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Decorator Profile A story of growth


The DPP team. On the far right of the photo is James Smith, with his mum Kathryn and dad Alex


2011 is where this story begins. As with most decoration businesses, this one was formed in a spare room with just one man outsourcing promotional gifts to clients. P&P editor Melanie Attlesey picks up the story.


F


ive years is how long Direct Print & Promotions operated from a spare room in a house in Sheffield, before moving on to bigger and better things. The business was founded in 2011 by Alex Smith, who was shortly joined by his son James. At the time of the start of the business James was doing a performing arts degree and would help his dad with artwork and proofs that were needed for clients in his spare time. “I got more involved over the next couple of years as the theatre dream faded away and reality hit that the industry is very cut throat and unreliable,” explains James. After packing in the degree and going full-time with DPP, James invested in a cheap heat press and desktop cutter to start supplying printed clothing to his theatre groups. The orders started off small but they grew and DPP was quickly outsourcing larger jobs to screen printers and embroiderers. “We also saw a need for dye sub items too so invested in a mug press and dye sublimation printer to expand our offering,” says James.


Driving sales


After several successive years of growth, James and his dad rented their first unit in Sheaf Bank Business Park, Sheffield. The office only measured 500sq ft, which doesn’t sound a lot, but is far roomier than a spare room in a


| 60 | August 2020 DPP’s print room www.printwearandpromotion.co.uk


house. The unit gave the duo more space for equipment. “We realised we were constantly outsourcing embroidery so invested in a Brother PR655 from Stocks to see how we got on. The space also allowed us to employ our first member of the team, Matthew Weigold, to help drive more sales,” says James. Just a short year later, an opportunity arose for DPP to move into another unit within the business park. This time on a second floor and with three times the space. This marked a huge step forward for the business. After a year of being


cramped in the previous office, now the trio had room for expansion and investment. A second single-head embroidery machine and several more heat presses joined the business, along with a couple more members of staff, including James' mum Kathryn. “And this is where we are as of today!” exclaims James.


The phrase one-stop shop tends to be banded around quite a bit, but it’s truly applicable to DPP. The team supply branded clothing, as well as promotional merchandise such as bottles, pens,


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