Fall App Roundup – 9 Best iPhone Apps of 2012

While we DO love chatting it up about discharge and waterbase inks, we also love our iPhones. So, today, we’re taking a break from the usual to share the best iPhone apps (or at least our favorite iPhone apps) in our Fall App Roundup. We’ve each pulled out our current top 3 faves! Hope you enjoy.

Nick’s Favorites

Catan ($4.99)

Catan for iPhone

It’s the award winning board game brought to life on the iPhone. Get your settlers ready to establish colonies on the island of Catan…

Flipboard (Free)

Flipboard for iPhone

Your Social Magazine. Forget cluttering up your phone with a bunch of other news resources. Get Flipboard and stay up-to-date on all the things you love in one beautiful place!

Comic Zeal ($4.99)

Comic Zeal for iPhone

Your comic library in your hands! Organize, search and read your comics within this powerful app. Nerds unite!

Shane’s Favorites

Spotify (Free)

Spotify for iPhone

There’s a battle going on for the best way to discover and listen to music. Spotify, one of the main 2 competitors, has millions of songs ready for your listening pleasure.

Strava Cycling (Free)

Strava for iPhone

Grab your phone and go for a ride. Then track your progress, challenge your friends, compare your performance and set personal goals!

Jetpack Joyride (Free)

Jetpack Joyride for iPhone

Grab your jetpack and start collecting coins! But, lookout for crazy obstacles along the way!

Scott’s Favorites

Rdio (Free)

Rdio for iPhone

The other side of the competition in the world of music discovery. Rdio has a beautiful interface and millions of songs at your fingertips!

Houzz (Free)

Houzz for iPhone

Hands down the best resource for design inspiration. Browse 700,000 photos from designers around the world for inspiration on your next project!

Nike+ Running (Free)

Nike Plus for iPhone

Grab your phone and track your runs. Get audio feedback and cheers from friends along the way. Track your pace, challenge yourself or others. Run like you mean it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our latest favorites. Leave a comment below and tell us what your current favorites are!


All for Samples, Samples for All

Sometimes the best way to get motivated is to feel the prints for yourself, so we recently launched the Threadbird Sample Store on Storenvy . We’ve printed up some great sample t-shirts and screen printed posters showing off the inks we use, allowing you to make an informed decision before you place your order.

T-Shirts

Our sample t-shirt comes in either Black or Heather Grey. The men’s shirts are printed on Canvas 3001 (4.2oz 100% Ring Spun Cotton). The women’s shirts are printed on Bella 6004 (4.2oz Ring Spun Cotton). Both are great, comfortable and stylish options. The shirts come with a descriptive postcard which explains each ink used on the shirt design.

  • Threadbird Black Sample Tee
  • Threadbird Gray Sample Tee

The best part is, each shirt is only $5 with free shipping. If you like what you see (and we hope you will!), when you get your shirts printed with us, we will give you the $5 back as a credit on your order! Just let us know that you ordered a sample shirt and give us your Storenvy order #, we’ll handle the rest!

Screen Printed Posters

Our sample screen printed poster is a 3-Screen Print. We used white, a silver metallic and a light blue to dark blue split fountain gradient to create these posters. The art is an adaptation of our sample shirts, and a great showing of the things we can do with our screen printed posters. 

Threadbird Screen Printed Poster Samples

The posters are printed on Mr. French 140# Speckletone Kraft and 140# Black Top. Just like the shirts, the posters are only $5 with free shipping, and we offer the same credit when you place your order with us. 

We’re also throwing in some great vinyl sticker samples that we know you’ll love! Place your sample order today


Your Order Has Been Placed… Now What?

At Threadbird, our two biggest goals are to provide you as the customer with amazing items and the highest level of customer service possible. A lot of our customers have said they’re unsure of what happens after their order is placed, so here’s a quick crash course from A to Z!

Threadbird Press & Ink Wall

After you place an order and pay for it, we transfer it from our invoicing system (Freshbooks) to our order management system. We have different staff for each process (tees, stickers, buttons, offset/digital printing, etc.) so each item has a different process, but our most common and lengthy process is for custom printed garments. The following information will walk you through the steps.

Order placed | Stock ordered

1. The order is submitted to our shop staff. We have a stock supervisor who orders materials, a production manager who schedules all printing, and an art department to translate your order from an art file to the working product.

