Screen Printing - June/July 2017 - 30
Some of Signworx's most profitable applications on its
direct-to-garment printer aren't even garments. pallet wood
signs and customized pillows haul in a premium on the
shop's Etsy site.
'What else can We print on?'
The Signworx family is anything but complacent. Not long
after purchasing their DTG printer, local business was taking
off, but that didn't prompt them to kick back and relax. They
started looking for the next opportunity, and the question
soon became, "What else can we print on?" Someone had the
idea to try pillows; they bought a few pre-sewn shams at Michael's, and they were a hit. But then, they thought, "We could
do this ourselves...just get a bolt of fabric and sew a square.
It's not that hard," says Wright. So they bought a sewing machine and starting churning out custom printed pillows.
These were a natural fit for the e-commerce space, but as
anyone who's tried to market through a website since the advent
of search engines will know, standing out online is a challenge.
Wright says learning and maintaining SEO for their own ecommerce site quickly became more trouble than it was worth.
A friend of the Wrights was using Etsy, the self-described
creative commerce platform, to sell jewelry. This got them
thinking about whether the platform might be a fit, and their
research started anew: How does it work? What do you do?
They decided to go for it, using Wright's old MEWStar name
The first three months were slow, and they considered
trying something else. "Then, Christmastime hit," says
Wright. "We sold 40 pillows in a few days." In the age of
judge-a-retailer-by-their-reviews, these initial sales were
just the catalyst the shop needed. Wright says his most
important piece of advice for Etsy rookies is that "you just
have to give it time."
Other keys to Etsy success include good photos and good
"tags." Wright says customers want to see pictures of actual
products, not a blank pillow with a photoshopped design. This
can be a challenge at first if you're unwilling to use up a little bit
of product, he adds, but a custom printed pillow or shirt makes
a pretty good family gift in addition to fodder for marketing.
Smart keyword tagging is essential, too, to capture the
attention of potential customers. There are more than 5000
search results on Etsy for "custom printed pillow." One listing
on the MEWStar site features a gamut of tags: custom canvas
pillow, custom photo pillow, custom pillow cover, person30
alized pillows, design your own pillow, throw pillow, and
custom gift. They sell for $30 to $50.
The shop lists about 150 items on its Etsy platform, where
custom is the name of the game and, therefore, digital printing
is a perfect fit. T-shirts, bibs, totes, and drawstring bags make
up the bulk of their direct-to-garment products. Wright has also
converted an old Epson RX595 printer to do dye sublimation -
starting with mugs, for now, he says. They put their sign shop
background to work, as well, using their engraving capabilities
to decorate pint glasses, keychains, cake toppers, and more.
shirts and signs
Another component of Signworx's success is the creative
application of their unique blend of skills. Always ready to
think out of the box, the team combined its signage background with its newfound DTG expertise when a family
friend asked for a favor. She wanted a unique piece of wooden art for her wedding, and Wright's creative side flickered
on. He knew other DTG users who had printed on wood, and
thought, "Why not?"
First, they tried a special emulsion to make the wood ink
receptive, but they soon found that their usual pretreat solution
- Firebird Ink FBX-100 - worked better. What started out as a
favor became a bestseller on their Etsy site: MEWStar's
engraved and printed décor featuring the state of North Carolina
sells for $75. Quite a haul for a 7 x 20-inch piece of pallet wood.
The shirts and signage parts of the business have been a
great pairing for the shop's bottom line. The two halves of the
company complement one another perfectly: When building
projects are slow in the winter, DTG sales go up for the holidays. And the two technologies are excellent marketing tools
for one another: Signage customers realize they need shirts;
apparel customers need signage. Wright says the number of
sign shops in the area has doubled in the four years they've
been in business, so it certainly pays to have a major differentiator on the shop floor. When Signworx started printing
garments, the product made up about 2 percent of their profit.
Today, it's closer to 40, and he wonders if it'll take over the
majority of their business within a few years. Funny what can
happen when someone dares to dream.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Screen Printing - June/July 2017
Table Of Contents
Screen Printing - June/July 2017 - Cover1
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Screen Printing - June/July 2017 - 1
Screen Printing - June/July 2017 - Table Of Contents
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