Printwear

February '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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6 4 P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 0 SHOP SNAPSHOT Best Foot Forward 6 4 P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 0 H omelessness is an issue that has an impact virtually everywhere in the country. While it's prevalent in small towns and rural areas, the crisis of homeless popula- tions is never more prevalent than it is in some of the larger cities in the U.S. In Long Beach, California, that issue is something Gio Ferraro, founder of nonprofit Keep LBC Fit, strives to address. But up until recently, Ferraro says her group didn't have the direct model it does now. "I opened up a small business almost six years ago," she ex- plains. "I knew I was going to do something to give back to the community." Already steeped in homeless advocacy work for roughly 15 years, Ferraro says she thought she would continue in that field by using her gym as a place to help various organizations. Ranging from fundraisers, clothing drives, or give-back programs, she says the main goal was to be an active, driving force of change in the Long Beach com- munity. Over time, Ferraro says that she realized it made more sense to officially form a nonprofit, particularly if the group was going to continue working in homeless advocacy. One of Keep LBC Fit's primary products was a card that listed resources for homeless people. These included organizations like Mental Health America, Christian Outreach in Action, the Long Beach Rescue Mission, Los Angeles Area 2-1-1, and The Multi- Service Center, a facility in the city that offers case management, outreach services, and shelter referrals to homeless individuals. The group saw these cards as a simple way to inform the individuals who needed help, but not long into the project, Ferraro says they hit a snag. She recalls walking down the street, handing out cards, and coming back to the same spot 20 minutes later to find the card either on the bench or the ground. Fer- raro then decided that custom-printed socks would be a better way to not only spread vital information but provide the homeless with an essential piece of apparel. Outsourcing the sock printing, Ferraro said she used a similar model as Tom's shoes "one-for-one" concept. She sold the socks at the Long Beach gym, and for ev- ery pair sold, the group donated a pair. After about a year of research and fun- draising, Ferraro purchased a sublimation printer and a heat press and set up shop in a space above the gym. For roughly the last six months, the sock printing, sell- ing, and donation program now operates in-house. In addition to providing dona- tions to the homeless community, Ferraro partners with the city of Long Beach and a workforce program called Pacific Gate- way to help those trying to get back on their feet. Since the organization start- ed printing, Ferraro estimates they've churned out 500 pairs of socks. Get the full story on Gio and Keep LBC Fit here: http://printwear.ly/klf. PW KEEP LBC FIT LOCATION: Long Beach, California OWNER: Gio Ferraro PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT: • 2 Epson SureColor F6200 dye-sublimation printers • 1 Geo Knight clamshell heat press A Keep LBC Fit employee cutting out patterns for sublimated socks. The socks feature crucial information on resources for homeless individuals in the Long Beach area.

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