Andy Timmins

Marketing Your Small Business: Key Advice

 

small-business-marketingSomewhere in the midst of simply surviving your business needs to move from being a start-up to a grown up. You probably already know that the vehicle that can take your small business to the next level is marketing, but with so much information out there, where do you begin?

The answers are surprisingly simple, so let’s begin at the beginning.

Define Your Target Customer

The first step in growing your small business is to stop asking what your business and customers can do for you and ask what you can do for them. To do this, you’ll need to define your target customer as clearly as possible, and this means moving beyond mere market segments and demographics and niching down as much as you can.

As uncomfortable as this discipline may seem at first, a clear and decisive picture of your customer will allow you target all of your efforts toward them. Trying to please everybody will leave you ragged and your customers unhappy.

Design with Your Customer in Mind

We’re not talking about your products at this stage, although you may find that they shape themselves to be more attractive to your target customers over time. What we’re talking about is your brand. You may have to change your logo, brand colours, and even name to go after the customers you want.

Everything from logo font and colours, web design, and the way you present yourself counts at this stage. After all, there’s no point wearing a conservative business suit if you’re selling products to aspiring circus performers.

 

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Andy Timmins

Blog Post - Company Uniforms: Matching Quality For Cost

 

uniformProfessionalism counts for a lot. A simple uniform can transform a workplace, establishing brand, reinforcing unity and tying your team together visually. The whole appearance of your getup will be slicker and more professional, without having to compromise on the relaxed atmosphere or feel-good-vibe particular to your business.

All off the back of a few polo shirts or printed v-necks! Let’s look at this a little more.

Benefits of company uniforms

Company uniforms encourage customers to approach your staff. A uniform instantly identifies someone as an employee, making it easier and more automatic for potential customers to ask queries or request orders.

Your staff will feel more professional when in uniform. It can help them to differentiate between personal and work time, enabling them to get in the zone faster and work more efficiently on the shop floor or at their desk.

Uniforms look great! Lift your company to the next level with a couple of quality tees. Show your customers you care about your image and your brand.

Matching quality for cost

Your biggest concern is probably cost. You might be worried about breaking the bank over something that doesn’t seem to matter very much. A quality uniform does matter!

And you don’t need to worry about cost.

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Andy Timmins

6 Great Places For University Trips In Oxfordshire

Feeling stressed out by your studies but don’t have time for a proper holiday? There are lots of fun and interesting places you can go for a quick getaway.

Whether you have just an afternoon or a few days over a long weekend, check out some of these ideas when you need a little break from university.

Explore Royalty

Oxford CastleWhether you want to explore stunning views of the countryside from the oldest building in Oxford, roam through a 900-year-old crypt, or check out what it was like in an 18th-century debtor’s prison, Oxford Castle is a fascinating way to spend a day.

You can even take a tour with costumed guides for an added historic touch. Built by medieval Norman baron Robert D’Oyly in 1071, the castle played an important role in military history over several hundred years.

After the English Civil War, the castle served as a prison for the next few hundred years. Now you can dine in one of the old prison buildings, and if you have the cash you can even spend the night.

Malmaison Oxford is a boutique hotel in what used to be the prison quarter and though not cheap, it’s a one of a kind experience. But if a luxury suite isn’t your style, don’t worry; there are rooms nearby for around £32/night.

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Arron Harnden

What Exactly Makes a Garment Ethical?

ShirtworksMany of us are becoming increasingly familiar with the Fairtrade mark as a guide to responsible consumer behaviour. Fairtrade is a label attached to individual products informing us that its production meets particular stipulations.

However, as consumers we are not as familiar with the concept of ethical trade: this criterion has a lower public profile because it applies to the behaviour of companies, not the buying public.

The issues tackled by ethical clothing initiatives are varied, but fall under the general headings of protecting workers’ rights, animal rights, and safeguarding the environment.

Working Conditions

Increasingly in recent years, awareness has been raised about the poor working conditions endured by many of the people who make the clothing sold on the high street.

Factory accommodation is often cramped and unsafe, and scant attention is paid to the health, safety and even basic human dignity of these workers. Child labour is an issue, too, and child workers are often especially badly treated, having to endure long working hours for very little pay.

