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Big Ideas in San Diego, Part 1

Posted by Dan Marx on 2/25/19 10:37 AM

As I’m writing this, I’m on an airplane, heading home from SGIA’s THREADX 19 conference in San Diego. The last two days are dancing in my brain, and I want to get some of my thoughts and observations down before they begin to fade.  

THREADX19_CrespoAdam_GarmentFor those not familiar with THREADX, it is a conference specifically for companies working in the garment decoration segment. But unlike most printing conferences of its ilk, it is not about printing. THREADX is a business development/branding conference, and a look toward growing opportunities in the garment segment. This post captures my observations the first day.  

THREADX was moderated by th13teen Chief Creative Officer riCardo | Crespo, a self-described marketing ninja who has helped build several brands and identities including numerous Hollywood films and toymaker Mattel. In addition to urging attendees to evaluate their own brands and company identities, he made valuable connections between the presentations for the attendees. His opening presentation featured strategies for brand building, business development and management tips while setting the stage for the sessions to come. One key takeaway from Crespo was the “Start, stop, continue” concept. In other words, when it comes to your business, determine what to start doing, what to stop doing and what to keep doing. Simple and powerful.  

Innovation Behind Personalization

THREADX19_Ohiaeri_GarmentZazzle Chief Fulfillment Officer Charles Ohiaeri kicked off the sessions by providing a view into the company, which sells thousands of different products that don’t exist at the time of sale. Since its founding, Zazzle has created a successful, ever-innovating platform for customized products. Factoring strongly into its business plan is an exceptional focus on the customer experience, where trust is a key component to the purchasing decision. The presentation also delved into how the company has scaled itself to fulfill tens of thousands of products, using hundreds of thousands of potential designs (and growing). (Spoiler: It involves a robot.) What inspired me the most about this session was the company’s willingness and ability to innovate and stay flexible, even as it grows larger. Can your company do this?  


Focusing Internally

For a conference that dealt with high-level concepts of branding/marketing strategies, the concrete and achievable also resonated. Brian Adam, CEO of Olympus Group, a printer specializing in flags and banners, presented a list of 10 easy-to-implement steps to help companies retain talent and inspire loyalty among employees. Building on a premise that if you treat employees well, a successful company will follow, all of his tips were highly affordable and achievable. To me, the hard work in implementing a program like Brian’s is to believe in the higher concept, do the work and keep at it. Numerous attendees told me they loved this session.  

Success by DesignTHREADX19_DraplinPresentation_Garment

The day’s final presentation was by graphic design superstar Aaron Draplin, whose work goes beyond design to become its own multi-layer lesson in branding. Through solid design and logo building, he has helped numerous companies build their identities while branding his own Draplin Design Company products, which range from posters and T-shirts to decals and hats. And Draplin — the man, the myth — is also a brand of one, inspiring fan art and an international cult following. Josiah Blackmore of Red Threads described the presentation as “a home-run.”

Stay tuned for my day two recap and a more in-depth look at some of the THREADX sessions from fellow attendees over the next few weeks! 

Topics: Apparel Decorators, Graphic Design, ThreadX, Branding, Employee Engagement