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. 








Cleaning, Burning, and Printing

We had a very productive weekend.  We have three shirt orders that came in on Thursday and were able to get all three ready to print! Immediately on Friday I ordered the shirts from Shirtspace.com that we needed to get the orders moving!

The first two orders are for the National Honor Society at Northwest Career and Technical Academy.  They want shirts to sell as a fundraiser and want a girls style shirt and a boys style shirt.  While working with NHS over the past couple of weeks we came up with two very cool designs that I think are going to sell really well.  And, fortunately for us, we had a couple of shirts on hand and were able to print up sample shirts this weekend so they can start a pre-sell on the shirts.  This is beneficial for both of us because they can get their fundraising going, and if they sell more than they ordered, we can get more shirts ordered and printed for them!  It is really a win-win. 

The third order that we got on Thursday was for the Northwest Career and Technical Academy Rock Band Club.  They came up with their own image that we tailored more for their school and they love it!  This is an exciting order for us because we don’t have any ties to this club so this is more of a blind order.  We are very happy to get their business and were fortunate to have the foresight to do a test run on the design this weekend.  This design is printed on a black shirt, but some of the detail is very fine and I was concerned about how I would do with the Ryopaque White Ink on a 230 mesh with fine detail.  But, it worked great!  I don’t have pictures for this one yet because we didn’t do a full print, but just tested the white.  Those pictures will be up when we get the rest of the shirts in later in the week. 

So this weekend we spent most of Saturday rearranging our shop setup, removing emulsion from screens, cleaning the screens, then putting emulsion back on, burning images, and then finally, my favorite part, printing!  I am so glad that we have these jobs already setup.  Now I am just looking forward to my shirts to arrive from ShirtSpace.com!

Burning Man Job: Part 3

We finished the Burning Man Job and delivered the final product to our customer. This video shows us burning the image into the screen using our new Aluminum UV Screen Exposure Unit 20″x24″ as well as printing the design on a t-shirt. This job was the best job that we have done. The new equipment is really a joy to use and we had a good time printing. We’ve noticed on the few t-shirts that we’ve printed on the new Burning Man Job - Deliverypress that the equipment really does make a different. If you use a lot of substandard parts or just throw together things it’s actually a lot harder to get a decent print. Of course it can work but is it really worth the frustration?

Our customer was extremely happy with the final result and even asked us if we could put the image on bandanas. Of course we told him YES!

The New Exposure Unit!

Our new unit!

Tonight we were finally able to use the new exposure unit that was part of the package we won in the Ryonet Pick Me video blog contest.  The exposure unit is AMAZING! 

Every time we have tried to burn screens in the past, I have truly dreaded the process.  Kyle generally sets up the image on the screen and I did the wash out.  I sat outside for 12 1/2 minutes while he burned the image and waited to wash out the screen.  Today, things were different.  For the better!

Today, Kyle and I set up the image placement together.  We cut the board to fit the foam size to fit in the screen.  We were ready.  We took our first image and taped it on the screen.  We placed the image and screen on the lightbox, put the foam in the screen, put the board on top, then put 50 pounds of weights on top.  We set the timer to 5 minutes 15 seconds as suggested in the directions and waited. 

Five minutes and 15 seconds sure goes by a lot faster than I thought.  It seemed very quickly that the light box turned off and our image was ready for washout.  I was really happy to see the image when we took the screen to wash out.  Although our first image was pretty detailed, I was so excited to see the results!  I used some of the wash out techniques that we learned from the Ryonet training class, and it really paid off.  This is the first time that I can remember that we didn’t have any issues on the burning or washing out.  We exposed correctly and the emulsion wasn’t slimy at all!

As you can tell, I am very excited about the quality of this exposure unit and how much of a helpful upgrade this is for us.  If it wasn’t so late already, I am sure we would be printing now.  Seeing as it is over 100 degrees during the day still here is Las Vegas, we wait until late evening to work on our screen printing.  I am looking forward to showing everyone our first set of printed shirts this weekend.  What a great experience today was!