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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos today

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!

Taking over the business more and more

As Kyle’s responsibilities have been changing, I have taken on more responsibility of the screen printing business. I really enjoy it by the way! I can now pretty much do everything alone (including emulsion which was always a thorn in my side), but I do leave the computer work to him. He enjoys the computer and artwork so for now that is the only aspect that I do not do. I am learning a lot and applying alot of what I learned in the Ryonet Screen Printing Classes  from last year. I have printed and created designs, but now I do everything from design to cleanup. More to come on what I have learned!

Happy New Year 2011!

2010 was an amazing year for The T-Shirt Guy!  We were fortunate enough to win Ryonet’s Pick Me Contest in July and this win helped us jump start our business!  We have learned a lot already and are very excited about the future of our business.  We have made great friends along the way including Ian and Leesa at Yeah Right Designs, MOYA Tees and company, Bob at Select Inks, Tazz Ringel with Tee’s by Tazz, Jeanette with the Pondering Pooch, Michael with Akutuq Northern Design, and of course everyone at Ryonet

Thank you for a great year and we look forward to the adventures in 2011!

Kyle, Kelley, Kylie, Jarod, and Kendall Waltz

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!

A Great day at the NBM Show!

Day 1 at NBM Long Beach

Today was the first day at NBM Long Beach!  The exhibit hall opens tomorrow, but today there were educational seminars all day long.  I went to two seminars today and both were great.  The first one was on effective marketing  techniques and the second one was on screen printing basics.  Both were helpful, although I had learned most of the screen printing already from the Ryonet classes.  It was nice to be the one person in class that knew some of the answers! 

The marketing seminar was taught by Vince DiCecco.  I think I took this class  at a good time in our business.  As of today we don’t have a marketing plan, and I wouldn’t have known how to do one unless I had something like this class to help. I think from what I learned in this class, I will start a section on marketing and what I learned.  For anyone that can’t go to classes like this, it might be helpful to you as much as it was to me!  I will leave you with this last thought on this topic:  Remember that you are not creating something completely new, but you are trying to find your unique place in your field by bringing something to your customers that no one else will. 

Tomorrow I will go to the exhibit hall for the first time and take some more classes.   I am focusing more on the business tips as opposed to learning about other fields.  Until then…

The Reality is Setting In

For the first time since we ever did any screen printing, I have realized over the past few days that this is really a business for us now.  We got into this to make one set of shirts, and now I feel like the door has just opened for us to have a successful business.  I just printed some shirts and cleaned up all within a short amount of time.  Previously I would not have gone out and just printed a few shirts as I felt the task was always a lot of trouble.  Now, I do not feel as overwhelmed. I really see this as working out for us.  I am sure I will write about this more over the next few months, but I am quite pleased with how much I have learned since taking Ryonet’s screen printing class last month.  I understand a lot more about printing now.

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!

Ryonet’s Silk Screening Academy

Kelley and I attended the first ever Ryonet Silk Screening Academy in Los Angeles, CA. During the class we were instructed on the basics of artwork, screen preparation, and printing. In the darkroom we learned a lot about how to properly put emulsion on screens, burn designs, wash out images, and even degrease the screens prior to use.  In the classroom we learned how to get artwork ready using Corel Draw and Illustrator and Photoshop, what different screen mesh sizes mean and how this affects production, and even how sublimation works!  In the printing room, we learned the differences between water-based ink and Plastisol and what the advantages are of each one.  We printed many different designs as you will see in the video.