2. We order stock as soon as your mock is approved. We do not keep any stock on hand at the production facility to ensure that you get the freshest materials possible. Stock arrives in 1-5 days, depending on the supplier, so it is important to consider stock choices when placing rush orders to ensure we can obtain the stock in time.

Shirts Waiting to be Printed

Art & Film: One of the most important parts of the process

There are lots of screen printing shops out in the world, the one thing that sets us apart from all of them is quality. That all starts in the art department. At Threadbird, it is mandatory that every order for printed garments is mocked up. Our mock approval shows you the artwork off of the shirt, the artwork as it will be placed on the shirt, the ink colors (with PMS assignments), as well as the detailed information about what stock it will be printed on. We will also note warnings on the mock if the print will go over the seams.

Threadbird Mock Approval Sample

One of the most important things to remember in the mockup process is that not every computer screen is calibrated the same way. A color can show up on your screen different from how it will appear on our screen. This can create an issue on a rare occasion when the two colors aren’t close, which is why we provide the PMS number. We always recommend, if you’re getting serious about your brand, to purchase a Pantone Plus Series Solid Coated Formula Guide. The cost $99 from Amazon. The cost is well worth it to ensure that you always get the color you want on your shirts.

Pantone Book

The only occasion where we do not guarantee PMS color matching is with waterbase inks, discharge inks or on tri-blend garments. See our Specialty Inks PDF to reference that.

The mockup is usually sent out within a week of paying for your order at Threadbird. The mockup must be approved before we can print your order, which is important to remember when you are under a time crunch. A delayed approval will mean a delayed order. It’s ok if you have changes, just try to give them to us all at once so we can make them in one fell swoop.

One the mockup is approved, we will print the films. This step is absolutely crucial. Without good films, you will not get good screens. We use a very high end machine for this. The standard screen print shop uses a printer that can run films for $0.50 a sheet, but they won’t hold registration and are susceptible to pinholes. Our films are about sixteen times as expensive, but will hold registration top to bottom regardless of how large the print is and pinholes become a rarity. Another example of the old phrase we were taught as kids, “you get what you pay for”.

Films Being Printed

Screens: Don’t settle for sub par. They’re important.

One of the most awful misconceptions in the screen printing world is that a screen is a screen is a screen. That’s simply not true. There are so many factors that go into making a good screen.

Smaller print shops only have one set of screens they reuse for multiple projects. Threadbird believes that your order is too important to cut corners by using the same screens for everything. Each different style of printing requires a different type of screen. Waterbased and discharge prints require particular types of emulsion and setting processes, more detailed prints require a higher mesh count screen so that the flow of ink doesn’t blow out the details. These are just a few of the details that are often overlooked when people order t-shirts.

Threadbird Screens

Another commonly misunderstood idea is that screens can be saved. While we appreciate each and every one of our customers, we cannot hold onto your screens. We don’t do it for any of our customers. The reason is that we only have a limited amount of screens, and our high quality screen frames cost upwards of $150 per frame. If you’ve got a 5 color print job, that means there are $750 in screens tied up with just one job that may not be reprinted for 2-3 months. We do save the films created by our art department and can quickly remake screens if you need to reorder.

  • Placing Screens to be Burned
  • Threadbird Making Screens
  • Screens Waiting to be Reclaimed

Burning screens can take up to 4 hours for an order from the start of the process to the end. Much like a mosquito, our screens live a very short life. All our screens are constantly rotating, once the job is printed, the screen is reclaimed within two hours. We don’t usually have screens sitting unused, which is why it can be difficult to shift due dates once an order has been placed. We need to set our screen schedule at least 2 days in advance.

Inks, Setup & Production: The meat and potatoes of screen printing

Our printers rank among some of the most skilled in the U.S. Printing of the shirts is a two part process: setup and printing. The setup process takes the longest. During this time, the printers have to mix the inks and register the screens within our machines. Our inks are unique and you won’t find them at any other shop in the world. We custom mix all of our inks in house, and they’re made of several different components that are ordered from different ink suppliers so that no one else knows exactly what goes into it.

  • Threadbird Ink Wall
  • Threadbird Inks Close Up
  • Threadbird Mixing Inks
  • Pouring Ink on Screens

It is this special blended ink that makes our shirts super soft while still remaining bright! Mixing inks is a very specific, time consuming process, but it’s one that is extremely important. Each color is mixed to match the colors on the mockup.

