New Sublimation Blanks = Great Holiday Gifts

beltbuckle1_lThe holidays are coming,  and one thing that is always true about the holidays is that people love personalized gifts.   EnMart has added some great new sublimation blanks to our offerings this year.  We’re sure one of these new items will make the perfect gift for someone on your gift list!

Belt Buckles – Our belt buckles can be easily personalized with sublimation.   The sublimation insert is large enough that the image can be clearly seen,  but not so large that it looks like the gift recipient is wearing a championship belt of some kind.   All buckles are made of brass and accompanied by a sublimatable insert.

State Ornaments – While we don’t yet carry every state,  our stock of state ornaments is growing.   Celebrate the sun with an ornament in the shape of Alabama or California or Florida.    Show your midwest roots and display an ornament in the shape of Illinois or Michigan.    Create ornaments to celebrate a favorite vacation spot or to commemorate a hometown that may now be far away.    Keep in mind,  this item can also be used as a luggage tag or a souvenir.

Pendants  – A personalized necklace is something anyone who wears necklaces would be sure to love.    Available as both a square and a round,  these pendants have patterned embossed back and are recessed to accept an aluminum sublimation insert.    Sublimate a family picture,   a favorite saying,  or simply an intriguing design to create a one of a kind piece that is sure to be treasured.

Pet Tags – Don’t forget Fido or Fifi when handing out the gift wrapped packages this year.     Sublimatable pet tags are a great way to identify your pet and give them a bit of style.   Our pet tags are aluminum and can be printed on both sides.    These tags are also great options for key fobs,  luggage tags,  zipper pulls or necklaces.

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Sublimation Section Update

sublimation blanksIf you haven’t been to the sublimation section of our website lately,  you may want to pop in and take a look.   We’ve added some new things and rearranged things a bit to make it easier to find the items you want to purchase.     Today I thought I’d give you a brief tour.

First let’s start with the sublimation blanks section,  as that has probably had the biggest overhaul.    We added some new items,  like blank fabric and Christmas stockings and also now include Vapor Apparel in the sublimation blanks section.    If you’re looking for mugs,  mousepads,  t-shirts or ornaments,  this is the section to visit.

In the sublimation ink section,   you can find all the ink you would need for your Ricoh or Virtuoso sublimation printers.   Inks are sorted by the printer for which they are intended.   If you have an Epson printer,  or don’t see the ink for your Ricoh printer on our list,  please contact us and ask about it.  We sell all currently available Sawgrass inks, and can obtain and stock anything that isn’t in our current inventory on request.

We are proud to say we still offer Mpres Paper,  the only paper we carry and exclusive to EnMart.    The paper is still getting rave reviews on our Facebook page.   It’s a great paper and one we not only sell,  but use as well.   If you’re interested in a sample,  send your request with address information to mpres@myenmart.com.    We’ll be happy to send you a sample via USPS.

Finally,  we should talk about the sublimation accessories category,  which has also had some new arrivals.  We’ve added individual PFTE pressing pillows as well as a pressing pillow kit.  We also have waste ink collectors,  heat tape and mug and bowl wraps.  If you need items to make your sublimation go more smoothly,  this is the category to visit.

 

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Custom Sublimated Patches

sublimated patchesSublimated patches can be a great way to present artwork that may have traits that would not allow it to render well in another decoration discipline.   Gradients and fades don’t work well with embroidery.   Tiny details may not show up as well on a screen printed emblem.   Sublimation offers photographic detail and the ability to play with color,  all at a price that is easily within most shops’ budgets.

Many shops will elect to create sublimate patches themselves.  For those that have a sublimation system and access to blank patches,  this may seem like the easiest route to take,  but that isn’t always the case.   EnMart can create custom blank patches at very reasonable prices,  relieving a shop’s burden of production and freeing up time for other revenue generating activities.

If you’ve never ordered a sublimated patch from EnMart,  it’s really quite easy to do.

