge marketing opportunity when they don’t use video, experts say. “People like bite-sized nuggets,” says Sam Sprague, founder and CEO of Portland, OR-based Sprague Media LLC. “Video and social are all about gaining access and attention.” If a picture tells a thousand words, imagine just how many you can express with a short 30- or 60-second video. In fact, videos elicit a more visceral, immediate response from your viewers than reading a blog.

The biggest stumbling block for business owners though, Sprague says, is Continue reading “5 Examples of Winning Video Strategies That’ll Turn Customers Into Fans”

7 Creative Ways to Find New Customers

Prospecting like a pro? Kevin Pendergrass, co-owner and sales rep at Shawnee, OK-based Pendergrass Promos, has it down to an art. Pendergrass targets 10 new businesses a week with a gift-focused campaign. “We send a promo item in the mail to introduce ourselves,” he says. “This separates us from our competitors because it cuts through the clutter—and gets our name in front of prospects loud and clear.”

Seventy-one percent of buyers want to hear from sellers when they’re looking for new ideas to drive stronger business results or to solve a problem, according to consultancy SalesPop. Even better, 82% of buyers Continue reading “7 Creative Ways to Find New Customers”

4 Trends Taking Over Band Merch

Promotional, branded apparel has seen a resurgence in pop-culture — with particular influence from the music industry — in recent years. Not only is it a great marketing tool to generate awareness and revenue for the talent, it’s an easy way for fans to feel connected to their favorite artists. While band (or artist) merchandise (merch) fell off a bit, during the early-to-mid 2000s, the trend has seen continual growth rate since 2016. 

According to the 2019 Global Licensing Survey, global retail sales of music merch was Continue reading “4 Trends Taking Over Band Merch”

The Fanny Pack Resurrection

Whether you love them or loathe them, fanny packs are a topic of fashion buzz dating back to arguably the 1950s. From must-have festival bags to high-fashion statement pieces, the handy pouches’ origins were designed to serve as functional and convenient mini packs that have had quite the evolution into today’s modern society. 

The Rise and Fall — and Rise Again 

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the fanny pack is back, with no signs of fizzling out of the mainstream market anytime soon. 

Origins of the convenient pouch remain unclear — some mentions seemingly date all the way back, 5,000 years ago, to the Ice Man, whose mummified body was found wearing a fashioned belt with a pouch attached. Recent legend has it that the fanny pack was invented by an Australian woman in 1962 who was inspired by the pouch of a kangaroo. Whether we chalk that particular possibility up to urban legend or not, the combination of belt and bag has existed in different iterations across varying cultures and eras due simply to the concept’s utility. Similar designs to the modern fanny pack over time have included the Medieval Scottish sporran (in a day where most clothes did not have pockets, belt bags just made sense), and the chatelaine purse, a stylish Victorian era belt bag.


(The Scottish sporran was born out of necessity for pockets)
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The 5 Best Role-Playing Scenarios for Sales Team Success

Just as athletes train to perform at their best during practices, so should your sales team. This is where sales role-playing comes in — it’s a crucial and valuable tool with a high learning rate. To help ensure your team’s success, we rounded up five of the best sales role-playing scenarios that provide a low-stakes opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses among your sales reps. 

5 Effective Sales Role-Playing Scenarios 

1. Active Listening Improv

According to a recent study by HubSpot, 69% of buyers say a sales representative listening to their needs is the best way to make the sales experience positive. In order to tailor a specific sales approach to a prospective client, active listening — not just hearing — is key. 

This exercise will require at least two people and can also be done with a group. Here’s how it works:

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3 Things You Didn’t Know About Champion Apparel

Originally known as the “Knickerbocker Knitting Company,” the inventors of the classic reverse-knit weave have come a long way since their birth in 1919. For decades, Champion has been outfitting top athletes, military, students and fans worldwide with the iconic “C” logo. Their commitment to long-lasting quality and focus on teams, rather than individual superstars has helped them experience a longevity and resurgence, not many apparel companies get to enjoy. In celebration of their, now 100 years in the business, here are 3 things you should know about how Champion has impacted all of us.

1. The Reverse Weave changed everything, but what exactly is it?

1938 Reverse Weave Patent

Since Champion was a major supplier of tees and sweatshirts to sports teams around the country, when coaches started to complain about shrinkage in their uniforms, the company came to the rescue and invented the reverse weave knit in 1934. Simply put, to help the garment maintain its shape and fight shrinkage, the grain of the sweatshirt fabric was made to run sideways instead of vertically (like most apparel) and side panels were added in for additional reinforcement. Since then, modifications were made to give the fabric a greater stretch, and an even better fit.

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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.

Continue reading “Yes, You Should Try Influencer Marketing.”