April '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R || 65 seeking safe, well-made clothing for their children. In addition to smaller local businesses, shops can can push the message of eco- logically responsible clothing towards larger organizations such as Fortune 500 companies. Many of these companies have mission statements or CSRs that focus on sustainable and earth-conscious initiatives, perfectly aligning eco-conscious apparel with their brand. Stevens sums up the benefits of offer- ing eco-conscious apparel to clients into three major components: It reinforces that you're a responsible business owner, gives a shop something new and exciting to pro- mote, and helps businesses stand out from the competition. LOOKING AHEAD As technology continues to evolve and buyers look to the internet for all of their product-buying knowledge, staying up to date in the eco-conscious market will be crucial, sources agree. This not only means bringing on product lines but being pre- pared to answer detailed questions about these garments. "There's such an awareness right now of what really goes on behind the industry," explains Brumer. "Custom- ers who are yearning for this product have studied it on the internet, so they'll have questions when they meet with [you]." For garment decorators, this means main- taining consistent communication with an up-and-coming demographic who'll look to them for printed goods. By pairing with re- liable suppliers that can provide them with up-to-date information, shops can pass that knowledge down to their customers. Even if a shop isn't poised to dive head- first into decorating on eco-conscious gar- ments, some preliminary research will be beneficial in the long run. Plus, if a deco- rator can present themselves to clients as someone who is aware of current trends as well as what's happening in the broader industry, they stand to maintain a reputa- tion as a shop always on the pulse of their customers' needs. If a shop still needs to ensure the prod- uct they're purchasing meets their eco-con- scious demands, many brands and manu- facturers now share detailed information on their entire supply chain and produc- tion methods. The Corporate Social Re- sponsibility (CSR) business model as its known, has grown to encompass ecologi- cal factors. Companies now publish yearly or quarterly CSR reports with statistics on key points like wastewater treatment, re- cycled fiber use, sourcing information, and waste reduction. Generally, these reports outline the company's long-term goals to- wards earth-friendly initiatives as well. Buyers can access these reports directly from manufacturer websites, and most companies also have a designated contact to reach out to, should they need more specific eco-related details. SELLING IT When a shop decides to offer eco-conscious garments, it may initially seem like a dif- ficult decision. Running jobs on eco gar- ments will typically cost more per piece, re- sulting in a higher price tag for a job quote. However, the consensus is that decorators shouldn't shy away from offering eco choic- es to their customers just because it's pricier. In fact, most agree that having the option is gradually becoming the norm. "Sustainable apparel is rapidly moving from a novelty to a necessity," says Ham- mond. "Depending on a shop's brand and core values, customers may already be expecting sustainability to be folded into their current products." Niche-wise, the clientele for this apparel category truly ranges across the board from specialized industries like the tech sector and musicians to local businesses like farm co-ops, breweries, and restaurants interest- ed in keeping with the theme of ecological or sustainable practices. Brumer also notes that organic, low-impact dye clothing is a popular growing choice in the infant mar- ket. Since many scientific studies have be- gun to reveal the effects of garment chemi- cals on human skin, concerned parents are continued from page 41 a feeling for reciprocity on their part to repay the favor or try to throw business your way. 4. Exhibit at a group-sponsored business expo. It's a great and relatively inexpen- sive opportunity for exposure and self- promotion. You may want to invest in an all-in-one tabletop display system for such an event. 5. Invest in continuing education by en- rolling in an Entrepreneur Series of business-development classes. There's a program called GrowSmart that is offered at many Small Business Devel- opment Centers across the nation. The program is designed for companies that have been in operation for more than two years, have at least three full- time employees, and approximately $1 million to $15 million in annual rev- enues. In eight days over two months, 11 modules are presented to a class of 12 to 20 business owners. The solidar- ity and fellowship that is sparked when these entrepreneurs come together and explore their growth potential is a won- derful phenomenon to behold. 6. Develop your own "circle of trust." On average, each of us has between 200 and 300 business contacts in our address book. From your professional database, identify the people that have gone out of their way to help you and are in influential positions. You are probably down to about 10 percent of the original list. That list of names constitutes your "circle of trust." If you commit to contacting half of the people in your circle once a month and introduce them to your business con- tacts, send them a modest but thought- ful gift, invite them out socially or to a business event, send them an article, or spend time listening to them, you may find that they will reward you with key introductions, bountiful resourc- es, a fresh new idea, or just the right amount of encouragement to inspire you to stretch higher. Good luck! ECO-CONSCIOUS APPAREL YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS TRAINER continued from page 15

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