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Figuring Out Cooler Liners

This time of year is perfect for thinking about coolers. They make a great gift for customers and employees. In addition, anyone receiving a cooler will invariably hold onto it, making it a lasting marketing presence.

When looking at various types of coolers, you’ll notice there are several different types of liners. To help clear some of the confusion, here’s a short chart on the differences:

Heat Sealed Liner:  These provide a leak-resistant barrier and are able to hold water. Not recommended for loose ice as it can misshape and tear a soft liner. Usually made of PEVA, a non-toxic vinyl which has been replacing the use of PVC.

Silver Foil Liner:  Sometimes referred to as a thermo-liner, this is good for warm and cold items, but is not leak proof. Usually the least expensive of the liner types.

Hard Plastic Removable Liner:  A good choice for convenient cleaning and for using loose ice.

Clear Plastic Removable Liner:  A soft, leakproof liner which can be removed for easier cleaning.


To best insulate your items in a cooler, follow these tips:

 

  • Keep your cooler out of the sun.
  • Keep the cooler off the ground as it can absorb the ground heat and transfer it to the contents.
  • Pack items tightly inside the cooler to minimize air circulation which can warm the contents.
  • Always keep the cooler closed when not in use.

 

 

Keepin’ It Cool – What Type of Coolie Works Best?

Confused about the types of beverage insulators out there? Wonder what’s the difference between scuba and neoprene? Wonder why they call it scuba when diving suits are made out of neoprene?

Here’s a quick rundown on the types of coolie materials commonly used:

Scuba: Open cell polyurethane foam with a polyester fabric on one side and tricot on the other.
Neoprene: Closed cell rubber-based product with polyester or nylon fabric on both sides.
The photo shows the scuba on the left, neoprene on the right.
Now, what does that mean? In a nutshell, open cell has more air pockets and is thus, less insulating. Since closed cell is much denser, it blocks transfer of heat much better, keeping your beverage cooler for longer.
So why choose scuba over neoprene? Price. It was developed as a cheaper alternative to neoprene, but the tradeoff is it won’t insulate as well.
So when choosing an insulator, the decision is yours – less expensive, but won’t perform as well, or spend a little more for a better product.

Umbrellas 101

It’s that rainy time of year coming up, and the perfect time to think about umbrellas as marketing tools. Whether it’s for golf outings or personal use, umbrellas can’t be beat for the length of time the recipient will hold onto them and the marketing exposure they offer.

When in the market for umbrellas, the following things should be kept in mind:

Stick or Folding:
Stick umbrellas are much stronger than folding ones. Each joint in a folding umbrella which allows you to fold it down creates a point of weakness. You sacrifice strength for convenience.

Click here to view our favorite folding umbrella – Totes Auto Open/Close Umbrella

Ribs and Frame:
The ribs of an umbrella are the rods which spread out and attach to the canopy. Coated ribs will better protect against rust and corrosion. The ribs and frame are usually made up of aluminum, steel or fiberglass. Aluminum is the least expensive, but also the most likely to break and bend. Steel, while much stronger, is more rigid and can break at the rivets in a strong wind. Fiberglass, though pricier, is stronger and flexible, making it better able to handle very strong gusts.

Vented Canopy:
A vented canopy, or double canopy, is common on golf umbrellas due to their normally larger arc size. The vent allows wind to pass through the canopy rather than invert it. Some smaller umbrellas are now available vented.

The Gustbuster is the umbrella of choice for touring pros. It can withstand up to 60mph gusts without inverting. It also comes with a lifetime warranty. Check out more details here:  GUSTBUSTER

Fiberglass or Metal:
As discussed above, fiberglass offers more flexibility in wind gusts, decreasing the chances of damage to the umbrella. Another advantage of fiberglass is that it does not conduct electricity, making it much safer in a lightning storm.

