How to Become a Merch Guru for your Band

You've come so, so far from your humble beginnings.  It started with a spark of teenage angst mixed with just the right amounts of Pink Floyd and 90’s Grunge (this would be my dream band).  Then, after years of fumbling through haphazard guitar licks and off-tempo drumming, you and your mates finally scrounged together a handful of originals topped off with an encore cover of “Stairway to Heaven” that lasts twenty-three minutes.

Now, you want some shirts, and so I offer this bit of advice that could possibly make or break your band’s future…START SIMPLE.

When I say “simple” I am suggesting a 1-color screen print on a budget t-shirt.  Too often, bands request 50 shirts with a 4-color design on a premium garment the first time they walk in the door.  That is not simple.  Let’s look at a price breakdown.

SIMPLE:

50 Shirts Printed on Budget Tees

Setup Fee: FREE (we waive a screen fee for each 36 shirts you buy)

Cost Per Shirt: $6.45

Total with Tax: $345.88

Let’s check your profit:

If you sell the shirts for $15 and sell out, you rake in a whopping $750.  Minus your initial investment, you've made $404.12 for your band!

Now, don’t get too ahead of yourself.  Set aside some money to buy more shirts.  You’ve started a snowball of financial genius that knows no bounds.  Also, buy a new mic, and replace the bassist Mike.  His negative vibe is killing the creativity of the band.  

NOT SIMPLE:

50 Shirts Printed on Premium Tees

Cost Per Shirt: $13.50

Total with Tax: $723.94

Let’s check your profit:

If you sell the shirts for $15 (because no one will probably pay $25 for a t-shirt at this point in your band’s career.  Face it, your not Nirvana…yet) and sell out, you’ve scraped together $750.  

Minus your initial investment of $721.26, and you've made a staggering $26.06 for your band.  Fail.

You’ve got no money to buy more shirts and a terrible microphone.  Either you’ll use this increased angst to write some new killer songs…or you’ll break up, move back in with your parents, and resort to giving guitar lessons for $8 a pop to your neighbor Billy who worships Nickelback.

In summation:  Keep it Simple, or you might as well start downloading Nickelback guitar tabs today.

Brand Spotlight: American Apparel

American Apparel was the first company to get soooo many things right.  Fashion fit shirts that are super soft.  American made from top to bottom.  Trendy, cool, hip...almost perfect.  However, the CEO was a sleeze.   Then they got rid of him.  Their brand brings the softest and bestest fitting shirts on the market.  The most impressive aspect of American Apparel is how well their garments screen print.  Here's why:


When searching for the best fabrics for screen printing, it’s not necessarily the weight of the fabric that matters, but the knit. Our fabrics are softer and higher in quality than our competitors’ because we use a higher count of longer, more desirable fibers in our thread, which we then weave tighter to produce a finer knit.
— http://www.americanapparel.net/wholesaleresources/screenprinting/

If the price of the screen printed shirts fits your budget, we highly recommend American Apparel.  Stop by the shop to see some samples and you'll see why.

CHECK OUT THE STYLES WE OFFER HERE

The real cost of screen printing

I’m going to get real with you.  We have accounts with shirt vendors which allows us to order shirts on the cheap.  Compared to retail prices, our wholesale prices would probably make your jaw drop.  So you may be asking yourself, “Well then why the heck do I have to pay so much for my screen printed shirt?”  Good question.  Just for fun (well, fun for me) I thought I’d try and list the time and costs that go into the price of screen printed shirts.  From beginning to end, let the “Great experiment begin!”

1.  Quoting the job

  • Email/phone call correspondence
  • Locating the perfect shirt style and fit.
  • Calculating cost per shirt based on printing variables.
  • COSTS: Labor, Internet and phone service, electricity, printer paper

 2.  Taking the order

  • Filling out the order form
  • Inputing order into invoice software
  • Sending invoice/printout order for the shop
    • COSTS: Labor, Internet and phone service, invoice software, electricity, printer paper

 3.  Ordering the goods

  • COSTS: Labor, Internet and phone service

4.  Artwork

  • COSTS: Labor, Internet service, Adobe products service

5.  Receiving the goods

  • Checking in and counting each piece received
    • COSTS: Labor

 6.  Screen Prep

  • Emulsion Screens
  • Print off transparancies 
  • Line up artwork to be burned
  • Burn screens
  • Allow for dry time
  • Prepping screen
    • COSTS: Labor, emulsion, transparencies, electricity, water, tape

  

 

7.  Presstime

  • Setting up the job
    • COSTS: Labor, pallet tape, spray adhesive, on-press cleaner, sharpies, cleaning rags, scotch tape

 

8.  Cleanup

  • Take down the screens
  • Clean out ink
  • Remove tape
  • Remove emulsion from screen
  • Dehaze screen
  • Degrease screen
  • Rinse screen
    • COSTS: Labor, press cleaner, emulsion remover, dehazer, degreaser, electricty, water.

