July '12

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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| | | | Graphics Hot Spot BY JOSH ELLSWORTH Custom Kicks Creating custom footwear with heat-applied graphics footwear and makes it an offering opens up an uncontested market space in their area for huge profit potential. And, while the task of putting a design on a shoe may seem a bit daunting at first, it's nothing to be afraid of when the right tools and accessories are present. W ith a vinyl cutter and a heat press, customizing apparel can be easy. But what about customizing shoes? The business that learns how to customize Intermediate n Josh Ellsworth is an industry expert on apparel customization and General Manager of Stahls' CAD-CUT Direct. His portfolio includes a YouTube site ( with more than 50 educational videos, a blog ( that is updated regularly and consulting visits that have been made to some of the largest apparel-customization businesses in the U.S. You can reach Josh by email at and you can find him here, on the hot spot, talking about customization beyond the basics in every issue. Tune in for marketing strategies and sales tips in the heat-applied graphics discipline. THE COBBLER'S BENCH One of the first items required for heat printed customiza- tion is a heat press. Accurate delivery of heat, pressure and time is a must, especially when working with shoes as a substrate. The heat and time typically do not pose a problem, but, for footwear, the pressure element is not exactly clear cut. Using a press with some height off the table surface will allow shoes to be loaded ef- ficiently. Also, a shoe platen that helps to mount various sizes of sneakers, cleats, etc. to Businesses that learn how to customize footwear and include it as an offering open up an uncontested market space. While the task of put- ting graphics on shoes may seem daunting at first, the right tools and accessories make it plausible. (All images courtesy the author) the press is required. Even with this proper attachment, though, there still will be areas that will be difficult to decorate. In such cases, a tool called a tacking iron is extremely beneficial. The tacking iron 36 | PRINTWEAR JULY 2012

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