April '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R 4 5 expensive at the onset, parties agree that the investment will save the shop over time thanks to increased accuracy, less spoilage with order errors, and in the ideal scenario, increased business thanks to a shop that's running in top form. Like cleanup chemicals, shops can also seek out supplies for the rest of the office that fall in line with a sustainable model. Everything from business cards made of recycled goods to a water fountain in- stead of single use bottled water to recycling bins for the breakroom and biodegradable garbage bags can help cut down on a shop's car- bon footprint. Whichever methods a shop decides to implement, Vitulli cautions that the entire business needs to be on board with the move. "They need to start from the top-on-down," Vitulli explains. "Without full buy-in from leadership, business decisions will conflict with sustain- able decisions, and the program will fail." SPREADING THE WORD As much as it's crucial to work out logistics like shipping and energy usage, sources also note that it's essential to keep the concept of sus- tainability front-of-mind for a business's employees and clients. "It all starts by taking that first step towards reevaluating a company's operations, picking a sustainable process that works for the business and its customers, and making staff and clients aware of the envi- ronmental issues and eco-friendly options through conversations, presentations, and workshops," states Yates. Shroba adds that to cultivate a culture of sustainability, a company "needs to show employees their individual contributions make a dif- ference." "The company also needs to show commitment to sustainability efforts, even when there are no apparent traditional cost savings or efficiency improvement," he contends. One of the most effective ways businesses can ensure sustainability stays at the forefront of its efforts, Vitulli suggests, is including it in the company's mission statement. With Corporate Social Respon- sibility being a popular concept for companies of virtually all sizes, shops can follow suit with a small section on their website explain- ing the how and why of their sustainability initiatives. Carrying this message across a shop's packaging and any literature included with an order can also help let the customer know what the businesses' goals are. This could be as simple as a printed piece of swag like a coaster or coozie with basic bullet points or detailed information printed on a shipping carton. "When leadership drives this positioning, it becomes an authentic message, and then easier for adoption from employees, vendors, and customers," adds Vitulli. Whether it's researching ink options, investing in recyclable ship- ping products, or working with eco-conscious shipping carriers, the consensus is that shops of all shapes and sizes can take the next step into a sustainable business model if they are genuinely committed to the idea. As a parting thought, Hunt references the Kaizen philosophy, first practiced by Japanese businesses after World War II and influenced partially by American business and quality-management teachers. "The idea is (to) make small, incremental improvements every day in every little area to be more efficient, and together the sum total adds up to great change." PW

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