The first title for this post was sublimation intimidation, but I soon realized that the problem doesn’t just lie with sublimation, it could involve a heat press, or an embroidery machine or a direct to garment printer or almost any piece of equipment that can be used for decoration. The issue I want to discuss today is the fact that new equipment and new decorating practices can often seem intimidating and that taking the first step and just getting started is often the most difficult part of the whole process. I think almost all of us have experienced this form of intimidation at one time or another. The question we need to answer is how to get past the intimidation factor and move on to successfully using your equipment.
The first thing to remember is that your equipment is tougher than you think. Yes, it is possible to break a machine or a printer, but that probably isn’t going to happen if you push a button or send a print job. Most manufacturers or suppliers will also send printed instructions or direct you to a website which can help you with set up. There is also always a tech support option if you get really confused. Before you do anything else, you have to take the machines out of their boxes or crates and get them running. A machine you’ve spent good money on that never gets used certainly isn’t going to be a good return on your investment.
The second thing to remember is that you will screw up. You’ll print something backwards. You’ll put something on the heat press the wrong way around and get ink on the platen. You’ll sublimate something for too long or for not long enough and end up ruining a blank. Mistakes will happen, but they aren’t the end of the world. EnMart sends practice fabric with our sublimation systems precisely because errors happen, and it’s always best to build a mistake fund into your budget, that way you can make mistakes without impacting your bottom line. It is also a good idea to not take any rush jobs until you’re familiar with and secure in your ability to operate your equipment. Nothing screws up a learning curve like deadline pressures.
Third, remember that there are resources out there to help you learn how to use your equipment and be successful at whatever decorating discipline you choose. There are blogs like this one. For sublimation and ChromaBlast system owners, Sawgrass has a variety of education and technical support information on their website. Many suppliers will offer videos or instructional downloads for the machines or supplies they sell. There are also forums and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter which provide a place to ask questions and find help.
What it comes down to in the end is being willing to work past the intimidation to give something new a try. You did the research, you decided what decoration discipline you wanted to add to your business, you purchased the necessary equipment and supplies, and now you’re too intimidated to take the stuff out of the box. You’ve already made a monetary investment, now make an investment in courage and in time. After all, equipment that’s left in a box only generates revenue for the person who sold it.