I just spent the larger parts of today and yesterday making a few wicked awesome hand screen-printed and hand-sewn Christmas ornaments to sell in the shop this week. My ass and hips hurt from sitting in a not-so-ass-friendly chair while trying to figure out how in the hell to sew around a dino’s tail and not jack it all up. They came out just fine though. The real struggle is figuring out how to price the product once it’s made. We (Americans) have all grown so accustom to machines or foreign labor making our everyday items, we forget what it feels like to make something with our god damn hands. Then to boot, we expect to fetch a fair price for it. What is the going rate for 670,352 pricks of a needle?
Yesterday, this lady came into the shop while I was printing the fabric for the ornaments and I did a little demo for her so she could understand how similar these were to our holiday card class that we were trying to convince her to register for. I explained the overlapping of graphics and patterns create the artwork then indicated what I was working on would later be sewn into ornaments. “Did you say sewn?” She said. Her surprise took me by surprise but at the same time reassured me that making the items in our shop ourselves gives the level of authenticity that I know is (or will be) instantaneously recognizable for our brand. The stitching on these ornaments is off, the intended square shapes are definitely shapes with corners, they are totally not how my mother taught me to sew, and they are super freaking cool. They are something I want to put on my tree. That is what is important to me. I want to see my soul in everything I make. Cheesy? Totally. But it’s been a really long fucking road to opening a shop, and I’ve got to know it’s worth it. In every print, every stitch, I’ve got to know or think at least, it’s worth it. Otherwise, the fuck am I doing with my weekends?!?
This whole shindig started in 2015 with an Etsy shop. Tony and I were finishing up a ten year run (each) at bachelor’s degrees and seriously contemplating how we ever got bamboozled into college. Don’t get me wrong his Graphic Design degree and my Business degree are a great combo for the business we decided to open together, but fuck if it didn’t take forever to come to our senses on what we wanted to do in life.
Tony had some hiccups that caused delay in college. He switched to packaging engineering for a hot second. Took some time but he eventually realized he is not the kind of nerd that invents a new kind of plastic. Rather he is the kind of nerd that gets overly excited about font and really nice paper. So back to graphic design he went. Me? Shit, it takes an entire hand to count all of the majors I “tried”. Nursing, interior design, architecture, and finally the practical business degree is the path I took. At times, when people remind me that I could have been an architect (awe implied) I feel a bit like a failure. I let the exhaustion of working full-time, commuting 1hour 20 minutes one-way get to me. Not really, I could have hung in there another year. Honestly, I was absolutely sick and tired of listening to LTU’s professors verbally jack-off their pet student (who always turned in the projects fucking late I might add), while my mediocre project pinned to the wall didn’t represent me and certainly wasn’t anything I was proud of. I didn’t like who I was in that program and I couldn’t see myself happy in that field. So I did what all parents love to hear their kids say they are going to do, I took time off. It was the best decision I could have made for myself.
I continued in my career path at work. I put all my trust (and 3 fucking years) in a really shitty supervisor at work that promised me a promotion that didn’t happen. She was an absolute douchebag, still is. However, the shitty school experience and the shitty real job experience helped me find the path I am on right now in life. The, don’t give a fuck and want to do my own thing, don’t want to work for someone else, path. I’m also on it with the funniest son of a bitch (not really, Lisa is a very nice lady) I know. My husband and co-pilot in life, Tony.
This is a blog about a small screen-printing business in Lansing MI. We host workshops where people get to make (well when they actually sign up) some really cool shit. We have workshops to make t-shirts, coasters, wine totes, card making, and posters. I’d say a solid 85% we just think of shit we want to do and hope others think it’s cool too. So far, it’s ok, just waiting for word of mouth to take off, hence the need for this blog.
We got some marketing advice that blogs help people follow you. Full disclosure, I am kind of an old fart (at 29) about social media and I don’t really know why you would want to “follow” anyone. I don’t know that I care about anything enough to “follow” it. So here’s my dilemma. How do I get you to follow me? Well, I promise to write real shit on this blog. I will fill it with the bits and pieces I learn along the way about screen printing, running a small business, or even if I learn a new life hack that is worth sharing.
It took me 10 years to find a path in life that makes me happy. Hindsight, no one ever told me to pursue happiness. Let’s start there.