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9 Lessons Screen Printers Learned in 2022

The past year has taught us a lot, from emergent trends to the need for improved work habits.

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YEAR IN REVIEW: Meet the Screen Printing Editorial Advisory Board members and discover what they learned in 2022.

Marshall Atkinson

Ron Augelli

9 Lessons Screen Printers Learned in 2022Edward Cook

What I am seeing personally is a renewed focus at the university level on screen printing in the arts programs. I have two in my local area asking for my help with getting setup. And from what both have told me, this is a hot item in the academic world right now. One University Art School actually had screen printing in the late ’90s and removed it all to go in other directions. Now they’re wanting to come back.”

9 Lessons Screen Printers Learned in 2022Adam Calvary

Maybe the most important thing I learned in 2022 is that I need to take time for mental breaks and avoid burnout. This has by far been the hardest thing for me to remember to do in all my years in this industry. I see my team taking vacations and weekend trips, and I tell myself to power through, that my responsibilities and my position require me to be on 24/7 and that my time to rest will come. Regardless of what we are working toward, if we don’t take time to calm our minds, they will reach a breaking point where they shut down. Brain fog starts to set in and the simplest of tasks you could do normally with your eyes closed, seem to stump you. In 2023, I will be taking breaks, lunches away from my desk, and at the very least, some weekend trips to places that my phone doesn’t work. I will trust in my team to handle things while I’m away for a few days or a few weeks, and take the time I need to rest, repair, and replenish.

9 Lessons Screen Printers Learned in 2022Steven Farag

In 2022, we went through an incredible amount of changes, challenges, and new growth at Campus Ink. Although I probably say that every year, transitioning Campus Ink to a venture-backed company has been quite the experience. This year, the biggest change we made at Campus Ink was hiring middle management in every department. As a small business owner, entrepreneurs are pulled in every single direction and are most certainly the catch all: CEO, CIO, CTO, CFO, COO, janitor, delivery driver, printer, folder, screen reclaimer, customer service, sales, marketing, the list goes on… While we wear many hats and make it look so effortless, it is actually crippling to the business because no single part gets the true attention it deserves. I certainly learned that this year and began to slowly hire middle management to own different departments. Not all of those hires worked out, but what it showed me was that letting go actually allowed me to focus on areas that truly needed my attention. I read a book this year titled Hight Output Management, written by former Intel CEO Andrew Grove. It resonated with me while hiring middle management as it forced me to re-think what it means to hire managers as experts in a certain area instead of high functioning-multitasking-employees. When it began to click it felt liberating, but I also was forced to let go and trust someone else to handle responsibilities I used to deem important for me to do. The biggest take away from the year is that I wish I learned this sooner as it allows you to regain work-life balance and have structure to your day to day.

Tracey Johnston-Aldworth

What really got driven home was the need to extract good, and do good, and be good to family and friends – and strangers – every day.”

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9 Lessons Screen Printers Learned in 2022 Andy MacDougall

It’s hard to admit after 40 plus years in the squeegeedragging business it might be winding down, but I finally let go of having a shop to go into on the regular, and watched the young’uns take over and pretty well do it all. The saving grace was the ability to still go in occasionally and pull a print or two, which culminated this summer in an opportunity to play with electronics printing for the first time. The old “one door closes and another opens” was true in this case, and now I’m on a new learning kick as I explore this hidden sector of screen printing. Not sure where it will lead, but I’m going to wander down that road for a while.

Still on “one door,” this was a year where we got introduced to the grim realities of old folks’ life, but we also got a chance to be thankful we live in a country where access to healthcare doesn’t depend on the thickness of your wallet. What really got driven home was the need to extract good, and do good, and be good to family and friends – and strangers – every day. We can make the grandest of plans, but we need to live our lives today.

Oh, and I got a thickness gauge. My coolest best new tool in my non-existent shop.

9 Lessons Screen Printers Learned in 2022 Deonjala Williams

In 2022, I’ve learned to convert back to a Just-In-Time Inventory model. As a solopreneur shop, I realize now that space is very valuable for productivity. Initially having extra shirts and screen printed transfers was advantageous for my custom printing business model. However, as I started taking on more small business clients with specific logos and designs tailored to their needs, I found that having too many of their transfers lying around my shop is not cost effective. I’m currently in the process of doing a major clean-up of my shop and have realized that one-time jobs are currently taking up at least 65 percent of my transfer storage space. That is space that could be better allocated to generic designs that I can sell retail year-round or to repeat customers that order on a regular basis.

9 Lessons Screen Printers Learned in 2022 Jodi Taylor

I thought we were past the worst of the impact of the global pandemic COVID, but I was wrong. As a business owner, the challenges kept coming. From rising cost of goods and products to the rise in fuel, these hits meant I had to react and either raise our prices or engage in my super powers to work on efficiencies to claw back some of the profits.

I value our team – I really value them like family – and it was really hard to find new people with the staff shortages. I needed to do everything possible to ensure our current team was secure. This meant an increase in wages and working internally on job satisfaction and culture. I thought I was good at this, but after a few internal surveys with our team I realized I had some work to do.

2022 wasn’t all bad. We were very excited to bring on board our new ROQ Eco automatic printing press. Growing from one auto press to two eliminated our overtime spend and our night shifts, which was extremely needed. This has reduced our working hours and improved our team’s physical and mental health. In this environment, this is a huge win for us and our team.

9 Lessons Screen Printers Learned in 2022 Jessica Tillery

What a year 2022 has been! For us at All Quality Graphics, busy and fruitful is an understatement. It feels so good to be back and surpassing pre-pandemic revenue. Of course, increased business comes with headaches, but our industry has been blessed. Despite the hustle and bustle of this chaotic industry, we still managed to pour into our passion project, L.U.M., The Love Unstoppable Movement. This year we changed L.U.M. from a monthly T-shirt subscription to a quarterly T-shirt subscription model. This decision was a massive win for our team and the movement.

This eliminated a tremendous amount of stress we endured due to monthly expeditious design, production, and fulfillment deadlines. Most importantly, it allowed us more time to pour into one specific charity each quarter. Our team and L.U.M. community members served as volunteers and boots-on-the-ground efforts toward our charity. It feels so good to utilize our resources as a print shop and capitalize on our talented team to pour into others. We saw magical things happen with the design and slogan of one simple T-shirt. In Q3, our charity was Saint John’s Program For Real Change, and our shirt slogan was”‘Be a Lighthouse, Not a Tug Boat.” The slogan was inspired by an industry friend, Richard Tilly. The slogan touched many hearts and inspired people suffering from addiction, depression, abuse, etc. I am blown away by not only the impact it created but the lasting impression it continues to leave on the community. Check out @LU_Movement to see testimonials and join us on this journey.

I highly recommend other shops utilize their resources to pour into their community. It’s incredible what a simple T-shirt can do. Not only are we pouring into the community and the hearts of others, but we are consciously making an environmental, spiritual, and humanitarian impact. A massive thank you to our friends at Allmade Apparel for providing such ethical, eco-friendly, socially responsible, and comfy AF tees. It’s been fun pairing our journey with them and seeing the impact we can all make together. We’re better together, and our industry is incredibly powerful and R.A.D.! Let’s keep making it better! It’s not just a T-shirt!

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