Celebrating 40 Years

Payden and Company is celebrating forty years in the promotional product and apparel industry. In 1977 Mark Payden created Two's Company – a small startup with one transfer printing machine in a small apartment in Providence. Mark's entrepreneurial spirit grew the business, and soon hard work began to pay off as the company's success began to mirror his passion. The business continued to thrive, growing into an international sportswear and promotional products company, and in 1991 Two's Company was named #65 on the list of the top 100 Textile Printers in America.

The company continued to evolve over the years, and today, Mark is president of Payden and Company – an award winning business with a team of experts specializing in promotional products, decorated apparel, recognition and awards.

As business development, corporate marketing and promotional merchandise experts, Payden and Company has established a reputation for their brand-reinforcing, profit maximizing service stye. Whether you are a meeting/convention planner, marketing director, human resource manager,safety director, or an executive coordinating a corporate retreat, Payden and Company will exceed your performance and service expectations. Payden and Company is a winner of the American Marketing Association's Award for Marketing Excellence.

Digital Couture


Epson Hosts 3rd Digital Couture Show in New York

Leading up to New York Fashion Week, Epson America Inc. hosted its third annual Digital Couture Project Show at the IAC Building in Manhattan. Thirteen designers from the U.S., Canada and Latin America gathered to showcase their collections, all created from Epson dye-sublimation technology.

As models posed along the walkway, fashion and apparel industry experts clung to cocktails while grazing the colorful fabrics, rubbing shoulders with celebrities such as actress Kelly Rutherford and “The Real Housewives of New York City” star Dorinda Medley.

The event also introduced the Robustelli-Epson brand to the international fashion community with an array of high-quality textile samples on site. In June of 2016, Epson acquired Italian textile printer manufacturer Robustelli, increasing Epson's manufacturing capability to bring its digital inkjet textile printers to more customers worldwide.

“New technologies from Epson are allowing designers to push the boundaries of color and quality while simultaneously giving creative teams incredible versatility and productivity,” said Keith Kratzberg, president and CEO of Epson America, Inc. “With the market for worldwide digital textile printing expected to grow annually at almost 25%, this is a very exciting opportunity. Our goal with the Digital Couture event is to spotlight the power and potential that digital printing technology plays in the apparel industry.”

The designers produced dye-sublimated ensembles that followed the theme of “Textile Stories.” New York City-based designer Lindsay Degen blended her history of knitting and quilting with the new technology to create an optical illusion look. “Some things are printed, but look knitted. Some things are knitted, but look printed. Some things are printed denim with actual denim integrated into the pieces. My project is essentially about tricking your eye,” Degen said.

Another design team was Philadelphia University, the first U.S. university group to participate in the project. Led by department chair Mark Sunderland, the faculty and student group combined hand painted abstract florals with photo manipulated prints to craft a surreal visual of nature’s perplexing and changing beauty. “It’s exciting to be a part of history and show what Philly U students are capable of,” said senior fashion design student Maria Balestino.


By John Corrigan
Published in Web Exclusive

Score One for ASI Speakers



Score One for ASI Speakers

Football great Dan Marino is very tall, very tan and surprisingly funny.

He also got the biggest applause from an audience at an ASI keynote as any speaker we’ve had in recent memory. One woman was so thrilled for the chance to catch a football thrown by the former Miami Dolphins quarterback I thought she’d faint.

Aside from the glitz factor, our Orlando audience seemed generally interested in Dan’s incredible trajectory, rising from a working-class family in Pittsburgh to a record-breaking football star in Miami, including the time his truck driver dad lectured the sports-crazy 7th grader about the importance of school, telling him “If you don’t settle down, you won’t get to college.”

If you have any school-age kids in similar straits you might consider sharing that story with them – and reminding them that Dan listened to his dad and is now, at age 55, enjoying life to the fullest, running a variety of businesses and the Dan Marino Foundation, which has distributed more than $20 million to help children with neurodevelopment disabilities.

Of his own son, diagnosed with autism at age 2, Dan told us, “Michael’s done really well. He has an apartment, he has a girlfriend. As an athlete, it’s important to give back to the community. I think all of us can help in our own way.”

Dan’s Q&A with me and the audience at our first trade show of the 2017 season was just one of the highlights of ASI Orlando. Every day, ASI offered distributors one great reason after another to attend the three-day show.