 

Now for the other costs:

Rent, payroll costs, equipment, maintenance, advertising, security system, refuse and recycling service, paper towels, toilet paper, pencils and pens, ink, batteries…

Okay,  I know I’ve left some things out, but hopefully this paints a better picture of the work, time, and money that goes into screen printing even one shirt, let alone 5000.  We’ll always do our best to find a happy balance of low cost shirts and well-paid employees.  

Inspiration: DKNG

We've been following the work of DKNG for quite awhile now.  They keep creating work seemingly at ease that on one hand makes us strive to get better at what we do, and on the other hand makes us want to "chuck it all" and give up on life.  Its a love/hate relationship.  Mostly we try and focus on the love.  Seriously though, these guys are fantastic. Thanks DKNG for inspiring us with your beautiful work.  Below are some of our favorites.





Brand Spotlight: Bella + Canvas

Bella + Canvas is another favorite brand of apparel that we promote here at Screen Ink.  With a wide range of styles and multitude of color options, if you are looking for a premium garments at budget prices, look no further.

Also, they are working hard at being a great company.  Their practices demonstrate their care for their employees as well as the environment.   

Here are a couple of links from our online catalogs of a few of our favorite styles.

3001 Unisex Crewneck 100% Cotton

6004 Women's Favorite Tee

3719 Unisex Hoodie

How to prepare a custom t-shirt order

Be it screen printing t-shirts and hoodies, embroidering ball caps and beanies or applying custom vinyl names and numbers to sports jerseys, to us it’s truly a collaboration of organizers, artists and craftsmen. 

 

Here are some tips to get you started on the most important part, establishing cost.

 

  1. Choose the shirt that’s right for you or your client. Don’t worry about cost just yet, we can look at alternatives later if we end up over your budget. We always suggest browsing our suggested (or most popular) products at screenink.com. We also have a catalog page with links to some of our favorite vendors who offer just a ridiculous amount of brands and styles.
  2. Figure out your sizing and quantities. The more shirts you order, the lower your price per shirt. With that in mind, order what you need plus a buffer of an extra shirt per size, perhaps, in case someone misjudged their ideal t-shirt size. We can provide specifications for any of our garments that will help you with this process.
  3. Consider print locations. We do a ridiculous amount of left chest and full back prints. We can also do sleeve prints, side prints, tag prints and even armpit prints. Keep in mind that each print location will add to your total cost per shirt.
  4. Decide on some ink colors. There’s no tried and true formula for matching Pantone colors in our industry, sadly, but we definitely use PMS guides as a reference. Feel free to share an ideal Pantone color. We charge a flat rate based on volume. If you want to make our lives easier, ask us for a color chart of stock inks that we keep in our inventory. They’re free! 
  5. What’s your turnaround time? Our pricing will have to be adjusted for any order we consider a rush. A rush order in most cases involves expedited shipping of the blank product as well as overtime hours. We adjust pricing to compensate for these otherwise unnecessary expenses.

 

These five things will help us give you a rock solid price quote. We’re also here to help along the planning stages so feel free to contact us with questions regarding garments, print capabilities, scheduling etc. The best way to organize your information is to utilize the appropriate quote forms via our website. Check it out, hit us up, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Jason Davis - Screen Ink. President

 

Building a Bicycle Delivery Trailer

We've been wanting a trailer to tow around for local deliveries for a while now. I finally pulled the trigger on a sun-bleached and weathered old In-Step kids trailer for a whopping $25 and stripped it down.

We snapped a couple photos of our process. Have a look!

Here's the frame with a wooden interior frame we created and mounted in place.

Here's the stripped down frame with our wooden interior framework.

Then we cut down some scrap wood strips for the top surface.

After a dry fit, we gave these pieces a light sand and coated and sealed them with a couple coats of Minwax.

Once dry we mounted the top surface and threw a little trim on the end to help hold cargo.

Boom, done. Our next addition is constructing some side walls and we'll be ready for spring!

Inspiration: Sam Larson

One time I screen printed a poster using an illustration from a collection of old Lincoln newspapers that I had collected from the late 1800's.  I had a friend purchase that poster.  She later showed me a picture of my poster hanging between two pieces from Sam Larson.  That moment may have been the pinnacle of my career.  My poster was the meat in a Sam Larson art sandwich.  Trust me, it was an honor.

