My not so hidden secret is my absolute love for stationery. I used to dream of owning a filofax when I was young!
I only recently thought about the connection with my business. A lot of the promotional products I work with clients on, are in actual fact, stationery products. My love for stationery, however did start from a very young age. (“Show you the child at 7 and I show you the adult!.”)
If you know me well, you know how much I am in love with my TurnKey Promotion pens. Since the day these pens were delivered they have come into conversation more times than I can count!
I know for sure I am not alone with this borderline obsession. Which got me thinking, where does this world wide fixation on stationery come from. In the times of ‘paperlessness’ (so we thought!), stationery stores are not going away. If anything, in the last 10 years we are seeing more stores pop up.
Thanks to thepaperdashery.com they have shed some light on where the obsession with stationery comes from:
New stationery represents a fresh start
Stationery provides an alternative to digital communication
Stationery puts power and control into your hands – literally
There is a belief that stationery makes us more organised and creative
Stationery provides a channel for us to express our true selves.
Who thought a pen and notepad or diary could deliver so much!
So it appears there are a lot of emotions and feelings, consciously or subsciously flying around in stationery stores. A place of self reflection, clearing the past and ‘potentialising’ the future. Stationery stores are limiting their marketing potential… we are no longer talking about paper and pens, we are talking about people’s lives in big ways! Kikki K (Australia born, starting in Melbourne in 2001 and now has 100 stores) has run with this notion, offering in-store self development workshops. ‘Saved by the ballpoint pen!’
Stationery stores have definitely upped their game, which is most certainly the reason, for those who once watched their love fade away, have since reunited. The choice of stationery products, the colours, the luxuriousness… these are no longer boring places we paced for office supplies. They have become the kind of stores that you think twice about, before entering, because you know for certain, you will spend longer than you initially plan to. An adults toy world!
To be honest I am not sure if this is a gender specific obsession. I know a lot of women who have stationery obsession, but I don’t know of a lot of men. Enlighten me if you have some examples.
For me personally, stationery provides a tactileness, that I increasingly crave – post the computer taking over our lives. Stationery without even realising helps me to connect and focus on what I am doing right now. You definitely don’t want your mind wondering when you write the first word, line, paragraph in your brand new diary!
I found a list (thank you Gena-mour Barrett at BuzzFeed) that has confirmed my stationery obsession is real – “Anyone who’s slightly obsessed with stationery has secretly done:
Organised your pens by colour, type of pen, etc.
Taken the line width of your ruled paper seriously.
Practised your handwriting before making that first sacred mark in a new notebook.
Lied and said you didn’t have a pen because you didn’t want someone to take it.
Been excited by the prospect of starting a new job or term at school because it means having to go stationery shopping.
Refused to use a beautiful notebook for way too long because you still haven’t found a good enough reason to use it.
Convinced yourself that new stationery is the key to organising your life.
Winced when someone asked to borrow a piece of paper because it means ripping a page from your precious notepad.”
Lucky for me I have turned my obsession into a business, and so researching, sourcing, reviewing, testing, selling, stationery products for my day-job is a perfect fit.
These are some of my latest obsessions that you may also find yourself becoming obsessed with:
If you need a sample, don’t hesitate. Nothing would bring me more joy!
Denim is a rugged, sturdy, twill weave woven (a special characteristic which sets it apart from other fabrics) made from 100% cotton fabric.
In 1873 American Jacob Davis (A Tailor) and Levi Strauss (Cloth Merchant) collaborated to fulfil an order for a pair of trousers that would be “sturdy and wear well” – which would become ‘Jeans’.
The days of denim are still strong
A Poll by ShopSmart (from Publisher of Consumer Reports) found the average American owns seven pairs of jeans. Roy Morgan Research reveal that in any given four-week period, more than 1.7 million Australians 14+ buy at least one pair of women’s and/or men’s denim jeans (2016). And to prove the timeliness of denim, millennial Lorna Burford, a 30-year-old blogger in England, has between 400 and 450 pairs of jeans.
Denim is a material that has lived on through cultural revolutions, generational change, socio-economics and fashion trends. Interestingly if you look at the evolution of denim jeans in particular, you will see a direct correlation with people’s consciousness, i.e. how they are feeling about the world that they are living.
20’s and 30’s – Denim jeans were worn by workers.
50’s – “Bad Boys” Marlon Brando and James Dean glamorised denim jeans on film. As a result, Public Schools in America banned jeans for being too provocative.
