By Jill C. Lafferty
As fabric printing equipment has dropped in price, more and more banner and flag makers have brought some version of the technology in-house. Swirling Silks of Skippack, Pa., has taken a different path to success, offering their clients the full array of digital technologies through printing partners.
“Having experience in all aspects of banner and flag manufacturing and the resources to produce and provide our clients with their wildest fabric concepts make our company an invaluable resource for a wide variety of clientele,” says president Karen Lowe. “We partner with other companies to give us unlimited printing and sewing capabilities.”
Swirling Silks offers custom banners and flags produced using digital and offset dye sublimation, direct digital, inkjet, digital and screen print acid dye, traditional pigment screen printing and applique. In addition, the company has a complete line of stock flags, exterior banner hardware, banner stands, flagpoles and related accessories.
Lowe founded Swirling Silks in 1990 with partner Rolly Cornish, who passed away in 2005. Both began their careers at Collegeville Flag & Mfg. Co., and Lowe says that their experience in traditional screen printing and applique methods provided a good foundation for the business. Electrostatic printing in the 1990s allowed the company to begin to offer full color and multiple spot color digitally printed fabric banners at cost- effective prices (albeit with grainy images in the early days).
Through the company’s membership in the Fabric Graphics Association, Lowe is able to stay on top of new digital technologies, and she especially appreciates seeing the new ways banners are being used—as opposed to simply hanging flat from poles or grommets.
“I really enjoy this business as it allows me a good mix of customer interaction, meeting new challenges, creativity and learning the new digital ways of producing banners and flags,” Lowe says.
One of the company’s popular new products is fabric frames.
“We’re finding a big interest in these frames that allow our POP customers to easily change out fabric graphics by simply pulling expired graphics out of the frame and popping in the rubber gasket perimeter of new graphics into the frame,” she says.
While fabric technologies continue to evolve, Lowe’s business philosophy stays plain and simple: good customer service by a knowledgeable sales staff.
“Our goal is to really understand our client’s needs and present the best options and solutions for them using a variety of resources.”