December 16, 2021

Dear skummunity,

If 2020 was the year of fear, 2021 was the year of turbulence.

Despite end user skittishness, frozen budgets, continued lockdowns, supply chain problems, inflation, and “the great resignation”, many of you thrived. This industry’s ability to overcome any challenge is astounding and your optimism knows no bounds. If you weren’t growing you were rebuilding.

Catherine and I have been in the industry for over 20 years and the resolve, creativity, and determination we witnessed from industry colleagues in 2021 was without comparison.

2021 also signaled a big shift in two other crucial ways: one was how the world saw the industry, the other was how we now see ourselves.

There were more headlines in 2021 about the positive impact of branded merchandise than any year in memory. Consumers and clients flocked to create emotional connections with merchandise as headlines from major publications like Forbes, The Atlantic, Medium (and more) highlighted a growing trend: the positive impact of branded merchandise. And astonishingly, the market changed how it referred to our medium, no longer using the terms “promotional products” or “swag” (and less and less in the pejorative) but rather, embracing the term “branded merchandise,” a phrase which commands higher respect and higher premiums.

And our industry saw itself differently too.

2021 signaled a shift in more conscientious selling as many of you turned out in numbers to attend Product Summit: Sustainability. 2021 was also the year where you expanded on capabilities outside of promo, grew your marketing reach, and began to meet buyer demand by focusing on the art of selling tactical solutions in a digital world.

We could not be more proud to be serving the industry's most creative and entrepreneurial distributors. You honor our medium and give this industry a great name.

More than 18 months into a global pandemic, we are incredibly optimistic about the health of the promotional products industry.

In time, we will look back at this period and see that our industry was crossing one of the most significant moments in its history. The market potential, the respect for our work, and the creative growth of so many diverse entrepreneurs is what drives the energy of our industry forward.

We are incredibly proud to lead a team of passionate people committed to your growth. The commonsku distributor network represents over $1.1B in industry sales. As we close the chapter on 2021, we can honestly say that we have never been more optimistic about our industry’s future.

And we are excited to be leading our industry, together.

Mark Graham and Catherine Graham
Co-founders, commonsku

commonsku Milestones in 2021


Distributor Companies


Shops created


Market size


Projects Created

Events Hosted in 2021


In-Person Events


Virtual Conferences


Attendees from all
over the world

New Features Coming in 2022


A streamlined and role-based navigation menu will quickly guide where to go in the platform to help teams stay focused on the items most important to their role and onboard team members faster.


A re-imagined and role-based dashboard will add a layer of intelligence with data-driven smart tiles and trending metrics to influence behavior and help team members take action on the items and tasks most important to their role.


This reporting addition will give Managers, Sales, and Finance teams access to a quick pulse-check and visual analysis on the actionable metrics and KPIs most important to your roles.