I got my start in business at the Marshfield Fair!

All I know about business I learned by sewing

The Marshfield Fair opened Friday, which always gets me to thinking about the blue ribbons I won there in junior high school. They were for sewing projects, not goats and sheep, in my 4H group.

The following articles are a few examples of how the skills I developed then serve me well in my business today. 


Deadlines matter

One of the first things I ask my clients is “When do you need this?”

Whether it’s a Constant Contact email like this one or promotional products for an event, the deadline drives the entire project.

If I had been a day late with my submission to the Fair, all I’d be thinking about now would be Ferris Wheels and fried dough!

I’m proud to say that in 21 years in business, I haven’t missed a deadline!


Selecting the right tools for the job

People often ask “What’s the latest and greatest promotional product?”

My answer is always “There’s no perfect promotion for everyone. What may be right for you won’t be good for someone else.”

When I recommend promotional items I tailor my suggestions (forgive the pun) to your specific needs.

For example, if your audience works primarily in an office, I will suggest things they will keep on their desk. If they are on the road most of the time, I’ll look for things they will use in their cars. All with the goal of keeping your logo (and your business) top of mind so they will think of you when they need your product or service. 

Color matters

Who knew that the skill of matching thread to fabric would be useful to me today.

When I have a new order for silkscreened or embroidered apparel, the logo determines not only the color of the garment but the ink or thread we use to decorate it.

The sense of color I developed in sewing also is useful in branding. I’m a bit of a Chief of the Branding Police when it comes to logos.

Logos are created with specific colors based on certain matching systems, Pantone for spot color printing, CMYK for full-color printing, and Hex for web. 

It’s like when you go to the home supply store for paint. Each color is made of a combination of a few base colors. By following the “recipe” for the color when we imprint your logo, it ensures that it will look the same every time, keeping true to your brand.

Details matter

In sewing, most seams are supposed to be 5/8″ wide. Not 1/2″, not 7/8″, but 5/8″. Varying the size of the seam just a smidgen would create an ill-fitting garment.

The same principle applies when imprinting a logo on products. If the imprint area is 2″ wide, we can’t make your logo 2 1/2″. 

Shape also matters. If you have a large round logo, I will steer clear of rectangular items and vice versa.

You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar

If I had a dollar for every time my Mom said, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar,” I would be basking on a beach somewhere instead of writing this email. (For the record, it was always directed toward my Dad!)

Just as I partner with my clients to best meet their marketing needs, my suppliers are my partners. Which means I treat them with the same dignity and respect that I treat my clients.

In addition to being the right thing to do, the benefit is I that when I need a favor or a rush order, they are more than willing to help out. I think I’ll call it the Golden Honey Rule! 

Do you have a special event coming up? 

Did you know that 82.6% of people remember the company and brand on promotional products that were given to them? 

Promotional Products are a cost-effective way to keep your name and logo top of mind.

Email me or call 781-447-3729 and I’ll be happy to brainstorm ideas for just the right items to help promote your business.

In the meantime, I’ll be riding the Ferris Wheel!

Promotional Products, aka Forget-me-nots!

As amazing as Super Bowl ads are, I’m willing to bet you don’t remember a lot of  advertisers from the game. This is especially true this year for Pats fans who probably want to block the whole thing from their minds.

Conversely, you probably have numerous promotional products that you use regularly. The company that gave them to you spent a lot less than $5 million for a 30-second spot on game day.

Hmm, $5 mil for a 30-second ad that is forgotten long before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, or a milli-fraction of that for exposure day in and day out. Which is the better value?

Most promotional product campaigns are far more cost-effective than many other advertising mediums. The way to further increase exposure is to select items that are:

  • memorable
  • useful
  • good quality
  • consistent with your brand
  • and tailored to your business, recipients, and marketing goals.

We have been helping companies be memorable for more than 20 years!

The “Write” Stuff

Only the top of this pen was sticking out amongst some tools on a shelf in my dad’s barn. As soon as I held it in my hand I knew instantly, a sort of deja vu feeling, that it was a promotional pen from my grandfather’s business. The amazing thing is that the last time I wrote with one of those pens I was in third grade. Talk about the power of promotional pens.

In honor of National Handwriting Day, January 23, here is some information about the effectiveness of pens as promotional items.

In a recent survey, fifty percent of respondents said they like getting free promotional pens from advertisers. Fifty-six percent reported that they keep the pen for as long as it writes.

Pens are a cost-effective way to promote brand recognition. Each time someone writes with your pen, there is what advertisers call “an impression.” If a pen costs a dollar, the cost for each impression may be only a fraction of a cent or $0.000436. That is an amazing deal considering the cost of other advertising media. There are some very serviceable pens that cost less than a dollar, making the cost per impression even lower.

