Decorate & Standout

You have selected the items for your apparel program, but how do you make them stand out and get noticed. In other words, how do they keep your brand top of mind in your clients and prospects and drive revenue? Choosing the correct type of apparel decoration can take the ordinary to tune it into something unique and cutting edge!

Dye Sublimination is the process of using heat and pressure to transfer a design that is printed on a special paper onto a fabric. Today’s Dye Sublimation can be put in on or more location on a garment, or over the entire garment. Think of a camp shirt with a Hawaiian design and message on the entire shirt or sox with images of your company’s logo and images of your products. Today’s Dye Sublimation is more than press on letters, it has come of age and is a powerful marketing tool.

Direct to Garment Printing (DTG) is the process of using specialized inkjet technology to print detailed and colorful graphics directly onto a garment or fabric. DTG is used when low quantities are needed. This is a good process when multiple colors are to be printed as well. DTG yields its best results when applied to 100% cotton fabric. This is a perfect choice when starting up a brand or store with low minimum quantities, colorful designs, and fast turn times.

Debossing is the process of putting a relief image onto a piece of apparel. Debossed patterns are sunken into the surface of a fabric and will not fade or wash away. This process creates a unique detailed 3D subtle tone on tone look. Debossing can be used almost anywhere on a garment, from side seams, back shoulders to zippers. This production process is perfect for technical garments such as active wear and fleece as it will not puncture the or ruin fabric keeping them waterproof and windproof.

Embossing is the process of creating a raised relief image on apparel surfaces using a metal engraved die. These images are raided against the background material and will not fade or wash away. It is an extremely rich look on fabrics. This is good to use on leather, cotton, polyester, pleather, and polar fleece fabrics. The dies and the process can be pricy, but they yield impressive results. This is used if a high-end result is desired.

Embroidery is process of stitching a logo or design onto a garment. The garment is placed onto an industrial sewing machine and the image is stitched into the garment. Embroidery produces a rich and durable look to a garment. This process is perfect for short or long production runs. Up to 14 colors of thread can be used at not additional change to the production process. Embroidery costs are a function of stich count per embroidered image so the size of and image and the need for multiple images per garment could affect the costs. Fine lettering can be difficult to hold depending on the material of the garment being stitched. Personalization is also a benefit of this process.

Laser Etching uses laser technology to burn a logo or design right into the fabric of a garment yielding a high quality and trendy look. The results can differ by fabric but is always a precise, clean mark. On polyester polos and woven shirts, the laser machine burns the top layer of fabric resulting in a darker, tonal mark on the garment, and on denim shirts, the process removes the pigment as it burns the fabric. Medium-colored, smooth fabrics achieve a more distinguishable design than light or dark fabrics. Laser Etching allows for unique decoration placements including oversize left or right chest, large vertical, full front over zippers, or hip areas can be used to bring extra attention to the logo and satisfy high impact branding and advertising needs.

Screen Printing also known as silk screening is the process of applying onto a garment via an ink blocking stencil or mesh screen. This is a good fit for medium to large runs. The advances in screen printing allow for multiple colors or process color images to be printed on shirts, bags, masks and almost any product. Screen printing produce bright fabric with a better soft feel on the hand. Garments produced through screen print method tend to be durable and can endure roughness from any washing machine.

The simple point to is to use the decoration process that fits your needs and matches the desired outcome. Remember taking time to think about your decoration options will help to Drive Your Revenue!

Staying Secure Online

Back during the late 90’s and early 2000’s, computer technology was a lot simpler than it was now, and being proficient with Paint or that old pinball game qualified you to be considered “skilled” with computers. In 2020 things are infinitely more advanced and complicated than many probably thought possible, and as things get more complicated, so to do attempts to steal information from others. But there are several tips you can follow to help minimize your risk of being targeted or taken advantage of online.

These days everyone has a smart phone, and while smart phones have their own security tools such as facial ID and finger print scanners to unlock said phone, computers and online accounts do not use these. But there is one thing you can do with your phone to help tighten your security online. Mobile Authenticators are becoming much more commonplace, and their purpose is simple; to tie your phone number to an account and allow to phone to verify certain details about your account. Linking your phone to your accounts can grant you the ability to get text notifications about security codes, or if a possible breach attempt has been detected. Phone’s linked can also help you to reset your password should you forget it. You can also download mobile authenticator apps that allow you to generate various security codes for different app accounts. A similar type of authentication is known as Dual Authentication, aka two-factor authentication. (2FA) This is similar to using a mobile device but it is not always tied to a mobile device, it can be tied to an email account or other method of verifying your account info. This is commonly used with banks but it is being quickly adapted by other services.

