Trendy Thursday: How to Keep Up With Trends

If you’re running a business,  you’re busy,  that’s a given.  There are probably a lot of hats on your head and trying to add one more may seem impossible,  but it’s necessary.   Anyone doing garment decoration or really decoration of anything,  be it mugsblankets or patches,  needs to be aware of what’s trendy.  After all,  you don’t want to be offering items decorated with camels when everyone has decided their new love is llamas.

Luckily,  keeping up with the latest trends doesn’t have to be difficult or particularly time consuming.   Here are a few ways to keep on trend without spending a ton of time.

Use Social Media –  Follow your competitors.  Follow the feeds for the companies that make or sell equipment and supplies for your decoration discipline.  If you create garments or hats,  follow fashion blogs or sites that cover trends in the items you decorate.  Social media can be a great tool for collecting a lot of useful information in one place.

Talk to People – If you have employees,  particularly if they’re in a variety of age groups,  talk to them about what they like/notice/have seen people wearing. If you have kids, or know people who have kids,  talk to the kids about what’s hot in their world right now. Definitely talk to your customers,  as they can be your best source of industry or interest specific trend information.  Create a e-mail box or a billboard where people can post interesting articles and information they’ve found.

Go to Trade Shows – Yes,  a trade show can be a significant investment in time and money,  but it’s also a place where you can kill a variety of birds with one stone.   You can view the newest equipment.   You can visit multiple suppliers and see what new supplies are available.   Seeing what new things are being offered gives you some advance notice of what upcoming trends might be.  Trade shows are also a great place to learn,  with seminars that teach a variety of decoration techniques.  Trade shows offer a number of ways to gather information on trends in one place with one visit, so they’re well worth the time and effort.

Subscribe to Magazines – Whether they’re trade journals or something more general interest,  magazines can be a great tool for staying current on trends.   Many trade journals can be received in digital format and some are free to those who work in the industry.   Subscription prices for digital formats of general interest magazines are also available.   As a bonus,  many magazines will have electronic newsletter subscriptions available.  In these newsletters they spotlight articles they think are important,  which may also be a way to spot emerging trends.

Go Shopping – Maybe your shopping trip is to an actual store,  or maybe you shop online,  but spend a little time each week visiting stores to see what they’re offering.  This is particularly relevant for garment decorators,  but it really has benefit for any kind of decorator.   Doing a little shopping (and it can be of the window variety, where you don’t spend money) helps you stay current on what’s on the way in and what’s on the way out.

The main thing to remember is just to keep your eyes and ears open.   Anything could be the piece of information you need to clue you in to the next big trend.  Stay alert and stay interested, and your business well be poised to ride the next big wave when it arrives.

Trendy Thursday – 5 Fashion Trends We Really Wish Would Disappear

Fashion,  a few people don’t care about it at all,  some people are absolute slaves to it,  and most are probably somewhere in the middle.   They want to be fashionable,  but aren’t dedicating huge portions of their lives to this quest.  Fashion is fun,  but it can also be a problem for decorators,  particularly when they’re asked to decorate something that’s trendy,  but not easy to embellish.  I’m sure you all have your own lists of fashion trends you’d be happy to never see again,  but today I thought it would be fun to share ours.

Trend 1:  Performance Wear – Yes,  you’re an athlete.  Yes,  you’ve worked hard to get your body in shape and this type of clothing shows that off.   Yes,  performance wear can have moisture wicking capabilities and other traits that make it great for wearing when you’re exerting yourself.  What performance wear doesn’t have is the qualities that make it easy to decorate.  It’s stretchy and hard to hoop which makes embroidery difficult.   It’s thin and often made of polyester or a poly blend,  which can make it unsuitable for screen printing and and decoration techniques involving heat.  Performance wear is pretty much a combo platter of decoration difficulty.

Trend 2: Excessively Distressed Denim – We’ve probably all seen the photos of the pair of jeans for sale that were primarily seams and nothing else,  which is an extreme case.  Still, excessively distressed denim pretty much showcases what decoration was designed to cover up,  which is holes in the garment.   Holes worn into a pair of jeans through wear and time is one thing.   Holes that are pre-made before the garment is even bought or worn is quite another.

Trend 3:  Rompers – Guys may not even know what these are,  since the last time they probably wore one was when they were infants.  Women,  however,  may be quite familiar with the romper,  which is basically a jumpsuit where the legs stop at shorts level.   They’re most likely not that hard to decorate,  honestly,  they’re just not really a good look for any grown-up person to wear,  and that’s why they made the list.  (Note:  Apparently there are rompers for men – which is just wrong on so many levels.  This trend definitely needs to die!)

Trend 4:  Logos On Everything – Yes, putting logos on shirts or jackets or bags can be the life blood of a decoration business,  and having one logo on something isn’t committing a fashion faux pas.   It’s when there are multiple logos everywhere, on every piece of clothing or accessory,  that it becomes too much.  Mixing logos isn’t the greatest fashion homerun either.   Logos are like spices,  a little adds some interest.  Too much,  and you’re turning red and reaching desperately for something to cleanse your palate.

Trend 5:  Cold Shoulder Tops – Another trend that guys may not be as familiar with but something that seems to be showing up everywhere from formalwear to t-shirts.   Basically,  a cold shoulder top is one that has cutouts that leave the shoulder bare.   This style interferes with monogram or logo placement and just isn’t really a look that works for most people.