Ethical garments are ones produced in conditions which allow their creators at least adequate standards of remuneration and which acknowledge their human rights. For a clothing company to be truly ethical it must also refuse to employ children, and where child workers are already employed, it should aim to help them move into good-quality education instead.

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Andy Timmins

Where Do Your Clothes Come From?

b2ap3_thumbnail_shirtworks---ethical.pngLets begin with a little experiment: go to your wardrobe now, grab a few items at random and note down the countries mentioned on the label. Unless you’re heavily into custom-crafted suits made from Harris Tweed, my bet is that you’ll find a majority of labels citing the following destinations as their place of manufacture.

China

Nowadays China is the undisputed titan of clothing manufacture, leading the world with exports worth $154 billion US. This is a dramatic transformation from the nation’s position in 1980, when it stood in 8th place in the global apparel export charts with a trade worth only $42 billion US (as corrected for inflation).

China’s supremacy is driven by a large labour force whose skills power mega-factories to seemingly ever greater heights of productivity.

But industry experts suspect that China has all but reached peak clothing production. Per-unit costs are rising as the underlying standard of living improves, and in its vastness China presents a logistical challenge for distribution. Predictions are that large clothing companies will soon be sourcing their garments elsewhere.

Hong Kong

Tailors in Hong Kong have long held semi-mythical status for their ability to run up couture garments with a ready-to-wear price tag. No wonder that the country’s manufacturing base has remained dominant since 1980. Hong Kong only ceded first place in the export league table to China in 1995, and more recently its market share was calculated at an impressive $24.5 billion.

Even though it is now administratively part of China, Hong Kong holds its own in the garment industry. As China’s production advantages lessen, Hong Kong’s manufacturers will no doubt still be doing what they’ve always done: providing high quality clothing at a reasonable cost and with a short turnaround time. 

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Arron Harnden

How to Brilliantly Clean Dirty Sports Kit

The joys of football and rugby season don’t tend to extend to the washing. Between the blood, mud, and grass stains, you’ll want to get the job done quickly so you can get on with better things. Don’t fret, as there are some easy tips for making that sports kit brilliantly clean. Pull on those rubber gloves and let’s get started.

b2ap3_thumbnail_clothes-line.pngKnow Your Fabric

A polyester mesh is the standard fabric for football shirts, while rugby kit may be made in polyester or polyester with a Lycra blend. The good news is that the average sports kit is made for its durability and is usually easier to look after than cotton.

Pre-Soak Straight Away

As soon as you can, get that uniform soaking. If you have a heavy-duty laundry sink, run the tap and rinse as much mud off as possible. If not, hang your kit on the clothesline and rinse it with a hose. The next step is to fill a bucket with warm water, add one cap of laundry detergent and a cup of baking soda, and leave your kit to sit for an hour or more.

How Hard Is Your Water?

This is something most people don’t think about when it comes to washing their kit but it makes all the difference. Soft water makes it easy to remove ground-in stains while the minerals found in hard water means you’ll need a bit of help. Invest in some water conditioner, and add this to your pre-soak bucket to help your detergent along.

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Andy Timmins

8 Tips To Create A 'Homely' University House

Our Advice On How To Create A 'Homely' University House

b2ap3_thumbnail_uni-house---shirtworks.pngIf you’re a typical university student, your student accommodation consists of a bland, generic room furnished with the same bed and desk as everyone else in your building. The question then becomes, what can you do on a limited budget to add functionality and personalize your space?

Fortunately, you’ll find that a few simple touches can go a long way towards making your university space a little more homely. And when you feel more comfortable, those long hours of study will be easier to endure. Here are a few simple, inexpensive ways to add a little character to your space.

Invest in lighting

Good lighting can improve your study habits, and if you choose a stylish fixture it can also add interest to your room. You might want to raid a lamp from your parents’ attic for a personal remembrance, or visit a vintage shop for an antique look. If clean and modern is more your style, supermarket home-ware sections or Ikea offer interesting lighting choices that won’t break the bank.

b2ap3_thumbnail_beanbag.pngAdd extra seating

Add beanbags to the floor give a student room a funky vibe and provide extra seating for friends who drop by. You might also want to pick up inexpensive cushions online or in discount shops to add both decoration and extra seating. 