This is far from the only way to help secure an account however, a much more commonly used; as well as older method, is security questions. Security questions are commonly associated with bank accounts, but they are often used as a method of getting into your account if you forget your password. Common ones you may see would be questions that ask for a pet’s name or a city you would like to visit. It is recommended that you do not provide answers that many people know. For example, if you have a pet and love to talk about it on social media, it would be ill-advised to have one your questions be said pet’s name. You should pick questions and answers that only you would know, thus limiting the risk of someone getting into your account by reading your social media history.

Speaking of social media, let’s take a moment to consider the information you may post online. Identity thieves will often look on social media accounts that are not secure or set to private. The more information that you make publicly available, the more you put yourself at risk to be taken advantage of. So, make sure you set your accounts to private as much as you can, make sure information you post is only visible to friends, and some scrutiny to the friends you add on social media can be advised as well.

When it comes to passwords you may be tempted to reuse the same one multiple times to help you remember it easier. DO NOT DO THIS. If just one of these accounts are compromised, then very other account with that password will be just as vulnerable. Furthermore, do not make your passwords simple to guess, no matter how funny or clever you think you are; 1,2,3,4,5 is not a good password and is the kind of thing an idiot would put on his luggage lock. Have lowercase and capital letters in it, as well as numbers and special characters as well. Avoid birthdays and loved one’s names because they will be some of the first guesses some people try.

Above all else, use common sense online, as I have said previously, common sense is your biggest ally online. Use two factor or mobile authentication, don’t store sensitive info online, do not react to things immediately, take a moment and consider things before reacting. Don’t click on suspicious links, don’t give money to the old executive prince in Saudi Arabia, don’t put your passwords online, and don’t panic everything will be fine!

Technical Apparel Decoration and Care

Apparel has morphed over the years; this includes the fabrics to make the clothing. No longer are garments 100% cotton or polyester. The introductions of moisture management shirts, jackets, and pants have brought in a new age of apparel. It is critical to make any apparel items purchase meet the need of the intended use. Is the shirt to be used for golf, exercise or for work in the field? These questions need to be asked.

Different fabrics yield different results. Moisture management garments are designed to wick moisture and perspiration away for the body and expel it into the atmosphere away form the garment. Cotton is designed to breath and keep one cool. Fire retardant fabrics are intended to keep the person wearing the item safe form fire or sparks as a result of welding or fire prevention. Hi-Vis apparel is designed to have people be seen and kept safe; hence the Hi-Vis vest a construction worker is wearing during road construction. Now shirts and hats are even offering UV protection.

As different products yield different benefits and they also require different forms of decoration for banding. The correct threads for embroidery, inks for silk screening and heat transfers are critical for a shirt, jacket, or hat to have the desired impact. Every year there are innovations in the decoration technology to keep up with the ever-changing fabrics.

But how the garment is cared for is just as important. Moisture management apparel should not have fabric softener or dryer sheets used in laundering as these items will clog the pores of the fabric resulting in the any moisture and perspiration being retained in the fabric. As a result, it will hold the moisture and odor in the item until laundered again. Even 100% cotton comes in preshrunk sizes and can be washed differently than 100% cotton items that are not preshrunk. An important thing to be considered during choosing the sizing of the items being ordered. These simple instructions for care are listed on the tags on the garments as well as the tags attached to them when the arrive to you newly decorated.

Taking a moment to review these instructions for care will keep then new shirt, jacket, hat, or paints looking new for a lot longer. Coupled with making sure the apparel item chosen truly meets the needs for the intended use will ensure any branded apparel program will have greater success. It is your brand make sure is it presented properly and looks good every time itis i worn.

Technology is Your Friend in These Trying Times

As the last few weeks have shown, the world has very quickly began adjusting for a world that operates online more than it used to. More people are working from home than ever, students are being taught online, and you can even have Netflix Watch parties with your friends from the comfort of your own bed! Now some of you may be a little bit new to this, and some of you may be expert binge-watchers who are ready to stream everything on the Internet. Either way, there is still plenty to learn about the technology and applications available to you from the comfort of your own home.

Probably one of the most crucial types of applications that is being used during these times are video chat applications. While many are quite familiar with Facetime and Skype, they aren’t the only apps that let you video chat your friends and family. There are many great apps out there that allow you to digitally talk with people such as WhatsApp, Discord or Google Hangouts. One thing to consider is that there is no perfect one size fits all video chat application. For many trying to quickly find a video chat app because you miss your friends and family can be daunting just for the reason of you may have never done it before. The good news is almost every video chat app is either free, or has a free plan that has been expanded in response to COVID-19 lockdowns. Read articles online talking about the pros and cons of each kind of chat app, and make an informed decision for yourself.

