“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.”

Continue reading “10 Simple Ideas That Will Save Your Shop a Lot of Money”

“Changing the Direction of Your Business” SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 16 (feat. Ryan Dost & Adam McCauley of Sandlot Sports)

During the onset of Covid-19, Sandlot Sports had to make a dramatic shift in their business from selling athletic and sports-based merchandise to more of a B2B focus. Ryan Dost and Adam McCauley join the show to talk about this shift in a new direction, and their plans for the future in 2021 and beyond.

If you’ve been trying to move your business in a different direction, this is one episode you don’t want to miss.

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Continue reading ““Changing the Direction of Your Business” SUCCESS STORIES Podcast: Ep. 16 (feat. Ryan Dost & Adam McCauley of Sandlot Sports)”

Apparel Decoration Myths vs Facts: Can You Really Decorate These?

This session was featured in The S&S Virtual Experience (Feb 2021)

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wow, this is a really cool product, but there’s just no way to decorate it for clients” or “This thing is just too difficult to decorate?” Then, this is the segment for you.

Our Head of Corporate Training and Dev, Stephan Baere meets up with STAHLS Senior VP, Josh Ellsworth, to dispel myths about some of those products you might have labeled “impossible to decorate”, while showing you some neat decorating tricks along the way.

Download the directions for all the demonstrations shown in the video here:

Featured Panelists:

  • Stephan Baere – Head of Corporate Training and Development at S&S Activewear
  • Josh Ellsworth – Senior VP, Dealer & Enterprise Sales at STAHLS

STAHLS‘® Featured Products:

S&S Featured Products:

CLICK HERE to see the other videos from our virtual event.

How Decorators Are Adapting to Customer’s New Needs & Purchasing Habits

This session was featured in The S&S Virtual Experience (Feb 2021)

Lots of decorators have seen major shifts in their business, since the arrival of Covid-19. Some of those shifts were forced upon them by the sudden changes in business, which came along with the pandemic, and some were a result of them seizing new opportunities that began popping up.

In the video above, Mark Graham, of commonsku, leads four short 1-on-1 discussions with industry decorators to talk about, how they we’re affected by these shifts, what adjustments they made, opportunities that we’re already coming about, before the pandemic, and how 2020 created other meaningful changes at their company.

Featured Panelists:

Session Takeaways:

“Kitting” is now huge.

One of the biggest changes that occurred last year, was the complete stoppage of in-person events. Companies that would normally have ordered decorated items for their corporate events, trade shows or promotional needs, now suddenly had to rethink how they engaged with their customers and employees.

Lucas Guariglia, CEO at Rowboat Creative, mentions how he tried to find solutions for these businesses by really becoming more of a partner and consultant to them. Doing so gave him and his staff the ability to offer really creative ideas for how these companies could develop a unique at-home unboxing experience, though the use of kits with decorated swag, which really connected with their audience in a more personal way.

“We try immerse ourselves into their (the client’s) company culture…immerse ourselves into what they are trying to get across…For us, it really is becoming part of that company”

Lucas Guariglia, CEO & Co-Founder at Rowboat Creative
Continue reading “How Decorators Are Adapting to Customer’s New Needs & Purchasing Habits”

How to Increase Your Profit Margins on Decorated Apparel w/ the S&S Brands & Fashion Model

Since the early days of the company, S&S Activewear has always been all-in on fashion brands. Rather than focusing on developing private label options like many of the suppliers were doing at the time, we invested heavily on the retail brands that people still love and recognize today.

” The first thing I always say, when someone requests a non-premium item…is ‘why do you want that garment?’ and ‘what’s the reason?’

– Brian Geffen – President of Duds by Dudes

That investment has definitely been huge, not only for us, but also for our customers. Over the past several years, fashion trends have been increasingly influencing the kinds of apparel options that are available to and sought after in the wholesale channel. Because of that initial investment, we’ve been bringing those trends to you the whole time.

People no longer want to wake up in the morning and just put on the same tired old boxy tee, stiff polo, or plain embroidered woven. They want something that speaks to who they are as an individual. They want something, with a quality fit and feel, from a brand they recognize, which also gives them the ability to wear it from one occasion to the next, while still looking stylish.

So during a time when dress codes are expanding, customization is increasing and trends are rapidly changing, it’s now more important than ever, to capitalize on breadth of fashionable apparel options available for your business to sell. It’s time to start moving your clients away from the basics and towards premium fashion-forward options that’ll increase your margins and bring in the profits.

In the video above, our very own, Nolan Parker, leads an informative conversation with decorator, Brian Geffen and promotional products distributor, Chris Rosburg, to discuss this growing shift in the desire for decorating on fashion-forward and retail branded apparel, as well as how to convince your clients to buy premium products.

You’ll also hear how this is impacting their businesses, driving consumer demand, how the work-from-home movement is changing workwear, and get some terrific tips on how to set yourself apart from the competition.

Featured Panelists:

CLICK HERE to see the other videos from our virtual event.

A Close Look At 2021 Apparel Trends, What’s Selling and Who’s Buying

This session was featured in The S&S Virtual Experience (Feb 2021)

Learn about the top apparel and accessory trends kicking off in 2021, from a few of our Brand partners and S&S reps. We’ll also share our top 10 must-have categories, so you won’t want to miss this one.

Featured Panelists:

CLICK HERE to see the other videos from our virtual event.