Sam Larson is humble, never-ceasing, artist that takes the most simple of things and makes them wonders.  His choice of minimal and unique mediums keeps me on the edge of my instagram seat each and every day.  Also, he loves pizza, mountains, his stocking hat, and occasionally drawing things really, really, small.  Thanks Sam for sharing your work.  Find him on instagram.  Follow him forever.

https://www.instagram.com/samlarson/

http://steelbison.com/



Brand Spotlight: Next Level Apparel

It wasn't long ago that American Apparel stood alone in providing shirts and apparel that set them apart in not only softness of fabric, but also a more "fashion" fit.  The problem was that it was hard to justify paying upwards of $5-$10/garment, especially when budgets are tight.

Now, however, there are handful of viable companies that provide superior softness at budget pricing.  Next Level Apparel is one of our favorites and they have certainly taken things to the...wait for it...NEXT LEVEL.  Yes, that just happened.

Next Level Apparel delivers the latest fashions with superb quality incorporating innovative fabrics that are heavenly soft at a value that is second to none. Our outstanding color palette, up to date styles and fit continue to define us as one of the leading suppliers of fashion blanks in the US market.
— http://www.nextlevelapparel.com/40/about-us.htm

How to order custom apparel

Hey. Hi. Let's talk about ordering customized apparel. Walk with me.

At some point in almost everyone's lives, they've likely had to put together an order of custom apparel or at least had the option to participate in such a project. It's a crazy, murky and confusing world. Trust us, we know. All we can do about it is offer our assistance in clearing the air. We're going to break down ordering with Screen Ink in 5 simple steps. 

Step #1

Figure out a budget. We don't need to know what that is but it's still an important factor. Every shirt brand and style has a different price. Every location on a garment takes more time, materials and labor. Every ink  and/or thread color in a design is going to adjust the price of the finished product. With that in mind, prices will vary and so a budget should be your first priority. 

Basically, How much are you willing to spend? This can be a per shirt number or an overall number for the entire order. We’re happy to run through options to get you into the right garment once we have an idea of what can be afforded. 

Step #2

Timeline. Do you have a specific due date? If so, we need to know that right away. We want to be sure we can facilitate the completion of your order. Typically, we strive for a two week turnaround with most standard sized orders of 50-500 pieces. However, in our busy seasons (spring through fall) we often times prefer 3 weeks. Trust us, if we need the extra time it’s for good reason. 

Basically, don’t procrastinate. We’re not changing oil here, we’re applying custom graphics to garments. Every single order we process is different and requires our utmost attention to detail, which takes time.

Step #3

Pick out the garment.  We've grown so tired of showing the absolute lowest priced shirt but we will, every time, if that's what you truly want.  The thing is we'd prefer to find a style of garment that's perfect for your order.  Essentially we're saying let's, at the very least, entertain the option of the perfect garment vs. the "budget" garment.

Things to consider during this step are material (i.e. cotton, polyester, rayon) as well as cut (i.e. dimensions/specifications). Then look at available colors and sizes. If you're working on an epic Abramo family reunion tee you're going to need to cover the gamut and that's infant tees, toddler tees, youth tees, adult tees then possibly some plus or tall tees as well. You may even have to accommodate for a v-neck, long sleeve or "performance" tee for Uncle Nicholas. 

Basically, find a garment that comes in your color, is available in the sizes you need and finally, that you think will actually be worn by the people you're outfitting.

Step #4

Sizing. Is this an order of bulk apparel to inventory in a store, business, fundraising event, etc? If so, we can help try and nail down your demographic and, thus, their appropriate sizes. If it’s an order of specific sizes, you may want to consider the size charts and/or specifications for the garment you just picked out. Most of them are available in our online catalog(s) to view/download/print. 

All of that being said, you can always stop in and try on apparel. We stock quite a few standard styles and have more unique lines of product coming in every week. If you’re desired product isn’t something we have in stock, no worries! We can order samples for you. We simply charge for the blank apparel and when you return them we credit your order. It’s incredibly simple and you can order as many styles, sizes and colors as you like. 

Basically, sizing is complicated. We all have our favorite t-shirt, probably because it fits well and we feel good in it. Then there’s the t-shirt design we love but we didn’t get a size that fits correctly, nobody likes that. There’s no magical math equation to figure out this part of your order. It is, however, a pretty important detail.