The secret is to choose a pen that people will want to use. Whenever a client wants to buy pens, I always get samples so they can see how they feel and how well they write. Another consideration is how the imprint area will work with the client’s logo.

I use the same criteria when selecting pens for my own company. I get feedback about how much people like them, and that they have to hide them from their colleagues.

Once I was in a meeting and saw someone writing with one of my pens, even though she had her own branded pens.

A long-time business relationship with a client is due to a colleague who worked for the company loving my pen. Check out my blog about the Power of the Pen to read more.

Did you know?

  • An average pen will write 50,000 words.
  • An average pen could draw a line 6,000 feet long.
  • It would take 24.2 million pens laid end-to-end to   reach the International Space Station.
  • The average person uses a pen 4.3 times per day.
  • The first patent for a ballpoint pen was issued in 1988 to John J. Loud, a leather tanner. He needed a pen that would write on leather, as fountain pens could not. Very ironic, since my grandfather’s company welted leather!

If you want to “test-drive” some winning pens for your company, email us and we’ll help you get the “write” stuff.

Making your Logo POP on Tee-shirts

Whenever quoting a new job, I always ask to see what they have done in the past. I love improving the quality and service over earlier orders. In addition to being one of the best ways to retain business, I am hard-wired to provide high quality and service. I couldn’t do sloppy work if I tried.

Decorating garments, whether they are silkscreened or embroidered, requires skill and amazing attention to detail.

When a design is silkscreened onto a dark garment, a white layer of ink, called flashing, must be applied first. Flashing makes the colors seem to “pop,” providing better contrast to the shirt.

Because of this extra step, imprinted dark shirts are more expensive than lighter color ones.

I have seen a lot of T-shirts done by other decorators that were not “flashed.” This results in a poor imprint, making it look like the color of the shirt is “bleeding” through the design.

When you are comparing quotes for imprinted garments, it is a good idea to ask to see samples of their work. It may be tempting to shop for the lowest price, though you may be sacrificing quality to save a few pennies.

Not all T-shirts are created equal

Sometimes people are inclined to shop by price alone. This is especially true for T-shirts. People think it’s just a T-shirt, how can they be any different?

They can be different in many ways: the fabric may be made from 100% cotton or a 50/50 blend, or moisture-wicking material. And the weight of the fabric may range from 4.0 ounces to 6.1 ounces.

Another thing to consider when you are getting a quote is the quality of the imprint.

Prior to working with us, Village Green used a prominent local silkscreener with almost 35 years experience. They printed the T-shirt on the left, which has numerous problems:

  • the overall logo is too large, giving more prominence to the acorn and leaves than to the company name;
  • the attempt to give “Village Green” an arced effect doesn’t work. Because letters in script typefaces are connected at the baseline, you can’t arc them. Putting the two words of different size on different slants looks awkward and off-center;
  • the cap of the acorn looks like a blob of ink.

I knew that I could improve In creating a new logo (on the right) our designer:

  • kept the script type all on one line;
  • reduced the size of the acorn and leaves;
  • added fine detail to the acorn cap and leaves.

You will notice that in addition to being a more attractive design, the print quality of the one on the right is superior. Even though the new acorn and leaves are less than half the size of the previous one, the detailed printing gives it a more professional look.

Village Green Landscape Contractors provide high-end, professional work. The new shirts are more reflective of the quality they provide.

 “I love the new logo and also love working with Jeanie. I can always expect creative, quality work,” says Susan Vaille, president of Village Green Landscape Contractors, Inc. “She really helps to present a good image for your company. I know who to call to get it done properly. Thanks Jeanie!”

If you want Jeanie Communications to help you look good, call or email today.

Hot Enough for You?

Wicking Fabrics Help People Stay Cool in the Heat

Wick – verb [trans.] absorb or draw off (liquid) by capillary action: this shirt wicks away the sweat making me feel cooler on this sweltering day.

I stumbled upon the benefits of fabrics that wick perspiration away from the body quite accidentally.

About 10 years ago, I was cross-country skiing in New Hampshire. I wore three layers of wicking fleece tops, mainly for warmth.

After skiing, the curls at the back of my neck were drenched with sweat. My very own sweat; sweat that had been wicked through three layers of clothing. Yet my skin, and the wicking shirts, were bone dry. The sweat was clinging to the non-wicking flannel lining of my windbreaker, instead of my skin.

Now, all of my workout clothing wicks, which helps me feel much cooler in the summer and stay dry in the winter.

So when Deb Vey wanted matching shirts for her family reunion/golf tournament I suggested wicking shirts. It was a bit like herding cats for her to get them all to agree, so she tabled the idea.

A few days before the tournament, which was forecast to be in the high ‘90s and humid, I gave her a sample wicking golf shirt to try out.

“When I got there, my cousin was already soaked before we even started, so I gave it to him,” Deb said. “He didn’t sweat the rest of the day.”

