In this episode of the 2 Regular Guys Talking Decoration Podcast, hosts Terry Combs and Aaron Montgomery sit down with Dannesh Kassamali, CEO of Silky Socks, to discuss the ins and outs of the sublimation business. They dive into topics such as business inspiration and how to take the leap and start your own business. Dannesh shares his experiences and insights into what works well for dye sublimation, and talks about the products that have helped Silky Socks grow into a successful sublimation blanks supply company. Listeners will come away with valuable tips for starting and growing their own sublimation business, as well as inspiration to go for it and pursue their dreams.
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Successful Sublimation Business
Aaron: Start us off by telling us about your journey to where you are now. Where did you start and where are you at now compared to your overall goal for Silky Socks?
Started at 0. From the ground up in 2013. And we are beyond my goals and my vision from when I started!! But now obviously I have reset higher goals and targets.
So here is the back story: In 2009 I launched a company called Silk Screen Apparel, which came about after volunteering to do a 1000 shirts for NPO. Did them at cost just to serve the organization and when I delivered those shirts people said hey can you do shirts for my business? And boom Silk Screen Apparel was created.
So fast forward 4 years later, I wanted to have my own brand. I was kind of tired of printing for other brands and not doing my own thing. So the vision of Silky Socks was to create a socks brand using Sublimation. And sell items direct to consumers. But I also developed the blanks ourselves for our own use, so we said we will sell the blanks too to other printers and see how that goes! For the first 5 years 2013-2018, I solely focused on our DTC brand, and printing for other brands; selling blanks was happening without even trying. We’d just attend 1 show per year dedicated to the selling of blanks. The rest of the time was spent building the brand. Then around 2018 is when I said.. Dang, I ought to flip this thing. Then in 2019 it was a Hard Pivot. No more content on our brand or printing for you and all efforts are focused on BLANKS. That was where our magic really was because I developed our own blanks. And I put a camera up on a tripod, no more fancy stuff. Just camera to face and did a How to Sublimate socks video, without holding anything back and that video has over 500K views now. We also launched our FB group that year in 2019, and those 2 front our presence was really strong.
Then in 2020 the Product innovations began! Masks of course. But we didn’t stop there. Crushed it with masks and expanded the Silky line into Underwear, more socks, beanies, headbands, sleeves, and Shirts!
Then 2021 and 22 they continued.
And now here we are pushing and optimizing and improving as best we can while the economy and such may be in a recession who knows. But we keep doing what we can and improving what we can so that we are poised and growing with the next growth phase of the World!
Terry: Why did you choose to focus on socks and then stay focused on Sublimation blanks only?
Niche. “Everybody does tshirts. How can I be different?” Was the motto. Socks was different enough for me.
Our differences is what makes us unique and need to be Celebrated!! Can’t just be like everyone else and compete. You gotta look for the Blue ocean!!! Are you familiar with the Blue ocean strategy?
Aaron: Let’s talk about sublimation products. What products work well for sublimation and what should people use a different technique to decorate?
Before things like socks and shirts didn’t work that great for sublimation because they weren’t very comfy. Or thick. We are changing that narrative.
People literally LOVE our socks and shirts. And have worn the same socks for 5 years! Underwear, arm sleeves, headbands. These were things you had to cut and sew before. But now we are offering them all ready to lay down and press!! Drink ware, Mouse Pads, Metal picture frames etc.
Terry: Tell us about your success philosophies.
Innovate and learn.
Let’s the fear guide you.
Meet people both online and offline.
Practice integrity!! Things you do today will matter even 10 years from now.
Invest your money!! Don’t spend it. Save it or Invest it. Invest in what? Well back into your business is one. Into the Stock market or S&P 500 ETF is another. Last Real estate. If you have something you can do there. “Invest it, invest it, invest it.” Or into yourself. Time and energy into yourself, over money.
Aaron: We know you are very active on Social Media. How have you leverage social media to grow your business? How can the product decorators tuned in better leverage social media for their businesses?
It’s everything! 99% of my customers wouldn’t know me or us if it weren’t for social media. That creates a knowing, a lasting relationship, and the product does the rest! We are active on all 4 platforms YT, IG, FB, Tik Tok. But it was the YT and the FB group that really got us going in this industry!!
The future business man is not just someone who sits back and chills behind the scenes. The future successful business man is the influencer who also runs a great business!! What does that mean? You have influencers on this side. You have entreprenuers on this side. I believe in the future the two will be one in the same for the most part. I’m a living example of that.