Some fast facts about umbrellas:

  • average imprint area is 7″x5″ and can go up to the entire umbrella canopy — great advertising space!
  • golf outings are perfect for umbrellas – cheaper than golf balls and don’t end up at the bottom of the lake!
  • great item for gift with purchase
  • rule of thumb:  everyone needs at least 3 umbrellas – it’s a personal accessory
  • perfect appreciation gift – the recipient will hold on to it for years

2013 Best Boss Award – PPB Magazine

I was surprised to open my email about a month ago and find that I had been selected as one of 2013 Best Boss Awards by Promotional Products Business magazine.

We truly have a special group of people here at The Creative J. Without the dedication and caring they all give to me and each other, what we do and how well we do it certainly would not be possible. I am forever grateful to all of them for their continued support and all the FUN we have working together each day. Thank you – Val, Rachel, Risa, Lindsey & Jeff – for everything you have done and are for me!

To read more about this and the common themes they found with the 2013 award recipients, click here:  2013 PPB Best Boss Awards – Top Secrets of Savvy Supervisors.

 

Creative Bag Imprinting Ideas

Bags are a common promotional item businesses are buying these days. Be it die cut plastic bags, recyclable grocery bags, coolers or totes, you see them everywhere you go. And because they are an item that gets used and reused, it’s a great advertising vehicle for your logo.

But, problem is, since you do see them everywhere, we tend to not pay attention to them as much since most bags utilize the most basic decorating – a one color imprint centered on the front panel.

To really help your message and your brand stand out, how about trying some more creative and unique decorating methods? With just a little creative twist, what was once a plain looking bag will now stand out and help show off your brand.

So here’s just a few ideas on how you can make your next bag project unique:

 

Full Color Imprinting:

Going from a simple one color imprint to a full color logo or even photo, can make a big impact. Look at these two examples – which one demands more attention? Upgrading to a full color doesn’t always add a lot to the price of the item either. In most cases, it’s just a bit over $1 with no additional set up charges.

In addition, by utilizing a full color imprint, you’ve just opened the possibilities for imprint content. How about a map of the event? Or, a schedule of events? Photos of your product?

The possibilities are endless and you’ve created a marketing piece that really promotes  your brand or product, instead of just displaying your logo.

 

Custom Design

If you’ve got a large quantity (minimums vary, but usually over 3000 pieces), the opportunity for a completely unique and custom design is wide open. All aspects of the bag can be designed from scratch and present a great way to really stand out. From selecting materials to imprint colors and locations, the options are endless. It’s a great way to create a bag that will be memorable and will be used time and time again, presenting your message each time it’s used.

Buckle Tote                              Accessory Tote

Unique Imprint Locations

Another option for a unique look is to place your imprint in non-standard locations. Depending on the bag supplier, your options may include handle imprints, imprinting inside the bag and on the gussets. Combining multiple imprints and locations on the same bag can truly provide a custom look.
These are just a few ideas for getting creative with bags. If you’ve got an occasion coming up where a bag is part of your marketing plans, give us a call and we’ll present you with some creative, custom ideas that will make your bag get noticed.

Price Drops on Sanmar District Line

Sanmar, a leading clothing wholesaler to our industry, has just announced price drops on it’s District® and District Made® lines, at an average of 15%. The District® line features apparel with a trimmer cut and shorter sleeves, while the District Made® line features a more relaxed fit with longer sleeves.

At The Creative J we’re really excited to see this price drop as it will allow us to offer our customers some newer more fashion forward styles at an even better price point.

Microburn Junior’s Raglan Tee

In addition, Sanmar has introduced a dozen new fabrics including Microburn™, an aged-looking fabric that has a weathered look and feel. Available in a variety of colors and styles, it’s soft feel can’t be beat.

Microburn Men’s Crew Tee
Men’s Dip Dye Crew Tee
Another addition, the Dip Dye, offers shirts with graduated color variations which are so popular today.  In both men’s and ladies versions, this is a great option for company tshirts with a little pizzazz.
Ladies Dip Dye
Rounded Deep V-Neck Tee

View more of the latest styles from Sanmar, click here to go to view the District® & District Made® lines.