Actually he probably continued to sweat profusely. Because the shirt wicked the moisture away his shirt stayed dry and he felt cooler.

The following year, she ordered wicking shirts for everyone (see photo above). They had a cool, dry trip around 18 holes of golf in blazing heat.

Wicking fabrics are beneficial year round. Unlike regular polyester, they are specially constructed in ways more technical than I’m qualified to write about.

In the summer, they wick moisture away from your skin so you feel cooler. By wicking the moisture in cold weather, perspiration can’t cool off on your skin. Perspiration on skin in the winter can chill you very quickly. Without wicking, you could potentially develop hypothermia.

Since my skiing experience, the marketplace has exploded with wicking fabrics. There are countless types—polo shirts, tee-shirts, jackets, etc. Anyone who works or spends any amount of time outside—especially in extreme temperatures—would benefit from wearing them.

The main thing is that they keep you comfortable—no matter what the season—and they are not your grandmother’s polyester.

Click here for our wide selection of “wick wear”.

Making You Look Good: Quality and Service at a Fair Price

Years ago, the only way to purchase imprinted promotional products was through select distributors like Jeanie Communications. The Internet has changed that, and many distributors were/are fearful of the impact on their business. I have always said that companies that sell exclusively online are not my competitors.

I built my company on the foundation of impeccable customer service and high quality products at fair, competitive prices. Yes, sometimes the prices of online companies are lower, though the people who care only about price are not generally my customers.

Recently I fulfilled orders for a cooler bag and multiple items to put in it for a long-time customer’s annual golf event.

The first step of the process was to talk about some general ideas. Next, I emailed him proposals with specific items and prices. Then I ordered samples of the things he liked so he could see the actual pieces.

Whenever possible, I provide samples before placing the order because I want to see the quality myself, and I want my customer to be sure it’s exactly what they want. Sure, I spend more time on the front end, before “closing the deal.” That’s because my mantra is that I never want to hear someone say, “this isn’t what I expected.”

This year, I worked directly with Callico’s marketing manager, who has been with the company a couple of year. Unbeknownst to me, Jim was (emphasis on “was”) someone who always bought online.

This is what he wrote following the golf event:

Dear Jeanie

Our gift bags for our annual golf event really accentuate our brand and were a hit with our customers. Once again, you’ve provided reliable service and you’ve saved us money in the process. I used to purchase promotional items online thinking I was saving money but often something would go wrong with my order or the quality didn’t always meet expectations. You’ve saved me so much time and mitigated the problems. You’ve become our favorite visitor here at Callico. Thank you for exceptional service and for making me look good! I look forward to working with you soon.


Jim Wagner, Marketing Manager


The “problems” he referred to is that the day before the bottle cozies were to ship, the vendor said they only had 100 pieces for my 200-piece order. My first response was, “Why am I’m just hearing about this now?” The rep read off the litany of other colors available for the balance of the order. This was a waste of time, because Callico’s colors are black and white. End of story. And I told her that.

The rep checked with production, and turns out, had enough stock after all. The next day, the day they were supposed to ship, I got a voice mail message after hours saying, “Oops! They used some of your stock to complete the order before yours.” Then repeated the litany of colors available—apparently thinking my customer’s logo colors may have changed overnight.

First thing Monday morning I contacted another supplier that could fulfill the order in time for the event. I called the “Oops” people and said I can get the rest of them done elsewhere, and don’t need the ones they printed.

To which she replied, “Well, you’ll have to pay a cancellation fee.” I was astounded. They goofed, and were expecting me (or worse, my customer) pay for it. The fact that they printed 100 then ran out of stock is not my problem, and most definitely is not my customer’s problem. She kept saying she’d have to check with her supervisor, to which I said, “Fine, though there’s no way I’m paying for your mistake.”

The second company fulfilled the order, a day earlier than promised.

The irony is that the original company is a large, multi-line supplier that bills itself as one of the best in the industry. I’ve not been “wowed” by them in the past, and now will use them only as a last resort.

If this seems like a long drawn out process, imagine if you were my customer dealing with this issue with some nameless, faceless company.

A colleague once said that the true test of a company is not how they handle things when they go well, but rather what they do when things go wrong. Although I hate having things go wrong, when something does go wrong it is affirming that I am true to my mission of providing the best possible quality and service to my customers. My job is to make their job easier and to make them look good.

I have built excellent working relationships with my favorite suppliers, and continue to work with them because I have faith and confidence that they will complete the orders accurately and on time. When I search for products, I restrict my search to companies that have high ratings. I cannot possibly provide the quality and service my customers deserve if I’m dealing with poorly-rated suppliers. Sure, there may be times I could get a similar product for a bit less money. It is not worth the hassle to take a chance and hope that the order goes smoothly. Because even though my customers’ logos are on the products I deliver, my reputation is riding on the line with them.