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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Adding DTG to Your Shop: Spotlight on Big Fish Co.

When considering purchasing any new technology, it is prudent to get a first-hand user's view. Today, I had the privilege of sitting down with Carrie Renner, owner of Big Fish Co. T's, Signs, and Designs in Saint Petersburg, Florida. With two decades of experience, Carrie has used all various types of printing methods, which means she understands the benefits and challenges of the printing industry, and that she has had an opportunity to grasp what customers are looking for. Carrie started her business at a time when direct-to-garment printing was not even available. Looking for a way to print 6 shirts she needed for a spear fishing tournament, Carrie went to a screen printer who told her that she would have to print a minimum of 24 shirts. Being the entrepreneur she is, Carrie found a way to sell the rest of those shirts, plus some. Carrie notes that this "would have been the perfect DTG situation". Digital direct to garment is perfect for printing in low quantity, without sacrificing quality, allowing a customer to get one shirt, or even a few samples without the costs associated with screen printing set up.

As things would turn out, this small run of tournament T-shirts would become the start of Carrie's new printing business, which just celebrated it's 20th anniversary. Below, Carrie is pictured to the far right:

Carrie recalls that as soon as she began seeing direct-to-garment several years back, she loved it. But it wasn't until she was able to track down a used machine that she decided to take the plunge and start using it at Big Fish. Four years later, Carrie utilizes the direct to garment printer any time she has  short run T-shirts prints. Occasionally, Carrie will also use DTG for larger runs that require digital rendering, such as in a recent job she did which ended up being around a 200 shirt order. Carrie also states that for T-shirts, "DTG is far superior to transfer", although she still utilizes her color laser printer for printing on mouse-pads.

Among Big Fish's offerings, embroidery, signs, sublimation, and screen printing are also offered, and Carrie states that as of right now, direct-to-garment printing accounts for approximately 8-10% of her business. With an aging direct-to-garment machine, Carrie is contemplating the purchase of a new printer. She currently only prints with CMYK ink, and like some others, has heard that printing with white ink can be more difficult. Carrie conveys that until she has someone in her shop printing full time with DTG, she is going to wait to start using it  to print with white ink. "I have to know that I can step in and do it", she remarks. That's a philosophy that any small business owner can respect.

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