So,  those are the fashion trends we’d like to see ended,  but I’m sure there are many that we left off the list.  What’s your biggest fashion pet peeve as a decorator?  Leave a comment and let us know what fashion trend you really dislike.

Trendy Thursday: 6 Industry Trends That Need To Die

For whatever the reason,  I seem to be having a “you kids get off my lawn!” sort of day,  in which I’m finding everything a little annoying.   Given my state of mind,  it seemed like a good day to write about a few trends within our industry that I think need to end,  immediately.   Some of these are social media related, and some deal with the industry as a whole.

Trend #1:  Posting multiple pictures in a row of the same design/your work  – This drives me nuts,  mostly because it tends to reduce the impact of the work,  which may be great,  but isn’t going to hold people’s attention if they have to scroll past 13 pictures of the same or similar things.  Don’t flood people’s feed with images of your work.  Choose one picture that you think represents your best work, and provide a link where people can see more examples if they’re interested.

Trend #2: Under charging – This is a particularly insidious trend for new business owners.  Often people don’t really know what they should be earning per job or what they need to be earning per job.  Some decorators (women seem to have a particular problem with this) also undervalue their work because it’s “sewing” or “a hobby”.  If you’ve invested time and money in equipment and learning your craft, you’re a professional.  Set your rates accordingly.

Trend #3: Changing artwork to avoid copyright infringement – There is a long-standing myth that changing copyrighted artwork by a certain percentage will negate the possibility of copyright infringement,  but that’s not so.  There is no such rule.  The best way to avoid copyright infringement is to get permission to use artwork that you did not create,  or to create your own original works.

Trend #4: Video because you can – Facebook Live,  Snapchat, smartphones and sites offering video creation tools mean that almost anyone can be a star.  That’s great,  up to a point.   The thing, however, to ask yourself before making a video is whether or not you should.  Do you have a plan for content?  Do you know what you want to say?  Are you comfortable on camera?  Particularly for businesses who are talking to customers,  videos need to have a reason to exist.  Just because you can is not that reason.

Trend #5: Hard selling on social media – As I’ve said before in seminars,  the first word in the phrase “social media” is “social” for a reason.  Social media is not about selling,  it’s about creating community.  Despite this,  some decoration companies insist on setting up profiles where all they do is post links to product and pricing.  In order to sell on social media,  you have to build trust and a community.  Social media is about soft selling,  where the sales messages are mixed with value added features.  Doing nothing but a hard sell on your profiles will soon insure that you’re selling to no one.

Trend 6: Complaining about the “guy down the street” – It may literally be the competing shop down the street, or it may be an online site,  but there’s always that one business that seems to inexplicably do well while either using underhanded tactics, or doing shoddy work.  It’s tempting to blame those companies for the state of pricing,  or the fact that you didn’t get the big job,  and it’s equally tempting to complain that those companies should change. The reality is they won’t,  and another reality is that there will always probably be people who will buy from them.  What really matters,  however, is not what the other guy does,  it’s what you do.   If you do your best work,  offer fair pricing, and treat your customers honestly and with respect,  who cares what anyone else is doing?  Focus on how you can be better,  not on stopping these other companies from being worse.

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Trendy Thursday:Gifts that Give

morts moose munchies copyWe’ve talked before on this blog about what can be done with an embroiderable stuffed animal but,  given the holiday season is now upon us,  I thought it would be fun to talk about using these animals as gifts.   They do,  of course,  make great personalized gifts all on their own.  Almost any child  or adult  would love a cuddly friend emblazoned with their name or commemorating a special location or event.   What makes these animals really fun, however,  is that their gift potential doesn’t stop with simply embroidering a name or a logo on them.   There’s so much more than that which can be done.

The secret to the embroiderable stuffed animal’s gift potential is in its construction.  In order to be suitable to be embroidered,  a stuffed animal blank has to be filled with a stuffing pod or something that can be removed.   When the pod is removed,  the animal can be hooped and embroidered.   Once the embroidery is finished,  the stuffing is replaced and the animal can be gifted.    The fun part of the whole thing is that the animal is constructed so there is extra room in the body where the stuffing pod fits.   This is the perfect space to turn a gift that people love to get into a gift that gives something extra.

Maybe it’s a bear embroidered with a few lines from a favorite love poem,  with a beautiful piece of jewelry tucked inside.   It could be tickets to a hockey game inside a penguin embroidered with the logo of a favored team.    Perhaps it’s a sonogram picture tucked inside a lamb that commemorates baby’s first Christmas,  a perfect gift for grandparents to be.   Like Mort’s Moose Munchies,  pictured above,  the stomach compartment could be the perfect place to store a favorite treat before it makes its way into your stomach.     The animal becomes the gift and the wrapping for the gift,   creating a unique packaging opportunity that allows the gift giver to say something special about the gift they’re giving.

One of the trends in gift giving in recent years has been the giving of sustainable gifts,  presents that are environmentally friendly and which cause less waste.    Using embroiderable stuffed animals as both gift and wrapping completely supports this trend.   There will be no wrapping paper or bows to throw away,  and no cardboard box to recycle.   Instead the recipient and the giver get two gifts in one.   The recipient gets both an adorable stuffed animal and the gift that’s tucked inside,  and the giver gets to be both environmentally conscious and known as the best gift giver around.  Everybody wins.