Join us in supporting the Special Olympics movement

IFAt T.R. McTaggart, we pride ourselves in being community-minded. That’s why we support organizations like Special Olympics Michigan. The mission of this worthy organization is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Michigan has been part of the Special Olympics movement since 1968.

According to the organization, athletes develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy while participating in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship among their families, Special Olympics athletes and the community. Caring volunteers, coaches, family members and staff all make this possible. Donations from Michigan citizens and businesses (like T.R. McTaggart) provide funding for the programs. In fact, we just had our 30th annual golf outing, which benefited Special Olympics Michigan. We are happy to share that we raised over $29,500 for the cause this year.

Speaking of programs, competitions are how the mission really comes alive. Athletes are placed into divisions based on age, gender and ability. Competitions take place at local, regional, state, national and world levels. Special Olympics also promotes athletes’ integration into society. For example, in the U.S., 52 percent of Special Olympics athletes are employed; approximately half of these athletes are “competitively employed” – employed alongside people without intellectual disabilities.

But that’s not all. The impact of this organization is significant. Consider these facts provided by the organization:

• 23,317 athletes participate in Special Olympics Michigan with programs provided at no cost to athletes or their families

• 24 sports are offered

• 6 state-level competitions, 4 district basketball tournaments and more than 600 competitions statewide

• More than 29,000 volunteers

• Special Olympics Michigan is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supported almost entirely through corporate funding and individual gifts

We are proud to partner with such an amazing organization. If you would like to get involved, there are plenty of ways to volunteer. 

Tackling burnout at the office

21384546_SBurnout is an often inevitable part of life. We are working longer and harder at the office. But you don’t have to let it be a constant. These tips can help you take control of your life:

Indulge a little. Maybe you like to meditate in the morning, sip a cup of tea over breakfast or read before bedtime. Allow yourself to have such moments, which can free up your brain’s capacity to sort out problems and be more creative.

Regain control of your schedule. Sometimes that calls for going off the grid. Consider turning off notifications on your devices and only checking email or social accounts every few hours. If something is really urgent, the person will call you. Electronic communication can wait. Also, try to limit unnecessary meetings. If something can be agreed on in an email or via a short conversation, save yourself the trouble.

Respect work-life balance. You don’t live to work. Try to shut off email after work and on weekends. When you don’t get adequate down time, your stress level never has a chance to return to normal before morning rolls around again—creating a never-ending cycle of anxiety.

Delegate. You don’t have to do it all. Lean on your employees or outside vendors to lighten the load. Don’t forget we can help take the load off with our corporate products.

Be good to you. Eat well, exercise and prioritize sleep. Take a vacation at least once a year. The mind-body connection is real. Honor your limitations and don’t be afraid to set boundaries. You’ll be more effective at work when you’re refreshed.

Follow these tips and you’re less likely to let yourself reach the point of burnout. Your employees and family will thank you.

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We make your design come alive

37289119 - t shirt icon.vector illustration.When we say “custom,” we really mean it. You won’t find cookie cutter products here. That’s not how we do business. Instead, we approach each order as a unique project. Here’s a look at our process.

Every business has its own personality and brand, and we do our best to capture that. When it comes to designing your next t-shirt campaign, we make it easy to turn a concept into reality. Whether it’s tweaking an original hand-drawn concept, or creating an original and dynamic shirt design from scratch, our experts can help take a design concept and upgrade it to the next level. Your company benefits from an in-house design team. Customers can choose between editing a pre-existing design, submitting a design form for the design team to modify, or creating a completely new shirt design. It’s really up to you.

Another element to our process is innovation. Traveling from coast to coast, we stay current on best practices and apply it to your project. From exclusive designs nowhere else in the marketplace to a custom logo, great apparel starts with great design and great design is our passion.

So what can we do for you? Your next design is just a call or a click away!

Get more out of your next conference

34238760 - conferenceConferences can be a great way to meet people and get out of your day-to-day routine. But you only get as much out of them as you put it. Here are a few ways to get more mileage out of your time there:

  • Request to speak on a panel. This might sound like an introvert’s worst nightmare, but it can really be a boon to one’s career. After you speak, people tend to come up and find you, so that eliminates any awkwardness. You never know—your next big client could be in the audience!
  • Make the most of dinner. Everyone needs to eat, after all. Invite a few fellow conference goers out and you might discover you have more in common than you thought. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know people outside of a stuffy conference setting.
  • Be open to chance encounters. Sometimes the best conversations occur on a whim. So set yourself up to impress. Make it a point to learn names and capture tidbits of biographical information. Even if the conversation is brief, you’re off to a good start by building on a topic they’re passionate about: him or herself! It won’t always work, but it’s possible they’ll want to connect further maybe on LinkedIn or via email.  You might even consider handing out a branded promotional item.
  • Use wardrobe strategically. Sometimes articles of clothing can be good talking points. For example, as a woman you might pin an antique brooch on your blouse or if you’re a man, you might choose a colorful tie. Don’t be afraid to express yourself!

Great t-shirt design isn’t rocket science

11248553_SWe’ve seen thousands of designs. As a result, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. The good news is that making a great design for your next campaign really isn’t all that complicated. (It’s not rocket science!) We’ve made it easy and boiled it down to four key elements that you can adopt to make a great design.

1) Think simple. If your design is too involved or busy, at best it’ll be difficult for someone to read and understand your message. At worst, the quality of the final product will suffer.

2) Less is more with color. We recommend using a limited number of colors – ideally two or maybe three at most. That’s because the number of colors largely determines the cost. Each separate color on your design requires more work on our part, so minimizing the number of colors you use helps to keep the cost per unit down.

