Impressions - January 2011 - (Page 63)

EMBROIDERY >> HANDS ON By DECORATING DIGITAL Jimmy Lamb, Contributing Writer HANDS ON >> EMBROIDERY HANDS ON Production DIGITAL DECORATING HANDS ON SCREEN PRINTING HANDS ON TECH TIPS HANDS ON SCREEN PRINTING >> HANDS ON TECH TIPS HANDS ON Use Sublimation to Create >> High-Value Photo Gifts More than just cheap trinkets or wallet-sized pictures, photo gifts can be the ultimate personalization product and are a low-cost way to generate high margins. Each of these sports-themed products started with a basic image supplied by the customer and was then personalized to create a very marketable photo gift. Notice on the basketball version that text and special effects were added to take it to a higher level, which means higher markups. As a business owner in the decorated apparel industry, you always are looking for new income opportunities, right? (Raise your hand if you don’t care about new revenue streams.) Most likely, you have limited yourself to apparel because you’re most comfortable with it. Obviously, there are many available apparel decoration technologies, but most of them carry a pretty hefty price tag — which may make you a bit uncomfortable at first glance. Return on investment (ROI) is an important aspect of any purchase, and it — not just the price tag — should be the defining factor in a good business decision. The reality is that if you spent $100,000 upfront, but could generate $1,000,000 in profit over the next 12 months, you probably would jump at the chance. Any new service, technology or equipment will have some kind of ROI and you don’t have to spend an obscene amount of money to get a decent return. The reality is there are many new, low-cost digital processes in regard to startup and operation, yet they only return a decent up. But markup shouldn’t be your only consideration; you also must think about new products and new markets which, in turn, yield an expanded customer base and increased profits — which are things we all need. Sublimation is a great example of a technology that has an enhanced ROI because not only is it a low-cost process, but it also opens doors to a wider spectrum of profitable products, like photo gifts. This may sound pretty far removed from your core business, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing; diversification can go a long way in a challenging economy. Let’s start by defining what photo gifts really are. TURN PICTURES INTO PROFITS For one, we’re not talking about producing 2" x 3" wallet-sized photos of the family. Photo gifts involve taking elements of the decorated apparel industry and combining them with elements of the photo and imaging industry to create products that capture special memories and freeze them in time. A typical photo gift job is centered on a picture that has been enhanced with text and graphics, then is digitally printed using sublimation onto a unique substrate to create a high-value product. Sublimation is a very effective method for creating photo gifts, as the process enables reproduction of stunning photographic images in amazing detail and resolution. Professional photographers have embraced the process for years because of these characteristics. Traditionally, our industry has used sublimation for promotional products, such as mouse pads, clipboards, signage, awards, plaques and more, leaving photo gifts to the photography industry. But now that everyone seems to have a camera handy, the concept of turning pictures into profits using standard industry decoration processes has a lot of merit to it. You don’t have to take the picture, just process it for your customers in as many different forms as possible. Photo gifts come in all shapes, sizes, formats and concepts, which means lots of opportunities. With the cost of substrates, production and equipment being so low, you have plenty of room for the really important stuff: markup. A startup sublimation operation consists of a supported desktop printer, inks, transfer paper and a heat press. If you don’t need a heat press, then you’re looking at a price range of $500-$1,000 to get started. If you need a heat press, buy a good one and expect to fork over another January 2011 << Impressions 63

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Impressions - January 2011

Impressions - January 2011
First Impressions
ISS Show Focus
Winning Decorators Focus on Intricate Details
Special Report: The Cotton Crunch
T-Shirts Still an Industry Staple
Worthwhile Projects for the Slower Months
For Screen Printers Only
Use Sublimation to Create High-Value Photo Gifts
Online Directory
Business To Business
Ad Index

Impressions - January 2011