On Sunday 3/15/2020, the CDC announced social distancing guidelines restricting social gatherings to no more than 10 people, not good for SOHO Event Rentals. With so much uncertainty around the short and long term forecast of the event business, and the prospect of significant job cuts, we decided to pivot and create Decal Doodle, to help save as many jobs as possible.
Over the past 6 years, creating SOHO Event Rentals from our garage into the leading tent and event rental company on the Gulf Coast, we had experience creating something from nothing. As we began to further customize projects for clients, we really started to use a lot of vinyl. We primarily used this to brand bars, tables, then chairs, dance floor wraps, and ultimately tents. After 4 years of testing and research, in February we finally made the decision to invest in the best vinyl printer that you can buy, manufactured by Roland.
The printer arrived on 3/16/2020 for install, the day after the CDC social distancing announcement. The same day the phone began ringing off the hook at SOHO with cancellations and postponements. Probably the toughest week in the history of SOHO. We reached out to our tent and event friends across the nation and everybody was experiencing the same thing.
Meanwhile the printer installation tech started talking with us about all the different things we could print – stickers, decals, banners, wallpaper, canvas photos, real estate signs, vehicle wraps etc. We didn’t want to hear it, we were busy trying to save a company and a bunch of event careers. After a few days the event forecast continued to shrink, we noticed at big box retailers blue tape on the floor to mark social distancing – an idea was born. We began to research the entire print industry and decided there was an opportunity here, and with hard work, patience, and luck we could do this. So we created a new company – Decal Doodle. We scrambled to come up with a name, find a domain, form the entity, register in the state, create a website, and create the logo in house. All in about 3 days. Here we go!!
We then designed a social distancing floor decal and circled back to the print installers and asked if we could make something like this – Absolutely! So we began to research floor vinyl to find the highest quality and longest lasting floor vinyl. As Event Professionals (#eventprofs) we only get one chance to get it right, if it’s wrong you can’t redo the wedding or get a second chance on the corporate dinner. We began printing and testing vinyl and installing it inside and outside – everywhere. And then we went knocking doors at all the big box retailers with samples and they loved them and bought 1000’s of floor decals and we were flying high!! – HAHA – we didn’t make a single sale – NO, NO, NO, NO. We went all around Baldwin County and couldn’t get 1 grocery store, hardware store, etc to buy even 1 sticker. Meanwhile we were really learning Adobe Illustrator and with our event experience realized we could brand these for individual businesses. (Eureka!). We then started sharing our new designs with local, small businesses and they loved them and we had a sale!! THANK YOU #supportsmall #localbusiness.
We began printing lots of social distancing decals (Thank you - Strickland Orthodontics, Lee County Courthouse, Lee County Sheriff's Department, One Bike Coffee, Soul Caffeine, Fairhope Store, Champy’s, Cornerstone Church, Tiny Town, The Fort Container Park, The Grand Hotel, etc.) and then real estate signs for Autumn Gann with Coldwell Banker Reehl properties (prayers) Fairhope West, then banners (graduation, The Fairhope Store), window signage (Salon GLS, Lance Baxter), outdoor signage (Wildflowers) car magnets, boat decals, etc.
We then began growing Decal Doodle’s capabilities by adding a Roland UV printer that allows us to print on virtually anything – logo golf balls, binders, custom journals, branded pens, tumblers, custom coasters, and custom masks. After a lot of trial and error, we are producing high quality custom branded masks here in Fairhope, Al and shipping all over the country.
We have also added a label maker and finisher which allows us to print and laminate up to 14,000 stickers/hour.
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle which we are rolling out this week is custom printed t-shirts and apparel. We have begun adding this section to our website and we can create high quality custom t-shirts with no minimums.
We are so grateful to every business and individual that has trusted us with their business brand or individual project. We understand, just like an event, you may only get one chance.
Thank you for taking the time to read this story, if you’d like to help us out, please Like and Follow us on social media –
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