Looking back to move ahead

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. 








New Screens

We haven’t updated in while due to being busy!  YEAH!  My Christmas present for the company was an “arsenal” of screens. Twenty larger screens to print bigger designs and give us more of a variety of ways to print.  We have a larger inventory of inks and have the right screens to use to print now.  Glitter inks, glow in the dark, and shimmers  are some of my favorites so now we are ready to expand our selection for customers!  Next time you want that extra special shirt made, ask us to show you some glitter, shimmer, or glow to see how a little addtion goes a long way!

Well we did it!

Cyber Monday is finally here and we just purchased the Bling It! Pro. This will allow us to create custom Rhinestone designs and heat press them onto t-shirts, tote-bags, and other apparel. Along with the Bling It! we bought a Graphtech 24″ Plotter e5000. Along with the cutting out Rhinestone patters the plotter will cut heat transfer vinyl so that we can cut our own names and numbers for the back of sports shirts. We will also be able to create custom window clings and signs. There are quite a bit of possibilities.

With the new Rhinestone designs we are looking into spinning off a new web site called “The T-Shirt Girl” where it will specialize in the Rhinestone and Crystal designs. We will keep you posted as we progress!

Ahhh…The smell of emulsion in the morning!

As I discussed before, I am taking over more of the business.  One of the thorns in my side has been emulsion application.  So we needed screens coated but Kyle was working on other things and this means that I needed to figure this emulsion thing out!   Before I could coat the screens, I had to mix the emulsion first.  We use DXP Diazo-Photopolymer Dual Cure Direct Emulsion from www.silkscreeningsupplies.com.  This emulsion we are comfortable with and know how to expose really well.  The emulsion is easy to mix needing just a small amount of distilled water that is added to the sensitizer powder that comes with the emulsion. After the water is added to the powder, just pour the newly formed liquid into the emulsion container.  MIX WELL!  After the emulsion and sensitizer are well mixed, leave the emulsion with the lid off just slightly to settle.  This allows time for the air bubbles to rise to the surface for a smoother emulsion.  All of this mixing and settling needs to be done in a light sensitive emvironment.

After a couple of hours, I returned to coat the screens.  The coating process is normally what Kyle does.  He is just better at it.  But this was the day that I needed to get screens done so I had to figure this all out.  I poured the emulsion into the scoop coater and had 6 screens all ready to go.  My biggest flaw is not getting the emulsion on smooth, but this day I did pretty well!  I have watched Kyle coat a lot of screens and asked a bunch of questions.  It must have all paid off because I only had one of the six that had a few streaks.  I was pleased. 

My next part of this process is to learn more about planning our jobs with the emulsion and mesh sizes we use.  In other words, all the screens we do now are just 1 coat on each side.  But as I get more jobs, I need to plan if I am printing with white or other color inks so I can make a better stencil.

Transfer Express

I just wanted to add a quick post about Transfer Express.  We first saw this company at the NBM Long Beach show  in 2010.  They have a really great system for ordering numbers, lettering, and if desired, designs for heat transfer. The items ship anywhere from the same day to two days out depending on what you order.  We first used them for a softball team (The Lady Mustangs) that needed numbers and names on the back of the shirts we printed.    The prices are reasonable and the customer service is excellent.  The one thing I can say about Ryonet and company  is that they spoil the customers on excellent customer service so now I expect the same from all the vendors I use!  But Transfer Express holds their own on customer service too.

Las Vegas Lady Mustangs

We finished our first softball team shirts today. Hoodies and t-shirts were on the menu! This order was our first time doing names and numbers so we had to find a company that would make this easy for us. When we went to the NBM show in Long Beach, CA  last August, we ran across a company called Transfer Express. This company has a fantastic system set up to order names, letters, numbers, even custom designs for screen printers. With just a heat press, which we already have, we just needed to order the names and numbers. The whole process from ordering the names and numbers to the customer service people to help me make sure I was ordering correctly was a great process! I highly recommend checking them out to fulfill those obligations of name and numbers for teams. Quick, easy, and pretty good price too!  We used Shirtspace.com for our shirts and hoodies of course.  They, too, always provide us with good prices and good customer service!

Changes, ideas, and more equipment

Well, we took the latter part of December and the beginning of January off.  After our two shows two weeks in a row, we were beat.  We had a great time with our family over the holidays and got the kids back into the swing of school in January.  Then before we knew it, we had jobs to do and equipment to set up.  When we re-organized the garage (again) we put the micro-registration on the press from the Ryonet November Blogging Contest.  The micro-registration is a great addition for us.  We used it in a two color job that we printed last weekend.  After getting all four micro-registration attachments onto the press, the registration was pretty easy.  It took us a little bit to figure out how the micro-registration works, but once we did, our colors lined up so well.  I think the biggest advantage we saw was that throughout printing, the image didn’t move at all.  We have had problems in the past with printing in that after 10-15 prints the image would start to move.  The micro-registration seems to help with that problem.  We have another two color job to print as well as a three color job so the new addition will be well broken in!

