Whether you call this our “new normal” or “next normal,” things definitely aren’t the same as they were back in January. Your business is different, and your customer also has different concerns and needs now.
“It’s time to revamp what’s not working—back in Q1, you could live with it because you were busy,” says Marshall Atkinson, decorated-apparel expert and owner of Atkinson Consulting. “But now, the river has receded with the drought and exposed the flaws in your system. The question isn’t what needs to change. It’s what do you change first?”
Now is the time to take a closer look at how customers are experiencing your business during consultations, while shopping online or browsing social media. Here are five expert-recommended ways you can start adjusting and improving your customers’ overall experience with your company.
When we think of college we think all-nighters, dissertations and spring break shenanigans. College is a time for education, growth, and discovery, in all areas of life—from earning a degree to crafting a signature style. More importantly, the numbers show that the college retail market is vast and thriving.
Research by Deloitte revealed college students and their parents planned to spend $4.2 billion on clothing and accessories in their back-to-school shopping last year, with an average per student spend of $279.
So, what are college students actually wearing these days, and how can your brand cater to the market? Instagram, Youtube, and niche sites like CollegeFashionista can give you an inside look from the student’s themselves.
In today’s retail landscape, online storefronts and strong brand social followings reign supreme. One of the most exciting aspects about the rise of the online retail experience is that success is available to anyone with a real vision, knack for identifying trends, and strong ambition.
Never has there been a better time for mom-and-pop shops and small team brands to make it big. For some true underdog inspiration, look no further than Dime MTL, a Montreal based skate-streetwear giant. The story of how a group of teens came together to create a streetwear staple shows the power of community and niche markets.
Whether you design your own graphics for your apparel business or work with a graphic designer, it’s important to stay on top of the trends to make sure your garments remain relevant and are meeting a market need.
Here’s a closer look at seven major graphic design trends for 2019 to help your ideation process:
A common misconception is that you only need to network when in search of a new job. However, the reality is that networking and face-to-face interactions are crucial for any small business’ continued success. As an entrepreneur, connecting with new people is a necessary skill for growth.
We’ve listed out why networking is important and some best practices to help you get the most out of the experience.
The days of the “Mad Men” era, with separate attire for work, dinner, and a night out, are long gone. We’re living in modern times where “casual Fridays” are becoming a daily occurrence. Close to 40 percent of the U.S. workforce is freelancing and style has officially been paired with comfort.
As the workforce continues to change and high-fashion consistently transforms activewear into fashionable, yet functional pieces—the need for the suit-and-tie is decreasing. Instead, people are opting for more versatile clothing, such as athleisure options, that allow them to be ready for whatever. In fact, the style that was once thought to be a trend has become a multi-billion dollar market.
Athleisure is expected to reach $83 billion by 2020 in the U.S. and the Global Activewear Market is projected to reach $567 billion by 2024. Marshal Cohen explains the phenomenon best, “When you have comfort and function combined with fashion it’s difficult to go back to anything else on a regular basis.” Simply put, athleisure is here to stay.
A Style Evolution
From Casual to Fashion Statement
Over the last couple of years, athleisure has shifted from “casual wear” to “fashion statement”. Even A-list celebs (like Kim Kardashian West) and prominent fashion influencers can be seen flaunting the style at various occasions. Its growing popularity can be attributed to an increasing amount of people embracing healthy lifestyles (or wanting to be seen as healthy), and the versatility of the style that can easily take you from day-to-night.
The new trends of color-blocking, earth-tones, and a focus on the surfer/skater lifestyle give the fashion an every-day appeal. This, combined with technological improvementsto synthetic fibers, used to make activewear (making it more flexible and durable), has created endless wardrobe opportunities.
While the initial athleisure style exuded a more casual approach, recently we’ve seen athleisure paired with fashionable pieces—taking a formal but comfy approach. The popular pairing has aided in more acceptance of athleisure in the workplace.
Growing Acceptance in the Workplace
In the early ‘90s, corporations started including “casual Fridays” in the dress code policy as a way to boost office morale in a cooling economy. However, it always begged the question that if you could be casual on Friday, why not other days too? After all, suits and heels were never really comfortable.
As athleisure first began to grow in popularity, there was (and still is) initial skepticism about what’s “professional” to wear to work. However, by wearing athleisure in a “fashionable” way (i.e. leggings with a nice top and blazer), it satisfied the employee’s need to remain comfortable and the company’s wish to have professional balance. The growing acceptance for most businesses is really all about how the outfit is styled.
It’s also important to note that the workforce itself is shifting with more people freelancing and working from home, at least half of the time, thus creating a much greater need for multi-functional apparel in the office.