On Education Day, they could choose from 44 new classes, in subjects as diverse as social media, sales success, business management and graphic design.

On Thursday, they could get terrific life and business advice from the effervescent Coach Ken Carter, a former high school basketball coach and small-business owner who launched a new career as an in-demand speaker after his improbable life story was turned into a movie starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Carter made national headlines in the 1990s when he refused to let the kids on his undefeated team play until they got better grades (are you sensing a theme here?) to teach them that school was as important as athletics as a ticket out of the inner-city.

Carter also asked something of his audience I urge everyone at a trade show to do: Meet 10 new people. “These people are your family,” he said. “You have a problem, there’s probably someone in his room with a solution. You have to seek, to ask. In this thing called life, that’s what we do.”

Among Carter’s choicest bits of wisdom: If you want something, write it down. By putting pen to paper you’re more likely to make it happen. So to anyone reading this, I challenge you to think of one goal you want to accomplish this year, write it down and see if a year from now you’ve made it happen.


And if you do, I suggest you post a video all about it.

That’s the advice given by another of our speakers, the always informative and enthusiastic Marki Lemons-Ryhal, who posts a video every single day, starting with one on Facebook called “Overcome the Crabs in a Barrel Mentality for Optimal Growth.”

To date, that single video has earned 20,000 views, giving Lemons-Ryhal (@MarkiLemons) more free publicity that she could have gotten with anything else – except, of course, promotional products. “It’s so easy to do – once you don’t care what you look like,” she told her packed class. “It would take me days to write a 4,000 word doc. Video can be repurposed as marketing over 200 different ways.”


For Entrepreneurs, The Gift-Giving Season is Year Round


(Originally posted in Entrepreneur.com)


JANUARY 7, 2014

Entrepreneurs, on the whole, are driven by a desire to be great and stand out.

Fortunately, standing out is not only good for an ego boost -- it's also the trademark of successful businesses. According to John Ruhlin, the entrepreneur behind corporate gift-giving consulting firm Ruhlin Promotion Group, the things that make a business stand out mirror the rules for giving -- providing unique, memorable gifts.

According to Ruhlin, companies can set themselves apart in the space by knowing the difference between a promotional item (something that's branded and inexpensive) and a true gift -- an item that should be unique and high-quality with a focus on the recipient.

Ensure it has a unique quality. "No one wants to add to their collection of five leather padfolios, eight pieces of luggage, 15 Tiffany crystal bowls or three pairs of golf shoes," says Ruhlin. Similarly, a business that just jumps on a trend bandwagon -- without offering anything new or different -- is a gift bound to be forgotten.

Offer an item the recipient will actually use. A great business is one that fulfills a need in the market. For gifts, a standard plaque that hangs on a wall or crystal that collects dust in the china cabinet is not ideal. Give something that's used on a regular basis, and the recipient will think of you every time.

Consider lasting gifts. Find something that will last years or even decades. Gifts like iPads, smartwatches or trendy fashion items could be outdated in less than a year. Instead offer items that will stand the test of time, like cookware.

Think customization. "People love to see their name on high-level things," says Ruhlin. Gifts that are customized make the recipient feel special, just as a business that provides a unique experience to every person makes customers feel good.

Focus on the family. Family-oriented gifts and brands forge powerful emotional connections. "Give a gift that includes the spouse and entire family," says Ruhlin. "It wins huge game-changing brownie points for both the giver and the recipient."


Be unexpected. "Deep down at heart, we are like kids at Christmas and want to be surprised with something cool," says Ruhlin "The element of surprise can elevate a gift from good to great."

At the end of the day, it really is the thought that counts. Giving with the recipient in mind is the best way to stand out and ensure your gift doesn't get stuffed in a closet and forgotten.

In the same way, you should build every aspect of your company with the end user in mind. That means ensuring that every touch point is thoughtfully created to delight your customers. After all, success comes from staying true to your values and making sure your actions (and gifts) reflect the way you want to be perceived.




Layered Vinyl

Create Cool Looks With Layered Vinyl

Layering creates dimensional, eye-catching results with mixed media or different colors by layering heat transfer layers. 

Published in Wearables

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Create multiple colors like neon and special effects with glitter, and custom-cut graphics with crisp edges and better registration by layering heat-transfer vinyl decoration. “A lot of gift and custom shops are using this process,” says Courtney Kubitza, educational content manager for Stahls’ TV in St. Clair Shores, MI.


