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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batitude Softball Uniforms

We just finished an order for uniforms for the Northwest Softball League team, the Batitudes.  They are a 12U team that have been playing together since the fall.  Last season we did their T-shirts and sweatshirts, and we were able to print their entire uniform this season.  We are also expecting a T-shirt order from them soon including rhinestoned shirts for the moms!  Check out the pictures of how the uniforms came out!

Blinged Batitudes! The Batitudes jerseyThe reverse print for the practice jerseyThe jersey and pants ready to goSponsor name looks great!

Transfer Express

I just wanted to add a quick post about Transfer Express.  We first saw this company at the NBM Long Beach show  in 2010.  They have a really great system for ordering numbers, lettering, and if desired, designs for heat transfer. The items ship anywhere from the same day to two days out depending on what you order.  We first used them for a softball team (The Lady Mustangs) that needed numbers and names on the back of the shirts we printed.    The prices are reasonable and the customer service is excellent.  The one thing I can say about Ryonet and company  is that they spoil the customers on excellent customer service so now I expect the same from all the vendors I use!  But Transfer Express holds their own on customer service too.

Changes, ideas, and more equipment

Well, we took the latter part of December and the beginning of January off.  After our two shows two weeks in a row, we were beat.  We had a great time with our family over the holidays and got the kids back into the swing of school in January.  Then before we knew it, we had jobs to do and equipment to set up.  When we re-organized the garage (again) we put the micro-registration on the press from the Ryonet November Blogging Contest.  The micro-registration is a great addition for us.  We used it in a two color job that we printed last weekend.  After getting all four micro-registration attachments onto the press, the registration was pretty easy.  It took us a little bit to figure out how the micro-registration works, but once we did, our colors lined up so well.  I think the biggest advantage we saw was that throughout printing, the image didn’t move at all.  We have had problems in the past with printing in that after 10-15 prints the image would start to move.  The micro-registration seems to help with that problem.  We have another two color job to print as well as a three color job so the new addition will be well broken in!

NWCTA Rock Band Club

I just wanted to show the pictures for another one of our orders that we had recently.  This is a two color front and two color back design for the Northwest Career and Technical Academy Rock Band Club.  This is the first time that they have had shirts so they were very excited.  They came up with the basic design that we went back and personalized  a bit for them.  We printed these shirts last weekend and delivered them to the group five days ahead of our promised delivery time!

This particular print was interesting for me because this was my first time using the RyOpaque Redon the black shirt.  The last time I printed red on black, I had to put a white under base which was not fun.  Lining up the red on top of the white exactly each time was tedious and usually was not exact.  The RyOpaque Red was great!  I did have to print/flash/print, but was very pleased with the vibrant red color!  I also used the Ryonet White ink and it was fantastic as always!   You can see the great results here! 4GVJ2ZZ4FFYW

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!

A Fun Weekend of Printing!

Last night we actually used the new press!  We printed the back of the Burning Man job, even despite a pretty big setback.  Yes, we blew the breaker in the garage!  We tried resetting the GFCI and that didn’t work.  So we finished up despite not having electricity.  We used electricity from the house to use the flash dryer to finish. 

I am so excited how the Silver Press works.  It is quite the upgrade from the blue press.  The gas shocks, the station for the arm, and the basic design upgrade are wonderful!  I felt like it took hardly any time at all to print 30 shirts.  

We did have a little trouble with the front design.  Apparently our design was too detailed for the size mesh that we chose.  We put a design with thin lines onto 156 mesh.  Although the design burned ok, I wasn’t feeling that great about how it would print.  And after we registered the screen and put the ink on, I knew on the first pull that this wasn’t going to work.  I did try a couple of fixes before I gave up.  I tried using a different squeegee (I like a particular one or two), I tried back filling, pulling the ink, pushing the ink, but all of it was to no avail.  Kyle and I decided to change the image a little to make the lines thicker.  When we burned the image again, I was anxious to use the 230 mesh so we did!  It looks great.

Between the new exposure unit and the new press, I really found more enjoyment in this whole process than I thought I ever would.  The few shirts we made prior to this new equipment seemed like a chore.  This weekend was not like chores at all!  It was fun! 

I will put up pictures soon of the outcome of the shirts.  Kyle has videos to come too!    Oh, and yes, we found the breaker that was tripped.  All is well now.