One company making waves with their stylish athleisure fashion is Badger Sportswear. We’ve listed three of our favorite pieces from the brand that can easily be transformed from work to gym to play:
This Badger Ultimate Softlock™ quarter-zip is a must-have at your business. The sleek color-blocking provides a stylish element that can be dressed up with slacks for work or a night on the town. It can also be worn with a pair of athletic shorts for a gym session and checks all the comfort boxes by using The Softest Fabric In The World.™
These fleece joggers, in the earth-toned color ‘graphite’, are extremely comfortable and trendy. They can be paired with a t-shirt or hoodie for running errands or grabbing a drink at the bar.
These women’s performance fleece pants can be dressed up with heels for a high-fashion brunch look, dressed down with your favorite sneakers for exploring the town, or with slippers for a lazy day at home.
Badger Sportswear creates stylish activewear that goes through rigorous testing to ensure garments of the highest-quality that keep your customers ready for whatever. You can view the full Badger Sportswear line for your fulfillment needs on the S&S Activewear website.
In the screen printing business, quality customer service and the ability to retain clients can have a huge impact on your bottom line. While many companies operate based on the coined phrase, “the customer is always right,” it doesn’t mean clients should walk all over your business or exploit your services. Part of operating a successful business is creating reasonable customer expectations upfront—especially when it comes to screen printing designs.
Educating the client early about any artwork limitations helps build brand trust, ultimately leading to repeat customers. The last thing you want is an angry phone call after the fact if misprints are found, making the client feel like they didn’t get the best service. For optimal screen printing designs that will create a flawless print, we’ve listed six key elements to discuss with the client before the artwork is submitted or a design quote is requested.
Behind every good business are good people; the focused, passionate, reliable people representing your company along every step of the customer journey.
However, profitability and time savings aside, putting the success of your business in the hands of others isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Regardless of how skilled an employee might be, it can be difficult to delegate and relinquish total control. A difficulty that only digs its heels deeper when employee roles aren’t being filled to the best of their ability (and necessity).
This is why properly vetting and investing in quality candidates upfront is so important – not just for your own sanity, but for the longevity of your business. Here are some things to consider to help recruit the right employees.
Design the Right Roles
A job description is not the sole indicator of quality when it comes to who applies to your screen printing business, but it certainly plays its part. If you want the right people to see the value in applying to your openings, put in the time for building out thoughtful, thorough job descriptions.
Use the questions below to help you summarize expectations, while also showcasing company values:
What skill sets are required?
Where are you willing to be more flexible for the right person?
What tasks should be expected on a day-to-day basis, in addition to those that’ll speak to long-term growth potential?
Think Outside the Experience Box
Today’s recruiters (86%) and employers (62%) believe the labor market is now candidate-driven, making it pretty difficult to reel in any applications – let alone from highly-qualified job seekers. The key is to remain flexible on certain technicalities.
As you consider what makes an employee right for your business, embrace the idea of looking beyond experience. For example, a novice screen printer with a strong design portfolio may be a better long-term investment for your company, than someone who simply checks the box for 5-6 years of previous related experience.
Be Mindful of Compatible Personalities
There are certain traits you should look for across every potential employee stepping through your door. You want people that can solve problems, show up on time, learn quickly, and bring a general sense of positivity and passion for the work they do. However, this doesn’t mean everyone has to execute those types of characteristics in the same way.
Personalities and work-style preferences are bound to differ — it’s unavoidable, it doesn’t mean different will inevitably clash. Take stock of the types of personalities currently on staff:
Is there a way to produce a bit of yin to the yang?
Are there any overlapping weaknesses with current employees that can be complemented with strengths in the next hiring session?
Based on the potential new role, what specific personality traits are needed to perform the job well? E.g. Attention to detail for screen printers or extroverts for customer support representatives.
Ask the Right Interview Questions
It’s probably fair to say you’d be a little put off if an interviewee showed up having done zero preparation (anyone would be). That same standard applies to you as the hiring manager. You can’t expect to properly gauge the qualifications of the interviewee if you haven’t thought through what it is you actually want to ask them.
On a very basic level, asking the right interview questions starts with focusing on things that aren’t easily answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The questions should encourage open-ended responses and discussion.
Additionally, the more details you can coax out of someone, the better. When a job seeker is able to go beyond glossing over their resume and bring forth specific insights, they’re validating experience and a knowledge base.
If you’re able to include another individual from the shop in the process, do so. Bringing another brain to the table helps gut check whether your feelings — positive or negative — toward a potential candidate are echoed and valid.
What ‘musts’ have found their way into your hiring process over the years? Comment below.
With several, quality methods available to create impressive, custom apparel garments, direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is a newer technique gaining recognition among printers – especially small-business owners. Created in the late ’90s, DTG printing uses a custom inkjet printer to apply water-based inks directly to the textile. The garment’s fibers then absorb the liquid. The process is likened to printing a document at home — replace paper with garments. The outcome is some seriously impressive designs customers go crazy for.
Whether you’re considering contemporary tactics to add to your business services or just getting started and marinating on a customization method, direct-to-garment printing can be a lucrative option.