Yesterday this eccentric kid (compliment implied) came into the shop with his mom. Now, it is hard to explain without you seeing the layout of our shop but the shop is kind of laid out in a lecture setting. The press, conveyor dryer, and all the other printing equipment are on one side and the obvious sitting/ listening area is on the other side of the work tables with stools underneath. It must be our subconscious societal obedience but so many people hesitate before coming over onto the other side. It’s definitely something I intend to change in the new space we are moving into early next year. We need a layout that promotes collaboration and movement. I really want people to feel engaged with the space to encourage their creativity. That’s the best kind of studio space. Anyway, back to this kid. He, without any hesitation, walks straight up to the press and was completely driven by his curiosity. He started asking me questions about printing and even asks if he could try it. Unfortunately, I had just brought all of the screens in the shop home for a major reclaiming session so the only screen I had in the shop wasn’t ideal for printing so I had to say no to him. His mom had mentioned to him that he and his brother were getting “experiences” this year for Christmas rather than gifts. I already dig that idea but that’s a topic for another day. She seemed very into the idea of a printing workshop for him and his brother and mentioned that the both have ADHD so they may have to do them separately. She and him (who was named Theodore, which is an awesome name by the way) continued to walk around the shop. She stumbles upon the folders we have printed. She was particularly interested in the robot print that says, “It’s ok to be different”. That really resonated with her and him. I can’t remember the exact saying but Theodore told me about a little sign he has above his bed that reminds him that it’s ok that he is different. I got the feeling that this is something he has to remind himself and/or be reminded of often. His mom signed up for our newsletter and seemed quite interested in checking our kid stencil classes but it was Theodore who left the lasting impression on me. He was so excited about printing. He also told me about how his brother teases him and calls him a hippy, a title I also get from my family for being a little out of the norm. He seemed fine with himself, content in his own being, a nod I’m sure is deserved from his parents because the kid couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11.
Some may know this but many do not, the A.L.T. in A.L.T. Printing Co. stands for Another Life Tees. It was the first company Tony and I started together in 2015. We wanted to expand into other products and other types of print making hence the name change, but out mentality has always been the same. We started this journey seeking “another life” for ourselves, something vastly different than what we had been pursuing for so long. Daring to be different. Small business ownership is more difficult than I ever anticipated. It’s the biggest financial risk we have ever taken and with only being a few months into this, it’s hard to imagine there will ever be a ROI from this adventure. It’s the moments like the one with Theodore that remind me why I wanted to do this in the first place. I wasn’t having a particularly good day in the shop. I had family in town for Thanksgiving so I didn’t want to be there and we didn’t do as well in sales that day as we had wanted to.However, my experience with Theodore inspired a workshop idea for kids.We probably will not launch it until early next year but I think it’s one that can be cool, fun, and meaningful to the kids that participate.In closing, cheers to Theodore. Thanks for stopping into the shop and talking with me.You are not only different, but way cool in my book!