Step #5

The design. We work with graphic designers every day. Advertising agencies, In house designers and freelancers alike communicate with us regarding their visions and goals for the project. We take it seriously. They like us for it. This is a situation where we consider the design to be provided, "print ready" art. What is that? Well, it’s a file of high enough resolution for your desired print dimensions OR simply a vector graphic that we can scale to size appropriately ourselves. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, lets talk more.

We also offer our own, in house, graphic design. We’ve worked with schools, businesses, clubs, organizations, non-profits and families to design a piece of apparel that suits their needs. The one caveat is that we don’t start on design work until an order is placed

Basically, let’s get in front of this part of the order. Let us know right away that you’ll need our design assistance. With this in mind, we can better assist with the entire ordering process. 

That’s it. Easy breezy right? Now here’s a link to our catalog page to get you started on your journey.

 

 

 

 

 

LINCOLN Spotlight: Lied Center Presents "Puddin' and the Grumble"

At Screen Ink, we believe shirts are more than shirts.  Shirts are wearable pieces of art that speak identity, humor, style, brand, cause, and awareness.  When the Lied Center approached us about a recent project supporting an upcoming musical that brings awareness to child hunger here in Lincoln, it was an honor and a pleasure to get right to work.  Lincoln continues to prove itself to be a caring community full of people that work endlessly to help their neighbors.  We love LNK!

Puddin' and the Grumble is a creative musical with original screenplay crafted by Becky Boesen.  We are proud of the awareness Becky and her cast have created as they spotlight the daily struggles of children suffering in school from chronic hunger.  

Told through the eyes of a plucky 5th grader, PUDDIN’ AND THE GRUMBLE takes an unconventional approach to addressing childhood hunger...join Puddin’ and her trusty purple llama Wuzzlebutt on their heartbreaking and hilarious journey.
— http://www.beckyboesen.com

If you act fast, there are still tickets available that can be purchased here:

http://www.liedcenter.org/event/puddin-and-grumble

Meet Wuzzlebutt.  He looks majestic on this Next Level 100% Ringspun cotton t-shirt.  

Printing for: The Hub Cafe in Lincoln, NE

It is certainly an honor to partner with The Hub Cafe.  Within walking distance of Screen Ink, we've already enjoyed its fabulous food and drink.  The setup inside is cozy and beautiful.  Below are some pics we took on our first visit and we are excited to take many more trips for its fantastic locally sourced food and drink.  Here's a link to their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/HubCafeLincoln/

 


Giving our walls a poster hug

We took some time today to unearth our Biiklops Poster Show time capsule and hang some prints in our retail store. All prints are currently for sale!  Some of these are the very last print of that limited edition series, others are in large supply. 

Stop by and check them out...and get a "hi-five" while you're at it.  

Proceeds directly benefit our bicycle trails and bicycle advocacy in our fine city. 

Check out:    BICYCLINCOLN      Great Plains Trails Network      THOR

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How to choose the right blend

How to choose the right blend

I’ll never forget the first time I put on a tri-blend shirt (pretend you are reading this in the voice ofJ. Peterman from Seinfeld)  The year was 2007. That July was exceptionally hot as if the sun had pulled the orbit of the earth light years closer.  I had been working in the back of our old studio printing all day and had sweat through everything I had.  Just before hopping on my bike to meet some friends for Happy Hour at Lazlos, I reached into our extra stock bin and grabbed an American Apparel Tri-blend Track Tee listed on page 76 of our catalog...

Winterfest Ales & Auction

We unveiled our Nebrewski line at the 2016 Winterfest Ales & Auction and our response was quite positive!  Here's the link to our online store: NEBREWSKI STORE

Nebrewski booth at the 2016 Winterfest Ales & Auction

We had the opportunity to support a great event this year. Winterfest Ales & Auction organized a tasting of beers from a great majority of local brewers as well as some tasty beers distributed to our region. 

Proceeds benefitted the Men With Dreams non-profit whose mission is to create an environment of excellence, personal significance and achievement for youth. 

We found it to be a great opportunity to test out our latest line of merchandise. Nebrewski is a line of apparel and goods emphasizing the ever growing and popular craft of brewing that fantastically bubbly, sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet beverage internationally known as beer. Better known by some as a brewski. We're in Nebraska, we're enjoying a beer, let's just call it what it is. A Nebrewski! Prost!

With a focus on our great state of Nebraska and a nod to our mates of the gridiron, Nebrewski is a cheeky parody of both Husker apparel and the Nebraska brand. Nebrewski is a parallel force driving the home brewer, the craft beer lover and the Husker fan alike to support all things locally brewed, distributed and consumed in our great city. 

Cheers to the Good Life.