“DEONJALA’S WORK PUSHES the industry forward from the growth and customer service sectors. She knows that people are the key to everything and she serves the people who are hoping to be successful in the T-shirt printing industry. By focusing on serving others, she is constantly looking to grow the active members of the apparel decoration industry.” – Bence Bathi, CEO, Mascaraide
You’ve gifted a young screen printer a one-year access to your online course and coaching. Once a week the student is able to call in or ask questions regarding her startup business and her current orders. Rather than having her comments possibly fall on deaf ears in a T-shirt forum or YouTube comment section, she has the opportunity to resolve her pain, get her questions answered and celebrate her wins in real time. Why is mentorship and giving back, so the industry may grow, important to you?
I honestly feel like there are so many rewarding accomplishments to be had in this industry, but in order to experience them, there will be tons of mistakes and bumps in the road. Those learning curves and shortcomings may be discouraging for a new beginner. Some newcomers may be on the verge of a breakthrough only to quit one mistake shy of reaching their true potential. They give up, post their equipment for cheap on OfferUp (just to recoup some of their money), and shrug their shoulders. At least they tried, right? But what if there was someone to help them get past that seemingly monumental moment – a moment that years from now will be a trivial thing to them. Nine times out of 10 a mistake that a beginner is making in their business is a mistake that I’ve made, corrected, and can show them how to do the same. I believe that encouraging new printers to get over their hurdles and keep going not only improves them and their business, but makes the industry better as a whole.
You brought some of your screen printing equipment to a local school and explained the process of screen printing from coating screens to printing a single shirt. You shared that printing T-shirts is both an art and a science. Can you explain the importance of education in arts and printing at a young age and your involvement in this?
I’ve been involved in arts since a very young age. I did my first drawing at 2 years old and actually took art as one of my major electives in high school. I’ve always had a distinct attraction to art because it filled this void that math and sports couldn’t. Being able to express myself through my art as a child gave me a positive outlet and a world where I could create anything and everything. If a child feels it in his or her heart to be creative or artistic then we should provide as many outlets as possible so they can express that. The outlet that I focus on is apparel decoration education, but there are tons more. Being able to see the lights go on in the young kids’ minds when I told them they could apply all their art skills, math knowledge, and science info and make it into a cool business… Their little hands shot up, eager to find out more about how to print shirts.Advertisement
Creativity, I believe, is the currency of the future. In some shape or form, artistic skills are tied to our survival. As a mom of two, I encourage my kids to express themselves artistically without superimposing my own interests onto them. I think it’s important we give our children a wide variety of artistic avenues to choose from and let them pick the ones that resonate most.
What does being a woman in the screen printing industry mean to you?
Although it sounds like a simple enough question, it is indeed a profound one. A deep question such as this requires an even deeper reflection, and therefore, I have to reach beyond the surface.
You see, on the surface, the easy response to that question doesn’t take much thought or digging and sounds a lot like this: “Being not only a woman, but a woman of color in an industry that’s predominately driven by white males… blah, blah, blah” is too easy of an answer. It’s painstakingly obvious, but what’s beyond that? What’s beyond my gender, race, or any other thing? What’s my true purpose?
I found that my aim is to be a matriarchal bridge between my relationships and my business. Being a woman in the screen printing industry means being a daughter in the screen printing industry… a wife in the screen printing industry, a mother in the screen printing industry, and all the other roles that we ladies know we fill so well. I get to be that connector, that integral Lego piece, between my heart and my craft and show the world that the two are not mutually exclusive: that you can love your family and also be a badass in your business.
Watch the 2020 Rising Stars Awards
Congratulations to the six winners of the third annual Rising Stars Awards. Watch the recording of the live virtual awards ceremony from January 28, 2020. The recipients – all of whom are age 35 or younger – were chosen based on their professional accomplishments, fresh thinking, contributions toward industry advancement, commitment to excellence, and a strong impact on their organizations.
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