Now what about entertainment? Talking with friends and family is a great way to pass the time, but they won’t be able to pass ALL the time, this is where streaming can come in handy. Even people living under a rock have heard of apps like Netflix or HBO, have heard of shows like Stranger Things or Game of Thrones, all of these are available to watch on various apps, and they all have free trials! Some companies have even extended their free trials or put up content to watch that does not require an active subscription to watch! For someone who is stuck inside all day, that definitely sounds like a good deal to me.

Now all of this content available at the tip of your fingers sounds like a fantastic deal and it is, but one thing that still needs to be taken seriously is security. With so much of the world now being digital as opposed to in person, people see this as an opportunity to take advantage of those who have little experience and may not know what they are doing. There are several tips you can follow to help minimize your chances of being targeted by people with less than pure intentions online.

The first piece of advice is also the biggest, DO NOT USE THE SAME PASSWORD FOR EVERYTHING. With many new accounts possibly needing to be made in quick succession for things online, it can be tempting to pick one password for everything to save time. If you do this, and just one of those accounts gets compromised, you’re going to have a bad time! Another thing to be aware of is scams, while we should always be on the look out from scams from our favorite Nigerian Prince who wants to wire us millions in oil money if we provide our banking info, COVID-19 has also brought about a new wave of scams. Popular scams often involve apparently miraculous medical items relating to treating the virus, and some can take a lot more than just your money. Another common scam is virus-linked websites masquerading as official news sources.

A lot of this may sound scary and worrying to some, but much of this can be avoided just by staying calm and using common sense. Don’t click on suspicious links, pay attention to info from only trusted sources, and think before reacting to some alert you may see on your computer. The times we live in right now are unusual, and they are admittedly a little scary, but this is not the end of the world. We will all get through this, and though the world may be very different in a few months’ time, we will all still be here ready for business.

 

Working From Home in a Quarantined World

Five months ago, everyone had plans, some had wedding plans, some had vacation plans, and some people just got up and went to work like they do every day. Five months, later, vacations and weddings are canceled, but a lot of us still need to work, not necessarily GO to work, but we need to work regardless. Luckily for those of us who fall into this category, we live in an age where remote working is easier and more accessible than ever. As lockdowns and restrictions grow and extend, I hope that the tips below can help maximize your productivity while working remotely from home.

The first big thing you should do is ensure that you don’t change your routine too much. Many may think that because they are working from home, they don’t need to worry about cleaning up in the morning, you may want to skip that morning shower for a few extra z’s. Don’t do this, keeping as much of your work routine while you’re at home will help keep you productive and keep your mindset on the work at hand. Try to keep your habits the same, obviously you can’t do everything the same exact way you do at work but the more you recreate it at home, the less likely you are to fall into the main pitfall of working at home; distraction.

Distraction is the single largest production halter while you’re working from home. The office environment is nice for minimizing distractions throughout your day, but you do not have that luxury while at home, you have to manage it yourself. Self-discipline is your biggest ally in combating distractions while at home, but there are some other things you can do to help with that. First: KEEP YOUR WORK AREA CLEAN! This is the single biggest thing you can to help your concentration while you’re working, a dirty work area makes for a distracted day. If you keep your office space clean you can keep your area for work at home just as clean if not cleaner given you live there.

Another question you may have is ‘what should I wear?’, you may not be going outside of your house but that does not mean you should just park in front of your computer wearing PJ’s. Going back to the previous point of recreating your routine as much as possible, wear clothes similar to what you would wear to work, as this will again help your mind keep itself oriented to work while at home.

Another thing to consider is the isolation and effects it can have on one’s mental state. While some may be fine with little contact for days or weeks at a time, humans crave contact with others, phone calls are one thing but video chatting apps like Zoom or Facetime can help alleviate some of the loneliness one feels while being cooped up inside. Come up with activities such as reading or learning new things to help keep yourself engaged and stave off boredom.

Staving off the boredom serves a second purpose besides just general entertainment, as this pandemic worsens and lockdowns extend, keeping one’s head up may become more difficult than usual. Remember that you are not alone in dealing with this, even if there is no one physically with you where you live, we live in a day and age where people are merely a phone or video call away. Take advantage of the technology we have to help keep your spirits up. And above all else, wash your hands!

