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Printworks Vlog 2: Our startup story

Hi guys, Mike Davidson here from Printworks Screen Printing. We are a screen printing and graphic design company in Saint John, we specialize in screen printinggraphic design services, and custom vinyl graphics. In today’s video I wanted to talk a little bit about the history of starting Printworks, how we started as a business, and some of the steps we went through. I think some of this stuff might be helpful to other people maybe who are in the position of thinking about starting a business – maybe just starting out, it has definitely been helpful to me and my business partner.

So let’s talk a little bit about our history. We both wanted the freedom and responsibility of being our own bosses. I had some experience screen printing back in my college days, and was a graphic an user interface designer for a software company, and Stephanie was a planning and forecast coordinator for a tissue manufacturing company at the time. So, we brought those skills into this business. Of course with my background in graphics (that’s a big part of screen printing), and Stephanie’s work experience definitely set her up for that.

Our Timeline:

In 2011 we started writing our business plan at the end of the summer, going into the fall. We were both working full-time jobs and writing the business plan evenings and weekends. We put our plan together and were pretty happy with it, it took us a few months to complete it. We took it to one of the local economic development agencies seeking a startup loan and we were actually rejected by them.

Even if you fail the first time you’re going to learn some important lessons that’ll make it easier for you on your second attempt, your third attempt, and so on.

We ended up taking our plan to a second local agency with a focus on businesses outside of the local metropolitan area and we ended up qualifying for that loan.

We got our initial equipment from a company called Ryonet. We learned basically how to screen print from just watching all their videos. I highly recommend you check out their channel “Ryonet” if you’re interested in some of the more nuts and bolts details of the screen printing process.  

So that was at the end of 2011, and in February 2012 we incorporated and we got a few customers. Each print got better and better and it still happens to this day. So we just keep improving, but back in 2012 we screen printed in the basement of a house we were renting. We did that throughout 2012 and were just trying to get any customers we could, which takes us to 2013.

In 2013 we got our first official, dedicated space. We moved out of the basement of the house we were renting and we got an actual studio. We had our own elevator, we were on the 4th floor and we felt very professional and it was a real commercial space so we were very happy with that for the next three years.

That brought us to 2016, and we were kind of running out of space – there wasn’t any room to really expand in that particular spot. We were able to find a space not too far away, just a couple kilometres down the road and we moved in the summer of 2016 to our current location at 27 Clyde Street. So we’ve got a bit more space and it’s a really great spot here.

In the fall of 2017, with some help from our province’s economic development agency and a local Canadian bank that specializes in loans for entrepreneurs we were able to upgrade our old manual press to a fully automatic screen printing press an upgraded conveyor dryer.

This was a huge leap forward giving us the ability to increase our production 30x. Not 30% – but 30x. So this is a huge opportunity for us.

We also established some relationships with some local retailers who were selling shirts on our behalf, so we’ve been learning about that process – it’s something we had never really done before.

That brings us to 2018, our current year and our 6th year in business. February was our 6th anniversary for the business so we’re super happy about that. Our primary focus is going to be keeping that press running and trying to fill all of that 30x new capacity. We’re also looking at possibly venturing out with our own retail space – so stay tuned for updates on that. That may be happening around August 2018.

Once you find your sweet spot, and grow your business to a point where you can actually make a few bucks, and maybe even survive off and maybe quit your full-time job – it’s an amazing feeling.

Stephanie and I don’t regret our decision for one second to leave our old jobs and pursue this  business full-time. 

So there you are guys – how to start your own business! Or at least how we did it with our screen printing business…

Remember to check out our website, and if you have any questions for us about screen printing, graphic design, starting your own line of custom apparel, or anything else – shoot us an email at [email protected].

Questions / Estimates

Minimum order quantity: 25 pieces for screen printing / 25 pieces for embroidery.

We are open by appointment only.