1. Ideal projects would include T-shirts and sweatshirts, or accessories such as bags and towels.



2. Help your customers achieve one-of-a-kind looks, ideal for the shop specializing in short runs of less than 48 pieces.


3. The process is great for adding special effects like multiple vinyl layers, metallic effects, flocks and foils. 

4. The process works by using a vinyl cutter to custom cut the graphics and then apply them layer after layer with a heat press.


Remember: Each layer, color and treatment requires materials cost, time and labor to create the finished product. Price product sales appropriately by the amount of layers and time involved to create them.

Application Tips
Computer software, such as Stahls’ CadworxLIVE, CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator, takes the guesswork out of creating art and ensures any special effects such as drop shadows or contours turn out right. Tack your base layers briefly with the heat press to avoid shrinking them and creating problems with additional layers. Use clear carrier overlays rather than frosted ones to avoid any issues with placement and color, or effect registration. Once you’ve tacked down all layers, complete the transfer with the final top layer placement. Lock in the design, and complete the process as you’re applying the top layer. At that time, make sure to use the total recommended heating time and pressure to finish the piece.


9 Sleek Sports Apparel Products

When it comes to pitching sports and performance wear, one size does not fit all. Think about your customers’ specific needs – is the apparel for athletes, spectators, gym rats? Then, you can better hone in on what products will work best. And don’t be afraid to break the mold if necessary.


"Market to Target: Pets"

Market to Target: Pets

The first in a year-long series highlighting top sales segments for distributor reps. 

By Jean Erickson
Published in Advantages

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Make no bones about it -- people are passionate about their pets.

About 65% of U.S. households own a pet, according to a recent survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). And the large majority of owners consider their pets to be family, shelling out big bucks to feed, care for and entertain them.

In 2016 alone, Americans spent approximately $62.8 billion on their pets, up from $60.3 billion a year earlier. The trend is even more pronounced over time – in 2003, for example, Americans spent $29.6 billion on their pets. Not even a recession could slow consumer spending on our furry friends – sales steadily gained between 2007 and 2009, increasing from $41.2 billion to $45.5 billion for the period.

With these undeniably impressive numbers, more and more brands have introduced pet-centric items. In the promo products industry, it was WOV-IN Group (asi/92980) that sniffed out a huge opportunity when it launched Promopet (asi/79698), a completely pet-focused product line in 2010.

“We recognized the growing trend of how much people were spending on their pets, but there really wasn’t a supplier fully dedicated to this niche,” says Kimberly Damp, sales and marketing coordinator for both Promopet and WOV-IN.

Building on strong initial sales of its pet collars and leashes, WOV-IN partnered with other manufacturers of pet products and added new imprinting capabilities to create Promopet, the promotional product industry’s most recognizable pet line. “No matter how much people cut back on their daily expenses, they always find room in the budget to spoil their pet family members and offer treats,” says Damp, calling Promopet “a growth business for us.” She and several other industry experts helped us compile this in-depth guide to selling pet promos: smart tips, cool products and important trends.


Think Outside the Crate

Every customer can benefit from a pet or pet-related product, so don’t limit your scope by thinking, “I don’t sell to veterinarians or groomers,” says Damp. “If people use even one quarter of their imagination, they’d be surprised how much business they can get.”

Promopet’s products do well in company stores for Fortune 500 companies that like to grow brand loyalty by putting their logo on pet-related items, according to Damp. The supplier recently updated its WOV-IN and Promopet websites to offer more interactive features – increasing its video content and social media presence, adding a blog and providing more educational tips for distributors to target and offer ideas on how best to use its products.

Do you sell to a local school with an animal mascot? Promopet has many paw print items that the school logo could be imprinted on, and its line includes giveaway and fundraising items in price ranges to fit nearly any budget. Pet promo items do well in places with college logos, too. “We do a lot of business with collegiate bookstores,” Damp says.

Local banks often give away pet treats for their drive-through clients. Promopet has gotten lots of orders for items to promote dog parks, which are popping up all over the country, as well as giveaways at community events, runs, walks, and police and fire department sponsored events.

Companies realize pets sometimes get more attention than people, so promotions geared toward pets have increased visibility in the home, says Jay Howard, a senior account executive at HALO Branded Solutions (asi/356000). Pet products work well in real estate offices, as realtors are always looking for ways to stay top-of-mind in the home, he notes. Food can lids, plastic flyers, bandanas and pet waste bag dispensers are good options.

