Apparel Decorating Business Survival Guide, Part 2

Welcome to the second post in our 4-part Apparel Decorating Business Survival Guide. If you’ve read Part 1, we hope you’re starting to feel more at ease about the unprecedented situation. If you missed the last post, head over to Part 1 before continuing. If you want to download the entire guide to save for later, here’s the link.

Once again take a seat, take a breath, and take out your notebook to plan your business’s survival.


As of the writing of this, I’m in a work from home status. Now I don’t have to run a shop, but I do have to continue to produce educational videos, and I have produced many garments from my garage in the past 4 years. During this process, I started asking myself what is the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) that we would need to provide our customers for them to stay in business from home? And next, how should their business respond to any potential lack in supply chain due to this potential status for their suppliers?

Consider This:
Forced closures and an economic downturn will mean smaller runs. Gatherings aren’t happening and people aren’t spending money at the rate they were (perhaps with the exception of life sustaining items). Screen printing is geared for higher runs and jobs aren’t running on many screen printing presses across the world – certainly not optimal jobs. Therefore it’s not important to get your screen printing presses or your 12 head embroidery machines home. It’s important, however, to start to shift your work to your heat press so you or an employee can prepare to operate it from a garage or spare bedroom with heat transfers.

Do This:
Start shifting your art to a product that can be made with your heat press. Heat Transfers come in many styles, including Screen Printed. A screen-printed transfer is made by screen printing onto a carrier paper. The transfer is then shipped to you (the decorator) and heat applied to the garment using a heat press. We ship Screen Printed Transfers from two locations in the US for redundancy: Ohio and Arizona. We expect to continue supplying our customers with transfers for short, medium, or large run jobs as long as we can. Transfers often ship same day or next day with guaranteed 2-day shipping. If you’ve never used screen printed transfers and want to check the quality, we’re offering our sample pack for free during this time. Request Samples.

This is also a super simple guide that walks you through what you need to know about our ink formulas:
1. Goof Proof® > Most popular, traditional plastisol look/feel
2. Hot Split > Softest plastisol style, less opacity than Goof Proof
3. Elasti Prints® > Best for heat sensitive fabrics like performance wear

Also Do This:
During this unpredictable time, have a decorating insurance policy! While we expect to continue to sell transfers during this time, there is always a potential of forced closure which would interrupt supply. For this reason it’s important to consider “made to order” products as well when creating your designs. Businesses who design with versatility of the manufacturing process in mind will be able to quickly pivot between technologies when they realize the sale, which is especially important for ongoing web stores. This means, launch your stores with designs that can made with screen printed transfers or your vinyl cutter. Remember to keep artwork simple enough for the weeding process.

Keep reading…
A must have manufacturing method for business owners during this time is CAD-CUT® Heat Transfer Vinyl. A vinyl cutter will allow a business to create made-to-order products. When paired with a heat press and CAD-CUT® vinyl, the results for apparel are high quality and cost effective in quantities as little as one. Stock a roll of heat transfer vinyl, equip your home with a vinyl cutter in addition to the heat press, and you have what you need to make apparel, even while sheltered in place. While CAD-CUT® materials do come in thousands of choices, it’s important that decorators limit their choices during this time to control their on-shelf inventory costs. This means, choosing just a couple product styles with limited colors in each. Having on-shelf inventory means you will be able to continue to print shirts. So, stock up on core offerings and do it now! You know your customers, but across the US here are the most popular colors we would recommend stocking by percentage of sales:

White 50%
Black 20%
Red 10%
Royal 7%
Navy 7%
Yellow or Gold 6%

You should be stocking larger quantities of white and black since these two colors can enable putting a logo on any color shirt. Think similarly about your T-shirt colors and inventory.

As a way to offset the cost of your potential supply order, STAHLS’ is offering free shipping on orders over $199 (Promo Code: SHIP2020) and $5 flat rate shipping on smaller order sizes of heat transfer vinyl.

This is also a super simple guide that walks you through what you need to know about our CAD-CUT® heat transfer vinyl formulas:
1. Eco-Film > Soft look/feel, good all-purpose material
2. Premium Plus™ > Softest style, low temperature application
3. Thermo-FILM® > Athletic look/feel

Remember This:
The Spirit Sale™ platform previously mentioned includes a production management tool. This helps workers in a business collaborate on a job and also move that job/order through various production stages. Consider setting up multiple users on Spirit Sale™ and connect your necessary staff from their homes on the work that needs completing.

Keep these tips in mind while you think of the best plan for your business. Stay tuned for Part 3.

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