60’s and 70’s – We saw the hippy denim jean, denoting freedom and less structure.
80’s – Was the start of designer denim. Where Brooke Shields became the face of Calvin Klein Jeans.
A flashback to my days of double denim!! Feel free to share your denim flashback with me so we can reminisce together!
90’s – The grunge era came on coinciding with the rise of hip hop. Here we saw very baggy, casual styles.
Early 2000’s – Low-rise jeans became popular thanks to Britney Spears.
Mid to late 2000’s – The skinny jean was the big innovation, thanks to denim stretch technology. Providing ‘go to’ apparel for any occasion.
Today – We see a lot more variety. There is no set trend as such; Straight Leg, High waisted, Vintage Distressed/Shredded Denim are trending. The extreme cut out style is something I’ve never seen or previously heard of… not sure if this will take off (I certainly won’t be wearing them!). The average smaller independent eco friendly denim lines are also popping up challenging the bigger brands as they are just as accessible via internet shopping.
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important across all industries. The denim industry is no exception. Some of the innovation in this area includes:
Investment in clean technologies. For example, in the fibre stage of making denim, biodegradable synthetics and bio elastomers are being used to help mills create more sustainable denim.
The introduction of both natural (e.g. Hemp or Linen) and man-made (e.g. lyocells) alternatives to the thirsty cotton crop.
The avoidance of consuming new resources and replacing with recycled fibres like new Refibra which is made out of waste material during the manufacturing process.
Introducing sustainable alternatives, organic and BCI cottons, when requiring new cotton.
Denim not just for jeans – Denim Promotional Products
The versatility, durability and appeal of denim fabric has enabled cross-industry utilisatilisation. We have seen denim shirts, jackets, dresses, shorts, skirts, headbands, swimming costumes, shoes, etc.
In short, there is no end to denim. Now you can find a variety of products made out of denim like mobile phone covers, aprons, quilts, pillows, notebooks, sunglass frames, bags, hats, computer cases, towels, drink holders … the list continues.
The promotional products industry is also trending with denim, with some of the following denim promotional products now available to take your company logo:
Bags, for play, shopping and work. People are looking for materials that last, protect and have style. And denim totes and satchel bags certainly fits this bill.
Apparel. Aprons and Denim shirts bring a premium feel to any brand.
Hats are available in different denim fabrics enabling versatility in the style that best suits your brand or product positioning.
Below is an example of Trip Advisors Travel Accessories pack. You have a backpack, wash bag, passport, bag tag, diary and pencil case. The complete pack for a branded gift to customers. Some elements translate to different industry gift ideas, for example, course enrolment, company welcome pack and new member gifts.
Since researching Denim for this article, it made me think about the longevity of materials and trends. On Quora (platform to ask questions and connect with people who contribute unique insights and quality answers) there was some interesting feedback about people thinking that denim won’t be around for too much longer.
From everything I have seen, read and experienced during my lifetime, I would have to disagree with this. There is something about denim that makes people not only feel good but express themselves in a very individual way, despite being a mainstream material. I thought the whole athleisure surgence (e.g. leggings, tights), would take over, but it appears not. Denim jeans has a strong hold over us. My only guess as to why, is because it has continually evolved with the times and always feels contemporary whilst connecting us to our past.
Whilst you were summering it up in Australia during January, I was trumping it up in America!
This was travel for both work and play!
The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo was the main purpose for the trip – the biggest industry expo in America. We are talking 11,000 distributors representing 4,000 companies and 30 countries, attended by over 20,000+ people. The Everest of Expos, both in respect to the variety of products, the exhibition space … and trying to get through it in three days. Then throw in the Las Vegas location – the epicentre of ‘can you make it bigger and better’!
With something as big as this, you have to plan and be selective from the start, or you could find yourself lost in the noise, hype and excitement.
The opportunity to attend this Expo in Vegas was a milestone for not only my business, but also for me personally …. as I extended the time to experience America is a completely different way.
We, my husband and I, experienced Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco and then drove to Las Vegas via California Highway 1 for a stay in San Simeon, home to the amazing Hearst Castle. We miraculously stumbled across over 3,000 elephant seals that come to the coastline every year to give birth and mate….But that is for another time and something I would be happy to share if you are thinking about travelling to America.
So, back to the show.
We had a plan and it worked very well.
