I was driving back from a demo of what looked like a great new textile printer last week and thinking about how well it would fit into my business. I’d be the first company in the UK to purchase this particular one and would have a real jump on the competition. Print quality was superb, it seemed to print onto all the fabrics on offer and the inks dried and fused instantly. It was really wide, printed quickly and had in-line slitters too, so less time post print in what can be the time-consuming task of finishing fabrics.
The plan was to install an automated sewing and finishing system alongside it and we would have a fantastic new string to our business bow. The talk for many years has been about how soft signage is the future and now it does seem to be actually happening, so I’m sure I’d be able to build a strong business case for the purchase too.
I felt like a pioneer embarking on a long journey of hope and discovery, breaking new ground and beating the competition to the punch once more in my pursuit of commercial success and innovation.
But then, still driving back down the M40 and with the same adverts on the radio again I started to flick channels, finally ending up on a popular talk radio station. The debate was focused on the
clichéd subject of problems with today’s youth - smoking, drug taking, violence etc. Listeners were calling in with their take on the subject and a variety of opinions were given.
But, it took a 17-year-old girl to call in to really give me food for thought and to make me think about my own fabric printer conundrum. She described how lots of people her age congregated at a local park. Drug taking and dealing was taking place and done in public. The presenter called it ‘rebelling’ and that young people had done it even before James Dean’s “Rebel Without a Cause”. The 17 year old girl put it into a much clearer perspective though. She explained that they weren’t rebelling, they were conforming. By doing exactly the same as all of their peers they were confirming to the norm. She continued that to rebel they would have to do something really ground-breaking, like decide to work hard at school, study, revise, look to the future and build a life and a career for themselves.
This perceptive view of the discussion struck a chord with me and made me think once again about my own fabric printer conundrum. Was I rebelling, pioneering and being innovative? Or was I just conforming and swimming with the tide of industry opinion?
In the end I decided the 17 year girl was right, kept my money in my pocket and decided to make sure that I am really innovative in the future, even if it is easier said than done!