  1. Go to the sublimated patch section.
  2. Select the shape for your patch.
  3. Select the size.
  4. Select your merrow color (this should harmonize with the colors in the artwork) and the number of patches you wish to order (minimum order is 25).
  5. Complete the order.
  6. E-mail artwork to design@myenmart.com.   Make sure to include your order number in the subject line.

It’s that simple.   Creating sublimated patches will take a few days at most,  depending on the size of the order.    If your shop sells patches,  but doesn’t have the ability to sublimate them,  or if your shop sublimates patches in house,  but could use the time to do other things,  order your sublimated patches from EnMart.   You’ll save time and money,  and your clients will get a quality product they can wear proudly.

 

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It’s About You, Not Us

iStock_000006951680LargeEarlier today I got a call from a customer who had a question about buying a mug press.   We sold this customer her sublimation system,  the blanks she uses, and got her started using an oven and mug wraps.   She’s doing a nice business selling her original artwork which she puts on the mugs,  and was very happy with this method of sublimation until the oven she was using broke.   She purchased a replacement oven,  but it didn’t seem to work as well,  and she called us asking about purchasing a mug press.

Now we sell a high end mug press from Geo. Knight,  and it’s a press I’d recommend to anyone.   Our parent company has used Geo. Knight presses for years,  and we know they’re well made,  and well supported.   I have no problem advising a customer that a Geo. Knight press is a great buy,  except when I can tell  from what the customer is saying to me  that the Knight press,  while a great purchase, isn’t really what the customer wants and needs.

In this case,  the customer wasn’t sure she wanted a press at all,  and certainly wasn’t sure she wanted to spend what it would cost to buy the Knight.   I explained why the Knight press was worth the price,  but she was still hesitant,  so I recommended a few other places,  friendly competitors of ours,  where she might find presses that were less expensive.   I told her if we couldn’t have the sale,  I’d rather that it went to a company I knew would treat her right.

She was still unsure,  so we talked a bit more.   As it turned out,  she liked working with an oven,  had the process down pat,  and found the results were great.   The only reason she was considering a mug press was because her current oven wasn’t giving her the results she wanted,   her previous,  more expensive oven that had worked beautifully had died,  and she was under the gun to finish orders.   As we talked,  she realized she really didn’t want a mug press at all,  that she was just stressed about making her order deadlines and grasping for solutions.   By the time we’d hung up,  she had decided to go out and get another higher end oven and proceed with the sublimation method that she liked and knew to be successful.

If there is a moral to my little story,  and I think there is,  it is this:  our interactions aren’t about us,  they’re about you.    At EnMart,  we believe that our job is to listen to what you need and help you find the best way to meet those needs.   If meeting your needs involves selling you products we carry,  that’s great,  we are a business after all.  If meeting your needs means directing you elsewhere and recommending a solution that may not put any money in our pockets at all,  we’ll do that.   Our goal is always, if we can,  to create a happy customer and one who comes back to shop with us again and again.

What Can I Sublimate?

Woman with question marks on a blackboardOne of the most common questions about sublimation that we get asked is “what can I sublimate?”.   It’s a common question because people either assume you can sublimate anything  or they assume you can only sublimate items that are in some super secret special category to which not everyone has access.    The truth is somewhere in the middle.   Not every item is suitable for sublimation, as with most decoration disciplines,   there are items that cannot be sublimated because of how they’re made,  what they’re made of,  or because they won’t fit properly into the  heat presses or other heating methods available.     On the other side of the coin,  items suitable for sublimation are not some magically coated items that only a select few can use or buy.   In reality,  sublimation is really a fairly easy decoration discipline to enter and master.  If you are thinking of starting a sublimation business or wondering what you can and can’t sublimate,  here are a few pieces of information that should help you understand what you can sublimate and what may not be an ideal choice when it comes to sublimating a product.

