lots of printing
If I had to sum up this year of Trust in one word, it would be “busy”. Busyness is a funny word and a funny concept, ultimately it’s what you want for your business, but when you’re deep in the throes of busyness, all you can think about is getting a break. It’s certainly better than the alternative—at least that’s what you tell yourself when you’re staring down another late night or another early morning shift—but busyness brings a whole host of challenges and hurdles, like exhaustion, lack of focus, degradation of mood, and eventually burnout. This year Trust experienced “busy” like never before. We got to see it from all sides: the pain, the excitement, the trials, the accomplishment, the struggle, and the reward.
The first factor that led us here was the decision to sell one of our four presses and replace it with a tag press, a smaller machine that would cost less and produce more. Unfortunately, the manufacturer was unable to make a press that fit our needs, and eventually pulled out of the deal entirely. This left us with a hole at press 4 and without the flexibility to scale up with our work as we hit our busy season.
The second factor was an unfortunate streak of team members moving on from Trust. It’s always bittersweet to see people move on to new opportunities, but this year it also left us without some of our most experienced printers and leaders in production. We were slowly able to bring on new team members, but hiring and training are long processes, and the work never slowed down.
In fact, the work just kept speeding up. The one constant of 2019 was that the work kept coming. It was a triumphant year for our sales team, a team formed two years ago with zero experience who have become very good at this. We won the business of big, exciting customers that fit well with us and sold a lot of garments. It was also a great year for our repeat customers. We had more than 50 less “new customers” this year than in 2018, but the ones we did get and the ones we already had did huge things.
In the end, 2019 was a big, exciting year for Trust that we weren’t prepared for. It was our biggest year ever, up 13% in sales from 2018, but we fought through with fewer presses and fewer people. We overworked ourselves, which isn’t ideal, but we got through it! The shirts got printed, the hats got embroidered, and we’re standing strong. 2019 was a lot, but it didn’t kill us, and we’ve never been stronger.
This year we printed 426,390 garments. We used 580 gallons of ink and shipped out 5,443 boxes. We completed 2,687 orders for $3.4 million in sales and we added a very exciting 150 new customers to our family.
While our print business was booming, we decided to add a whole second wing to Trust and embark on a journey into embroidery. It’s been a goal of ours for a while, and we were finally able to find the right machine and software to take the plunge and learn the process. Embroidery is totally different than printing, so we had to rethink everything from order processing to quality control to pricing. It was a challenging project for our team that was already stretched very thin, but it was a chance to do what we’re best at here at Trust: solving problems with patience and perseverance.
We didn’t have any formal training, so we found every resource we could online and began a long trial and error process. We created designs for ourselves to digitize and began to explore stitch types, underlays, and push/pull compensation. We hit a few roadblocks and we broke a couple needles (and a ton of thread), but before long we were producing well-stitched hats, beanies, and shirts. We still have a lot to learn, and there’s still a little too much “error” in our “trial and error”, but in the 7 months since we launched embroidery we’ve sent out 2,985 stitched garments that we are really proud of.
a new look
a new look
a new look
a new look
The rebrand of Trust really started in 2018. After 10 years of one consistent logo and an unfocused brand built piece by piece over the years, we felt the pull for something new. A long and thoughtful strategy and design process led us to “the empty screen”, a strong and flexible logo with a great set of complementary elements that have helped us fill out an exciting and cohesive brand for ourselves. A new focus on illustration and animation with repeated style and elements has brought the brand to life, and a new color palette evokes the goals and the feeling of Trust instead of the literal colors of screen printing.
Even in the midst of the storm, we took some time to slow down and spend time as a family. Trust rented us an awesome set of cabins in Broken Bow, OK where we spent a few wonderful days and nights together soaking in the nature and the camaraderie. A kayak trip, wonderful home-cooked meals, and late night hot-tubbing highlighted a weekend of bonding and relaxation with our team members and their families.
It’s become an annual tradition to spend at least a weekend together away from home. Just like in previous years, when we think back on 2019 at Trust, I imagine what we will remember most is the time we spent north of the Texas border.
Our Trust family changed a lot this year. 9 people left and 8 joined, but it has always felt like Trust. Our leadership, our philosophies, and our core values have kept us producing beautiful, quality work for our customers, and our warm, fun-loving people have kept us all smiling, even through the busyness.
Where do we go from here? We don’t want to be stretched as thin as we were in 2019, but we also want to keep growing. That means expanding and improving, growing our team and empowering each team member to produce more with less wasted energy. In 2019 we rebranded, added embroidery, and re-structured production. We have no major changes like that lined up for next year, so 2020 will be about optimization, perfecting the things that we put into place in 2019 and pushing to new (more sustainable) heights.
This year was tough and chaotic, but we worked hard and set a strong foundation to build on in 2020.
- To a Mouse by Robert Burns
Trust's 2020 goals
$4 million in sales
4 strong full-time press teams
150 more new customers
Building a new embroidery room