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Oh well.

Oh well.

So, the glitter and microplastic issue continues!

A few months ago I contacted the textile and apparel editor of a prominent printing industry online magazine and explained my quest to persuade textile screen printers to stop using glitter. She agreed to publish an article on the topic. I considered such an article about the glitter and microplastic problem in a prominent industry magazine a breakthrough, especially as another industry magazine chooses to turn a blind eye and still irresponsibly publishes articles promoting glitter prints.

The article was published. Unfortunately, it did little for my quest though and was actually disappointing for three main reasons.

First disappointment: After accurately listing the ecological problems associated with traditional aluminum and plastic glitter, she inaccurately suggested using “biodegradable” alternatives from two German manufacturers. I checked out their websites. One of the manufacturers makes a polyester glitter which is also a microplastic problem, and the other makes a plant-based glitter only for face and body applications specifically for the “party scene”—it has nothing at all to do with the textile industry.

Second disappointment: A footnote to the article says that the author wrote it with the assistance of Google’s Bard, an AI platform. Clearly, she did no research into the manufacturers Bard incorrectly included, thereby undermining the credibility of her article.

Third disappointment: When I pointed all of this out to her, the response was, “Oh well.”  That’s it. No apology or correction offered. Just. “Oh well.”

The quest continues, but in the meantime, we’ve learned a couple of things from this exercise. First, so far there appears to be no legitimate “biodegradable” alternative to plastic and aluminum glitter and it’s hard to see how there could ever be—to be “biodegradable” the glitter would have to be water soluble, which makes it unsuited to any garment that has to be washed. And second, it’s probably a good idea to be a little skeptical about what we read in industry magazines, especially if it’s written with the assistnce of AI.

Who’s really your customer and what do they actually want?

Who’s really your customer and what do they actually want?

Who’s really your customer and what do they actually want? How much have you paused and contemplated that question?

Here is an of excerpt from Seth Godin’s book, This is Marketing, to demonstrate why you should contemplate the question as it relates to your business . . .

“Americans spent more than twenty-four billion dollars on dog food last year. The average price has has skyrocketed, and so has the gourmet nature of ingredients, like sweet potatoes, elk, and free-range bison..

And yet, I’ve never seen a dog buy dog food.

Have you?

Dog food might be getting more delicious as it gets more expensive, but we actually have no idea. We have no clue whether dogs enjoy it more, because we’re not dogs.

But we can be sure that the dog owners like it more.

Because dog food is for dog owners. It’s for the way it makes them feel, the satisfaction of taking care of an animal the responds with loyalty and affection, the status of buying a luxury good, and the generosity of sharing it.

Some dog owners want to spend more on the dog food they buy. Some want gluten-free dog food, loaded with high-value placebos.

But lets not get confused about who all this innovation is for. It’s not for the dogs.

It is for us.

A marketer for a dog food company might decide that the secret of more dog food sales is to make a food that tastes better. But that requires understanding how a dog thinks, which is awfully difficult.

It turns out that the right formula is to make a dog food that dog owners want to buy.”

Who’s really your customer and what do they actually want?

DTG and screen printing . . . a production balancing act

DTG and screen printing . . . a production balancing act

Last week I had a conversation with Pablo Forno of Grand Slam Sports of Okotoks, Alberta. I asked for the conversation because I’d heard that Pablo had an interesting perspective on the DTG versus screen printing debate. He had switched all his production from screen printing to direct to garment but a year later switched back a significant portion of his production to screen printing. I was interested to find out why.

Grand Slam Sports prints team uniforms in addition to regular, multi-colour prints on tees and sweats. The DTG printer is an Epson F2100 and the screen-printing press is a 4-colour, 4-station. Printing exclusively on the DTG printer wasn’t working for Pablo mainly because the garments have to be pre-treated and then racked to dry overnight. In addition to that, Pablo found that he had to heat press the garments to ensure that they were properly dry and ready for the printing.

For team uniforms that are usually polyester requiring only one or two-colour prints, he has found that it’s much quicker and more cost effective to screen print. But, the DTG printer is still used for short, multiple-colour runs.