 

Loyalty to a Brand

Why do people line up hours ahead of time; regardless of weather, to be one of the first to get a new iPhone? Why do people like Coke over Pepsi or vice-versa? Why did people root for the Chicago Cubs for 108 years before they finally won a World Series? The answer is probably one you could guess rather quickly: Loyalty.

Loyalty as a concept should not be unfamiliar to anyone at all, the concept of which has been around almost as long as humanity has existed. But what about loyalty to a brand or symbol? In Ancient Rome, the Aquila; or Eagle, was a symbol of extreme importance. They were the symbols of the Roman Legionnaires and were carried into every battle fought. On the rare occasion one was lost, monumental efforts were made to recover them, the recovery of which was said to have an effect equivalent to that of a whole military victory.

So, what does this have to do with the Brands and Logos of today? None of us are certainly buying anything specifically because we fought for it. While most of these logos and brands may not have military significance, we as a species have evolved beyond seeing symbols as just something of military or religious importance. Think about your favorite sports team, or favorite place to buy a cup of coffee. Odds are that as you think about this, the symbol of associated with them also immediately comes to mind. This isn’t to say we root for something because they have a nice logo, but because we associate ourselves with it in some way. The stronger our association with that logo or brand, the more loyal we are to it.

While a sports team may be the most immediate way to show loyalty to a logo or brand, the same concept can be applied to a company as well. We have all seen apparel from software companies, banks, restaurants and theme parks being worn by everyday folks. Those companies have developed loyalty to their brand to the point where people make fashion statements with them. They associate with those brands the same way they do with their favorite team.

But how does a company earn this loyalty from their clients? Simple: Don’t be ordinary. And let people know who you are before you say or do anything. The biggest advantage we have when it comes to securing new clients is that we follow up our first impressions with continuous reliability. Which means we have the opportunity to influence that first interaction to make it memorable, and then follow through on it, you can do this as well! Wear it, own it.

 

Six Marketing Trends for Success in 2019!

It never fails. No matter how much I try to ignore it, I always seem to come back to it every year around this time. As I jump around the internet, I find myself stopping to read posts about predictions and trends for the New Year. What is it about these articles that keep “Sucking Me In” every year? Is it their catchy titles? Is it my competiveness? Or, is it my yearning for knowledge of the future? (Which I blame my love of Science Fiction for that one.) Honestly, it is probably “All of the above.” But then again, I always do seem to find a few tidbits that change my outlook on how to approach things in the New Year. And, not unlike any other year, I have found a few for 2019 that seemed to stand out above the rest. So, I thought I would share some with you.

Know your Customer’s Communication Preferences

This is not new. But, it is becoming more important than ever. Your customer’s attention span is growing shorter. They have formed habits on where they look for information and entertainment. They read emails, they look to social media for news, and they go to events. All of these offer you time and spaces to get your product or services into view. But, your content needs to grab their interest enough for them to take notice. And…You need to be sure not to overdo it. (Remember…Right Place, Right Time, and Right Medium.)

Be Creative. And, Use All of the Different Channels of Marketing

The past few years, everyone has been preaching “Go Digital, Print is Dead…” Print is not dead; it is very much alive and thriving. In fact, the recent trend of going digital has alleviated the overburden of delivered printed marketing collateral. Now, this does not mean to go back to the “Spray and Pray” way of marketing. It means the door has re-opened to more receptive personalized marketing pieces being delivered. Integrating digital advertising with other platforms such as print, gives marketers the opportunity to develop innovative ways of heightening consumer engagement.

Account-Based Marketing

ABM is marketing to individual accounts, existing or prospective, and treating them like they are their very own market. Think of it like a One on One marketing campaign that is personalized and targeted only to that account.

United We Stand

The “walls” between departments are coming down. Companies are gaining more success from internal departments that work together, rather than traditionally separated. Things like content creation are now not just the concern of the marketing department. Great content now stands to fuel other parts of the company, driving a more unified “voice” for its brand.

Automation and Technology are Great, but…

Automation and Technology help marketers scale more effectively, make better decisions, and save money. But, they can also cost you something more important than money and time. Relationships and trust are being lost while companies are too focused on the technology side alone. Companies need to remain true to the relationships and trust they have built with their clients and customers. After all, what good is automation and technology if you don’t have any clients or customers left to use it with?

Connected Data

Data is power, but many companies are finding that non-integrated systems and data siloing are diminishing its potential. The challenge is getting to the data and using it. Integrating sales and marketing platforms can assist in retrieving some of this data. And, some companies are also re-thinking data siloing all together in order release data access to multiple departments as opposed to just one.