Include a little nostalgia

Especially for your first year away from home, a few nostalgic touches will help you adjust and keep you from feeling too homesick. A few carefully selected items from your old room at home can remind you of your loved ones.

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Arron Harnden

A History of UK Military Uniform

 

A Timeline of British Military Uniform

redcoat history military uniform

In the minds of many, the British military uniform of the past is the redcoat. This uniform was made familiar by images of the guards in London, and countless movies of British soldiers fighting Zulus in Africa, the French at Waterloo, and American rebels or patriots (depending on your point of view). How did the colour red come to be associated with the British soldier?

Origins

Apart from a few specialised guard units like the Yeomen warders – the famous Beefeaters seen today at the Tower of London – British soldiers did not have a standard uniform until the first permanent armies appeared during the English Civil Wars.

When the first English armies were raised, it’s likely that red was chosen because red dye was easily available and relatively inexpensive. At that time, national armies in Europe also began adopting colours associated with their countries. Although not all British troops were dressed in red, it soon became their iconic colour.

As Britain became more powerful and acquired a large overseas empire, the red coat was seen throughout the world. It became the colour of the British soldier, or 'redcoat'.

The Nineteenth Century

The nineteenth and early twentieth century saw the greatest development and variety of British military uniforms. Encounters with other armies during the Napoleonic wars led to the adoption of foreign uniform, such as the busby, fur-lined pelisse and short boots of the Hungarians for hussar regiments. The exploits of the Polish cavalry led to the formation of lancer regiments, who adopted not only the lance, but also the characteristic four-cornered Polish headgear, the czapska.

 

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Andy Timmins

5 Creative Things To Do With Old Clothes

b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2015-02-09-at-13.55.38.png

Innovations For Your Old Clothes 

I'm sure many of us are guilty of simply throwing away our old clothes that we never wear anymore. However by thinking creatively we can make those disused items last much longer and create a meaningful use for them!

We compiled a list of our favourite innovative ideas, some of which you may want to try yourself.

Apron

Using old clothes to make an apron is a really good idea, as it saves you from getting your current clothes dirty and therefore another load of washing. They can also be completely unique to your taste and style. The process of creating them is also very easy and enjoyable.

If you want advice and tips on how to make these, click here.

Bags 

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Arron Harnden

A History of the Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Rivalry

 

A Background on the Oxford & Cambridge Battle

The rivalry between England’s two most prestigious Universities has been raging for more than one hundred years and does not show any signs of stopping any time soon.The two Universities go head to head with each other in everything from academic rankings to sporting events, the most well-known being the varsity rugby match.

Rugby Varsity Match 

TwickenhamThe annual varsity rugby match between Oxford and Cambridge has been played every year since 1872. The varsity match is one of the world’s longest running sporting events and classed as the pinnacle of student and amateur rugby. The game to determine the holders of the varsity title was traditionally played on the second Tuesday of December at 2pm until 2007 when it was moved to a Thursday.

The day change however didn’t change the popularity of the match and it still continues to attract large audiences. Although Oxford and Cambridge are not professional rugby teams, they remain at the forefront of the development of the sport and continue to be a benchmark for the game due to their promotion of the traditional values and ideals.

After the most recent match in 2014, Cambridge University currently has the lead with 61 wins against Oxfords 58. The teams have tied a total of 14 times.

Oxbridge also play in varsity matches in a number of other sports including water polo, with the first ever match in recorded history being played between Oxford and Cambridge in 1891.

 

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Andy Timmins

The Most Unusual University Sports

Strange Sports in Colleges & Universities

At University it is not uncommon to see people play Rugby or Football, but these other sports are also beginning to take off...

For many Universities, sport is a big deal and for a lot of students, joining a university team is a gateway to a whole new social environment.
However, while several universities partake in the traditional sports such as football, rugby, basketball and cricket, a few new sports are beginning to creep onto the university scene and they are a little different from the conventional sports teams.