3) Know your audience. Maybe you run a buttoned down nonprofit. Or maybe you need a design for an edgy rock band. These are polar opposites, so you’ll want to take into account the purpose and context. The season and climate are also factors. You don’t want to order black heavy knit polos in the summer.

That pretty much covers the basics. If you have specific questions, we’d be happy to help guide you as you develop a custom design.

School fundraising done right: A guide for parents

29986284_SFundraising is a way to ensure your child’s school can provide a better experience. If you are part of the school’s PTO or related organization, you might want to consider the approach. The first day of school is just around the corner, after all! To make sure your next fundraiser is a success, we thought we would point out some of the most common fundraising snafus and how you can avoid them.

Lack of planning: There is a lot of work involved in putting on a fundraiser — everything from picking a product or event, to lining up volunteers and other logistical details. All of this takes planning. Compose a checklist of those essential tasks and ensure someone in the group is in charge of ensuring every detail is handled properly.

Lack of school support: Let’s face it, teachers already have a lot to do without also being tasked with raising money. But it would be a mistake not to include them in the fundraising process. While they don’t have to be in the trenches, teachers and administrators should take on a cheerleading role. Be sure to provide a dose of encouragement to motivate those everyday heroes.

Lack of promotion: What if you threw a fundraiser and no one showed up? Well, if you don’t properly get out the word, you may not get the sales you need to reach your goal. Use Facebook, Twitter, Eventbrite and other social channels to promote your event. If your students are tech-savvy, they can even make a YouTube video. And don’t overlook traditional avenues like posters, flyers, and letters sent home to parents in a child’s backpack.

Repeating the same fundraiser: You may have achieved good results with your last candle fundraiser. But just because it was successful the first time doesn’t mean you will get the same results the second time around. After all, your neighbors can only buy so many nuts, magazines and coupon books. Also, try not to duplicate a fundraiser that another school in the area has already planned. Don’t be afraid to try new fundraising ideas.

Don’t forget the kids: It’s great to have adults helping out, but don’t forget to get the students involved. They are a great resource, and it is all about their educational opportunities. Students make great volunteers. Pick a fundraiser that will allow them to learn some great life lessons from fundraising, such as teamwork and how to work toward achieving a common goal.

Don’t forget we are here to help. Custom t-shirts and other promotional items can foster a sense of community. You might even consider selling them as a fundraiser!

Your family reunion picnic done right

8505107_SWhether you get together annually or every few years, family reunions can be a lot of fun. And the summer is the perfect time to take yours outdoors with a picnic. Here are a few tips to make the most of yours:

Keep the food cold. Today’s plastic ice chests go above and beyond the call of duty to keep cold food cold. Just put salads and meats in plastic storage bags and tuck them in the ice to stay fresh. If it’s going to be a really hot day, you might consider buying a small plastic wading pool and fill it with ice before placing your plastic bowls of food into it. People can serve themselves, and you don’t have to worry about that potato salad going bad.

Plastic ware is your friend. There’s no need for formal dinnerware at a picnic. Equal parts festive and durable, you can easily gather and wash plastic utensils for the next time around. Plus they’re a good idea if you’re going to have a lot of kids around.

Have a Plan B. Don’t let anything rain on your parade. Inquire about the availability of a pavilion in case of inclement weather. That way you can have fun without getting soaked.

Create lasting memories. Don’t forget to bring your digital camera or cellphone. If you’re really serious about capturing memories, you might consider hiring a professional photographer to take a family portrait. And don’t forget we can create custom screen print t-shirts to take your event to the next level.

Here’s to family fun and creating memories for years to come!

Boosting confidence through youth sports

9837948_SA positive self image is formed at a young age. And youth sports can be such a great way to boost their confidence and teach them life skills at the same time. Here are a few ways you can help them succeed on and off the field:

  • Shower them with encouragement. This might seem like a given, but we must remember to always cheer our young athletes on. That means helping them push through tough times and celebrating with them when they succeed. This is a great way to teach them that they are capable of doing anything they set their mind to.
  • Don’t add unnecessary pressure. When you set high expectations and convey that to your child, it can have negative consequences. It can tear down their confidence. They need to know that you will be proud of them no matter what.
  • Never forget to have fun. Confidence isn’t found through anger, frustration, and criticism. It’s found through having a passion for something and knowing that you can succeed in it. This is why it’s so important to keep youth sports fun for kids. When they develop a passion, their confidence will soar.

When you put these words into action you may be amazed to see how much your child’s confidence grows. Help them find the key to success without losing the excitement for the game.

We’re proud of youth athletes and their accomplishments. We hope you’ll keep us in mind next time you need sports apparel. We’d love to take care of you and your budding MVPs!

Behold the power of images

Power of Images Photo

The old adage is true: A picture is worth a thousand words. This saying is relevant to the business world and marketing, specifically.

Consumers and prospects are more likely to engage with brands if and when they employ rich imagery. That’s true for printed content as well as for digital collateral. A savvy event planner should combine both for maximum impact.

Check out this infographic that demonstrates the power of visual marketing. Now consider how you can boost your trade show or event marketing with compelling imagery.

Here’s another consideration: One stunning image will often leave a memorable message in the mind of a consumer. In fact, less is more in this case. Visual clutter should be avoided and can actually work against you. It can be hard to do that at an exhibition event.

That’s all the more reason to design your trade show marketing graphics so they speak loudly with minimal text. Anyone can write  a lot of text about why someone should buy their product. In this case, you should show, not tell. A stunning digitally printed reproduction loads a ton of advertising value into one stellar image. Keep that in mind at your next marketing event. Also, know that we’re here to help with all your promotional product needs!

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