The first thing you need to know is that hard goods suitable for sublimation need to be poly coated.   This means,  as I said in my last post,   that you can’t go to the dollar store and buy a mug and sublimate it.   Yes,  there are sprays that can be used to coat items for sublimation,  and going that route may be a viable choice for some people.   For most people, however,   the easiest route is to buy sublimation blanks already coated.  This will ensure that you get a quality blank with a smooth coating that is designed to stand up to the temperatures needed to get a good sublimated print.

When it comes to sublimating fabric,   100% polyester fabric will always give you the best result.   There are several t-shirt brands,  among them Vapor Apparel,  that make 100% polyester shirts that are comfortable to wear and have a nice feel.  These shirts are designed especially for sublimation and come in an array of colors that are suitable for this decoration discipline.

People often ask if it is possible to sublimate a polyester blend,  and the answer to that question is yes,  with a qualification.   Yes,  you an sublimate a poly blend but,  because it is a blend,   the sublimation ink will only dye the poly fibers.   This results in a more distressed look for your print.   Some people find this sort of look attractive and desirable.   Others do not.   If you want a full color print,  your best bet is to start with a garment that is 100% polyester.   This will always produce your best and most colorful result.

Sublimation is actually fairly simple when you get right down to it.   You need sublimation ink and sublimation paper and a blank suitable for sublimation.     You need a heat source that can reach 400 degrees,  either a heat press that can accommodate the blank you want to sublimate,  or  a wrap that can hold your transfer in place while the item is in an oven.  Finally you need a blank that is suitable for sublimation and some graphic software to create the graphic you want to print.   If you have all those things,  you’re ready to sublimate.

Actual Advice: Answering your Sublimation Questions

Advice-2We just started a series called Actual Advice,  in which we answer questions from customers,  on SubliStuff’s sister blog, EmbroideryTalk,  and I thought it would be fun to have the same series over here.    Often the best indication of what people need and want to know is in the questions they ask,  and I figured it would be helpful to share the questions and answers here on this blog so more people can benefit.    So,  without further ado,  here are a few questions we’ve been asked.

Question 1:  Can you buy mugs from the dollar store and sublimate them?   The first thing to say here is nothing is impossible.  Yes,  theoretically,  you could buy mugs from the dollar store,  buy a coating spray designed for sublimation, coat the mugs yourself and sublimate them.   In practice, however,  that’s a dicey proposition.  Coating items for sublimation yourself is difficult,  and getting the coating evenly applied can be problematic.   Dollar store mugs may also be less sturdy and less able to stand up to the heat and pressure of a mug press.   There’s also the fact that sublimating mugs this way won’t save you much.   The cost of buying a dollar store mug,  purchasing coating and the implements to apply that coating and then spending the time necessary to apply the coating would probably far outstrip the cost of buying drinkware for sublimation that is already professionally coated and prepared.

Question 2:  Do you do sublimation tutorials at your EnMart locations?  We do set up sublimation tutorials upon request, provided we have the necessary equipment and personnel available.   We do keep printers set up in the R&D lab,  but they are sold as demos after a certain period of time.    The R & D heat press also tends to get sold at trade shows,  as it doubles as our trade show press.   On the plus side,  this allows us to ensure that we have the latest equipment in the lab.   On the minus side,  it sometimes means that we don’t have the necessary equipment available.   The other half of the equation is that our sublimation lab and our sublimation experts are at the company headquarters in Michigan,  which is the only location that offers tutorials.     If you are interested in a tutorial,  and are able to come to the Michigan location,  you can always contact us to see if we can set one up.

Starting a Sublimation Business in 2015

startWe all know that the beginning of the year is a time when many people embark on new adventures.   If you’ve been thinking that 2015 is the year you should start that sublimation business you’ve been contemplating,  EnMart can help.

The first place to start is in the sublimation category on the EnMart website.  There you can see the printers available,  a selection of the blanks that can be sublimated,  and get an idea how much things like ink and paper will cost.     You can also download the 2011 edition of the Dye Sublimation Bible.   Although this book is now a few years old,   it still provides a good basic overview of sublimation and how to sublimate various blank items.

