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Print & Promotion - A pandemic start-up

The pandemic has resulted in a challenging and interesting year for all of us. Brett Russell at Print & Promotion certainly admits that it’s been a whirlwind of a year for him.

Brett Russell


Brett Russell

When writing this article, he realised that it was exactly a year to the day he unexpectedly lost his job, due to the slowing down of his employer’s business and the then-unknown entity called ‘coronavirus’. He spent the following month interviewing for some international sales roles, then the world ground to a halt as we went into the first lockdown.

Brett spent a few more months job searching before he realised that the job market was well and truly dead for his skillset. He decided to wait things out and turned his attention to completing jobs around the house that had piled up. His thinking was that the pandemic could surely only last a couple of months at the most, then things would get back to normal. How wrong he was.

After six months of unemployment and with no end in sight, he started to look at business ideas and taking matters into his own hands.

He researched all kinds of businesses. After reading a great book, ‘Shoe Dog - the Nike story’, he decided he was going to launch a gym-wear brand. His idea was to start with a cheap website and use a selection of drop-shippers to produce his range of clothing within the UK, as opposed to buying in bulk from China and praying that it would all sell. However, he couldn’t find anyone who could give him the quality he was looking for or the speed of service.

Brett looked at investing in his own machinery to combat these issues. To make things viable, however, he’d need to produce items for other businesses to justify the cost of the machine. It was at this point that Print & Promotion was born.

Brett Russels Gym Wear brand, Forge and Sculpture

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Brett Russels Gym Wear brand, Forge and Sculpture

His gym wear brand, Forge & Sculpture, pre-launched in September 2020. From the initial introduction on social media, interest across his network of contacts for workwear and bespoke retail items took off like a rocket - to such a point he had to rethink his initial plan. He decided to delay the launch of Forge & Sculpture and focus on the workwear side of the business.

Five months on and the business continues to build every month, and he’s on target to reach his goals for the year.

He supplies over 2,500 items that can be branded. These range from baseball caps, beanie hats, polo shirts, sweatshirts, coats, laptop bags, trousers, hoodies, face masks and sporting wear to the humble coffee mug.

The business is designed to respond to changing conditions within the market, and to supply a rapid turnaround service - whether this is for a single branded garment or an order for thousands of pieces of merchandise. He understood very quickly that customer service is key to winning orders, and this approach saw him, in a few short months, work with large multinational clients such as Dell Computers and Costco.

Working with Dell Computers was a challenge for such a new business, and it was, by far, Brett’s single largest order to date. He had to provide 129 premium fleece jackets within a very short lead time. At this point, Brett was still operating out of his garage, so when the boxes of stock arrived it was a tight squeeze to get them all in, and to be able to work around them.

Dell Computers then told Brett that they could really do with the items a couple of days earlier than planned, as the jackets were going to be shipped individually across the world for a corporate Zoom meeting, and they would not have enough time to ship them when they received the goods. He decided not to leave it to chance; he rolled up his sleeves and worked through the weekend. His car was eventually loaded up, and the following Monday, he took the jackets to Kent three days ahead of schedule. The client was delighted with his service, and he will be working with them again on one of their larger internal campaigns.

What is perhaps amazing is that Brett started his business with zero knowledge of the industry, and with no customers. He has got to this point purely by picking up the phone, broadcasting across social media, and carrying out a crazy amount of networking. The result being, he now has over 50 active clients and a growing Instagram and Facebook following. He is also moving into his first premises before the end of March 2021.

Whilst the world has retracted during this pandemic, it clearly bears opportunities. Brett has certainly found his and run with it.

Check out Print and Promotion

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