For pricing on these or other decorated apparel, contact one of our knowledgeable specialists here at The Creative J.

Heat Seal Decorating

Everyone’s used embroidery for decorating polos, bags, jackets and other items, but have you ever considered, or even heard of heat seal as an alternative?

At first listen, heat seal may conjure up memories of tshirt imprinting of the past – those thick, plasticy transfer imprints that would crack and peel over time. Today’s heat seal or transfers are much more durable and offer a variety of materials.

Heat seal is an excellent option for full-color graphics with great detail. If you’ve got a complicated logo or one with many colors, digital heat seal transfers are a very cost effective solution. Often heat transfer can be a less expensive option than embroidery, especially for imprints with lots of detail or solidly-filled areas.

Transfers are usually digitally printed on a transfer paper or onto printable heat transfer material which is then heat sealed or pressed to the fabric. Photo-quality images can be reproduced for unlimited options.

In addition, since the transfers can be applied to practically any location on an item (as long as it can lie flat), the options are endless for a more creative approach to decorating.

Locations
Consider these ideas for imprint locations:  pockets, hem, collar, upper back shoulder, sides, trim areas, or shoulder tops. You are only limited by the ability to lay the heat transfer flat for pressing.

Materials
There are a variety of heat seal materials available such as glitter, reflective, rhinestones, sequins, foil, felt, and twill.

Ask about using heat seal decoration as an option on your next apparel project. We’ll brainstorm with you to come up with some unique and creative ways to make your apparel stand out from the rest of the crowd.

 

Cotton Prices on the Rise…Again

An article released today by www.business-standard.com details the rise of cotton prices over the past two months. Apparel manufacturers were waiting to see if prices would fall or stabilize, but instead, have seen an upward tick in pricing, causing them to consider 10-15% increases to apparel.

In the promotional products business, we see the effects of such price increases mainly in the week-to-week costs of tshirts. Tshirts are considered a commodity item, and pricing can fluctuate wildly when cotton pricing is unstable. This can cause it to be extremely difficult to hold pricing on quotes for longer than a week or two.

At The Creative J, we have many sources for our blank apparel, which help us to keep your costs down. When quoting apparel pricing, we search through a multitude of vendors to find the best current pricing so we can pass the savings on to our customers. You can be assured that the price we quote has been thoroughly researched by the time it reaches your eyes.

Click here to read more about the current cotton situation.

 

Make it Soft to the Touch

Tshirts have become an integral part of today’s fashions, and a common item for companies to advertise or promote their business or brand. One of the popular trends in tshirt design is to use softer materials and imprinting methods that are soft to the touch. The goal is to have an imprint that doesn’t feel like a plastic sticker, but retains the softness of the material as much as possible.

At The Creative J, we have numerous imprinting and decorating techniques available which gives us the ability to offer our customers unique and memorable ways to design their apparel. To achieve an imprint which retains that soft, almost worn feel, even when the design covers a lot of area, there are three main methods to use. Below are some of the options and details about each:

No Underbase

Using regular Plastisol inks without an underbase can achieve a more worn look with a slightly softer feel.

Final Appearance
Depending on the color of the shirt and the ink colors being used, the imprint can have a vintage/worn look with a slightly softer feel since there is not a layer of white underneath. There will still be a detectable imprint to the touch.

Detail
Imprints will retain their detail within the limits of standard screenprinting.

Cost
Either the same or a bit less in some cases than standard printing.

Minimum Quantities
No restrictions other than those for standard printing (usually 12, depending on imprint colors and locations)

Fashion Base

An additive is mixed with regular Plastisol inks to achieve a softer feel. After washing the shirt, you won’t be able to feel the imprint.

Final Appearance
The imprint will have a more transparent, washed-out look, which will allow the color of the shirt to show through. For this reason, printing a dark imprint on a dark shirt will not work as well since the shirt color will overtake the imprint color. However, if printing a lighter color on a dark shirt, the imprint will have the worn, distressed look of a vintage tshirt.

