Shirt Lab COVID-19 Survival Tips and FREE 3-DAY Webinar

As small businesses across the country have been scrambling to figure out how to cope with the sudden impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our economy, decorators have turned into a lifeline for many of them. Thinking outside-of-the-box is exactly what will help us all get through a tough time like this, and decorators have been extremely active in helping to find new ways we can all support businesses, families and schools in our local communities.

Marshall Atkinson and Tom Rauen, industry gurus and founders of the Shirt Lab workshops, are masters at thinking outside-of-the-box. In the video below, they’ll share what some of these decorators have been doing to keep themselves afloat, and also touch on their own creative ideas, which you could use to continue generating business now and in the future. Watch the video below to hear what they had to say.

When we all put our heads together, problems get solved, new relationships form and new opportunities present themselves to us. Marshall and Tom, know how important it is to collaborate and share knowledge, so they’ve rounded up an incredible group of OVER 30 successful industry experts to bring you the Shirt Lab Summit.

Taking place on June 1st, 2nd and 3rd, the Shirt Lab Summit is a series of webinars, which will help you take your business to the next level, and REGISTRATION IS FREE!

Click below for more information on the speakers and to register for access.

Featured Photo created by Yanalya – www.freepik.com

Off-White: Behind The World’s Hottest Streetwear Brand

Kanye West and A Musical Beginning

Off-White founder Virgil Abloh was born in Chicago in 1980 to Ghanian immigrant parents. After earning an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, he established a Chicago art gallery and streetwear boutique called RSVP Gallery.

Around this time, Abloh interned at high-fashion label, Fendi, in Rome, where he connected with rap superstar Kanye West. West made Abloh the creative director of his agency Donda, where he designed sets for West’s concert tours and created the artwork for West and Jay-Z’s album Watch the Throne.

In 2009, Abloh and West launched Pyrex Vision, an innovative streetwear design company. According to Highsnobiety, Pyrex Vision’s first garments consisted of Ralph Lauren flannel shirts purchased for $40, screen printed with the word “Pyrex” and the number 23 (a nod to the Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan), and resold for $550.

Off-White?

In 2013, Pyrex Vision relaunched as Off-White ℅ Virgil Abloh. The name is a reference to “the gray area between black and white.”

Off-White often uses quotation marks in its designs, with Highsnobiety saying that, “By presenting words as citations, Abloh is taking them out of context, and questioning their seriousness. When he puts “Sculpture” on the side of a handbag, he’s provoking the viewer. What’s the difference between a handbag and a piece of art, really?

Off-White’s Fashion Aesthetic

A quick look at Off-White’s spring/summer 2020 collection shows how much they’ve expanded their offering over the years. Their line covers everything (Tracksuits; bombers; puffer jackets; sweatshirts for men; jackets, crop tops; dresses and activewear for women). All of these styles use a mixture of both muted and bright hues, so there’s something for everyone. Brand lovers can even extend the style to their living space, with home goods like blankets, towels, pillows and more.

A Rise In Popularity

According to an interview conducted by Business Of Fashion, Federica Levato, a partner at Bain & Company, says:

“Customers are becoming younger, and that is very good for the mid- and longer-term survival of this industry. There is a big market of €2.5 million for luxury T-shirts, for example, that is growing very fast.”

Off-White has merged the worlds of contemporary art, high-fashion and hip hop culture in a way that’s appealed to consumers of all ages, from teenagers on up. With 10.3 million followers on Instagram, the brand has definitely used social media to grab the attention of that young generation of buyers and keep their image fresh. That influence has also demanded the attention of major brands and fashion designers around the world, allowing them to keep creating more collaborative collections that people are continuously lining up for.

In 2014, Abloh debuted collections at Paris Fashion Week and has shown no signs of slowing down, establishing the brand’s first concept store in Tokyo and followed that up by launching a furniture collection called Grey Area in 2016. One year later, he was awarded the British Fashion Award for Urban Luxe Brand. Following a steady rise in popularity, in 2018, Abloh was named artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear division.

One thing is for sure: Off-White isn’t going anywhere. According to HYPEBEAST, during Q3 2019, it beat luxury brand Gucci as “Hottest Brand.” It held on to the top spot for Q4 2019, with Gucci and Balenciaga taking the second and third spots, respectively.

Throughout his career, Abloh has also formed partnerships with a variety of brands, including Nike, Levis, Jimmy Choo, Warby Parker, Sunglass Hut, Converse, Dr. Martens, Timberland and more. He’s even gone as far as collaborating with IKEA, and creating exhibits like the one at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, which launched in 2019.

What’s Next

So, what’s next for Abloh and Off-White? Footwear News reports that Off-White and the Jordan brand will release new Off-White x Air Jordan 5 sneakers later this year. Virgil Abloh and Off-White are certainly here to stay.

Cover Photo by Leon Skibitzki on Unsplash

Should You Diversify Your Decoration Services?

