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There Are Boundless Benefits of Mentoring Young Entrepreneurs

An industry vet finds fulfillment in raising the next generation of apparel decorators.



There Are Boundless Benefits of Mentoring Young Entrepreneurs

GOOGLE TELLS ME screen printing is not a dying artform, nor is it going away any time soon. (Hail to the all-powerful Google.) But, deep down, buried in my brain, is the fear of exactly that: screen printing obsolescence. For the past decade, and particularly since the pandemic began, doomscrollers have been telling us technology and foreign countries will eclipse our North American screen printing industry.

Yes, new processes will be developed. Yes, screen printing may take off in other countries. But as long as there are blank garments, someone will try to make a living by printing or decorating them. Why? Because it’s fun, creative, and practical – way too much fun, too creative, and too practical to disappear. That’s why I got into screen printing in 1985; because it was fun and to create a job for myself. My father was my business mentor. As for the screen printing part, I had to learn that on the fly.

But I digress. To counteract my deep-rooted fear of screen printing obsolescence (a thought I could never quiet), I mentor. Mentoring is the perfect vehicle to support sustainability in our industry.

Dario Vera, owner/operator, InkSpired Promotions and 2021 mentee of The Mentorship Project. Dario Vera, owner/operator, InkSpired Promotions and 2021 mentee of The Mentorship Project.

One of the kindest and most invigorating practices is sharing knowledge. Take all that precious (and hard-earned) screen printing and garment decorating business knowledge and share it. Not only is one-on-one mentoring satisfying, but there’s a great likelihood you will learn something new. Helping a mentee develop problem solving, advanced learning, and leadership skills boosts their confidence. Research has tied having a mentor to an overall increase in emotional health (a hot topic during the pandemic).

I became a mentor in 2021 when I joined The Mentorship Project. Dario Vera of InkSpired Promotions ( in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was my mentee, although sometimes it seemed like he was mentoring me. We enjoyed commiserating on a multitude of business and pandemic problems. We aired grievances that could be aired only between small business owners. We allowed the conversation to be organic (sometimes full of swears… ok, that was me) and discussed whatever was on Dario’s mind that day. Ultimately, both of us found the process valuable, educational, and enjoyable. As they say, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” True dat.

Become a mentor or mentee today. Join The Mentorship Project 2023 for free at


Lenore Janvier, founder of IndigiMerch.Lenore Janvier, founder of IndigiMerch.

Now, I’m virtually mentoring Lenore Janvier of IndigiMerch ( in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. Lenore is an outgoing Indigenous designer, garment decorator, and retailer offering quality customized goods with indigenized content. Her goal is to promote Indigenous culture and decolonization in a meaningful manner.

IndigiMerch mentoring is through Catalyst+, a Canadian executive service organization (formerly called CESO). In the 1970s, the Canadian government agreed to mentor small-to-medium-sized businesses in developing areas to promote economic growth and prosperity in Canada and 30 other countries around the world. I’ve wanted to be a CESO mentor since the first time I heard of them… in the 1980s.

Woooot! It took a while, but I got there. I have been a volunteer, happily mentoring with Catalyst+ since 2017. My experiences include:

  • Tegucigalpa, Honduras – CANATURH (2017) onsite 15 days
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Green Path Event Management (2019) onsite 15 days
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick – NiiN Designs (2020) virtual and onsite three days
  • Burnt Church, New Brunswick – M.O.D. Design (2021) virtual

Why do I find being a mentor so enjoyable? I find satisfaction in helping others solve problems and progress in their businesses. I get to share 36 years of experience in a sometimes frustrating and complicated industry. I love having my brain picked. I get to learn about new cultures and new places, which makes me more world-wise and empathetic. I hone my leadership skills with each new assignment. There are so many people and so many stories, and it is all so very interesting – and fun.

Listen to Tracey’s episode of the Screen Saver podcast to learn more about her role in The Mentorship Project and how her involvement has shaped her business:

What social media platform do you use the most?

There Are Boundless Benefits of Mentoring Young Entrepreneurs


  • We don’t use social media. We’re an older company not really looking for new work. But it’s a fantastic tool for young, up-and-coming businesses. — Robert Francis, ScreenPrintPlus
  • I avoid using social media for business needs. — Chris Wachowiak, Ronin Branding
  • I use all social media platforms, but they are focused differently. — Marshall Atkinson, Atkinson Consulting



Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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