Running a business means you're busy, and often wearing several different hats while trying to take on more duties and stay up on the industry's trends. Whether you're decorating T-shirts, mugs, blankets, or patches, you don't want to be offering an item that's "out" when something else is "in."
Lucky for you, staying up on the latest trends isn't difficult or time-consuming. Give these a try:
Utilize social media: Follow your competitors, the companies you source materials and supplies through, and even fashion blogs. Social media is an excellent tool for collecting useful trend information in one place.
Chat with your network: Look to your employees and ask them what they like/notice/have seen people wearing. If you know kids or have some of your own, check in to see what's hot in their world. Your customers are your best source of industry or interest-specific trend information as well. Create an email box or a billboard where people can post interesting articles and knowledge they’ve found around the industry.
Attend trade shows: Trade shows can kill a variety of birds with one stone. You can view the newest equipment, visit various suppliers, and see what's new in offerings and garments/substrates. Trade shows also offer a variety of decoration education from industry professionals.
Subscribe to industry publications: Whether they’re trade journals or something more general interest, magazines can be an excellent tool for staying current. Most publications are available in digital format, and some are free to those who work in the industry. As a bonus, many magazines have electronic newsletter subscriptions available with spotlight articles detailing emerging trends.
Shop: Spend a little time each week visiting stores (online or brick-and-mortar) to see what they’re offering. This is especially relevant for garment decorators, but it has benefit for any decorator. Shopping, even window shopping, keeps you current on what’s on the way in and what’s on the way out.
Always keep your eyes and ears open. Stay alert and stay interested, and your business will be poised to ride the next big wave when it arrives.