So, if you’re considering a DTG printer you’d be well advised to consider it, not as a replacement for your screen-printing press, but rather as supplemental. And, of course, you need to have a very clear understanding of the financial impact and the cost-benefit aspect of the production balancing act you’re considering


Credit: Pablo Forno at

Do you really need to know the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?

Do you really need to know the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?

A recent 16-page article written specifically for small business owners, attempted to explain the subtle difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. My Immediate reaction upon seeing the article was that the author didn’t have much experience dealing with small business owners. If he did, he’d know that his business-school theory may look good in print, but it’s chances of being read by the target audience were slim, and it’s chances of being implemented, even slimmer.

This doesn’t mean to say that it wasn’t a good article or that the theory wasn’t sound; it was a good article and the theory was sound. However, in practice, the average small business owner is a very busy person usually taking one day at a time and, under the circumstances, disinclined to take time out to read management theory articles.

But that doesn’t mean that small business owners shouldn’t be encouraged to consider missions and visions. However, they need to start wading at the shallow end. Expecting them to jump in boots and all at the deep end will only scare them off, and then an opportunity to implement a good business practice will have been lost. I consider it a success if I can persuade small business owners to take time out to just think about what they’re doing and where they want it all to go. Getting off the treadmill, standing back and calmly considering what they’re doing, what they want to accomplish, and what they’re going to do to get there, is a great start. That basic understanding and vision can then be built out gradually with the assistance of a consultant or accountant until it shapes up as a mission statement and even a vision statement to live by.

If this sounds like you and your business, you really need to take the first step on the way to developing mission and vision statements. Get off the treadmill for a couple of hours, go somewhere quiet and think about where the shop is at and where you want it to go. Then take that to an expert and get some help refining and formalizing it. It only makes good business sense.

Managing staff — Sometimes you just have to be an a******

Managing staff — Sometimes you just have to be an a******

There are many, many books, articles, and blog posts on how to manage staff. But sometimes you just have to be an a******. Well, at least that’s part of the management philosophy of the now ex-owner of a very big Canadian shop. I’m not going to name the shop or even the city because I haven’t specifically asked for permission to share this story. So let’s just call him Bob.

Bob is a mild-mannered, personable, considerate, unexcitable person—what most people would call an all-round decent guy. And this was reflected in his management style too. This is why when I heard this story years ago it tickled me then, and still does today.

Bob had established a designated smoking zone behind the shop for those essential smoke breaks that a number of his staff members apparently needed. He only had one rule—they had to place their cigarette butts in the provided bin. However, much to his annoyance the rule would be ignored and he’d find butts littering the ground. After repeatedly reminding the staff to use the butt bin, he apparently uncharacteristically “lost it” one day when he again found butts lying around.

He called the crowd of smokers into his office and shocked them by “going nuts.” As the saying goes, he went up one side of them and down the other. I understand that this was the end of cigarette butts on the ground. As Bob explained, “Sometimes you just have to be an a******!”

Coffee shop warning . . . again!

Coffee shop warning . . . again!

Here we go again . . .  I’ve been reminded that the warning about coffee shop business meetings is worth repeating. Today I was in our village coffee shop hoping to find a quiet table in a corner to spend an hour or two editing a document. For some reason, coffee shops and libraries are good for this kind of activity—a good portion of my book was written in coffee shops and libraries.

Anyway, I found a table, settled down, and started working. Then I realized that two guys at a nearby table were having quite a serious discussion about a business deal, and they didn’t seem to care that I and others could hear everything they were saying. This is risky in a big city, but in a small village where almost everyone knows almost everything about almost everyone else, it’s a huge risk. They were plotting a takeover against someone called Peter. If I’d known who this “Peter” was, I could have possibly caused some serious damage to their plan.

In retrospect, I should have referred them, as I’m going to do for you now, to a story I wrote a few years ago. Here’s an excerpt:

“I’ve been telling people for years to be careful about the business they discuss in public places like coffee shops. Now, thanks to a recent report in a British newspaper, I have a classic example to illustrate my point . . .

A patron was having his coffee shop experience ruined by a group of people loudly discussing a new business venture. His 26-word tweet from the coffee shop tells the story:Coffee shop. People next to me are loud and rude. They just found the perfect name for their new business. I just bought the domain name.’ “

So, the message is clear—don’t discuss business in public places like coffee shops.