SMARTstart: Business decorating venture booms

Danny and Kim Goring have come a long way from one embroidery machine in their basement.

The owners and operators of GT Promotions ventured into offering promotional products and apparel to businesses and sports teams three years ago while Danny was in a previous venture in the construction safety industry. He needed a safety vest decorated fast and found he could solve the problem himself. He enjoyed the work and grew the business at home, naming it an acronym for their sons, Gabriel and Theo.

Kim found herself working evenings to help keep up with production. In late 2019, she gave her notice at her job as a research technician with the University of Calgary. As the initial pandemic lockdown started, she had just left her last day on the job.

“I was already halfway into this, so I just dove in,” said Kim.

Thankfully, they were also months into SMARTstart, and had a plan.

“The SMARTstart program helped strengthen a lot of things,” said Danny. “There’s a lot of checks and balances, especially with the mentors.”

GT Promotions’ mentors were Wendy Bates, owner of The Hair Lounge, and Andrew Bennett, from The I.T. Company.

“Hearing from them and their experiences, as well as their support and networking, was really good,” Kim said, adding the online classes were helpful for her having a Masters in Science, but little business experience.

GT Promotions added a printer and heatpress and built up the equipment they needed to service a variety of apparel decorating needs. They completed SMARTstart and continued to operate out of their home until September 2021 when they entered their Kings Heights commercial location.

It was a risk educated by their studies, financial projections and mentors, and Danny said the space has helped GT Promotions grow faster than it was as a home-based business.

“[The] SMARTstart program helped identify those triggers that would allow for the leaps, the safe risks,” said Danny. “SMARTstart definitely helped facilitate those conversations required to make the decisions.”

They’ve since hired one employee part-time, have expanded her to be their first full-time employee and a part of the vision moving forward, including the recent purchase of a large-scale printer.

Danny’s enjoying the process.

“We’re always learning every day, and it’s getting better,” he said.

Want to connect with GT Promotions? Stop by their storefront location at 3145, 2920 Kingsview Blvd SE, visit their website or follow their Facebook  and Instagram accounts.

Story and photography by Britton Ledingham.