Underwater Hockey

Underwater hockeyHockey has been a popular sport with universities for years ever since its inception in the 19th century. Field hockey then evolved over time and ice hockey was developed in Canada in 1875.Universities across the country have now taken this popular past-time to a new level with the introduction of underwater hockey.

Also known as Octopush, underwater hockey follows the typical rules of regular hockey. Underwater hockey teams usually consist of 6 players who use curved sticks to hit a puck into the other team’s goal. Although the sport is gaining more and more players around the world, it is still yet to develop a large following outside of universities.

However, the sport is still in its early days and is one to be watched because it is set to become something of a phenomenon within competitive university sport.

If you are interested in joining this club in Oxford, then click here.

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Andy Timmins

Weird and Wonderful College & University Traditions

Looking at Some of the Stranger Traditions on Campus

weird university traditionsGoing to university offers more to students than a degree.

University life brings with it a sense of community and camaraderie as students experience the trials and tribulations of university life together. They gain a shared sense of belonging at attending a venerable institution.

And sometimes they get more than they bargained for. 

University culture has some weird and wonderful traditions that have been passed down over the years. Here are some of the most bizarre university (or college) traditions from around the world.

Time Ceremony, Merton College, Oxford

As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, it’s only natural that Oxford is home to many bizarre traditions throughout its many colleges, but the Time Ceremony held at Merton College really takes the biscuit.

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Andy Timmins

Sport in Oxford: A History

 

A Long & Established History of Sport in Oxford

roger bannisterThe city of Oxford can boast a rich sporting heritage, with many historic events and victories across numerous different disciplines to its name. Oxford owes much of its sporting success to its famous university, as the facilities and traditions there have supported its alumni in every endeavour possible.

Let’s take a look at some of Oxford’s greatest sporting achievements.

Roger Bannister

Perhaps the finest moment of all in Oxford’s sporting history took place on 6 May 1954. At the university owned Iffley Road running track, medical student Roger Bannister fulfilled his ambition of running the world’s first sub-4-minute mile.

Having come within 2 seconds a year before, and knowing that other runners - particularly Australian John Landy - were nearing the milestone, Bannister battled strong winds to set the record in front of 3000 spectators. That same season Bannister compounded that achievement by winning the 1500m (the so-called metric mile) at the European Championships in Bern before retiring from Athletics to concentrate on his work in the field of medicine.

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Andy Timmins

The 10 Worst Football Shirts in History

Looking at Some of the Worst Designs in Football's History

bilbaoWith every new football season comes a large variety of new football shirts, now so more than ever. Gone are the days of the 2 year shirt cycle, and now every top club releases at least 2 brand new shirts every year.

While it’s impossible to please everyone, occasionally a shirt is released to universal derision from fans the world over. Here are our picks for the 10 worst in history (so far).

1. A Ketchup Mishap

In 2004 La Liga side Athletic Bilbao released a shirt (see right!) designed by Basque artist Dario Urzay to commemorate the club’s centenary year, apparently inspired by the works of art in Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.

A well meaning effort perhaps, but one that shares more in common with a ketchup mishap than fine art.


2. The Tigers

worst hull shirtThis Hull City shirt from 1992 gave fans an unexpected glimpse of the future. The club is nicknamed the Tigers due to the traditional black and amber stripes that adorn their home shirts.

New owner Dr. Assem Allam took things one step further this year when he attempted to Americanise the club by officially changing its name to the Hull Tigers, hoping to increase commercial revenue.

The idea was thankfully rejected by the Football Association, which is just as well; nobody wants to see another shirt like this.

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Andy Timmins

A Preview to Living Wage Week

living-wageLiving Wage Week raises awareness of the Living Wage and celebrates employers who have been accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. This UK-wide celebration happens from 2-8 November 2014.

Expect many national and community events, including:

- New 2014-2015 Living Wage rates announced

- The Living Wage Foundation unveiling a new report on the impact of the Living Wage

- Accredited Living Wage Employers celebrating and raising awareness by sponsoring company-wide events, hosting industry-wide discussions, and offering sales promotions.

Living Wage Overview

The Living Wage rate is based on what a person needs to cover basic living costs and varies in different parts of the country. The National Minimum Wage already exists as a legal minimum pay standard, but the Living Wage is different.

