Have you ever looked back on an experience or discussion with someone and realized it was so remarkable that it will make a lasting impact? It quickly becomes a favorite topic, and you share that story with others.
You want the whole world to know about it.
Below are the ones that stood out for me for this past year. I’m writing about them so you can see why I think they are fantastic.
Maybe you will too. They aren’t in any particular order, and I’ll describe why they are on my list and important. All have links that you should click to discover their awesomeness for yourself.
Allmade makes the favorite list because it’s just too good of a story.
Do we need another t-shirt manufacturer?
Uh…probably not. There are arguably too many already.
The decorated apparel community has strong ties to their favorite brands they sell or print on every day.
What separates Allmade from the noise and clutter is their mission. It’s their heart that matters. Allmade is doing something different than traditional garment makers.
Not only are they promoting constructing their shirts with sustainable resources like recycled plastic, organic cotton and Modal..but they are building this new venture on the island of Haiti.
They are creating a positive impact on the Haitian community by offering dignified living wage jobs that empower their staff to take care of themselves and families. Haiti has long endured a cycle of poverty and child abandonment, as parents simply can’t afford to take care of their children.
Allmade is a t-shirt blank solution that I’m happy to see is making a tremendous impact in the lives of others.
Some things are not all about money. For that, here’s a standing blog ovation.
Great job Allmade!
Screen Print Marketing Group
The Screen Print Marketing Group on Facebook shows Tom Rauen’s passion for the industry.
I’m in a bunch of Facebook groups, but this one has to be my favorite.
It’s totally dedicated to freely giving away the best secrets in how to grow your decorated apparel business.
The depth of the conversations and the “here’s how I did it” lessons on there are incredible.
Those other groups are great…and I enjoy participating when I can, but the Screen Print Marketing group is one that I find myself actively clicking on to see what’s been posted.
This industry is so diverse it is fascinating to see what marketing ideas work for shops. Some are by the book, others are way out there. What drives our community to be stronger are those brave souls that freely share what’s happening in their shops.
The good, the bad and the ugly.
So, join this group. And if you see a video of Tom and he’s asking you to turn up the volume, crank it to eleven.
Want to do something incredible for yourself? Ever thought about taking a personality test?
Click Here and go to the 16 Personalities website and take their FREE test. It takes maybe five minutes. All you have to do is honestly answer a battery of simple questions. Out pops a written description of you.
And not just a normal description…but one that outlines your very deepest way of thinking. It’s eerie. You’ll think that they injected a camera into your brain and can see the pictures in your mind.
By the way, I’m a ENTJ Commander. For those of you that know me, I’d say that this perfectly matches my personality.
Hey, take the test and let’s compare!
M&R Digital Squeegee
This is the technology that I can’t wait to see where it goes. Digital printing with an analog method of printing the underbase. Incredible speed. Lower print cost. No pre-treatment step.
There’s no doubt that the Digital Squeegee technology is here to stay.
The hybrid workflow is going to be an interesting thing to track. At last year’s ISS Long Beach show, this had huge crowds of printers gathered around talking. Here’s a great video you can watch of the unit in action.
It was like watching a fireworks show. Lots of “Ooohh” and “Aaahh’s”.
The Print Life
Want a dose of screen-print reality TV?
Just tune into Cam Earven’s “The Print Life” YouTube channel.
I bumped into this late this summer and have been hooked ever since. Cam is fearless. He doesn’t have a filter either, so his comments are sometimes not safe for work. But they are safe to hear, as he tells it like it sees it.
The show runs out of his Monument Limited print shop in Phoenix, Arizona.
I love his approach and interaction with other shops. He is completely transparent as he learns and grows his business.
If you watch one or two episodes, you’ll might catch yourself binge watching the rest..
Cam has a great sense of humor, and I love how he pokes fun at himself and often shows the mistakes he makes along the way. That’s brutally honest reality. But hey, he does a lot right too…and the tips he freely hand delivers might make you a better printer along the way.
It’s why I’m hooked, and a big fan.
The Marshall Plan
I don’t know if you know this but I have a column in a magazine.