Pet Product Entrepreneurs

The growth of pet-focused products has given rise to quite creative entrepreneurs. For example, Moody Pet was started by Michele Levan, a former music industry marketing executive. She came up with the pet mood collar, featuring stones that change color based on how the pet’s feeling. One mood might be: “Feed Me!” and another “Take Me for a Walk!” She debuted the collars at a pet product trade show in 1999, and her business took off. Most recently, her Humunga Bling won Best in Show at the 2016 Global Pet Expo. Poochie-Pets, meanwhile, got started when Cheryl Pederson created a first of its kind, a housetraining doggie doorbell called PoochieBells. It was so successful that she recently rebranded her website to show off more items, including a snuggle blanket, while highlighting the company’s message: “My dog makes me a better person.”


Pet items are a natural fit with wellness initiatives as well. “As businesses continue to promote healthy living, activity and exercise, we’ve seen them use many of our safety items to encourage people to stay active, by offering reflective collars, leashes, tags and bandanas for their pets,” says Damp.

Even pet healthcare is becoming a branding opportunity. The pet hospital industry is growing rapidly, and veterinarians are trying to personalize healthcare. “They want to come across as taking care of the family,” says Howard.

As more of these facilities open, there are increased chances for branding and customer appreciation. Plus, cool items can also help to attract top staff, says Howard. “The competition is fierce, and quality branded items can help them stand out in a crowded recruiting scenario.” Pet insurance is another promotional opportunity. Howard has provided welcome kits at sign-up that included items such as chip clips, pet food lids and T-shirts.

Another idea: Some eldercare facilities offer services like pet and music therapy. Promopet recently supplied one such facility with paw-shaped jar grippers, imprinted with the name of the facility and emergency numbers for people with arthritis.

More and more pet-oriented events are emerging, many of which have booths with traditional promotional product handouts, says Howard, adding, “Those that offer pet-related products seem to have a significant edge in booth traffic.”

Another draw to these booths can be prize wheels, with an assortment of pet products used for giveaways. “Trading a spin of the wheel in exchange for information is a popular and creative way to increase your contacts list,” Howard says.

Doug Lally, a HALO regional VP, sees opportunity in dog field trials. These are competitive sporting events in which the animals are put through training exercises and then rewarded for achieving specific goals. Field trials are organized for nearly every breed of dog and are great showcases for pet merchandise, as well as apparel for the organizers of the events, he believes.

Pet care kit by Via Kit Company (asi/93757); www.viakitcompany.com

Pack a Bag for Fido

Bringing dogs on vacation is an emerging pet trend, according to David Fiderer, director of marketing at Prime Line (asi/79530). A recent TripAdvisor survey shows that 56% of Americans are likely to travel with their four-legged friends, and 52% will only stay at accommodations that welcome pets.

“Pet friendly is a whole new category of hotels and resorts – it didn’t used to exist on internet search engines,” says Damp. These hotels are interested in offering both unique and practical items to attract pet owners, and encouraging them to return, she notes. Gifts are a great way to welcome and acknowledge pets so their owners will remember the hotel and come back, plus spread the word to friends.

Pet apparel is gaining popularity at these pet-friendly locations and events, and many offer pet clothing, collars and leashes in their gift shops. “Pet T-shirts, football jerseys and hoodie sweatshirts are a growing product area for us,” Damp says. “Promopet offers low minimums so any restaurants, health clubs and resorts can promote their name without investing in large quantities.” Many of its items are USA-made as well.

Consider this: The Cambria Shores Inn in California presents canine guests with a welcome basket that includes special dog biscuits, towels, a mat and a copy of Fido-Friendly magazine. The Hotel Monaco Denver offers a “Reigning Cats and Dogs Pet Package” consisting of a pet pamper basket, organic treats, a doggie bed and food and water bowl.

Of course, there’s a whole other angle to this vacation scene, too. What if you opt to leave Fido behind? Why not put him up at a pet resort and spa, so he can vacation while you’re away? Lally has provided promo items to Texas-based Rover Oaks Pet Resort for over 15 years. Rover Oaks was created “exclusively to provide superior services for pets who deserve much, much more,” according to its website. It provides lodging, doggie day care, pet grooming and professional training for the discerning pet. Luxury suites, Meow Manor and VIP Packages are a few of its many amenities.