The first two to three days were purely education in sales and marketing, specific to the promotional products industry. I attended a lot different educational sessions. I think it was 16 in total. Customer Service online and offline, continues to be top of mind. There was also a lot of education around high performance selling, unifying sales teams and the latest trends and topics related to social media, metrics, branding and positioning. A great opportunity to immerse myself in how the world is seeing business and integrating promotional products to further extend and leverage marketing communication and programs.
For the following three days I walked the Trade Show floor on the lookout for new products or a new and fresh approach to existing lines and found the segments with a lot of momentum are:
1. ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCTS are big and only getting bigger. Which is great to see. Recycled straws, recycled materials, less materials, reusable straws, bags, containers for food and drinks.
2. BLING AND MORE BLING! What I mean is bling decoration on anything and everything – bags, drink bottles, in cars, books, clothing, phones. I don’t think this is going anywhere soon. The asian influence in our markets continues to grow, and anything bling acts as a means of creating your own signature add on. Click on the image below to view the Sequin Artwork.
3. SOCKS has turned into a means of self expression. We are seeing a lot of branded socks out there. If designed with the customer and positioning in mind – this is very effective.
4. DENIM. The days of denim are definitely not behind us. There is a lot of denim still to be lived. It’s exciting to see the different ways in which this material is being integrated with other materials – and bringing new life to products we haven’t seen before.
5. THE EXPO LIVE ‘GET IN TOUCH’ interactive stage was also a good bit of fun. There is where live product demonstrations and interviews with industry leaders were streamed. A non-guilt rest break!
Also throw in the very talented, knowledgeable and ENGAGING KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:
David Goggins, the closing speaker, was a stand out for me. He spoke on the topic “Stop Talking Yourself Out of Being Great”. An inspiring talk about personal accountability and building momentum. He spoke about in the early challenges in his life, becoming a Navy SEAL in most elite unit in the American military, and the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training. He also was in the U.S. Army Ranger School, where he graduated as Enlisted Honor Man, and Air Force tactical air controller training. A few years later he became one of the greatest endurance athletes in the world.
Scott Stratten was also another great speaker . Who was named a top five social media power influencer by Forbes. He has completely changed how corporations do business. During his presentation, he shared his ‘radical’ insights on how to engage better with customers through social and viral marketing and blended real-world strategies with memorable stories to rethink the way we market and sell.
Connie Podesta … well I have not laughed so much at this stand out presentation on sales as I’ve never heard it being presented before. As an award-winning author, Podesta is an expert on the psychology of sales, leadership, change, life balance and getting your act together, which helped to inspire industry professionals to do what it takes to increase sales, attract and retain more customers, build longer-lasting relationships, strengthen leadership skills and become more profitable, happier and successful.
So back to our plan for the show. It worked well. Or we thought it was working well. Until….we heard about the ‘Pop Up Puppy Stand’. (Which was amongst foodie pop-ups chocolate-dipped bacon, meatballs and rolled ice cream and caricature artists and an illusionists). In a flash we made a run to cuddle the most beautiful puppies.
This is genius marketing distraction and also drove traffic to less populated areas of the venue … and the perfect reminder that we are fundamentally, as humans, emotionally driven. Which brings me back to why promotional products continue to work.
Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO said. “Promotional products are the only medium that allow us to connect with consumers on a tangible level”.
The benefit of tangible connections, is increasing emotion, trust and engagement – which are the foundation for establishing sustainable business and brands.
If you would like more information about the show and the latest promotional products please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
Halloween’s a weird one, both in concept and history. A holiday that reflects pagan sensibilities, of Welsh and Iris h origin, under the guise of a Christian holiday. Today it doesn’t have much to do with honouring saints or praying for the dead, and has instead taken on a face that more significantly reflects hallmarks of contemporary American culture. Spooks, scares and sweets all wrapped up in enormous orange marketing efforts. When and why then did it make its way down under? It doesn’t seem a very good fit.
There’s something decidedly Autumnal about Halloween. A celebration of harvest time and getting comfy against the coming cold. It’s wrapped up in oranges and auburns, with pumpkin’s flooding the streets (and every product imaginable https://www.eater.com/2017/9/26/16330438/pumpkin-spice-food-pop-tarts-kit-kats-milanos-jello). With it coming at a time when we here in Australia are breaking out the eskies and barbies again, there’s an understandable dissonance.