Lots of decorators (including you) wrestle with the big questions: how and when to diversify. You risk sinking your shop’s profitability when you jump in at the wrong time. Don’t worry—we asked industry experts to weigh in on how to expand your offerings smartly and strategically.

There are lots of great reasons to diversify. “You separate yourself from your competitors,” says Marian Hinebauch, owner of Las Vegas-based Logo Droppers. “You give them more options. You become a consultant, as you bring new ideas to your customers’ attention.”

During the COVID-19 lockdown though, diversification’s more complicated. “There’s no crystal ball for what our new normal is—people are in survival mode,” says Marshall Atkinson,   a decorated-apparel success coach, who also offers hands-on training via his Shirt Lab events.  “Wayne Gretsky said, ‘You skate to where the puck is going to be.’ You diversify successfully if you see where the puck’s headed.” Right now, for example, if you’re a screen printer, diversification might mean heat-pressing masks

Continue reading “Should You Diversify Your Decoration Services?”

Masks Are Now Made For Decorating

Streetwear has gone in many different directions that have, at times, seemed a little overboard. With companies like Supreme going as far as putting their logo on an Oreo cookie, there seems to be no limit on what a streetwear company may do next.

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Dropping Soon.

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Enter face masks. Although wearing them has been fairly common in a few countries, here in the states, fashionable masks are generally an unnecessary luxury that just seemed like another over-the-top reach for more sales.

However, times have changed and masks have suddenly become one of the hottest pieces of streetwear on the market. How hot are they?

Continue reading “Masks Are Now Made For Decorating”

5 Steps to Attracting Sustainable Customers

Better for the environment—and better for your bottom line. When your shop adopts sustainable practices like recycling, using water-based ink and eschewing chemical cleaners, you attract like-minded customers.

“The clothing industry needs to change—shops that don’t adopt a forward-thinking green ethos will be left in the dust,” says Dominic Rosacci, CEO of Denver-based Superior Ink Printing. “We adopted this way of thinking after learning it takes 500 gallons of water to make one conventional cotton shirt. Producing nearly 60,000 shirts a month equals 32 million gallons of water passing through one small production facility.”

The good news is that making this switch could be more beneficial to your bottom line than you thought. As Millennials lead the charge in supporting more environmentally conscious businesses, their beliefs are fueling a new economy. Let’s break this down by the numbers:

  • Between 2014-2018, sustainable product sales increased by 20%. Today, that figure is 22%. By 2021, it’ll rise to 25%.
  • Millennials are more motivated to change their buying habits. That’s why 75% of Gen Y buys sustainable products and most have said they’re willing to pay more to support environmentally conscious businesses.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what you can do to make your shop more sustainable.

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Sales Opportunities for Apparel Are Still Out There

Even though it may seem like the need for printed apparel has dried up a bit, there’s still potential out there for sales. Times like these can bring out our creativity and take our businesses in new directions we would never even have considered before, and could benefit us further down the road. Here are some ideas we’ve heard from around the industry on how you could grab a few more sales for your business.

Sell That Printed Concert Merch

Because a lot of concerts have been cancelled recently, some decorators are sitting on a lot of unused merchandise. Some of these shops have been adding tour merch that was printed specifically for those shows to their online stores. Normally these are exclusively sold at concert venues, but now people can grab one of these on the web. To add some incentive for fans to buy one, some distributors are also adding in a free gift for each purchase and throwing in FREE SHIPPING as well.

Hookup with Local Gyms and Studios

Even though many gyms are closed around the country, people still have a hunger to stay fit. There are some fitness studios offering equipment rental for people to use during their workouts at home. Some of these gyms might want to try upselling printed athletic apparel along with these rentals, to make a few extra dollars.

Make Your Storefront Virtual

If you’re operating a retail store selling decorated apparel, consider opening up an online store. With people stuck in quarantine, it’s time to move that inventory online. Look into a simple platform like Shopify, to get started. They’re even offering a 90-day free trial with no credit card required. Hopefully, 90 days will be all you need to get through this quarantine period, so this might be the perfect solution for many storefronts. Other places like Etsy, eBay and Amazon may also be good options to look at, as well. If you already have a website setup with services like InkSoft or DecoNetwork, try adding those products to your offering online.

Curbside Pickup 

Although, dining out isn’t an option right now, lots of restaurants are transitioning to curbside pickup and delivery, so they can keep their businesses running. Other local shops may also be implementing similar procedures as well. Some of these places could have a need for additional apparel to identify employees, who are making deliveries or walking up to cars. They may even need reflective workwear, to keep them safe at night.

We’ll be keeping an ear out for any other ideas that could help distributors keep generating sales, and if you have any ideas or suggestions of your own, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Have You Been Active Lately?

When you’re stuck at home, it becomes really tempting to relax and let yourself go a bit. But now more than ever, we need to make sure we stay active. According to Healthline.com, regular exercise can:

  1. Improve your mood, decreasing feelings of depression, anxiety and stress.
  2. Improve brain function, protecting memory and thinking skills.
  3. Help you relax and get better sleep.

