Decoration Diaries: How One Distributor Set Up a Nonprofit Customer for Branded Apparel Success
Bret Mealing, owner of SC Embroidery & Screenprinting, Columbia, S.C., envisioned becoming a large contract embroiderer when he set out to create his business in 1995. He opened a 600 square foot shop with a single six-head Barudan embroidery machine. While things didn’t go exactly as planned, he couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
“We somehow survived the recession and have grown every year since,” he said. “Even with COVID [last] year, we had the best first quarter on record. ... Having a diverse clientele really helps when there are downturns.”
Mealing moved his company to a space double the size two years after opening, adding a single-head embroidery machine, but soon came to the realization that he needed to add screen print to his capabilities. After a few years of subcontracting the specialty and running into some reliability issues, he relocated at the start of the millennium to an even larger space—3,000 square feet—and purchased a second Barudan and a manual six-color, four-station screen print press.
Three years later, he joined AIA Corporation to expand the hard goods side of his business. About a month before the 2008 recession hit, Mealing purchased his own 15,000 foot space, along with more equipment to fill it out—a third Barudan and a 10-color, 12-station automatic M&R screen print press. His company also expanded to offer heat transfer while outsourcing direct-to-garment, patches and projects that utilize those in-house decoration methods as needed. In addition to decoration, Mealing’s business offers e-commerce solutions.
Continue reading this installment of Decoration Diaries presented by Next Level Apparel to learn how Mealing helped a nonprofit create a branded merchandise program that grew into the organization's second-largest revenue stream.
The client’s need: A popular conservation group was selling hats and T-shirts, etc., but spending too much time managing inventory, setting up sales opportunities, etc.
The execution: We created a catalog for retailers to purchase product from on an as-needed basis. They purchase from us with the understanding that they are supporting the group through the royalties that we pay the association for all purchases. The catalog includes embroidered hats and polos, patch hats, a number of T-shirt options that vary in shirt style (long sleeve, short sleeve, performance materials, basic cottons). There are a number of decoration T-shirt design options from simple one-color up to four-color process screen printed.
The obstacles: No major hiccups. However, we are constantly evolving the style and design options in our offerings.
The outcome & advice: They told me [as of September 2020] that we are their second largest revenue stream!
For details on how to participate in a future edition of Decoration Diaries and share your apparel decoration project success, email Amanda Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read more Decoration Diaries, or click here to download "The Promo Distributor's Guide to Apparel Decoration," a free resource from Promo Marketing. Decoration Diaries is presented by Next Level Apparel.