Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ISS Long Beach

Yeah, we saw the Fruit of the Loom guys at the ISS show in Long Beach last weekend. And that's not all. We saw all of the latest trends in tees and colors (neon is making a big comeback, hello 1984), visited shirt vendors, met the amazing Rodney Blackwell from T-shirt forums, attended some seminars (the most valuable was from Ryonet) and generally got to see all the latest topics and trends of our industry.

The Queen Mary -This is not how Ted got to LB
First, we were really lucky Ted made it to Long Beach at all. In fact, his flight was one of 15 that actually were allowed to take off from Seattle. (285 other flights were not so lucky). We didn't know what to expect from Long Beach, but there was the Queen Mary, really good pizza with crumbly toppings and lots and lots of other t-shirt business people.
Crumbly toppings are not just for Indiana anymore

Our three highlights of the show have to be: The social media and Internet marketing seminar hosted by Ryan and JP. Even though I've been in marketing for years, these guys had some really great, up-to-date information specifc to the t-shirt industry. We are excited and inspired to try many of their ideas

I ordered 6,000 with OLN bombs when T wasn't looking...
Second, seeing all of the COOL TEES! Really, it's what we dig. Royal Apparel has a custom burnout tee. That means they can literally burn your design into the fabric of a shirt. Can you imagine our bomb all over these shirts? I sure can! Then Ted asked the question: what's the minimum order? Answer: 6,000. Shit. Well, a girl can dream... We stopped by lots of tee shirt brand booths: American Apparel, Bella + Canvas, Next Level, and of course JS Apparel. I have to say, even after seeing a boat load of other shirts, JS still had the softest feeling shirts around and they also are about the only ones who side tag their shirts with only care tags, letting us brand the shirts ourselves. (Winner, winner chicken dinner!)

Rodney and Ted - t-shirt moguls in the making
Finally, probably the number one benefit of attending the ISS show was meeting Rodney Blackwell (who has the funniest t-shirt brand: I hate, our fearless leader of the t-shirt forums. Rodney runs his biz like we do: he's a brand. He has the ideas and runs with them, outsourcing his printing and sometimes design when needed. It's really cool to meet someone else who has the same dream and who's making it happen. Not only did we pick his brain, (we left enough for him to remain operational) we also attended a meet-up dinner with other great t-shirt forums peeps. There were over a hundred of us there, at this place that Ted warned me was a meat extravaganza. No, it was not a Chippendale review. It was Green Field's Churrascaria. We ate, we chatted, we felt like we were a part of a bigger industry and that felt good.

That about sums up our first trip to ISS Long Beach. When people say trade shows are on their way out, I have to disagree. There is something about seeing and feeling all of your t-shirt options in one single place that is...irreplaceable. And there is also something about the camaraderie and relationship building that only happens when a group of people who share a passion around a specific industry meet face to face. It's a feeling of belonging. It's inspiring. We're ready to embark on 2012 with a new vision and a new focus. We're headed next to the Magic/Sourcing/Pool show in February to take another step closer to our goal: to get our shirts out there and make people happy wearing them. Because our idea is original and smart ass and fun. We're gonna make it happen.

 Thanks for reading,


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