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Is Sublimation printing the answer?

Mary Crowder

Posted on September 21 2017

I had many other failed sample attempts by other companies over the summer - too many to bore you with, but let me just tell you that it was no longer like Christmas morning when a package arrived with a sample in it - it became more of a feeling of dread - what was going to be wrong with this one? 

I was still on my quest for a company to make my yoga tops (and yoga pants).  Orchard Street Press recommended sublimation printing - basically that's where the design pretty much becomes part of the fabric.   They did recommend a local company that I could try.  

I call this company and tell the receptionist that I have some questions about sublimation printing.  The first thing that comes out of her mouth is "we only deal in businesses".  "I am a business", I reply.  "We aren't taking on new clients" she says in response to that.   I pause for a minute and she says that if I want I can email the sublimation tech and see if he will make an exception.  

It's amazing to me how many companies don't want your business.  I really don't get it.  Let me tell you - I want your business and will bend over backwards to make you happy, answer all your questions, and give you a quality product - some of these companies I've contacted in my quest do not have that same philosophy.  Sorry, I digress.    

She gives me his email address and I drop him an email with my questions.  Turns out that most people who do sublimation printing are drop shippers who sell online and then when they get an order they email it over to the company who then makes the shirt on demand.  That's fine that people want to do that, but I like to have stock in hand that I can ship to people right away.  If you've ever ordered from our original site (www.totalfitnessdvds.com) you'll know that I take great pride in getting orders out quickly so drop shipping really isn't in my business plan. He also told me that sublimation printing can only be done on 100% polyester and only one white fabric.  He then said he can't go close to the seam either (ah, the dreaded seam is coming back to bite me again).  Personally, looking back I don't think that last part is true - I think he just didn't want to deal with me.  Either way, though, I don't want yoga tops made of 100% polyester (and they couldn't have the built in bra that I want either).  

I decided to start looking through some more of the business cards that I collected at the Magic Show in Las Vegas.  I find a company who has really cute yoga tops and a low MOQ (minimum order quantity).  I contact them and they tell me to send over my designs.  Yay!  I think I'm on to something.  I send them some designs and after a few weeks and a lot of back and forth (my designs have to be a higher resolution, clarify this for me, etc. etc) she finally gets back to me with a quote for samples.  I tell her it's fine and then she says "you know that on custom work the MOQ is 1000 pieces per color and one design".  Ugh, I'm back to square one again - too much money. 

Finally I get a break.  I receive an email from a company with their "new arrivals" and one of them is the fern pattern that's on the site.  I look through their other items on their site and send them an email.  I now know to clarify up front what the MOQ is for a custom design, what the price might be, if they use flat lock stitching, what the fabric is, what the sizing is, etc.  I've learning a lot and start to sound like a pro!  As it turns out the fern pattern is sublimation and it can be done on spandex.  It can't be done on nylon, but if you get the right combination of polyester and spandex it can suck you in almost as good as nylon.  

I don't know how it happens, but it seems that once you make a deal with one company word gets out about you and suddenly all these other companies come out of the woodwork asking for your business and are willing to listen to your concerns and accommodate your requests.  We are now dealing with 4 companies - all are wonderful in different ways and a couple of them have been able to do my designs on tops and pants that have some nylon in it.  

I'm so happy with how these are coming to life and hope to be doing this for a long, long time!

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