ONE STOP T-SHIRTS AND MORE
(4 Years Later)
Owner: John and Lori Consoli
Year Established: 2008
Decorating Technique: Direct to Garment T-Shirts, Embroidery, Custom Rhinestone Transfers and Signage
How Real Success Is Born From Adversity.
How did your business start in Apparel Decorating?
Well, that’s a longer story than just a short answer, but I’ll give you the quick overview. I had been engaged in the manufacture of kitchen cabinets and home remodeling when the bottom fell out of the building market. I was forced to close my doors as most of my work came from new home builders AND I was just getting back on my feet after undergoing a quadruple bypass, all at age 67.
I had to find something to do besides sitting around waiting for my “golden years”, which were on a ship that never seems to come in. So I went to a show in Orlando that offered information on new start up businesses (ISS Show Orlando), and looked at all kinds of equipment that did all kinds of things from printing on mugs to printing on T-shirts.
While at the show I met a guy named Scott in the ColDesi (back then it was SWF East) booth, who I later found out was the owner of the company. But you couldn’t tell because even though there were many people asking him questions, he didn’t put me off to help someone else. I liked that. But it didn’t stop me from doing many hours of research on the web, and taking several trips to their headquarters in Tampa to make sure it was the right choice. After all, there were lots of people that said their equipment could do the same thing as the DTG HM1 that I was looking at, but after my research I found that none could match it.
The other thing that sold me was that when the staff at ColDesi said, “How can we help you?” they really meant it!
The bottom line is that I spent almost the last of my savings and did buy the DTG Printer. Even after the training we were terrified that the thing would blow up if we did the wrong thing and none of us had any background at all in art or printing! We went on the word of the company to “don’t worry, just call if you have a problem”.
Oh, did we ever have problems! And when we made those phone calls it turned out that the problem was the operator, not the machine. After the training class we came back and started printing and neglected much of the maintenance and daily routine we learned, and paid the price. Now we have a set morning and evening maintenance routine that actually turned out to be IN THE MANUAL we got and guess what? We haven’t had to call tech support more than 3 times in the last 3 years.
What technologies do you use?
We had screen printing equipment that we bought brand new, but in 2 years I can count on one hand that’s missing 2 fingers the number of times it was used.
We use the DTG M2 from ColDesi, an OKI920WT Transfer system and 1V-6P rhinestone machine along with a 54” vinyl cutter. We do signs, decals, rhinestones, printed tees, almost everything.
What kind of equipment did you purchase and why?
We bought the HM1 originally – then upgraded to the M2 Printer and the GeoKnight DK20 heat press. We started out using the Wagner sprayer to pretreat shirts, but eventually bought a pretreat machine when we grew from 50 to 150 shirts per day.
We saw a wonderful opportunity for DTG and Rhinestone mixing and bought the CAMS machine from ColDesi too. This allowed us to expand our line to include pocketbooks, hats, and our really growing rhinestone decal business. We also have 2 vinyl cutters including a recently purchased 54” print cut system and sublimation printer for mugs and glass items. We’re also looking into upgrading our CAMS 1V2P to a 1V6P for faster production time and more colors on each rhinestone design.
How do you decide what markets to go after?
Great question, still trying to figure that one out. It’s sort of like a line from the movies “Just when I think I have it figured out it pulls me back in”. The best advice I can give as far as market goes is to go after business that most others won’t do or don’t want. Go to other shops and offer them your service for one shirt at a time at a good, wholesale price where both of you can make a profit and the winner is the customer. I would rather hit the street every day and come back with 25 to 50 different orders every day than spend money on any kind of promotion or ad and not have my machine working. I have a very hungry machine and all it wants to do is eat ink and spit out money all day! Charge a fair price and learn, learn, learn.
We’ve grown into a new location, added new equipment and people to our business, so now in 2017 our multiple machines are even hungrier! We still get the bulk of our business locally from passing out business cards.
How do you set your prices?
The best advice I can give is to respect yourself. What I mean is be honest with yourself, if someone is charging much less than you are respect your investment in equipment and time and DO NOT drop your price just to get the work. You’ll work yourself out of business. It took us 2 years to go from 0 to 150 shirts a day but we had to survive to make it to this level.
What was your biggest hurdle?
I guess it was trusting other people and the words “Call if you have a problem”. I sure came out a winner on that. Thank you again to everyone at ColDesi and Colman and Company. The other big one was going “back to school” to learn this new business at 68.
Who are your typical customers?
Other shops that do screen printing and embroidery, ladies clothing boutiques, Western wear stores, walk ins, local sports teams and a lot of great referrals.
What services or products do you offer that might appeal to other ColDesi or Colman and Company customers?
Wholesale high quality DTG printing, Rhinestone and Rhinestone Decal designs or a combination of DTG and Rhinestones. Vinyl letters and signs and now full color t shirt transfers.
What advice would you give someone just getting started?
Research and check your pocket book. Are you going retail or wholesale? Most important, what support equipment will you need? Don’t just think of the machine to make the product, remember what it takes to prepare and finish like a heat press, pretreat machine, packaging, etc. If you’re going retail – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Work with suppliers you can trust. Ask QUESTIONS!
IF THEY OFFER TRAINING – TAKE IT.