Those are all things we’ll definitely need to help us all get creative and figure out how to manage our businesses during this time. So don’t give into the temptation of becoming too relaxed during your work-from-home days. Try some of these easy exercises to keep yourself active and working in peak performance.

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How Inksoft’s Fundraising Feature Is Keeping Decorators Afloat During COVID

During times like these, you’d think that buying t-shirts is the last thing on anyone’s mind, but now they’re more valuable than ever. Using InkSoft’s fundraising feature, decorators around the country have started creating fundraising campaign sites, to help support local businesses and keep their shops running.

These campaign sites are loaded up with t-shirts, each being decorated with the logo of local businesses, from around town. People can then find their favorite restaurant or shop’s tee on the site, and when they buy one, part of the proceeds will go directly to that business. It’s a win win for everyone, that’s turned into a major movement all around the industry, known as #HereForGood.

Shirt Kong, located just outside of the St. Louis area, first heard about this idea from the shop that started it all, Tiny Little Monster. Soon after that, they put together a fundraising site of their own, and $10 from each sale went directly to a business in St. Louis.

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5 days ago. Monday. I was the last one at the shop finishing up some office work. I get so much done when it’s quiet. No interuptions. It’s like 5x normal speed. So there I was in a zone and the phone starts ringing. Made me jump. Normally it wouldn’t, but the phone doesn’t ring much anymore. Startled, I look down at the caller ID and it’s @tinylittlemonster. The ringing fades out – I wonder why they’re calling. Tiny is a shop not far from ours. But the thing is we’ve never met before. Ever. As I reach to pick up, the ringing gets louder – I bring the receiver closer and say “Hello, Shirt Kong,” and a voice says, “Hey, it’s Sloan from Tiny.” . We talk about our shops. We share stories. We talk about the times – the quarantine and how we’re both hanging in there. Then she starts telling me about a movement she started called “Here For Good.” It’s a movement that helps support small businesses in our city by setting up online stores where people can buy a shirt and 100% of the proceeds go directly to that business. She went on and on…and on, I mean she’s really pumped about it. I couldn’t tell her no. . Sloan’s tagline is “We’re in this together” and she’s right. Maybe this crisis helps bring this country together. It did for me and Sloan. . Our store is now live We are starting with over 20 and adding more daily Our goal is to raise $10,000 Link is in our profile Thanks for your support! . Time for pizza, more beer and more #tigerking . #shirtkong #screenprinting #screenprintingshop #screenprintinglife #customtshirts #ink #tshirts #stl #printshop #graphicdesign #graphicartist #printlife #embroidery #makeitcount #bandmerch #entrepreneurlife #mrprint

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A “WFH Care Package” Cure For Slow Business

While we all try to weather this storm that’s spread all across the globe, many businesses are trying to adapt to a new way of operating. For some employees and employers, this change has been extremely challenging, and this is where you come in. Although business has slowed for many distributors, and many companies have begun cutting back on their normal expenses to compensate for recent losses, there are still opportunities out there to generate some sales. But of all things, why would they buy any apparel from you, during a time like this?

Care Packages for Employees

Some of your regular clients might appreciate some ideas to help lift their employees spirits and make them feel more comfortable, as the workplace has started transitioning from the office to the home. Suggest that they send them some decorated loungewear, as a way to say thank you for keeping their heads up during these trying times. And, let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love a comfortable new set of jammies?

To help you get started with marketing some pieces, we’ve included a flyer for you to download below. Send this out to some of your clients to get the conversations started.

Give Them A Discount

Some of these clients might not be able to spend the extra money to give their employees this kind of gift. However, a lot of people right now are trying to find ways of supporting local business too. If you’re able, try meeting them halfway and offer them a discount on their order. This will not only show them that you’re invested in their business, but also offer them a way they can help you stay afloat too, during this tough economic time.

Get Inspired

For some more “Work From Home” inspiration, visit: https://promo.ssactivewear.com/work-from-home


Cover Photo Credit: Daria Nepriakhina

Gen Z Wants Sustainable Apparel and ComfortWash is Bringing It to Them

Garment-dyed apparel is hot in fashion right now, but not as hot as sustainability is becoming. Awareness of the fashion industry’s effect on our environment and human rights is at an all-time high, and no one is more conscious of this than today’s college students. How seriously are they taking it?

Forever 21 failed to address the growing concerns of its main audience in Gen Z, and is now filing for bankruptcy. College campuses like the University of Massachusetts, are dedicating whole sections of their stores, specifically to highlight sustainable spiritwear. Fashion schools are starting to implement courses that educate students on the impact of the industry’s practices, and some institutions may even go as far as making understanding these concerns a requirement that affects your overall grade. All of this is signaling that a shift is happening in the expectations of young consumers throughout the world.

As the new shopping generation’s demands for a renewed sense of corporate responsibility becomes louder and louder, brands and organizations nationwide are taking notice and taking action. So the question is, what does this mean for your business?

Continue reading “Gen Z Wants Sustainable Apparel and ComfortWash is Bringing It to Them”