May '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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3 2 P R I N T W E A R M A Y 2 0 1 9 Company: RTP Apparel/ Image Armor ( Title: West Coast Operations Manager Years in industry: 13 How did you get started in the industry?• DL: In 2006, my father attended a trade show and came back with a direct-to-gar- ment (D2) printer. I got sucked into the family business without much of a choice. I was brought in to learn the printer's RIP software and convert customer graphics on our design software. Things exploded from doing only private label to doing my own clothing line. In 2009, I brought business home and continued doing pri- vate label printing for large companies in high volumes. In 2011, I began working at AnaJet. For nearly seven years I advo- cated for customers while learning this industry inside and out. Being a customer before working for a manufacturer helped me gain the industry's trust as a leader. For the last year, I've been working on the consumables and apparel end with RTP Apparel/Image Armor. What does a typical day look like for you? DL: I represent RTP Apparel in Cali- fornia. I attend some trade shows but mainly work from home. I do a variety of responsibilities from sales to marketing to graphic art to business development. One thing I spend a lot of time on is social media to help D2 customers with print and technical issues in regard to our products or even other printer issues. It's pretty much an all day/night thing. It gets overwhelming sometimes, but I have compassion for their plight. I used to be like them. I understand printing doesn't follow a traditional schedule. What have you learned along the way, and what advice do you have for other women? DL: It took years to be acknowledged and appreciated for the industry player I am today, and I do believe being a woman had to do with it. I've had to deal with men making comments during trade show setup. I understood they didn't know me, but it's disheartening to know, even in this day and age, some minds are so old school that a woman can't possibly be knowledgeable in the field. My advice to women is to keep going. I've had to learn to stop being defensive and just let things go. As long as I'm successful and the person I want to be, who cares what others think. How do you stay motivated in the day to day? DL: Because I need money. All jokes aside, what honestly keeps me most mo- tivated is when the customers publicly or personally tell me how much they ap- preciate me for helping them. It gives me pride to know I am making a difference in their success. What's one highlight from your career you take pride in? DL: Honestly, it was when everyone at AnaJet finally acknowledged how valuable I was to the company and industry as a whole. It wouldn't have happened with- out all the great customers, now friends, I've met along the way who wrote letters or kept mentioning on social media how much they appreciated me. Because of that, I won the Pacesetter Award, and I know without those people, I wouldn't be where I am today. You Go, Girl A L E X A N D R I A A R R O Y O Printwear spoke with a handful of women from a variety of backgrounds and expertise to learn more about their first days in the industry, daily motivations, career highlights, and any advice they have for other women working in decorated apparel. DEANA LEELACHAT A SPOTLIGHT ON WOMEN IN THE APPAREL AND APPAREL DECORA - TION INDUSTRY

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