The Australian kick back against halloween is, however, perhaps more to do with its commercialisation and a particularly American form of commercialism at that. The holiday itself, as aforementioned, has little to actually do with Australian culture and has only taken its first stumbling steps into the Australian national consciousness in the last few years. Its popularity has grown particularly amongst younger generations, due to the influx of American media through the internet and television. Deakin Business School researcher and consumer behaviour expert Dr Paul Harrison (http://this.deakin.edu.au/society/should-we-really-be-celebrating-halloween-in-australia) has charted the close association between American big business and Halloween’s present day incarnation. America is responsible for producing a vast amount of the world’s sweets. Confectionary giants like Mars, Inc. hold a massive place in contemporary culture and have everything to gain from any and all foreign markets embracing a holiday devoted to the celebration of all that is sweet and sugary.
Harrison believes this is where disgruntled Australians should focus their aggravations, on the commercial side of things rather than the holiday itself. Harrison suggests that, as Australia has done with so many other cultural traditions in the past, the country should be open to the holiday. Halloween is not merely a product of America, but something celebrated the world over; by differing people in differing ways.
Business is at the heart of Halloween and is the biggest player in its expanding popularity. Perhaps the key to Australia coming to terms with Halloween is in acceptance and adaptation. It seems unlikely the practice is going away any time soon. It’s time to put that distinctive Aussie spin on an old, and already amorphous tradition. In both business and practice.
Here in Australia we’ve got a special need for sunglasses. Long summers characterised by surf, beaches and barbies are staples of the Australian way of life. We have some of the highest and most consistent temperatures on earth and we’ve also got a great big hole in the ozone layer above us. Sunglasses have become a very stylish necessity.
Designs and products are very often referred to as ‘classic and timeless’, in the case of sunglasses this is actually closer to the truth than most. The earliest recorded examples of sunglasses date back to the classical period. Everybody’s favourite matricidal pyromaniac, Nero, watched the gladiatorial battles of ancient Rome through a pair of polished lenses. Whilst across in China, judges used smoky quartz glasses to hide their expressions in court. These early adopters were certainly innovators, but this eyewear of old did little to protect against anything other than glare.
Sunglasses have cropped up in the centuries since. Yellow tinted lenses were prescribed in the 18th and 19th centuries to treat syphilis, due to the disease causing light sensitivity. The modern form and usage of sunglasses however, didn’t really hit its stride until movie stars started framing their faces in the early 20th century and they didn’t go truly mainstream until Sam Foster found a market for cheap, mass-produced lenses in the 1920s. Ray-Ban hit the scene in the early 30s, and once a Life magazine piece sang this new fashions praises in 1938, people began scooping them up in droves.
Styles and shapes have drifted in and out of fashion over the course of the 20th century, but a great many of the first forms have stood the test of time. The Wayfarer remains an immensely popular style and is virtually unchanged since its 1956 debut. Ray-ban has remained a front runner in the field, and many of their original designs have endured. The eyewear of JFK and Buddy Holly can be seen today on Beckham and Pitt.
With time has come affordability, and today you can scoop up a pair of sturdy and effective shades for an astoundingly low price. Design patents on these timeless styles have long since expired and the market for competitively priced sunglasses has never been stronger. What’s more, it’s still a great area for experimentation and putting a twist on an old classic, as our partners are doing today. When it comes to sunnies, you can’t really go wrong.
It’s a problem we’ve all faced. Overpriced coffee. It’s as certain in life as death and taxes. Between waiting in line for a $4 flat white in the heart of Sydney or pouring lukewarm filtered coffee out of the office pot, you can feel somewhat short of a choice.
If that description brings you to shudders, don’t fear, there is hope yet. Whilst increased storage options and mammoth company fridges have allowed people to start bringing their home crafted lunches to their desk, the same hasn’t been afforded to hot drinks. It’s about time that changed.
With a range of vacuum sealed drink bottles, you can bring the taste of your favourite brew to the office and beyond. Able to store hot drinks for up to 12 hours, the vacuum sealed bottle is perfect for the modern working environment. Whether you’re a sedentary worker, or always on the go, with a range of varying sizes and simple, elegant styles, you’ll never be caught short of your favourite energy boost again. Gone are the days of pounding back an espresso at your desk, and having to head straight back out to find another when your craving gets the better of you.
Even if coffee or tea isn’t your thing, this product can keep cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours. Your first sip in the morning will be just as refreshing as your last on the way home.