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Arron Harnden

The Top Ten Websites For Students

best student websitesThe Best Student Sites on the Web

Undergraduate years are the best of your life - or so they say.

Make the most of your student experience by checking out these top websites:

1. Save the Student:

If you’ve lived at home for the last 18 years, it is unlikely that you’ve ever needed to make as many independent decisions and this can be very scary. Knowing how to save money, look for next years’ accommodation, and many other things can be soul-destroying at times…

Luckily Save the Student can help; offering advice on finances, housing, and utilities.

Visit Save the Student

2. The Ultimate Health Food Guide:

healthy food guideOne thing that tends to go out of the window as soon as you properly leave home for the first time is your nutrition and diet. With the amount of flyers you will receive around campus on Freshers’ Week for fast food and pizza outlets it is very tempting to disregard the benefits of fresh food almost instantly.

The Ultimate Health Food Guide offers advice on what to eat for almost any situation - through weight loss, illness, sleep problems among many others. A good place to start for self-medication!

Visit The Ultimate Health Food Guide

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Andy Timmins

Stepping Into Sustainability: How To Make Your Business Green

Tips on Improving Your Business' Green Credentials

recyclingAt Shirtworks, we're proud of our green credentials and our ethical policies, and we are helping more businesses across the UK improve their approach and their supply chain as they use our products and services.

As well as having an impact on the environment, having a green policy implemented in your business can also save your organisation money.

Printing

One of the keys areas of waste within the office environment. Reducing use of paper in your office, therefore, can have a massive impact on the global environment. Encourage employees to avoid printing out emails, and make moves for your marketing literature to be sent to customers via email instead of in the post. Of course, some things will still need to be printed, so consider changing to recycled paper for your printer.

Recycling

Putting recycling bins in your office will make a significant difference to your green credentials. Allowing scrap paper to be recycled and food waste to be composted is a great way of running an office in a sustainable way. It is key, however, to ensure that bins are clearly labelled so staff aren’t tempted to mix their recyclables undoing all the hard work from others.

 

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Andy Timmins

Shirtworks New Quoting & Ordering System

We have launched a new online ordering system, designed to make ordering your custom clothing even easier.

New features of the ordering system include:

Mixing Colour and Sizing Options 

custom clothing colour options

You can now mix colour, customisation and sizing options, meaning you can now get accurate quotes for a batch of items that may have size dependent customisations!

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Andy Timmins

3 Ways To Upcycle Your Summer Wardrobe

Upcycling Your Old Clothes

upcycled clothingThe summer sun is finally here and it’s time to whip out your sunglasses and your sun friendly clothes. Whilst it’s always nice to rediscover old summer clothes, it is often the case that they are the wrong size, in worse quality than you remember or simply not in fashion anymore.

It easy to hit the shops to buy your new wardrobe but not only is that not cost effective, it can be difficult to navigate round the high street stores that are often recognised for using unethical production practices. A great way to reinvent your wardrobe in a cheaper, greener way is to upcycle your outfits.

Upcycling is the processes of taking something unwanted or unusable and converting it into a product of better quality and value and the practice has taken off in the art, music and fashion industry. Here are three quick, cheap and easy methods to up cycle some of those older, unloved pieces in your wardrobe.

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Andy Timmins

Embroidered Clothing - What To Know Before Purchasing

Advice About Embroidered Clothing

t-shirt-embroideryWhen deciding upon custom clothing for your team, business or club, you will need to make the decision on how you'd like your custom elements/design to be applied to the clothing.

Traditionally, most will opt for a traditional screen printed design, although digital printing is also increasing in popularity. Another option is embroidery; embroidered designs produce a high quality, professional result.

Due to the timeframes and costs of embroidered clothing, it is better suited to smaller runs. Embroidered designs are typically smaller (for example, a 10cm square chest logo, rather than a full chest design). Clothing can be both embroidered and printed (for example, and embroidered logo on the front of the garment, and a screen printed design on the rear).

What Type of Clothing?

Custom embroidery is better suited to heavier garments, like polo shirts, jackets, hoodies, sweatshirts and high quality heavy t-shirts.

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