When Southend Airport based specialist airline Jota Aviation wanted stylish branded accessories to match their new cabin crew uniforms, they turned to local company Recognition Express.

Promotional goods and clothing expert Recognition Express in Rochford has built up a reputation for sourcing and manufacturing “hard to get” or low volume branded items. As the company had already produced the registration plates for Jota Aviation’s latest executive jets, it made sense for the motorsport and VIP charter specialist to ask them to quote.

The task led the team at Recognition Express on a voyage of their own – designing and sourcing the enamel lapel badges and overcoming technical challenges to screen print uniform scarves and ties.

Explained Recognition Express director Graham Marshall: “Jota had an idea of what they wanted but were unsure if it was possible to have custom-designed products in small quantities. We sourced off the shelf tabards, scarves and ties and hand-printed them to give them a unique look. Printing the silk scarves proved to be very tricky but with a bit of lateral thinking we got the job done.

The scarves were very long – 55”/ 140cm – and this was an issue as they were too big to fit in our print press and printing multiple passes is never very successful.

One evening I was wrapping some food at home and realised that aluminium foil would be ideal for holding the transfers in place whilst allowing the heat to penetrate! With tin foil wrapped tightly around the scarves they were much easier to handle and minimised the risk of the transfers moving as we moved the scarves through the heat press multiple times. The ties were simpler as they were transfer printed, but not without their own challenge.”

Continued Graham: “The process uses transfers applied in a heat press. We needed to find a way of applying the transfers so that the ties were not marked by the heat so we cut a tie-shaped piece of metal that slid into the “tube” of the tie. This stopped the seams from showing through.

For the “Jota Wing” enamel badge they showed us a valuable old lapel badge that aircrew wore many years ago and we designed a new badge with that style in mind but brought up to date. We are particularly pleased with how these have come out.”

Recognition Express also provided ID cards, name badges and luggage tags. They also personalised unbranded items sourced directly by Jota from other suppliers enabling the airline to ensure all items carried the same stylish corporate identity.

Said Jota Aviation cabin services manager Jo Bourne: “We are a niche airline providing a very select service and our image is very important. The challenge we faced was to source top quality branded items but in low quantities and at a sensible price.

As a local company ourselves we like to give business to local suppliers wherever possible so to have Recognition Express practically on our doorstep is a real bonus. Their service is excellent. Nothing is too much trouble and all of our new accessories they supplied look great with our uniforms.”