All of the bottles are made with a durable stainless steel finish which allows for a clear laser engraved company logo, name or design. Not only are the bottles eco friendly, being made of 100% recyclable materials (no dreaded plastic liner either, ensuring the beverage remains chemical and odour free), but they also have an almost indefinite lifespan.
Combining function with form, this handy little tool will keep your brand clear and visible for as long as necessary, with a sleek, minimalist design that leaves room for creativity and longevity.
Running out of mobile battery has climbed ahead of death and public speaking as our biggest fear! How life has changed!!! This is a bit of a joke, but there is a thing called “low battery anxiety’. An LG Survey revealed (sourced by Daily Mail Uk):
90% of us panic about losing power on our phones
32% of us will drop everything to head home and charge phones
With the current battery capacity compared to the power required to run more complex apps at faster speeds, our batteries are running out a lot sooner than they ever did.
Phone charging Technology continues to improve. With wireless charging becoming the latest must have.
What’s so good about the inductive wireless charger, is the charger transfers power from a charging device to a receiver without a cable. On top of that, you can brand your own wireless inductive charger, as a means of reducing ‘low battery anxiety’ for your customers or staff.
The trusted t-shirt first debuted during the Spanish-American war between 1898 to 1913. They were worn under the Navy uniform and to the delight of all the t-shirt fans, undergarments they did not remain.
The prices people are willing to pay for t-shirts has blown out in a big way. This isn’t a new thing. A Run DMC Adidas t-shirt, produced on the back of the 80’s hip hop music movement had willing fans spending $13,000 on a DMC (in collaboration with Adidas) concert t-shirt. A 100% pure cotton t-shirt, round neck-line, short sleeves. Made for comfort… and made for value! T-shirts as an investment strategy, something to think about??!!
So what’s so appealing about the t-shirt:
Easy entry level – to design, manufacture.
In Australia – we are in t-shirts 9 months of the year – so usage is high.
It crosses all demographics and socio-economic groups.
It provides high-end brands to produce less expensive products to reach a wider audience, though still charge a premium.
The versatility of the t-shirt – can be dressed up or dressed down.
T-shirts are becoming increasingly ‘all occasions’ socially acceptable.
Promotional T-shirts to promote your business, brand, product, message:
Is a very good idea. If you put thought into who will be wearing it, the design, the quality and creating a tee that they want to keep wearing versus storing in the bottom of the drawer. The initial costs per person may be high if comparing to other communication mediums, but the engagement opportunity could far outweigh this. Not only is the person completely engaged with the t-shirt and consequently your brand, but the number of people they cross paths with whilst wearing your t-shirt can create many more impressions of your brand for years to come. Then you can go further to social media, if they are posting images wearing the t-shirt, this will further grow your reach.
The catch is – relevant message, good design, good quality.
Quality says just as much about your brand as does the design and message. So don’t surpass such an important component.
T-shirt fabrics details
Combed cotton – Fine brushes are used to eliminate short strands and straighten fibers, making the fabric stronger, softer, smoother and perfect to screen print.
Jersey – A stretchy knit typically made from cotton or a synthetic blend, it’s very flexible and comfy.
Organic Cotton – Cotton grown with minimal fertilizers and pesticides. Usually softer and more expensive than treated cotton.
Pigment dyed – A coloring process that coats the outside of the fibers, it can create a faded, worn-in look.
Polyester – Maintains its shape well and resists shrinking and wrinkles. Traditionally polyester is non breathable unless moisture wicking / cool dry treated making the fabric pull heat and sweat away from the skin for rapid evaporatio out of the fabric.
Polycotton – generally a polyester and cotton blend.
Rayon – A breathable man-made fibre made out of trees, cotton, and woody plants. Has a silky hand, yet wrinkles. Also called viscose.
Bamboo – tees made from bamboo fabric are beautifully soft, sustainable, easy to straighten, dye and the fabric has a splendid colour effect of pigmentation. Can also be known as rayon.
Rib knit – A ridged pattern that creates a thick, structured garment with a lot of give – usually this fabric can be used around the neck and sleeve to provide more structure.
Look for the WRAP accreditation label. Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) is an independent, objective, non-profit team of global social compliance experts dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing around the world through certification and education.
Do your homework and/or work with someone who has a sounds knowledge of the ins and outs of global manufacturing, so you receive the right product for your business – particularly if your business/brand chooses to align with ethical and environmental compliant business.