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  • K-12 Clothing

I’m Spirit Wear Chair… Help?!

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

So, you’ve just been made in charge of spirit wear for your PTA. Congratulations! It’s a big job, but it also means that your PTA trusts you enough to make you 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 is going to 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, if there isn’t a logo, you may have to get creative! You can source ideas from the community by running a spirit wear contest. Or, you can ask for graphic designers or illustrators within your PTA members. Finally, you should ask your vendor as they often provide logo design services.

One of the things to keep in mind about the design is that the logo shouldn’t be overcomplicated, and your apparel shouldn’t be trying 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, it is crucial to find a vendor that fits your requirements. When looking for a vendor, you should keep an eye on quality, prices, and their leniency towards single-piece or few-piece orders. Remember, a good vendor means returning customers, and that means more fundraising. Also keep in mind 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 need to decide what products your PTA will be offering. The usual go-to are t-shirts and hoodies, with hats, tracksuits, and pajamas being some 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. If you want to vary your price point upwards, then Nike is a great choice. To expand into performance items, Under Armor is a go-to given their 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 it’s a good idea to do a rough poll through your social media platforms to get some ideas. You never know; you might come across demand for a product that you were overlooking.

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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 do choose to set up a spirit wear website, then it can make life easier for both you and the parents. If you’ve already got a logo, then 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 comes with a lot of benefits, the greatest of which is the time saved and the reduced workload. Parents can simply head onto the website and place an order, even paying through the web store. No longer do you need to run around worrying 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.

5. Marketing

Whether you choose to go down the traditional or online route, one thing’s for sure: you’re going to 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 make use of their social media platforms and emails to inform parents about new products or any school events coming up 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 so 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 is also a fail proof tactic, especially for the younger classes, as parents are likely to go through their child’s backpack and set it up. Check out our guide to maximizing your spirit wear use!

6. Taking Orders

This is one of the most hectic and time-consuming parts of being a spirit wear chair: running after parents with the order form (see example form here). Many times, parents will fill out incomplete information or want changes in their order a couple of 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 not necessary if you have an online store that takes care of this process.

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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 along 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, then they run the risk of financial loss if they don’t end up getting the payment. So, it could be a trade-off either way. This step is not necessary if you have an online store that takes care of this process.

8. Placing an Order With Your Vendor

While this next step may seem simple enough, it is highly crucial. Once you’ve gotten in all of your order forms, it is then 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 different 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 is able to 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 are placing a bulk order, this step is not necessary if you have an online store that takes care of this process.

9. Distribution

And the last step is distribution. Be sure to 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 it delivered for a minimal fee. And that's you done. This step is not necessary if you have an online store that takes care of this process by shipping directly to parents.

So, there you have it, a step-by-step guide to being the best spirit wear chair there ever could be!

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