I’m a magazine columnist. That’s pretty amazing to me. It’s in Screen Printing Magazine, and I share my take on the decorated apparel industry from my point of view.
How can shops get better? What’s a hot topic, or something that you may not have noticed? That’s right. More words by me. It’s just what you need!
Want to check them out? Click Here to see a list of the ones I’ve authored.
Earlier this year I wrote a blog article and made a companion webinar video on how to get a fairly accurate Cost Per Impression for your shop. It was wildly popular and one of my best pieces I’ve constructed in awhile.
Understanding your costs is the number one thing you need to do in order to build an accurate price list. If you don’t know what it costs you to produce your work, how do you know how much money you are supposed to charge?
As a side note, I spoke with a shop about two years ago. They did well over a million dollars a year in sales, but they were barely breaking even. There just wasn’t any profit. When I asked them how they priced their work, they explained to me that they got an average of about ten shops in their area, and have been using that.
That method never aligns with reality, as the average of other shops price list won’t work with your costs. There is a better way.
Read this article by Clicking Here. Watch the webinar video by Clicking Here.
Do you struggle with simulated process separations and have been looking for the “easy” button to get them handled?
Wish no longer. There’s a new app in town named Separo.
From simple spot color jobs to your toughest simulated process image, this is a great tool to add to your artist’s toolbox.
Sure, your creative team might have the chops to do it themselves. But the beauty of Separo is that they can get these chores handled faster.
I’ve played around with it and it’s impressive. There’s a 30-day Free trial. Click Here and check it out.
Every Wednesday at 3:00 EST (or my lunchtime here in Phoenix) I tune into the best thing on the internet for the promo industry.
This is a lively, witty, fun and fact filled interaction with the most fantastic people in the industry.
It literally makes my week go faster.
I love sitting there, eating my sandwich and culling through the questions and answers from the group. It’s gotten better every week.
It’s the brainchild of Jay Busselle with Printa Systems. Recently, he elevated the game by ratcheting it up into the PromoKitchen media platform to reach more people.
Now the answers come in so fast to the questions it is sometimes hard to keep up. Sometimes there are 40-50 people participating. I love it.
If you are one of those people that say, “Twitter is dumb. Why would anyone use that?” #promochat is one reason why.
It’s about fun and communication in an honest, engaging and authentic way. Plus, jokes!
I’ve been a PromoKitchen chef for a few years now. This is a 501c3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping the promotional marketing industry push thought leadership and mentorship.
Since becoming a member I’ve contributed blog articles and helped with a few podcast recordings too. I’ve even mentored a few folks. (happy to do so again – Click Here to sign up!)
But nothing made me prouder to be involved in PromoKitchen as we tackled some difficult topics on the reaction to the shootings in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay, and the difficult conversation regarding sexual harassment in the promotional marketing industry.
It’s great when a group you belong to handles the much-needed content pieces for sales, marketing and how to grow your business.
Not to mention, that’s why I signed up, as I’m interested in that too.
What’s remarkable though is pushing the boundaries of industry leadership with these types of thoughtful pieces.
The Big Idea
For at least four or five years now I’ve wanted to launch a podcast for the decorated apparel industry. But, I never got everything together to push it forward.
This past summer, that thought came to fruition when The Big Idea podcast launched in July.
Backed by InkSoft, this is a dream of mine that has been so fun it’s hard to even describe.
Here was my challenge.. How to record something? Worse, how to record an interview with someone else when they aren’t even with you?
Then…make it into a show!
With a lot of advice and help I figured it out.
Along the way I have made a ton of mistakes, and I’ll guarantee you I’ll make a many more. I’ve already gone through three microphones just trying to find one that works best.
That’s the beauty though. Learning it.
If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough. Planning, hosting, recording and editing a podcast show is a scary dream.
Plus, each time I record an episode I’ve learned something from the guest, so that’s paid off too.
The plan was simple.
Get the most interesting collection of folks that are connected to the decorated apparel industry and ask them a few questions. It’s the educational content that shops need.
Few have access to these wonderful and creative people. I’m trying to ask the questions you would if you were having a cup of coffee or an adult beverage with them somewhere.
