A PORTSMOUTH printing company has celebrated 20 years in business and its owner says they are looking forward to a busy 2019.
Beverly Mapes, 60, was a sole trader before she launched Designs Alike on May 12, 1999 with two machinists, Lorraine Newman and Beryl Hardy. The three are all still part of the Designs Alike team, in London Road, North End, which now has 13 members.
Beverly remembers the first item they ever printed.
She said: ‘The first thing we printed was a penguin T-shirt. It didn’t look right so we did it ourselves.’
Since then Designs Alike has flourished, winning the contract for the Dance World Cup in 2016.
Beverly said: ‘It was an emotional year as it was the same year my husband died. It was emotional to then win such a big contract and see our items being worn.’
Designs Alike still supplies the World Cup. In 2016 they printed 500 items – now they have been asked for 4,500 and have had to outsource the actual printing.
‘It’s still a lot of work, as there’s a lot of preparation and allocating the garments,’ Beverly said.
Other highlights of the last 20 years have included printing headrests for an airline and bringing clothing to London each year to display on the catwalks of MoveIt, the UK’s biggest dance exhibition.
Designs Alike has also expanded into simulation printing, which allows them to print designs on the whole garment.
The business will be expanding into a third unit on London Road this year, which will allow them to have an open plan shop, showroom and space for equipment.
The shop will be filled with balloons and banners this week, and the first 20 orders will get a goodie bag.
On Wednesday the team will sit down for a well-deserved lunch and afternoon tea, joined by Skyla, 8, the third resident Designs Alike boxer dog.
Beverly attributes the success of Designs Alike to her team’s attitude.
She said: ‘We offer a flexible customer service with no minimum orders, and we try to keep the customer happy. We have a great team which makes a real difference.
‘Even though we’ve had our ups and downs, through two recessions, we’ve pulled together and made it through – I’d like to thank them.’