We are attending the NBM show in Long Beach this week. This was our first trade we attended a few years ago when we won Ryonet Pick Me Contest. For me, Kelley, this time I am much better equipped to find vendors and ask questions to increase business than I was before. I have learned so much just in one day. From meeting the guys form The Rhinestone World to Synergy 17 to Siser, its been a great experience. Meeting Ross Hunter from Reviation Industries was great too. He is super knowledgeable. Tomorrow I will be taking video to tell more abut the show. Here are just a few highlights from today.
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.
Today we are working on some photos that Ryonet requested. As we won the first www.ryonetblog.com Pick Me Contest, Ryonet is doing an article on our company and the continued success of our business. As we’ve looked back over the past year, a lot has changed for us and we have learned a great deal. We are thankful to everyone at Ryonet. Over the next couple of weeks we will highlight some of our successes, some trials and tribulations, and tell you our favorite moments from the last year!
In October we were fortunate to meet a great client, Lori Castillo. Lori is part of an inspiring team of women that are working hard to lose weight. They formed a team called the Fluffy Puff Girls and work out together at the Fitness Source in Las Vegas. We first met Lori because she found us on an Internet search for T-Shirt in Las Vegas. We made 5 shirts for her with a quick turnaround so the Fluffy Puff Girls could have these shirts in time for their first 5k! The 5k was called “The Biggest Winner” and that is just what the Fluffy Puff Girls did! They won!
We were very proud to make the shirts for such a great group. And we were even more excited when they wanted more shirts made for another 5k in February! Instead of the pink shirts they wanted to print on black shirts. This change affected the design because the original prints were pink, white, and black ink. The black ink was the outline and details and would not show up on black shirts.
When I spoke with Lori she said that she really wanted the weights to show up on the black shirts. As we already had the designs made, I didn’t want to redo the screens if we changed the design. So we used the same designs and decided to just tape up what would have been the black details except for the weights. We then used silver shimmer for the weights. After a few trials, the shimmer really made the difference. The silver looked just like hand weights!
To continue the story with Lori and the Fluffy Puff Girls, well, hopefully our shirts are their lucky charms as they won another 5k! Great job ladies! Thanks for letting us make your shirts again!
This is awesome, hilarious, and inventive. Leave it to Ryonet to be so creative!
So we are moving along well this week. We have our first of two Christmas events in exactly a week. Tomorrow we are going to do a test run on setting up our booth. We found out that for the first event we have to decorate so that will be part of the setup tomorrow. I think we will use lights and garland to make our tent festive, but we will have to see what sort of power we will have to be able to use lights. These events should be a really good way to get out into the community even more.
In fact, we do seem to be making some leeway with getting out into the community as we got a phone call from the Las Vegas chapter of Habitat for Humanity on Tuesday. They want a quote for 4 different designs of 100 shirts each! This would be our biggest order to date. And it is nice to get calls from people that we don’t have any connections with. And equally as exciting, I am a big supporter of Habitat for Humanity having helped build a few Habitat houses in the past. So this really would be a win-win for us. We submitted a quote, so we will have to see how it works out!
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!
About two weeks ago we saw a connection through our old Cub Scout pack and mentioned that we have a T-Shirt company now. He was genuinely interested and we gave him a couple of business cards, and told him that we would appreciate him passing on our information if he knew anyone that needed shirts. Well, four days later I got a call from someone that needed shirts! It was great!
The group that needed shirts needed them done in four days. The group is the Southern Nevada Living History Association and they do a three day Civil War reenactment at a state park here in Nevada. People travel from surrounding states to be a part of this yearly event. So it was Tuesday and they needed the shirts on Saturday. Yes, four days. The person that
usually prints their shirts had moved and had not told his clients, but we reaped the benefit of his mistake. So Kyle and I spend about 24 hours working up a suitable design, I ordered shirts from Shirtspace.com and they said they would arrive on time, and we were on our way.
Kyle and I talked a lot about how far we have come in these first few months with our business and our artwork. A few months ago we would not have felt comfortable with rushing a job. I can tell we have grown in our business because we printed a three-color design without even flinching. I can remember it was not too long ago that we stressed about two color designs!
But the artwork, burning screens, and printing all came out beautifully. We even finished in enough time to get the shirts to the group the night before they needed them.
We are still trying to get more business, but things are going steady so far. It is fun!
Although we did get our first non-contact order, the majority of our orders come from word of mouth which is what we have really worked the hardest on. We always have business cards on hand, we give them out, and just tell people our story.
I actually get a lot of books on marketing and sales which I have talked about before. Most recently I am reading Marketing Without Advertising:Easy Ways to Build a Business Your Customers Will Love and Recommend by Michael Phillips and Salli Rasberry. This book has so much information and knowledge that I am NOT tearing through it rapidly. I am reading it very slow and carefully. I read the information and take in how this information can help us in our journey. This book just follows along with what we have been doing or vice versa, but it is nice to know that it is working. Slowly, but working nonetheless.