It’s work in progress. So far, I’ve recorded about two dozen episodes and released half that.
Hopefully you’ve tuned in and listened. If not, it’s not too late!
Click Here to find the archives for all the shows. Click Here to subscribe on iTunes. Click Here to subscribe on Stitcher.
This past November I planned an event for InkSoft called MaxProfit.
The idea was to bring in a day’s worth of top notch speakers and focus on the eternal question, “How to drive more profit to a decorated apparel shop”.
While I worked on getting the speakers, the fantastic team at InkSoft planned the logistics of hosting the event.
We brought in the industry superstars.
Mark Coudray, Tom Rauen, Alan Howe and Brad Sullivan. Plus myself and InkSoft’s JP Hunt.
We had room for 75 people, and we sold out. It was a great event, and we are already talking about planning the one for next year.
The cool thing for me was that I gained the experience putting together a great event, something that I haven’t handled before. We ended up having an awesome day of learning, networking, and sharing stories.
I got to hang out with some old friends, and meet some new ones too.
Can’t wait for MaxProfit next year!
2018 is going to see some new things for me professionally.
One of which is that I’m going to be involved in some projects with Mark Coudray’s Catalyst Accelerator program. I absolutely can’t wait.
If you don’t know who Mark is, that’s ok. He’s only the Yoda of the decorated apparel industry. (Just read one of about 500+ articles he’s written over the years…here’s a sample – The Fourth Disruption: Why Venture Capitalists Are Eyeing Garment Decoration)
The Catalyst Accelerator is his growth program that is dedicated to driving more sales than you ever thought possible.
I know, you are skeptic.
Maybe I was too. But, I’ve been sitting in on the weekly Catalyst accountability calls with the group for about 8 weeks now, and the results that the shops that are using his plan are phenomenal.
If you really want change, and are open to being coached I would talk to Mark and get the skinny from him. Or maybe one of the shops in his program.
Who doesn’t want more money? Click Here and get some.
I’ve read a pile of books this year. Below are my top 3 favorites:
Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALS Lead and Win
by Jocko Willink. Jocko is probably the most frightening looking dude I’ve ever seen. I’m sure he’s a nice guy.
This book is all about leading with a no excuses style. If you are the leader, you own the results.
My favorite quote of the year came from this book. “It’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.” Pure gold.
The Black Swan (Second Edition): The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim NIcholas Taleb. I loved this book. It came at the right time for me.
It’s all about how we react as people to decisions that we don’t understand. Taleb is often poignant, and even superbly funny in his observations.
Tools of Titans
by Tim Ferriss. This is how you crowd-source a book. Ask a bunch of people the same questions. Get their answers. Publish a book.
Not to mention these answers are incredible reading. I devoured his new book recently on the plane on a trip to a shop in Canada. Tribe of Mentors. Just as brilliant.
I check out hundreds of print shop websites a year. People constantly connect with me on social media channels and that’s the first thing I do if there is a link.
Most are shop websites are average at best. Some are ridiculously outdated.
The website for Trust Printshop is probably the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. I absolutely love it.
From the stark use of black and white photography that when you roll over it becomes color, to the fact that they have used a CMYK type palette for choices to stand out…it’s just great. It’s clean and simple.
Shops ask what should they post on their website. Do this.
Check it out by Clicking Here.
is a website that devotes itself to reader produced reviews of neat stuff that works for people. Once you go there, beware… You’ll find yourself scrolling, reading, clicking and then BAM! Two hours just flew by.
I may have ordered some stuff from here too. Don’t tell my wife.
Dave Pell curates the interwebs and shoots out a summary of the most interesting articles. He usually has some hilarious comments too. Subscribe and get his awesomeness sent to your inbox.
Lastly, I wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation to you for reading. On my website there are 200+ blog articles that you might be interested in that I’ve written over the years.
Hopefully they’ve helped you strengthen your shop and move it forward in the industry. That’s my goal.
If your shop needs some coaching, I’m happy to help you. Click Here to read what I’m about and how I work.
Thanks for everything this year! Can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
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