The cost of making anything, and in our case custom and world flags, has never been higher. This year, prices have continued to rise forcing down product margins and prompting us to diversify and innovate to maintain the same RRP for customers and still turn a profit.
Thank heavens for technology
With the support and investment of funds from the WCVA in 2015, this social enterprise purchased a state of the art sublimation printer and calender press .... and boy how chuffed is our accountant (and importantly my heart rate).
After a rather dodgy start (printer and techy problems I won't bore anyone with) we have finally been able to confidently produce our niche product by downscaling, yes ..... downscaling, our fabric stock pile.
You wouldnt believe
how much room fabric takes up and how, when you buy a minimum quantity roll of 50 metres for silly money, depressing it is that you've spent the money but can't get a quick return from it unless that specific colour is called for again. Overall I think we have in excess of £40K worth of fabric stacked in storage. Like a bad memory, I find it generally better for my sanity and everyone around me to keep it out of sight, rather than be faced with a constant reminder of the 'dead' zone.
At the risk of boring
anyone with the finer detail, there are lots of varieties of fabrics used in flag making.
There is the woven polyester fabric which has a matt linen look and is generally used for the sewn high end fabrics which account for around 65% of our business.
Then there is knit polyester which is more lightweight than the woven polyester and what we generally use for quality printed flags (not the cheap, sorry'economy' flags) which accounts for a further 35% of our business.
Bear with me....!
A downside of needing to stock all the fabrics used in flag making is the definitive and inflexible range of colours available from the manufacturers themselves. At the end of the day it would be unreasonable to expect them to dye hundreds of thousands of metres of hundreds of thousands of colours to please everyone, so there has to be a standard issue range that everyone works to and thats that.
Enter the beauty of technology
As a result of our investment in technology, we now print any colour to optic white woven or knit polyester and this step change has opened up countless doors for us and our customers.
We're recently printing colour to faux taffeta for a Saudi University contract for ceremonial flags- specific to their colour scheme and something they say they were not sure was possible until we talked. We used our initiative and innovation and came up with a pretty amazing result which we're now rolling out and we're excited about it!
Industry world standard for colours is available through the PANTONE website and we now offer our customers an infinite choice of flag fabric colours. We use pantone as a reference point for their flag, bunting or banner design and then replicate it through our in house print process. Result.
We SEW in-house, we PRINT in-house
We now print everything in-house on our RT640 RolandDG textile sublimation printer and heat seal using our Texart CS-64 heat press. By printing as we go, as we need and as we want, we limit waste and we offer the widest range of colour possibilities. We're happily also able to keep a keen eye on quality and ensure a consistent crisp clean product and fantastic result.
The cost of making never felt so affordable and the dead zone is slowly shrinking.... thank heavens for technology.