A Fabric Square is a unique item that was created by Larry and Greg Mays from Boardwalk Marketing. Tasked with presenting a seminar at the 2004 PPAI Expo on the subject of apparel decorating we set out to find a way to show seminar attendees outstanding printed samples. Since we knew we couldn’t ask attendees to hold on their laps and manage a stack of 10 or 15 or 20 printed t-shirts we knew we had to find a better way. Dare we say, we had to literally CREATE the better way. And the Fabric Square was born.
The first fabric squares were, in fact, squares. And they were HUGE – 15″ x 15″. And they were bulky and unwieldy. To create them we first printed a t-shirt, then cut it apart and applied sheet adhesive to the back of the print. We then heat sealed the printed fabric to a solid piece of plastic (Sintra) and mounted that into a cardboard frame. The resulting framed “fabric square” was a big hit at the seminar. People marveled at how cool these things were. We knew we had a great idea, and our first fabric square was a passable seminar tool, but we had bigger plans for the fabric square. We wanted to create a selling tool that could be used by salespeople in the field.
Larry decided to make that vision a reality. With dogged determination he sought out a partner who could help us bring our vision to life. Enter the good people of Hanes Branded Apparel. In cooperation with an outstanding group of marketing people at Hanes, led by Mike Reed, we created the fabric squares that exist today. During 2004 and 2005 Larry traveled to Hanes headquarters in Winston-Salem, NC dozens of times to meet with the marketing staff. Together they had to figure out how to most efficiently utilize the fabric tubes that become t-shirts and turn them into a usable selling tool.
Questions had to be answered. How could we get the most yield from the tube, keeping in mind that the tube had to be split and glued to a stable backing? What size square would be best for the printed samples we wanted to show? How could these printed squares be used by salespeople in the field? How would they be transported from sales call to sales call? Would they be durable and stand up to the day-to-day use we envisioned? These and many more questions had to be answered.
Working with the Hanes team we made the decisions that lead to the Fabric Square as it exists today. Hanes Beefy-t fabric would be used. This fabric would be bonded to a stable backing so a salesperson could repeatedly handle the square. One of the most important decisions was the size. After the logistics were worked out, and the team completed their work, we ended up with, not a square, but a rectangle. Fabric Squares are actually 10″ high x 11.5″ wide. This size allowed for the most efficient yield and allowed us to print near-full-size images of our very best printing techniques.
We’d like to say “just like that” the Fabric Square Sample Set was created. But the truth is it took several years of hard work by a team of dedicated individuals from both Boardwalk AND Hanes Branded Apparel. Together we’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to create these valuable selling tools. Tools that are only available from Boardwalk.