Essex-based branded clothing producer ImageOn has invested in a Mimaki CJV150-130 wide-format print-cutter, enabling it to bring colour printing in-house.
Before this summer Neill Boatman, who founded ImageOn as a specialist garment embroidering and printing business in 2003, was a one-man band working from a cabin at home. But in October last year he teamed up with marketing and web design business Bright Chameleon’s founder Dan Smith in an effort to move both businesses forward.
After six months the pair invested in a new premises together, a converted stable in Rainham, Essex, and the 1.36m-wide Mimaki CJV150-130, which was installed in May.
Previously, Boatman explained, aside from plain text printing, all garment full colour printing work had to be ordered in on vinyl media and then cut and pressed in-house. But now the business is able to carry out all its orders for full colour garment printing in-house while the new device has opened up more avenues for the business, such as marketing, branded posters and banner work.
“Before, we had all the plusses of working at home, low overheads, etc, but after merging together we had the growth we were hoping for which means we really needed the premises and the machine. It’s come together so well and we haven’t looked back,” Boatman said.
The four-colour Mimaki can print at up to 5.6sqm/hr on PVC in high quality mode or 11.1sqm/hr in standard, and 6.6sqm/hr on banners in high quality mode or 16sqm/hr in standard. Its top speed is 56.2sqm/hr in superdraft mode on banner applications. The model can print at resolutions up to 1,440dpi.
“Before this, unless it was simple text, we would order in the colour printed vinyl and then cut and press it, but now we can do it all ourselves,” Boatman explained. “The major bonus for us is that we can now promote new services that come along with getting a machine like the Mimaki, but another major change is the fact we have the new location.”
He continued: “There are hundreds out there who are home-based and do everything online or by phone but we’ve noticed that by having a new premises our new business enquiries, either phone, online or through the door, have pretty much tripled, so we are starting to grow at a faster pace than we anticipated.”
“The new premises allows us to get people in and show them what we can do. There’s nothing better than getting people thinking about what’s possible and I’d rather they ask questions and we can talk them through things,” Boatman said.
The business will turn over around £70,000 in its first year and Boatman anticipates growing that by around 50% in its second year.
Boatman said the next investment for the business, towards the end of this year, would likely be an apprentice.
“Because of the two sides of the business, web design and garment branding, we are looking for someone who is young and flexible and open minded to learning different skills, so that we can give them an opportunity. We want someone that wants to work with us, not someone that is going to head off after a few months.”
ImageOn is not linked to the Lancaster-based business of the same name.