I’m Spirit Wear Chair… Help?!
Updated: May 26
So, you’ve just been responsible for spirit wear for your PTA. Congratulations! It’s a big job, but it also means that your PTA trusts you enough to make your spirit wear chair – clearly, you’re an important part of the association. In a recent episode of our podcast, The Multipurpose Room, we walk you through what to do - here is the recap.
1. Designing your Spirit Wear
As a spirit wear chair, your first task will be designing your spirit wear. Typically, this is limited to getting your school’s logo in the necessary format and deciding where to place it. However, you may have to get creative without a logo! You can source ideas from the community by running a spirit wear contest. Or, you can ask for graphic designers or illustrators among your PTA members. Finally, you should ask your vendor, who often provides logo design services.
One thing to remember about the design is that the logo shouldn’t be overcomplicated, and your apparel shouldn’t try to capture too much in a single piece. Go with a minimalistic but attractive design in your school colors, and you’ll be set. This guide can help.
2. Getting in Touch with your Vendor
The design and vendor steps are interchangeable, really, depending on whether you are outsourcing or not. That said, finding a vendor that fits your requirements is crucial. When looking for a vendor, you should monitor quality, prices, and leniency toward single-piece or few-piece orders. Remember, a good vendor means returning customers, which means more fundraising. Also, remember how much time your PTA has to manage the order and delivery process - your time commitment can vary dramatically when ordering in bulk versus on demand and when going local versus online.
3. Decide on your Products
Before you can get to the order stage, you must decide what products your PTA will offer. The usual go-to's are t-shirts and hoodies, with hats, tracksuits, and pajamas being good additions. Of course, PTAs can always keep adding new products, even in the middle of the school year. Masks, for instance, were a later addition by many PTAs this year.
As for brands, Gildan and Champion are known for their quality. Nike is a great choice to vary your price point upwards. To expand into performance items, Under Armor is a go-to, given its quality and selection. Remember, don’t be afraid to give your members ample choice; just because an item might not be your personal selection doesn’t mean it won’t sell.
If you’re unsure about what will sell among your members, then doing a rough poll through your social media platforms is a good idea to get some ideas. You never know; you might encounter the demand for a product you overlooked.
4. Setting Up an Online Store
This step is optional, as the more traditional PTA spirit wear route doesn’t involve the aspects of e-commerce. However, if you choose to set up a spirit wear website, it can make life easier for you and your parents. If you’ve already got a logo, it shouldn’t take more than a day or two, and the best thing is that the set-up process is completely hands-on, meaning you get to customize your website yourself.
An online store has many benefits, the greatest of which are the time saved and the reduced workload. Parents can head onto the website and place an order, even paying through the web store. You no longer need to worry about forms, sizes, and cash collection. In addition, rather than spirit wear being a one-time purchase, the store is open year-round. Given the on-demand nature of online stores, the item price tends to be higher, so many PTAs choose to do one bulk order but to keep an online store open all year.
Whether you go down the traditional or online route, one thing’s for sure: you’ll need to do some marketing. People are likely to buy what they keep seeing, and the more they see your spirit wear apparel, the more you’re likely to fundraise. PTAs should use their social media platforms and emails to inform parents about new products or any school events that are a great opportunity to show off some spirit wear. You can also ask parents who have ordered to post pictures of their spirit wear to get some excitement going. Finally, setting aside a day or week as a spirit wear day or week encourages people to buy and wear their items.
The traditional flyers and brochures in a kid’s backup are also a fail-proof tactic, especially for the younger classes, as parents will likely go through their child’s backpack and set it up. Check out our guide to maximizing your spirit wear use!
6. Taking Orders
One of the most hectic and time-consuming parts of being a spirit wear chair is running after parents with the order form (see example form here). Parents often fill out incomplete information or want changes in their order a few days after placing. A few won’t know what size they require, and the biggest issue is definitely collecting the forms back on time.
But that’s not all: then comes the transcribing part where you have to manually key in information from some two to three hundred forms – depending on the size of your PTA and school – without messing up the orders. All in all, this takes up a good twelve or so hours out of your work period. This step is unnecessary if you have an online store that handles this process.
7. Cash Collection
As a general rule, PTAs collect cash for spirit wear orders beforehand. The collection process, however, can be tiresome. Parents often forget to pay cash with their order form, so you’re left running around trying to get it in time. If a PTA does decide to go ahead and place an order before cash collection, they run the risk of a financial loss if they don’t get the payment. So, it could be a trade-off either way. This step is unnecessary if you have an online store that handles this process.
8. Placing an Order With Your Vendor
While this next step may seem simple enough, it is highly crucial. Once you’ve received all your order forms, it is time for negotiation with your vendor, especially if your order numbers do not match their bulk requirements. Most vendors accept orders in batches of 24 per piece, with different sizes and colors counting as separate batches.
If you’re a smaller PTA with a lesser demand, this could be a problem. You could either be forced to take on extra pieces – which might become dead weight – or buy the number you need at a higher per-piece rate. If a spirit wear chair can strike a deal with their vendor where they order as per need at a suitable price, then they’ve all but struck gold, and that’s what you should be aiming for.
Unless you place a bulk order, this step is unnecessary if you have an online store that handles this process.
And the last step is distribution. Pack up your apparel nice and safe so it doesn’t get damaged, come rain or shine. Members can pick up their orders at weekly meetings or choose to have them delivered for a minimal fee. And that's you done. This step is unnecessary if you have an online store that handles this process by shipping directly to parents.
So, there you have it, a step-by-step guide to being the best spirit wear chair ever could be!