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!

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.