Up next in the process is registration. This is extremely important. You have to make sure that each screen is lined up correctly, if they are not, you will see a gap between the colors or an overlap where one color prints on top of the other.

We have highly skilled printers and we do our best to avoid errors. If you ever have any print defects in your order (we are all human, mistakes do happen, even though our error rate is less than 2%) simply email us and we’ll address it.

Once the printers have the job registered and the inks mixed, a garment is printed and taken to our art department for approval before the order can be printed. Our art department will often ask the printers to tweak a color slightly, or even have them reburn a screen if something isn’t correct. Once the printer and the artist are happy with the product, it will be printed in full. The printers are trained to spot any defects and address them, like lint in screens, that can cause unacceptable prints. At the end of the dryer, our catchers are the final quality assurance cache, filtering out any items they find with holes or rips. After that, the garments are boxed up and shipped out for you to enjoy!

  • Threadbird Shirts on Dryer
  • Threadbird Shipping Boxes

Threadbird Celebrates 2 Years, Big Sales!

That’s right folks, it’s been 2 years since we rebranded Threadbird. We’re rolling out the red carpet as we celebrate and bringing on the deals for you! We’ve got $0.30 off per shirt on all t-shirt orders up to 3 colors. We’ve got 10% off all vinyl sticker orders. We’ve got 10% off all Screen Printed poster orders, not to mention a radical drop in poster pricing!
We’ve also cut our tag setups in half. Instead of the usual $10.00 per tag setup, they are now only $5.00 per setup.

Celebrate with us! Join in on the fun of our Threadbird sale. We love our customers and we wanted to come up with a special way to say thank you for making our jobs great.


Interview with Jason Carne of Among Villains

First off, tell us about yourself. Who is Jason Carne?

First and foremost, I’m a self taught print designer at heart working under the moniker Mainframe Media. Last fall I took the plunge into owning a brand and designing and buying designs for myself (which is difficult as us designers are always our worst critics) for Among Villains. I’m also very passionate about music that has meaning and real message behind it.

What made you want to jump into running a brand? How did you make the leap from designer to brand owner?

It seemed like a natural progression to me to move towards owning a brand as a creative outlet from client based design work. Among Villains is something that I’ve had in my head for a few years, and it seemed like the money and timing would finally be right last year for it to come to fruition. Playing art director and being the client for once in the design game felt strange, but I worked with an all star line-up of artists such as Craig Robson, David Smith, Brian Luong, George Daugherty and the guys over at The Black Axe whom made starting this brand up a pleasure.

Among Villains Lookbook Photo

Let’s jump from there, why did you call the brand Among Villains? Was there a deeper meaning behind the name or just something that sounded fun?

As I said earlier, I’m a sucker for music with a message, and politics are at the forefront of my lyrical interests. The name Among Villains carries a sort of dark irony and sarcasm to it. Society largely labels the hardcore, metal, punk, and hip-hop communities as degenerate groups that are mostly up to no good, when in my life experience the inverse of that is almost always the reality. Good people deemed bad by social stigma and unwarranted judgement is what it boils down to!

Definitely see the connection there. In getting started with Among Villains, what would you say was the biggest hurdle for you to overcome? So many designers seem to think “I already make designs, why can’t I sell shirts?” Sounds simple enough, but was it really that simple for you?

I think I overestimated how easy being a brand owner is like many other designers before me have. I had the notion in my head that if I just had solid products and designs in the shop that they would fly off of the shelves; sort of a “if you build it they will come” mentality at its onset. However, as any indie brand can tell you, it’s NOT that easy, and that’s something I learned pretty quickly. It takes a lot of hard work and marketing to get your product out there, especially as a start-up. With no hesitation, I’d absolutely say raising brand awareness and spreading the reach of the brand is by far the toughest obstacle, and it’s one you have to deal with on a daily basis if you ever want to go anywhere.

Venturing away from the hardships, what’s been your favorite part of starting your own brand?

Shipping new orders, hands down. So many brands seem to take their sales and their customers for granted, as if they are just more money in the bank. The money matters of course (anyone would be lying if they said otherwise), but it’s the fact that those customers spent money on MY products over anyone else’s is what brings me happiness as a brand owner. In a sea of competition, making a sale means that the person who bought your shirt or poster or whatever, did so because they genuinely enjoy what you’re offering, and that’s all you can really ask. Appreciation and recognition from your customers is a great thing and it’s not to be undervalued.

