How a Custom Printing Company Made Me a Winner With the Family

A family reunion is a little bit like taking a dive off a cliff. You go in feeling excited and nauseated at the same time, you know there’s a chance that there are rocks somewhere down there, someone always loses their swimming trunks, and there’s no shortage of people to simultaneously save and laugh at you if you do wipe out. It’s not always pretty, it isn’t even always fun, but you want to be able to say you went through it afterwards and made it out all right, goddamn it.

I had been through my share of family reunions—especially since my parents often headed the unofficial reunion planning committee—so I knew this sentiment (with some variations across individuals, of course) was shared by most of the clan. So when I was finally invited to take an active part in the planning for the next reunion, I knew exactly what I wanted to handle: the reunion memorabilia.

We’d had memorabilia in past reunions, of course, but because of the… er… differing tastes among the people handling them, we’d been treated to some rather eclectic items as reunion souvenirs—little ceramic figurines (from the year my grandma handled memorabilia)—a framed photo with the whole family in it (which might have been better-appreciated if 70% of us didn’t look especially un-photogenic in the shot)—stress balls (from my uncle, who deplores the hectic lifestyles of today)—and even specially made-up notepads with the family name printed on the lower right (I have another uncle who owns a stationery company).

For my turn, though, I wanted something different. I wanted something functional (like the notepad), yes, and definitely nice to look at (like the figurines). But I also wanted it to be proud (maybe even fabulously so) about what it represented, you know, almost like a medal of honor. Not a bad simile: some family reunions feel like minor wars sometimes.

That’s how I ended up with the customized T-shirts idea.

Now, to be honest, I’d gone through my share of customized shirts from various experiences already, so it’s not like I pulled the idea completely from thin air. We’ve all had a chance to wear custom shirts, whether it’s for some school event, a fundraiser, a political campaign, or some company scheme to use the poor employees as walking ads. But one thing that all of these had in common was that the custom shirts you usually got for them were pretty low-quality.

You know what I mean: the shirts often used fabric so thin you could read a guy’s tattoo under it; low-resolution printing with fuzzy lines and slightly “off” colors; designs that would fade in less than a month even after proper care. I definitely didn’t want any of these. I wanted quality.

I wanted good fabric because I wanted our memorabilia to be durable. I wanted crisp lines with the right colors. And I wanted lasting, high quality printing ink that wouldn’t flake off after one turn in the washer.

Sounds reasonable, right? I thought so. Until I started scouting the market for printing companies that could guarantee that sort of quality, anyway.

I have no idea why it’s so hard to find high-quality custom printing services here. Do people think Filipinos care nothing at all about quality? Yes, I know we tend to be a budget-conscious people, but for god’s sake, it’s not like you should be forced to choose between quality and affordability the hard way every time. Suffice it to say that by the third day of looking, I was ready to throw in the towel.

But then my beautiful, smart, always-on-time friend came along.

After listening to me moan and groan about my predicament over a couple of beers—see, what a friend the girl is!—she recommended a company I hadn’t come across in my search. Even through my beer-addled mindset, her insistence on the quality and affordability of their work got through and I took down the name JollyPrints with a reminder to look them up and give them a call in the morning.

JollyPrints Shirt Printing Philippines

I ended up calling them in the afternoon instead due to a raging hangover. But whatever traces of my headache miraculously went away after talking to them and learning about their offerings. Gildan-manufactured, super-soft, super-durable shirts? Sizes that would fit the kids as well as my famously rotund uncle? Premium screen printing technology with design assistance for the art-impaired (me)? And, best of all, affordable pricing? Did I want to order?

As Moose from the Archie comics says, “Duh.”

So that’s how I ended up presenting my relatives with some ultra-cool shirts proclaiming each one a survivor of that year’s reunion. They were an unqualified hit—I don’t think I’ve ever been patted on the back so many times by my family. Did I mention that I’m in charge of the next reunion’s memorabilia again, by the way? Good thing I just heard that JollyPrints is going to be stocking new products soon: I’m going to need their services again.

Visit and like them on Facebook when you have the time. Who knows? You might need their services soon.

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Joe Mead, AKA Traveling Joe, is one of the founders of DigMNL.

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