 

Fashion Base Print

Detail
Since Plastisol inks hold good detail, imprints will retain their detail in finer areas.

Cost
A bit more per imprint color and placement than standard inks, but still an affordable option.

Minimum Quantities
Since inks need to be specially mixed and cannot be saved for later use, there is a minimum of 48 pieces.


Water Base Inks

These inks have a softer hand to them then standard Plastisol inks and has a softer look to the imprint also (colors will not be as bright).

Final Appearance
The imprint will be a bit more transparent than standard inks and does not print well on white underbases, so works best on white or light colors. Pantone colors will appear a bit lighter than they appear in color books, so if you want bright, vibrant colors, waterbase is not the direction to go.

Detail
Since the ink has a tendency to dry more quickly, there can be a loss of detail in some fine areas.

Cost
Usually no extra cost to run waterbased inks.

Minimum Quantities
No higher minimums than standard printing.

Discharge Ink

Discharge ink is the process and waterbased ink used for dark garments. It’s extremely soft when compared to standard inks. It uses a chemical which bleaches the dye from the garment before depositing the ink pigment on the material.

 

Final Appearance
After washing, the imprint will feel just like the garment’s material. Imprint colors can be vibrant since the garment color does not show through the ink. Only SOME 100% cotton garments will work for this process. Some rich colors such as royal blue, red, purple, etc. can be very unpredictable as the inks can become contaminated by the shirt dye. When used on the right type of garment, it has a wonderfully soft and vibrant appearance.

Detail
Since these are waterbased inks, fine details may appear soft or fill in some due to drying issues.

Cost
Due to the special mixing of inks with chemicals, they must be used right after mixing. In addition, the chemicals tend to break down the screens, which depending on the size of the order, can require additional screens. Therefore, the cost for discharge is much higher than standard inks. You can figure an extra $.60-$.75 per imprint color, per location for discharge.

Minimum Quantities
Due to the factors above, discharge printing using requires a minimum of 72 pieces or more.

Using the methods above, along with other techniques and decoration methods, we can help you to create a tshirt design that will stand out from the rest.

CPSIA and Child Safe Products

For the past year, manufacturers and importers of consumer products have been required to show proof of compliance with third-party testing for lead in children’s products. These new regulations are commonly referred to as CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) This impacts the promotional product industry since many promo products are intended for or handled by children. It’s important to be aware of these regulations as they pertain to the marketing items you chose for your promos.
 stuffed lamb toy

What is Defined as a Child”s Product?

Basically anything designed or intended for use by children under 12 fall under these regulations. However, this definition can get a bit sticky. Some items although not necessarily intended for children, may fall under this regulation due to the imprint placed on the item. For example, if you decorate a water bottle with a fun cartoon, then it can be determined to fall under this regulation. That same water bottle with a company logo on it can be exempt.
What About Items Not Intended for Children?
Items not intended for children, but handled by them, are exempt from the testing requirements. It is only if the items primary target audience is children under 12 that the requirements come into play.
What Products are Deemed Safe?
Products which have passed the testing guidelines for CPSIA will have proper labeling  and test results. Most manufacturers are now including these reports on their websites. Products which are deemed child safe will also have a tracking label directly on the product. Again, the gray area of this issue is on products which before decorated are not considered to be children’s products, but after decoration are. These items may not have gone though the testing process.
For a more in-depth explanation of this issue, read this article provided by the Promotional Products Association:  click here.
To view how some of our favorite suppliers comply with these regulations, check out their compliance pages:
Norwood

A good rule of thumb for any promos you purchase for your marketing efforts:  Take a couple minutes to review the audience which will be receiving your items to determine if children are part of that audience. Then take a few moments to review the items to see if any of them appear to be intended for children, or appeal to children. The last thing you want in your marketing campaign is to hand out an item which could be potentially dangerous to a child.