Digging deeper into the shipping, you did custom packaging for your garments. Printed boxes and custom tissue paper. What do you feel that added to the experience, and do you feel that it was financially worthwhile?

It definitely was a big hit to the wallet, but I feel like it was worth it without a doubt. So often you see just standard envelopes and mailers that blend in with the rest of the mail, but I didn’t want that for my customers. I wanted something that they knew immediately was an Among Villains shirt, something they will remember my brand by. The screen printed boxes and tissue paper really add to the total experience and standard of high quality I try to maintain with the brand in every area. It’s my way of saying thank you to my first 150 customers for supporting Among Villains in its infancy.

Among Villains Shipping Box

A couple more for you, then we’ll wrap things up. What do you see as the near future of Among Villains?

At the moment, I’m working on making my way into more retail stores and trying to branch out into different products rather than just t-shirts. I don’t want to give too much away, but there may be some accessories and custom items in the works soon.

How has your experience been thus far with retail? I know that retail stores tend to pay less for products where you make volume profit instead of regular profit as opposed to selling the item yourself. As an indie brand, how is that working for you?

The profit margin definitely is a bit lower, but being placed in a retail environment gives a whole new dimension to your sales. At the moment I’m only in two shops, but it helps gain information about what products sell where and why. If you are willing to trade exposure for a few bucks per shirt it’s worth the venture, especially if wholesaling as you get a bigger payday and move a lot of inventory at the time. Consignment is a tough gig that I don’t recommend, especially if you’re working with shops that are too far to check up on yourself as you never know when your paycheck is coming (if ever). The one downside for me is that I don’t get to know my customers when selling that way like I do when selling online, otherwise, it’s a great way to build awareness and spread the shirts around to new markets.

Among Villains Store

On the topic of exposure, are you getting into band/tour sponsorship at all? If so, why? If not, why not?

I’m not doing any tour sponsorships, I feel like they are a waste of money for what you get out of them (unless you have the time and resources to travel with the tour). However, there are a few bands I’m looking to work with that seem to share my outlook and my views and could represent the brand well. Nothing is certain on that front yet, but I don’t rule it out. There are definite benefits to having touring bands wear your merchandise all through the country and abroad.

Time to wrap up! Anything else you’d like people to know about Among Villains? Any promo/coupon codes you’d like to give out?

Everyone loves a discount, don’t they? For 15% off your entire order enter the coupon code “THREADBIRD” at checkout, it will be good for up to 20 uses. I’d like to thank you for taking the time out to do this interview, and I’d also like to thank you for doing a killer job printing up my shirts. If all goes to plan, sooner rather than later I’ll be back to print some more with you guys. I hope anyone who’s read this has enjoyed doing so, and if you have any further questions you’d ever like answered, just shoot me an e-mail at jason@amongvillains.com – take care!

Among Villains Online


Productivity Tools Round Up

At Threadbird, we are always striving to improve the way we do business internally. It’s important in a virally connected world that we are staying productive. In our search for some new productivity tools this week, we’re giving you some of the highlights of what we found.

www.sproutsocial.com – Looks to be a pretty useful social media management tool. Really well-designed user interface. Link it to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & Google Analytics accounts to get a better handle on your social interaction. Free 30 day trial, but pretty expensive for what you get, starting at $39/month.

Sprout Social Tour

www.do.com – “Social Productivity App for Your Team”. Create and share projects, tasks and notes with your team. Has a native iPhone app and a superbly executed iPad web interface. And to top it all off… quite possibly the best product video I’ve ever seen, hands down.

www.hipchat.com – Group chat and IM. If you’ve been using Campfire as your team chat client, you might want to look into HipChat as a replacement. However, we’re not convinced quite yet. The iPhone app has 1 star and there is an echo when using video chat without headphones. However, not having to switch over to iChat/AIM for audio/video chat could be a deal maker if the bugs get worked out.

www.podio.com – A social work platform for your company. If you’re searching for a social enterprise solution for your business, you should definitely check out Podio. It’s not quite Salesforce, but it’s fully customizable and could be a game changer for your business. There are 100’s of apps that you can install into custom workspaces, in fact I’m documenting this blog post from an app I installed in a workspace called “Blog” right now.

What are you using to stay productive with your team?