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.