Hello! I'm Joni from Oulu, Finland. Check it from google If you're unsure where the that might be. I'll introduce myself with a longish description about me, my "boutique" and the business around here.
I was really surprised to find an active international community containing so much detailed and up-to-date information about heat pressing and other "promotional product" related stuff and from so many people to boot.
About in the past five years I've worked my way to one local, very small t-shirt printing company that had one old lady, one old copier and very unstable transfer papers that mostly just got stuck in to everything else but t-shirts.
I got an position of a trainee through my school and after that became a co-worker through some serious equipment updating. I introduced modern graphical design and laser copiers for the manager and securing an irreplaceable position I became a full-time business partner with a crappy salary, but at least the job's fun and creative.
Finally, three months back I bought this place for my own and let the previous owner - with 18 years of experience - for a well deserved retirement.
All I can say that it's going to be a really cold and lonely winter and I'm a bit desperate for any new ideas I can pull up to get more customers and excite them to "fullfill their wildest ideas".
We're still doing the classic paper transfering and I bought a new Konica Minolta C220 for it because the previous became obsolete after four years of use. These new materials are actually quite good and durable.
After a brief moment of joy with the new Konica Minolta I got a new "money pit" couple days back when my Epson Stylus 1290 performed it's last stunt and totally stopped from working. Now all it can produce is a fascinating light show with green and red led.
I'm kind of sad and the same time happy that the frigging infernal External bulk ink system™ management is over. Now I'm looking for a stable
system that can do mugs, jigzaw puzzles and other quality printouts without the continuous head cleaning - tank filling - sponge cleaning - print head alignement hassle and continuous stressing over random production times with messy images.
Also I'm currently interested about the flex material and vinyl cutters to do more "professional looking" stuff for little companies and service providers that need promo-wear. I've recently started to order material from Xpres, England and with that I've been able to drop my overall expenses to keep this ship from sinking.
Good part about this little shop is that it's located in center of this town, but bad part is that I can't compete with web shops or larger screen printing companies. Actually there's only one of those in Oulu and I'm the only one in couple hundred of kilometers that you actually can come by and ask for an (about from one to hundred) personalized products and get actual p2p service.
Here in Finland, if we don't count the couple of bigger screen printing companies or small web shops, there are few "t-shirt printing shops" that have been around forever and they partly are monopolized by one old guy (very unreasonable and cold hearted businessman) that checks out the latest equipment on fairs, orders them from Europe and sells it forward with great profit.
Now he too is starting to retire and I've been trying to make straight contacts to get the best material with a reasonable price. Now there are also many Photo/camera shops that have integrated the heat pressing and gift product business in their services. That's about the most major competition around here. Fortunately I have skills to produce good graphic design and different techniques for people that are unsure what they want or can get.
So the reason I finally joined here is that at last I have full control over this firm and about endless possibilities to try to improve my business. But all I have learned about this industry is actually self taught so I'm desperate for more information and know how.
If one day I have a trainee - like I was at first - and secured a fun place to work for other as well I'd like to offer them way more knowledge about this job than I ever got from the previous manager or entrepreneurs all over Finland.
Many times in the past I even have had to call a repair man for the previous Konica Minolta copier and actually teach him how he should repair the machine and what part is malfunctioning and has to be replaced, because if I did the job my self the warranty would break. Well enough of that rant. I believe this forum helps me a lot in the near future.
It might sound as a cliche but it's actually just the smile at peoples faces - when they see that the crappiest of ideas for a t-shirt is actually quite tolerable to look at - that keeps me going. I want to keep them smiling in the future too so I hope to find many interesting tips from here to achieve better quality to my work.
So that's it for now. That was actually quite refreshing to let out for people that might actually relate to the story. Feel free to contact me, leave feedback and ask questions if you want. Now I'll go check some threads about these new Ricoh sublimation printers, are they any better than the Epson Smudgy Photo Color missing Stylus from the year 1290...