Another helpful resource is this blog.   From time to time,  I write a series of posts that deal with a particular aspect of sublimation.  It might be how to get started with sublimation,  it might be how to sublimate a particular item,  or it could be a discussion about paper or ink.     The posts are designed to help you gain more knowledge about sublimation and how to successfully make it part of your business.

There are also a variety of magazines and trade organizations that deal with sublimation.  Most magazines will have archives of back issues so you can find sublimation related articles you may have missed.    The organizations all deal with sublimation in some form.   In addition to those mentioned,  you may also want to check out the Advertising Specialties Institute,  which may be a useful resource when you’re working to find markets for your sublimated goods.

Sawgrass Technologies,  the manufacturer of sublimation ink,  provides a wide variety of helpful resources on their website.   They offer webinarsvideos and a library of articles about sublimation.    They also offer technical support and advice should you have issues getting started with sublimation.

Keep in mind,  the biggest resource for sublimation is the willingness to try something new and a comfort with the idea that you’ll probably mess things up once or twice.   Sublimation is not hard to learn,  but there are tricks and tips that can help you successfully sublimate almost any substrate suitable for sublimation.   The resources listed above will help you learn what you need to know to make your sublimation business a success.

Changes

change ahead 2When EnMart first became a company,  in late 2007,   we had one plan,  to supply the best thread,  stabilizer and other embroidery products to the commercial embroidery marketplace.   Fast forward to today,  and some six and a half years (give or take) since EnMart began,  what we do and what we are has changed.   We now sell sublimation supplies.   We sell quilt thread and FabricMaker and are looking at expanding into other quilting related items.    We are exploring new markets and encountering new customer types and the simple site that started it all is beginning to need a bit of an upgrade.

In the next few months we will be making upgrades and changes to our website.  If you want the quick version of what we’re doing,  here are the bullet points:

  • EnMart is splitting the store in two.
  • One site is for businesses, and the other for everyone else.
  • Businesses must use a login, and get custom pricing.
  • Everyone else can buy from us now from the public site.
  • If you already have a login you can still use it.
  • Always go to www.myenmart.com and choose the login option that applies to you.
  • If you are a business and don’t have a login, you need to contact us to get one.
  • If you are not a business, you can shop with or without logging in.

Log-ins will still be required for all customers checking out,   but you will only need to log-in before shopping if you are a customer who is eligible for special pricing.  The front end log-in option will be implemented soon.  Pricing structures will be put in place some time after the log-in option goes live.  You can find a complete description of the changes we’re making and the reasons behind them on our FAQ page.

Making these changes  will benefit everyone involved.    The log-in and customer category functions will make sure that every customer receives the proper pricing for their type.    It will also allow a wider group of customers to purchase from EnMart which means some people who were previously turned away will now be able to buy.   This structure will also help us ensure that we’re not trespassing on the territories of any customers who buy from us to sell to the end user.    The changes will also allow us to keep everything on one site, instead of having different sites aimed at different categories of customer, which would have gotten confusing for everyone.

As always, we encourage you to offer us your feedback about these changes.   You can comment on this post, send an email to info at myenmart dot com, leave a message on our Facebook page, send us a message on Twitter or call us and let us know what you think. We appreciate any feedback you can give us, and it will certainly be considered as we move forward with these changes.

Why EnMart sends e-mail

mailing listWhy is EnMart sending you email? Are we spamming you? Did we buy a list? We get these questions sometimes, so we thought it was time to explain ourselves, and let you know why you just might want to keep on receiving the messages we send.

EnMart, as a rule, sends out three types of email messages. They are:

  1. Order confirmations/updates, sent out automatically by our online store
  2. Direct correspondence, such as quotes, information, notifications, questions, or answers
  3. Mass emails, such as special offers, sales, or other general information

For the purposes of this post, we are addressing the third type of email.

