Reaching Totality – Total Promotions

What do you do when things are going well and you have all the money, security and sense of achievement you need to make your life worthwhile?

Well, if you’re Jan Richardson, Managing director of Total Promotions Ltd and shortlisted finalist for the Peterborough Telegraph’s Small Business of the Year award 2012, you ditch the path you’re currently walking and create a bend in the road. Crazy? Perhaps. But as a sports enthusiast and former PE teacher turned garment printer and embroider, Jan’s determination to push the boundaries and take on new challenges is an example of what the Olympic legacy could do for British business following the games this summer.

Until recently, I was a member of the Peterborough SportsAid committee’, says Jan, ‘and partly responsible for raising funds for silver medallist Louis Smith and Olympic hopeful Louise Hazel. But I also wanted to experience the games first hand and went to see the hockey in Stratford a once in a lifetime opportunity

So if sport is so important to Jan, why did she leave her dream job as a PE teacher at Comberton Village College in Cambridge to set up a T-shirt printing business from her bedroom in 1991?

I loved my job but I saw a commercial opportunity and I gave it a go. When I got my first order, I decided it was a venture worth pursuing so I handed in my notice and started Total Promotions with £300 in my pocket

Fortunately for Jan, the UK promotional merchandise market is worth an estimated £715 million a year and the UK corporate clothing market is worth an estimated £450 million a year with around 30% of the working population wearing branded uniforms (tax deductable for both employers and employees tax-rebate-make-sure-you-dont-miss-out/) provided by their companies.

However, much like today, the early 90’s were marred by a difficult recession so the young start up had its work cut out to establish itself in a buyers’ market.

I had no experience of running a business or working in an office but I was determined to learn from successful companies around me until I had the answers I needed

Fast forward 21 years and Total Promotions now offers 2,500 printed and embroidered items to schools, clubs, charities, national associations and corporate clients throughout the region. Employing 14 members of staff, Jan is currently looking to exchange her 5,000 square foot garment manufacturing factory for a 10,000 square foot purpose built studio to meet growing demand for her specialist service.

‘Customer satisfaction is our biggest driver’, explains Jan as she signs off new ranges for her corporate work wear catalogue. ‘Although we know which items are preferred by our clients, we’re keen to showcase new products and new methods of branding to keep our offer current. For example, full colour transfers have just hit the market allowing us to print multi coloured images in smaller quantities at cost effective prices. Of course, the stakes for corporate work wear are higher. If done well, the increased visual exposure can have a positive impact on your profile and help with team building, staff behaviour and improve business performance. Given the importance of getting things right, we’re happy to invest time with business managers and assist them with their choices’. And was it the right choice to give up a safe teaching job and set up a garment manufacturing business in the middle of a recession?

‘Yes’, says Jan, ‘but we’ve had to adapt and change over the years to stay on top of our game. As you can imagine, investment has been a huge factor in our continued success. ‘Our state of the art embroidery machines can run up to 15 colours to create professional looking logos in a matter of seconds. And our latest marketing innovation – a fully supported e-commerce platform, allows our customers to promote their branded ranges direct to end users through a virtual online store’.
Nominated for this year’s Telegraph awards, the e-store is already being used by 38 companies including Mercedes and Audi owners.

But it’s not only about investment in the company, it’s also about investment in the next generation of entrepreneurs in the region

Lions Lair is a Young Enterprise scheme currently running in Huntingdon. Based on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den, the programme allows local school children to pitch business ideas to judges and secure £200 cash investment and one to one mentoring to make a healthy profit. ‘I have been one of the judges, or Lions, if you like’, explains Jan, ‘and it’s a great pleasure to watch young minds get to grips with business from such an early age. I also mentor Business Studies students as part of the Enterprise in Schools initiative in Peterborough.

Like sport, business needs to be nurtured from an early age and I’m happy for my company to play its part in both

Guess you can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher.

01733 394758

Total Promotions Ltd

3/4 Welbeck Way

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