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Mental health is essential to your business strategy

Mental health is essential to your business strategy

The full title to a recent Shopify article is “Why Mental Health Is Essential to Your Business Strategy.” I’m pleased to see an organization as influential as Shopify highlighting this issue. I addressed it in the context of our industry in my book, Characters Who Can Make or Break Your Small Business, by telling the story of suicides by colleagues. Mental health in business is a serious but neglected topic.

The bottom line is simply that business ownership is stressful and the cumulative effect of that stress can be more debilitating than we realize. We need to seek help when we need it. Here are some excerpts from the article to help convince you that mental health is a serious issue, that you’re not alone in experiencing stress, and to encourage you to seek help if you need it:

  •  In the first year of the COVID pandemic, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25%.
  • Overworking is a coping mechanism, not a solution. ” . . . the more passionate and dedicated you are, the more mindful of burnout you have to be because you’re not necessarily going to put up those guardrails.”
  • “Burnout is essentially a repetitive stress injury, where we’re using the neurological circuitry over and over. It’s brain damage. We can see it visibly on an FMRI, is someone who has high levels of burnout.”

Your mental health and the overall health of your business are intertwined. Take care of your mental health for your sake, for the sake of those around you, and for the sake of your business.

Plastic in our industry

Plastic in our industry

Textile screen printing is a heavily plastic-reliant industry, and not only because of materials such as plastisol ink, but also because of the containers in which the materials are delivered. This means that if we are to participate in the movement for more sustainable manufacturing, we need to be aware of our impact on the environment through plastic.

The plastic issue poses a big challenge and while we know we must do something about it, it’s easier said than done. In that regard, this post is less about solutions and more about the nature of plastics with a view to reinforcing the reasons for solutions.

Charlotte Lloyd, a researcher in environmental chemistry, writing for the Guardian, has pointed out some worrying findings that we should know about:

  • Only 10% of plastic ever produced has been recycled.
  • Recycling plastic is not the solution we have believed it to be.
  • The only solution is less production of plastic.
  • Plastic pollution has now been found everywhere on the globe.
  • Recycled plastic can be more toxic than the original plastic because of the release of toxic chemicals in the recycling process.
  • Studies have shown that the recycling process can produce toxic chemicals.
  • Recycling can still be effective but has to be done differently from how it is done now.
  • The ultimate solution is much less plastic production.

This is all discouraging and worrying but we need to be aware of it because ultimately as an industry we’re going to have to participate in the solution to plastic pollution.

The benefits of an e-commerce website

The benefits of an e-commerce website

I’ve suggested before that small businesses should not only have a website (many still don’t) but that it should be an e-commerce site so that it serves both as a promoter of your shop and an extra source of revenue. But, you’d be quite right to point out that there are a lot of e-commerce sites selling Tees already, probably thousands. To which I’d have to agree, but it still doesn’t mean that you can’t launch a successful e-commerce site, as long as you differentiate it from most others.

One way would be to focus on say, special effects prints and to then actively market the site through the many avenues available nowadays such as social media, existing customers, press coverage, and, most importantly, a mailing list that you actively build. It takes time to drive traffic to a new site, however, do it right and it will eventually pick up and snowball. But, and it’s a big but, you can’t just launch the site and then sit and wait for customers; they won’t come that way.

So if you do it right, here are some of the benefits you will enjoy with an e-commerce site:

  • Increased reach and visibility.
  • 24/7 convenience for customers (do business while you sleep).
  • Lower or no additional overhead costs.
  • Enhanced communication with customers.
  • An advantage over competitors who rely only on their brick and mortar operations.
  • An opportunity to promote your brick and mortar business through your online presence.

You have some research and planning homework to do.

A webinar not to be missed — Textile printing crosses the floor

A webinar not to be missed — Textile printing crosses the floor

For at least the past two years I’ve been writing about an accelerating trend in the sign industry — adopting textile printing. I’ve mostly mentioned this in the context of sign shops printing garments on direct-to-garment printers and also heat-pressing vinyl onto garments. But now textiles have apparently caught the attention of wide-format printers too. Coming up on the 25th of this month,

WhatTheyTh!nk (the influential information source on all things printed), is offering a free webinar titled; “All Things Big and Soft—The Latest in Display Graphics and Textile Printing.”

Here’s part of their description of the purpose of the webinar: ” . . . digital textile printing is a hot new area—and in fact display graphics printers are starting to add textile printing. What are the top trends in both these areas, and how do they complement each other?” In this instance the textiles in question are apparently yardage, and even if you’re not a wide-format printer it doesn’t mean that you can ignore the migration of fabric into sign and graphics shops because it’s happening in garments as well.

Regardless of whether yours is a textile shop or a sign shop, attending this webinar may just give you a peek into a future that may require a rethink of your business model. You can register here.

The air that you breathe in the shop

The air that you breathe in the shop

With forest fire season already underway in Canada there will likely be warnings about poor outdoor air quality throughout the summer. It’s something we have to live with. But what about poor indoor air quality in your shop? It’s something you don’t have to live with.

You probably know I’m referring to aerosol adhesives. I’ve mentioned water-based, squeegee-applied adhesives before because, unlike aerosol adhesives, liquid water-based adhesive applied with a squeegee does not release a cloud of airborne adhesive particles into the air—the air that everyone in the shop breathes.

Some of the aerosol adhesive overspray lands on the equipment and the floor—there are plenty of funny stories about sticky screen shop floors. But not all of it settles around the area where it is sprayed. Some of it takes to the air. And therein lies a health concern.

Some textile press operators wear protection to prevent the inhaling of dust, lint and adhesive particles—but many don’t.  It is hard to know why that is when we all know that aerosol adhesive particles take to the air and are therefore inhaled. I don’t think you have to be a thoracic surgeon to understand that inhaling aerosol adhesive particles is not good for a press operator’s health. Worse than that, we also know that the airborne aerosol adhesive particles can travel quite a distance which means that other people in the vicinity of the press can inhale them.

So what is the answer to airborne aerosol adhesive particles? One answer would be to ensure that proper protection is worn to prevent inhaling the adhesive particles by anyone in the vicinity of the press. Another more comfortable solution would be to swap the aerosol adhesives for non-aerosol alternatives such as water-based liquid pallet adhesives applied with a squeegee.

Tee-shirts, as much as well love them, are not important enough to take risks with your health.