First off, we would like to emphatically state that we do NOT buy lists to send mass emails. We don’t like those kinds of emails either. Our emails are ONLY sent to three groups of people. Those who have:

  1. Placed an order with us at some point in time in the past
  2. Attended one of the trade shows where we exhibited
  3. Indicated in some other way such as via our Facebook signup page that they are interested in receiving our emails.

A lot of people don’t realize it, but when you attend a trade show, somewhere in the papers you sign or in the information you receive is a statement that you are giving permission to the exhibitors to contact you via email. After all, that’s one of the main purposes of a trade show – to connect vendors with existing and potential customers.

Trade shows are mutually beneficial. As a customer, you want to find new products and vendors, information, or meet with your current suppliers. As an exhibitor and vendor, we want to meet with you, our customers, and we want to gain new ones. Sending emails out to trade show attendees can sometimes reach people we missed, or people who may have stopped by and forgot about it.

As an advertising medium, email lets us keep costs low and also offer occasional discounts, product offerings, or other potential benefits to you. Since mass email and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are the ONLY methods EnMart uses to notify you of these special offers, if you are not following us or receiving our emails, you will miss that limited time free shipping offer, or the % discount, etc.

We’re not machines auto-emailing you. We are real people, and if you reply to any of our emails, you will reach a real live person and not one of those “do not reply” mailboxes that drops your message in to a bottomless black hole. We do our best to keep the number of emails down to a minimum of around 1-2 per month. If you don’t want to receive them, it is very easy to stop them and we honor your unsubscribe requests.

We use Constant Contact to send out all mass emails, and there are very strict rules that we must adhere to. All these emails have a very convenient “Safe Unsubscribe” link at the bottom. With a few clicks you can unsubscribe from any or all of our lists, and we’ll never email that email address again. We couldn’t even if we wanted to – Constant Contact prevents it. In fact, if you later want to start receiving emails from us again, you’d have to either go back to Constant Contact and change your settings, or come up with a new email address.

While we do make every effort to reasonably target our potential audience with relevant email content, it can appear to be a bit of a shotgun approach at times, and you may receive something that doesn’t pertain to you personally. For those emails, we apologize and beg your indulgence.

Sincerely,

The EnMartians

5 Useful Sublimation Resources

5 reasons filmEvery once in a while I like to do a sort of list or round-up post where I compile some information or industry resources I think are helpful.   On the Embroidery Talk Blog,  it’s called the Friday Blog Round-Up.    I’m not sure if the same sort of post will be as regular here, or will get its own name,  but I thought it might be useful to include some links to helpful information I’ve found.

First up,  for those who are interested in sublimation for schools,  you may want to download Sawgrass Ink’s “Making Money in the School Market“.    This marketing plan can give you tips on how to grow your school sales.  Schools can be a fertile ground for all kinds of decoration,  so it’s definitely worth downloading this book.

Second on the docket is a video,  also from Sawgrass,  about how to download and use Unisub templates.   For those who don’t know,  Unisub makes a number of products for sublimation,  and the templates they provide are very useful.    If you just want access to the templates themselves,  you can find them on Unisub’s website.

Third on the docket,  we have what we call the “Dye Sublimators Bible“,   which can be downloaded from EnMart’s website.   This comprehensive guide covers all aspects of sublimation,  and gives you information on sublimating various kinds of materials and products.   It’s a very useful basic primer on the art of sublimation.

Fourth at bat,  if you’ve ever purchased any of our Mates products – you may find this helpful.   It’s some sublimation tips from Rowmark,  the maker of the Mates products.     You can download basic sublimation tips for Mates or troubleshooting Mates printing.

Fifth,  some tips for startup sublimation from Printwear Magazine.  I have to confess I wrote these,  and my favorite is the first one,  since it addresses a concern I hear often.    The reality is that you will screw up while sublimating at some point.   Make your peace with that and don’t let it put you off trying sublimation entirely.