We have made some changes to The T-Shirt Guy. We are now a LLC! YEAH! Along with that came more paperwork, and luckily more business! We had to redo the office a good bit (at least my side of the office) and we have all of our jobs up on a whiteboard now. For those of you that don’t know, Kyle and I do totally separate parts of this business. He is the graphics and design guy. He is amazing at taking the sketch on the cocktail napkin and making into a brilliant graphic to print or cut on vinyl. Or bling! With the vinyl we have added window clings, custom one offs if needed, and names/numbers. I LOVE doing the rhinestones but all of these additions take up more and more space. We are moving in about a week and will have a bigger office and a little bit of storage inside that should help the two of us get even more organized. Oh, we added a button machine to the mix as well and promo products too! Whew! We are busy!
As the days go by and we are busier and busier thankfully, I started to think the other day about where this whole T-shirt business started. Many people know our story that we bought VERY basic screen printing equipment in order to make T-shirts for our son’s cub scout troop. That was over four years ago. After making those shirts we really didn’t do much else with the equipment except made a few fun shirts for our family. I don’t know what point we decided to try out making money with screen printing, but I had a good chuckle when I thought about how difficult printing seemed then.
When we printed, we were MESSY! Everything was covered in ink, cleaning up was a nightmare, even exposing screens was awful. I didn’t really do much with the screen printing then, Kyle did most of it. I would sit with him in our dark room (i.e. the bathroom) while he exposed screens for 12 1/2 minutes exactly, and I might have helped him wash out screens, but I just wasn’t into the whole process. After we did get our first equipment and found out Ryonet had classes to help learn the process better, I arranged the whole class and trip for Kyle. I went with him, but not to the class. I spent the two days in Portland and had a great time! I just figured this was his hobby.
I don’t know when I started printing, but I remember asking Kyle if I could try it. I wasn’t great at it and it was more difficult than it looked, but I liked the end result. So somewhere along the line I started printing and Kyle let me! He always said the printing stressed him out because he didn’t want to mess it up. I enjoyed the time to see what I could come up with and how the mesh, ink, shirt relationship worked.
By the time I had done a couple of prints, Ryonet decided to have a contest to help a new business or a not yet existing business expand their potential with the Pick Me Contest. The contest would consist of an initial video telling about the company or soon to be company that you would like to have. And then people got to vote for their favorite. And we won!
We won lots of great equipment that really helped us sculpt our small hobby into a “real” business. The silver press, exposure unit, and tons of great ink were just the beginning of what I found to be a fabulous business. We also were treated to another class but this time were able to go to LA at the new Ryonet LA facility. It was my turn to learn more about screen printing and I was definitely hooked! Foil, glitter, and other specialty inks caught my eye and I was anxious to learn more.
Now fast forward almost two years and we have definitely expanded. We do not print full-time just yet, but we do work steadily. We have several repeat customers including the Archery Club, and Student/Teacher softball game at Northwest Career and Technical Academy, several other school groups, two teams, Batitudes and Team Intensity, with the Northwest Girls Softball League, and we just keep getting more and more repeats. We are always glad to get calls for new business and strive to provide a great experience for our customers.
Our products don’t just revolve around printing anymore. We do car vinyl decals, buttons, lots of rhinestones, numbers and letters for jerseys or other shirts, and promotional products. I look around now and see our business as an opportunity for my family to work together to make a better life together. That’s why we started this business and it is nice to know that we have followed through with our family in mind.
We don’t usually take one shirt orders but we received a call from a customer that just needed one shirt. The design was easy enough to be cut out on the plotter and heat pressed onto the shirt that we decided to say yes. In fact the entire shirt was just words. Unfortunately, the meaning of the shirt escapes us as it’s some kind of inside joke but we were able to get it done in just a couple of days as we don’t keep the shirt color that he wanted in stock. We already had white vinyl at the shop and were able to cut the design in short order.
Now that we are a LLC in the state of Nevada additional distributors have been opened up to us. We discovered a local t-shirt distributor just 30 minutes from the shop. Kelley was able to swing over and pick up what the client needed and come back to heat press the design.
In an effort to increase sales and visibility in our community we decided to take out an ad in the event guide at the Mega Scout Expo for the Las Area Council Boy Scouts. The Expo event occurs every year and every troop, pack, and venturing crew is invited for this two day extravaganza. We figured this is a perfect spot to advertise. The event guide is given out to everyone that attends and it comes with a free booth. We asked our designers to come up with an ad to be placed in the guide. You can see what she came up with below. If all goes well we will have talked to a lot of people that are interested in shirts for their unit and hopefully come out with some new orders. We will be promoting our normal business with The T-Shirt Guy as well as our girly blinged out shirts for the moms with The T-Shirt Girl. We are even going to roll out our promotional items and see if anyone needs customized key chains, cups, pens, and more!