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Pure and Simple Creations: From Passion to Business

Posted: 1/6/2016

Pure and Simple Creations started out as many small businesses do. Owner Shelley Fields had a love of making personalized gifts and a talent for sewing. She would make gifts for friends and family, focusing mostly on handmade items for boys.

Soon, Fields was inundated with demand for her gifts from co-workers, acquaintances and friends of friends. She found herself sewing up a storm to fulfill orders and expanded her focus to include handmade items for girls and babies. It was then Fields considered she might have a potential business on her hands.

“Sewing just became my niche, and was something that I loved to do,” Fields said. “With the encouragement of my friends and family, I started Pure and Simple Creations.”

Focusing almost solely on e-commerce through a stand-alone website and a store on Etsy.com, Fields knew that she would be competing in a heavily saturated market. Handmade, sewn items are popular, and she would need to differentiate herself from other entrepreneurs selling similar products.

“It was challenging to find something that everyone else wasn’t doing to some extent,” Fields said. “I didn’t want to be like everyone else in the same pool making the same thing. If I was making something similar, I wanted to stand out a bit. I monitored social media a lot to keep up with current trends - what was hot and what was not. In doing so, I stumbled upon sublimation.”

Using Sawgrass’ sublimation and cotton-decorating technologies, Fields now creates custom products on-demand for her customers. Her most popular items are bags and lunch totes, which she personalizes with names, photos, drawings and other graphics specific to the customer. She also offers bibs, pillows and other textile-based products that incorporate some aspect of sublimation.

“Sublimation enables me to be a bit more creative and offer more of a personalized touch to items that I make,” Fields said. “You won’t find that personalized touch in your local department store. Sublimation has just opened up different ways for me to offer unique items in my shop.”

Fields said that starting up with her sublimation system was relatively simple, and that she has learned a lot through trial and error - which is par for the course when learning any new technology.

“I learned pretty quick, especially with the help of online resources,” Fields said. “I can’t tell you how many videos I watched to help me learn to use and manage my system. Though it was a bit tricky for me to get the expected results initially, I eventually managed to get the help I needed and was up and running in no time.”

One pitfall that Fields ran into was buying equipment before getting an accurate assessment of her company’s needs. The first printer and heat press she invested in proved to be too small for the products she was creating. Today, she has a system just right for her needs, and now uses her smaller printer to decorate products with ChromaBlast, Sawgrass’ professional textile inks for cotton fabrics.

“Do your homework, determine what you want to do and how far you want to go with sublimation,” Fields advises those thinking of getting into sublimation. “Then you will be able to determine the right system needed for your business.”

Though Fields is currently focusing on backpacks and bags, she is looking forward to growing her business within this niche.  

“I’ve learned that people love products that are personal and customized - especially parents,” she said. “I will probably keep focusing on items for children and babies, but I have a lot of ideas for new products and ways that sublimation can make them special.”