Wish List for the Decorated Apparel Industry

I had a really interesting conversation yesterday with an equipment vendor of ours.  During the dialog he asked “What do you wish for everyday that would make your job easier?”  Of course, he was just trying to sell but it was great fodder for a blog article so here goes (in no particular order)!

  1. Recyclable Materials.  As many of you know, I’m big on sustainability.  There’s a feel good, karma building factor to it; but the main reason is it helps build your margins and reduce your operating costs.  We have some good things going at Visual Impressions with our sustainability program.  One facet of this is our recycling, and after getting it going this year we’ve recycled over 12 tons of cardboard, paper, plastic and metal in four months.  We’ve also reduced our dumpster pick up from three times a week to two.  I feel that we could reduce this to once a week or even once every two weeks if I could find someone to recycle the embroidery pellon backing.  This is the material that’s used to stabilize the sewing on garments so the thread is more secure.  In the past year and half or so, I’ve sent this material off to at least 10-12 companies to see if we could work something out.  With 120 heads of embroidery working two shifts, we go through this stuff like crazy and there is a lot of material leftover that just gets thrown away.
  2. More Consistency with Apparel Blanks.  It seems that we are running into issues more frequently now that stems from challenges with dye lots from apparel manufacturers.  Have you had this in your shop?  For example, half your mediums look great, but the other half have dye migration challenges.  I’ve seen color shifts with blanks in the same box too.  Let’s not forget hems and pockets that aren’t sewn straight.  These are all from major shirt manufacturers.  Their degree of what’s acceptable is pretty liberal, and we’re left holding the bag sometimes.  Ding.  Tighten up!
  3. Vendors That Get It.   Some vendors are great, always at the top of their game and they will provide you with expert and immediate customer service.  Others…well, let’s just say they are the ones that we’re always eye-balling their competition.  Although price certainly helps, it doesn’t do much good if we have to wait three more days for something to come in due to your inventory issues.  You would think that someone would connect the dots between their sales staff and their operations staff.   (And let’s not even start with companies like American Apparel, who have legendary warehouse challenges)
  4. The “One More Hour” Card.  If you’ve ever played Monopoly you know there’s a “Get Out of Jail Free” card that you can play to help your game.  I’d like a “One More Hour” card to use on those days where you have tons of orders to ship, but you are up against the window with your freight pick-up times.  Bam!  One more hour!  Like a coupon, maybe you can double it on Fridays.
  5. Bigger Pool of Trained Potential Employees.  Occasionally you have to hire new people for all the obvious reasons.  I’m often amazed at the smaller and smaller pool of experienced designers, printers and operators available.  We’re constantly on the lookout for great employees, and often have to “grow our own” by just finding folks with basic skills and great attitudes.  It would be great to see if we just placed an ad and qualified people answered, instead of the steady stream of people with zero experience.
  6. What are yours?  Please leave one or two of your wishes in the comment section below and let’s share ideas!

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