These are just a few tidbits of information I found interesting. And again, I have a new outlook for this year. Thanks for taking the time to read, and have a Happy New Year!

 

Dress Code and Corporate Culture

Some have said that clothes make the man, just as that statement is true, they also help influence the culture of the work place. You are likely to see a noticeable difference in the culture of a work place that has everyone dressed up in suits versus a place where everyone is dressed more casually. While both settings are more than capable of hosting a professional work environment, one is more laid back and relaxed than the other for obvious reasons. It is because of this that it is said they these places hold different cultures in the work place. Just as important to consider, is the difference in behavior in each situation.

As previously stated, both of the different work cultures would nurture a professional attitude, but they would be different kinds of professional. A place that requests a suit and tie every day would be very formal in its culture, that is to say everything has a professional air about it. This is all well and good, but as more and more companies are discovering, it isn’t always what some might want. Consider the fact that not everyone may feel comfortable wearing a suit in tie, they might feel stuffed and will therefore not act as they typically would. To say someone looks out of place in a suit is not an incorrect thing to say sometimes. Comparatively, corporate casual clothes can help people to feel more comfortable while still encouraging proper workplace etiquette.

It should be important to note that a suit and tie dress code is in no way a negative thing whatsoever. It is more so the fact that the world is changing and that many things in life are becoming more relaxed. These changes impact many areas, including dress code in the work place.

What started with companies like Facebook and Google has been spreading to other companies. As more millennials join and move up the ranks in the workforce dress casual is more the norm than the exception in many companies. People are dressing in what they feel comfortable in, while still adhering to the dress policy of their workplace. As a result, they act more confident and themselves while working, either in a desk job or client facing job. What is important to remember is that even though dress code may be becoming more casual, this does not have a negative impact on corporate culture, in fact it can sometimes enhance it.

 

Leveraging Supplier Technology

In today’s world no one can be expected to be an expert in everything. You and your company are experts in the products and services your business provides. Your suppliers are experts in the products and services they supply. Companies need to leverage their top supplier’s technology to help reduce their operating costs and grow their bottom line.

You hear about this every day, but are you really doing it? Have you set a process in place to track supplier technical support and its transfer to your bottom line? Do you have meetings to cover orders, onetime deliveries, costs and technical support as well?

Technical support can mean a wide variety things; product expertise, online ordering, online product proofing, and product information just to mention a few. These resources do not come free and are usually included in the costs of the supplied products and services.

Set up a plan to meet with your top suppliers. Ask them what more they can do for you than they are doing now. If their answer is, “We can sell you more products,” move on. Locate a supplier that wants to take the time to understand you, your company, and your company’s goals. This supplier should also ask questions about what you think could be improved in your processes. They should identify and focus on the areas they can help improve to make your ordering process more efficient from product conception, to product delivery.

This plan may take some time to setup, but it will yield results. Allowing you, and your company, to compete and thrive in today’s business environment. Your competitors may already be doing this! Stay ahead of the curve!!!

 

Business Casual vs Dress Casual

Despite the fact that you should never judge a book by its cover, you should really make sure your cover looks nice. No, I’m not talking about a cover letter or having a leather portfolio or anything like that. I’m talking about what you wear in the work place. Because there is a big difference between showing up in sweats and the shirt you slept in last night, to actually adhering to the company’s dress policy. A very important lesson especially for the millennial work force beginning to occupy more and more jobs in the industry, work is not college. This means you do not roll out of bed at the last minute and just shrug and show up wearing your pajamas. Much like the phrase of old, it takes work to look presentable for work.

Let us start with the supposedly plainly obvious stuff that still needs to be mentioned. Never under any circumstances think that it is OK to show up to your work place wearing ripped jeans. It may seem obvious but shockingly this is a lesson some people of my generation could still use some reminding of. Equally important is that you should never wear clothes that have not been washed. As stated previously this is not a college environment, it may have worked then but never for a moment think you can get away with wearing the same shirt three days in a row.

In terms of clothes that actually qualify as business casual, there are two ways to identify those. You can observe what the culture of the company you are working in is, i.e. what other people are wearing, or you can simply google business casual clothes. For guys business casual is typically khakis with some kind of collared shirt, it can be solid or patterned the choice is yours. For women the typical business casual outfit could be dress pants or khakis with a top that goes with it. Heels are welcome but I’d recommend checking to see if your job involves lots of walking before making that choice. For all options, your clothes should be ironed and not wrinkly, again a supposedly obvious fact that still needs to be stated. At the end of the day, wear the kinds of clothes your coworkers are wearing, and you will fit in quickly at your place of employment.