Close your eyes and try to imagine the smell of a bowl of fresh cut peaches or take a minute to envision a walk in the shade of a stand of tall pine trees. These are sensory pleasures we frequently enjoy, because they're a part of our everyday lives. Peaches and pine trees are so prevalent in Georgia, they've become a part of the state's identity. And, that's just what Daniel Dabbs had in mind when he created the custom brand Peaches & Pines through his T-shirt and graphics business, Varsity Inc.
A frequent visitor to Hilton Head Island, Daniel often admired the images that South Carolinians had emblazoned on license plates, bumpers, hats, and t-shirts. The iconic likeness of a palmetto tree and a quarter moon immediately call to mind South Carolina for many. And, residents of the state proudly display the logo. Daniel wanted a "brand" for Georgia that was just as representative of our state. "As Georgians we don't see anything with our logo," he said. "We needed something to wear to show our Georgia spirit and pride."
As owner and graphic artist at Varsity Inc., Daniel spends his days working to create the artwork that adorns the many promotional items his company offers. He doesn't use clip art when creating a custom design for clients, but prefers to conceive and draw exclusive schemes for each customer's order.
Daniel's career in producing promotional items and graphic design started when he came to Statesboro to attend Georgia Southern. He later transferred to Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, GA., and graduated with a degree in Art Marketing.
While attending GSU, Daniel worked for the area's serigraphy expert, Robbie Hattaway, who had over 30 years' experience in silkscreen printing. Working for Hattaway, Daniel learned everything there is to know about the multiple-step process of applying ink through a mesh silk screen onto items like t-shirts, hats, posters, stickers, vinyl, wood, and other items and surfaces. He also learned key elements about being successful in the business. "You have to deliver a top notch product; offer customization of a quality product; insure a quick turn-around time; and provide great customer service," he said.
While working for Hattaway, Daniel also had the opportunity to purchase some equipment with associate Patrick Kelley, who runs a second store located in Milledgeville. The timing was right and with the equipment he purchased, Daniel opened Varsity Inc. six years ago in a two-story house on South Main Street in Statesboro. He has since purchased BoanArt, one of Statesboro's former silkscreen businesses, and Hattaway's inventory, growing into a much larger operation needing more space. Varsity Inc. is now located on Mathews Road with plenty of warehouse space for the screening operations.
Daniel's fiance, Stephanie Howell, runs the marketing aspects of Varsity Inc., promoting the brands he has created through social marketing and sales. She also is the office manager and takes care of ordering merchandise and keeping control of the inventory. Stephanie and Daniel met in Milledgeville and formed a partnership through their respective marketing backgrounds. Stephanie's daughter, Maggie, helps out in the shop during summers and school holidays.
Daniel also has a staff of professional silk screeners who make the stencils that overlay the screens, which are now made of polyester instead of silk. The stencils have the custom design Daniel created and block out ink as it flows through the mesh screens onto the promotional item. For a full color design, four screens will be used as separate colors of ink are applied to the surface of the object being printed. Careful skill is used in lining up the four images that will ultimately become a full-color custom art graphic.
Varsity Inc. can print a custom design on almost any item: coozies, lottery scratchers, cups, hats, pens, shirts, and the list goes on. Most of these items are available at select area retail outlets with the Peaches & Pines logo depicted.
The Peaches & Pines brand is an expansion of the custom promotional printing business that Daniel and Stephanie hope will catch on with Georgians and tourists. "We currently have Peaches & Pines items in 40 stores across Georgia. The brand is especially attractive to boutiques and hometown hardware-type stores," said Stephanie. New t-shirts have just been shipped to Anderson's General Store in Statesboro, Pix One Hour in Vidalia, and Glamorous Peach in Dudley. "Peaches & Pines will also be available on our website soon." Stephanie said. www.peachesandpines.com
It only takes one good marketing idea to start a trend. With the Peaches & Pines brand Daniel has created an identity that showcases the beautiful natural resources of our state and captures the pride of what it feels like to be from Georgia.