I’m a business man first, story teller and influencer 2nd. But I’m BOTH. That’s what makes me unique and special.
Terry: How do you inspire decorators to just go for it? When they are facing fear, how should they proceed?
By my example. Sometimes in life people don’t need to hear another sermon. They need to watch you live one out! So I try to do that! And encourage them that it’s ok to be nervous, or scared or make mistakes. I do all of the above all the time but I still continue forward…
Aaron: How can the #Regulators learn more about you, connect and purchase sublimation blanks?
You can follow @Silkysocks on IG and Tik Tok, as well as follow @DanneshKassamali there, or Keep up with us on YouTube @silkysocks. Lets GO I’m super excited and thank your or the opportunity.
Terry: We always like to get all the gold nuggets we can out of our guests for the #Regulators. What would be the #1 piece of advice you would share with someone brand new to the sublimation world?
Let’s the actions guide you! I didn’t know I’d be selling Sublimation blank socks, shirts, underwear if you asked me when I started this company!! I had no idea it would evolve to all that. I had no idea we would sell 1 Million+ sublimation blank face masks in 2020 and 2021, but it happened. It was one action, after another after another. It was FAITH in the unknown that hey. Let’s just do this 1 step right in front of me. This 1 step led to another conversation, to another tradeshow to another meeting. To Boom let’s launch this product and see how it goes!! So LONG STORY Short Lets the actions guide you!! And give it your ALL with that 1 action right in front of you!!
- First time I went to China, for a tradeshow. Was just off a whim. Didn’t know anyone, didn’t even have an order to do or a product to create. 2012 before Silky Socks even launched. I went alone, returned every year. Made connections, visited factories… and guess what the opportunities came AFTER that. And I knew where to go.
- Hard lesson: 1st order ALL socks came out 2-3” too big. Clown socks! Me and my wife took them to the laundry mats and “Shrunk” them all!!! Then repacked them. And the client accepted them at a discount as we worked on getting the replacement order. Then I always Hired a 3rd party QC company. Don’t mess around and skip that step!!!
- What you’re struggling with now and what you are afraid of now, is actually going to be your biggest asset in the future. So embrace it. And take it head on. Don’t run from it.
- The Half – 11:30 AM CST every Friday. Erich Campbell and Aaron Montgomery. Thirty minutes of Q&A. See past episodes and support the show – thehalf.club.
- Complete Screen Printing Business Course with Atlas Screen Supply in Chicago starting April 22-23, 2023.
- Complete Screen Printing Business Course with Workhorse Products in Phoenix, AZ, starting June 3-4, 2023.
- Master of Success Inner Circle – The next level for people who are serious about their success. Bi-Weekly Mastermind Groups on top of the industry-leading business training.
- Aaron’s “Small Business Saturdays” #SBS Every Saturday. Check out the Podcast version!
- Demystifying Next Level Digitizing Make your machine embroidery bolder, more beautiful, and more valuable to customers while making the digitizing process faster and easier. Online Training from Erich Campbell
- Understanding Emblems Digitizing, Production, Styles, and Sales of Patches. Learn from Erich Campbell about digitizing for emblems, including small detail tips, creating your own borders, execution for stitching, and more.
- The Take-up with Erich Campbell – Fridays at 2:30 Mountain Time
- Your Style Guide is a critical recipe. When all of the ingredients are combined, they create a powerful brand that is aligned, consistent & memorable! eBook by Jay Busselle
- Decorated Apparel Expo Minneapolis (Welch), MN – March 31-April 1, 2023
- Decorated Apparel Expo Chicago (Tinley Park), IL – April 14-15, 2023
- Graphics Pro Expo Charlotte, NC – April 27-28, 2023
- Sublimation Summit Peachtree City, GA – April 27-29, 2023
- Graphics Pro Expo Indianapolis, IN – June 15-16, 2023
- Graphics Pro Expo Portland, OR – July 19-20, 2023
- ASI Chicago – July 25-27, 2023
- Graphics Pro Expo Long Beach, CA – August 18-19, 2023
- Graphics Pro Expo Baltimore, MD – September 13-14, 2023
- Impressions Expo Fort Worth, TX – September 14 – 16, 2023
- ASI Show ConneX Nashville, TN – October 9-12, 2023
- Printing United Atlanta, GA – October 18-20, 2023
All dates and events subject to change