Lally provides Rover Oaks with two categories of promotional items: For pet events like walks and runs he offers inexpensive but high-volume items, including dog waste bag dispensers – a top seller – as well as water bowls and pet food scoops. A second category of gifting is holiday- and event-based, says Lally. Typically these combine items for both pet and owner, and are distributed to clients that spend a certain amount of money at the resort.

The Rover Oaks’ 2016 holiday gift was a custom packaged, branded Leed’s (asi/66887) vacuum tumbler, prepackaged dog treats and chocolates. Lally also provided a custom cap for dog owners that’ll be presented as a giveaway when a customer achieves a certain level of spending. It will also be available for purchase at the resort’s boutique shop.

>> Pets Big Part of Harley Davidson Brand 

Blending New With Old

Pet promo items are a growing sector for Prime Line, both with stock merchandise and overseas requests, according to Fiderer. “We are always looking for cool and unique items to expand this category,” he says. The company’s Jetline (asi/63344) value line offers functional pet products like doggie waste bag dispensers and drinking bowls, in addition to pet-themed items including pet paw design pens and stress relievers. This year, Prime Line is introducing a light-up pet collar, designed to fit in well with safety-themed promotions, Fiderer says.

Pet products, meanwhile, aren’t a new category for Jornik Manufacturing Corp. (asi/63549), “but it’s definitely growing for us. We try to add new products to the line every year,” says COO Jordie Freedman. “People are as passionate about their pets as they are their children.” Jornik recently shipped nearly 10,000 waste bag dispensers to a distributor who was servicing a water utility client. The customer was looking to build awareness of storm water contamination. The dispensers were distributed at community events.

Jornik is debuting a new doggie waste bag dispenser in 2017 with a flashlight for nighttime and early morning dog walks. Another new Jornik product coming soon is an herb-growing kit targeted to pets as a homeopathic treatment for various cat and dog ailments. “We think this will do well – people like natural remedies for their pets,” Freedman says.

>> WWE Launches Pet Products

Pet Charities

Ed Levy, owner and president of Edventure Promotions (asi/186055), is such a believer in pet promos that he plans to launch several pet-related websites this year, with a special emphasis on charity. “People spend more on their pets than they do on themselves – it’s a big market opportunity,” he says.

Edventure creates custom-designed pet food mats, based on an artist client’s pet-themed oil paintings. “They are quite humorous and great sellers,” says Levy. Edventure takes high-resolution scans of the paintings and converts them to digital files, then uses a dye-sublimated process so the images don’t wear off the neoprene mats.

Levy thinks animal shelters are one potentially lucrative pet market. Promotional products are great ways to create brand awareness, spread anti-cruelty messages and encourage pet adoption. Organizations like Paws Chicago sponsor events, like its annual Fur Ball, which is a pet-friendly black-tie gala to benefit the city’s homeless animals. Promotional opportunities include branded aprons for volunteers, treats and giveaways for canine guests. In addition, Paws Chicago has an online store, where the proceeds benefit its mission of preventing the killing of homeless animals.

Fresh Step Litter launched a “Hot to Adopt” campaign during New York’s Fashion Week to benefit cat shelters across the country. American Apparel (asi/35297) T-shirts branded with the “Hot to Adopt” logo were offered on Fresh Step’s website during the holiday season.


Can Your Logo Fit On A Hat? We Can Help.

ASI "Wearables" says:

As you gain experience with digitizing, you’ll be able to tell just by looking which embroidery designs cross-pollinate better than others. Here are few guidelines to help you figure out whether a chest design will work well on a cap.


1. The design must be smaller than 2.25 inches tall to fit most hat frames, though some frames allow for designs as high as 2.5 inches. There are a few machines in the marketplace with a slightly larger sewing field for caps.

2. Designs with multiple borders around text rarely work well on caps.

3. Most caps today have a seam down the middle. This can play havoc with an embroidery design. For example, say you have the letter “I” in the middle of a design with no fill behind it. That letter will fall into the seam and look bad. This is never the digitizer’s fault. You wouldn’t park your car in the middle of a canal and expect it to float, right?

4. Detailed designs with tight registration can be very tricky on hats. The reality is that caps tend to move around in the hat frame, even when properly hooped. If a hat moves while it’s sewing a fill, there’s a good chance when the machine comes back around to stitch the border, it may not register.