Holiday Marketing Idea

Most of you know the main reason we were able to really take off with our screen printing business was from Ryonet’s Pick Me Video Blog contest. We won the contest that resulted a fantastic prize package that consisted of a new press, lots of great ink, and so many extras that has really helped our business begin to grow.

To help support the Pick Me Video Blog contestants, Ryonet sponsors a monthly contest to keep the new screen printers motivated. The first month’s contest was to have a certain number of posts and videos posted.  Mobile T-Shirt Adventures  won this contest and got a great selection of specialty inks. The next contest was to have the most views on a YouTube.com video about screen printing, and Moya Tees  blew everyone away with over 5,000 views of his video!  He won a great printer, the Epson BlackMax 1400 and AccuRip. For any non-printers reading this, well, it is one of the best products to start the art process to get great results when printing. The T-Shirt Guy blog won last month’s contest, thanks to many of you as we had the most activity on our blog in a month. We won some fabulous upgrades that included micro-registration for our new press!  And again for non-printers, micro-registration helps us line up designs for more precise printing.  A real help for newbies like us!

This month’s contest is to submit a unique marketing idea. Well, we have been thinking about this for awhile and think we have a really great and useful idea! On December 4th we will be attending a local Christmas event called Cowboy Christmas. This event is an annual kick-off to the Christmas season in Las Vegas. Vendors range from glassblowers to food vendors to local farmers. We have a booth at the Cowboy Christmas and are actually going to bring our press to the event! We are going to let people come and print their own shirts! We will have lots of information about our company available including printed koozies, flyers, and already made shirts! The best part about this marketing idea is that the Cowboy Christmas does a prize giveaway to attendees. We are donating a certificate for a T-Shirt order for 10 shirts to the recipient! The Cowboy Christmas sponsors told us that they will bring us up to the stage while the announcement is being made about our contribution and tell the community a little about our company! What a great way to kickoff the holiday season! We hope you enjoy our festive blog, our marketing idea, and we will let you know how it goes!

Rock Band Club Prep and Printing

Even though you have already seen the end result on our blog from October 24th, we wanted to show everyone the setup and printing of this job.  On the video we talked about burning 6 screens, but only show 4.  We will have the other screen prep on an additional upcoming video.  We like to print at night in the summer here in Las Vegas because during the day our garage is very hot so the lighting is a darker than we would like.  Plus we had the bug lights on because we were burning screens.  Enjoy!

Our Top 10 Sites

Hey everyone-

We wanted to give you a list of our top 10 sites that we use as reference for our business.  These websites either provide products for us, information for our business, or a source when we need questions answered.  Some sites do all three!  If you are another printer out there, leave us a comment of your favorite sites and why.  We are looking to add as many references as we can!  So here goes our top 10 reference list (the order is not necessarily indicative to how much we use the site):

10. International Coatings at www.iccink.com– This site provides a ton of information about the ink that we use to print our designs.  They have articles about the inks, FAQ’s on how to use the inks, and even MSDS sheets!  I go to this site about once a week to see what is going on there!

9. Shirt Supplier at www.shirtsupplier.com – This is my second source for shirts as my first one is listed below.  Their site is easy to add multiple items to the cart and it comes in handy when you have a big order.

8. Outlet Shirts at www.outletshirts.com – I use outletshirts.com when I need large  sizes of shirts in more variety of colors.  I like that Outlet Shirts has Port & Company shirts in sizes 3X, 4X, and more!  This gives our clients a lot of options.

7. Graphic Elephants at www.graphicelephants.com– I go to this site every now and then to see what Lon Winters and Jason Ballash are up to.  I was fortunate enough to meet them a couple of times at shows and they have such a wealth of information to share.  And both are so good with sharing this information.  I know that I am on such a different level of printing, but these guys never make you feel like you can’t do something.  In fact, they encourage you to try!

6. Small Business Administration at www.sba.gov – This site is so useful as a new business owner.  There is a wealth of information on this site and when I need a business question answered or clarified, I go to the SBA site!

5. Printwear Magazine at www.printwearmag.com – I like to catch up on the latest information for garment decorators.  I do subscribe to the hard copy of the magazine as well, but the online version is fun to go through as well.  I like finding archived articles of topics that are current to our printing. 

4. YouTube at www.youtube.com -Everyone knows of YouTube, but I like the information that is out there. Ryonet  has great videos of course and there are some other interesting screen printing and business videos out there. 

3. Shirtspace at www.shirtspace.com – This is the best site that I have found to order T-shirts from.  They have exceptional customer service, the order arrives on time, and their prices are great.  I like their prices even better when they have a big discount going on.  I have been very pleased with our purchases from this site!

2. Ryonetblog at www.ryonetblog.com-How could we not list this as our #1 or #2 site?  This is the site that got us up and running in this business after we entered the Ryonet Pick Me Contest!  I visit this site several times a week to see new posts, videos, and ideas from Ryonet. 

1. Ryonet at www.silkscreeningsupplies.com of course!  This is our number 1 site due to the fact that there is so much information on products, videos and help about the products, and so much to learn about this business.  We are on this site so much during the week, whether we are scoping out our next big purchase, watching a video about a product, or just looking at the regular supplies that we need. 

These are our top 10!  Want to add to the list?  Let us hear from you!