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What's Going On in 2023

Here we are in a new year and big things are afoot at the Lazy River Design Works store.

The last time I posted was mid-December, and that gap is accounted for by the holidays, of course, but also because we lost internet on the desktop for almost two weeks. So my apologies for being MIA but at least I have a good reason.

A Change in Supplier

Probably the biggest news is that I have decided to drop HugePOD as one of my suppliers. It's unfortunate, because I started with HugePOD, they gave good service and good product for quite a while, and there were about 200ish products in my catalog that they produced. But the wheels are clearly coming off the bus over there, and I felt I had to pull the plug. Going forward, here is the product/manufacturer breakdown:

- Bucket hats, dad caps, Hawaiian shirts, all-over graphic tees, and umbrellas - InterestPrint

- Classic-format tees, stickers, cards, prints and mugs - Printful

I will write a post soon about Printful, but in a nutshell, they are a very well established printondemand/dropshipping company with a good reputation as far as I can tell. They seem to be ethically sourced, or at least claim to be. From their website:

"The structure of our organization, business, and supply chains

Printful is a on-demand order fulfillment dropshipping and warehousing service company with a team of more than 1,700+ professionals working in North America and Europe, with partners in Japan, Australia, and Brazil. We also contract a wide variety of various suppliers located in the US, the EU, and other countries and regions to provide us with the materials for our production.

During this financial year, Printful has become a member of Sedex. This allows us to map our supply chain to multiple tiers (such as workforce profiles, countries of operations and the suppliers for each component of our products and services), and gather key ethical data from our suppliers already in the platform.

Printful policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking

Our contracts and Terms and Conditions with suppliers include an Anti-slavery or Forced labor clause according to which suppliers commit to comply with all applicable laws that prohibit slavery and human trafficking. Printful has also implemented a Code of Conduct that sets forth our standards and expectations with respect to key areas of corporate responsibility, including a requirement for our suppliers not to support forced labor and not to collaborate with organizations that use illegal employment practices."

I would like the companies that I work with to be as ethically-sourced as possible, and it looks like Printful is a good exemplar. InterestPrint is based in China, and there is no information about their working conditions that I can find; the fact that they don't bring it up on their own website is, perhaps, a bad sign. One thing I will finally get off my butt and do shortly is email them and ask them directly, although they will inevitably say that everything is great.

Apart from the ethics question, having so many products with one company now makes me nervous given what just happened with HugePOD. Losing around 200 products is a huge blow to my catalog and it's going to take a long time to rebuild all that stuff. I will be exploring alternatives.


Midjourney - A Fantastic New Design Resource

As I've written about a fair bit already on this blog, I am a big fan of the AI "art" generator, Midjourney. I will be using this resource a lot in the future as a way to generate design elements and graphics that are beyond my skill level. Of course, AI image generation is a hugely controversial topic, and I started to explore the issues in a couple of blog posts that you can find here and here. The loss of the internet prevented me from publishing a third installment, and I probably still will do so, but there is so much writing out there on the topic now that I'm not sure I have anything new to say about it. Regardless, this tool allows me to put together designs that would otherwise be out of my reach and you can expect to see work from me in the future that draws heavily on this resource.


A Major Rethink of the Home Page?

Probably. Right now, it feels to me like the main focus is on product type and that focus should probably be shared with the designs. Plus, due to the loss of HugePOD, a lot of the content there is now invalid and needs to be updated. It's a fairly daunting task, and I have to think about it some more before actually doing it.


That's all for now. Best of the New Year to you and yours!

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