National Illinois Day with Magnolia Screen Printing! - Screen Print Direct

Screen Print Direct: Hey guys so let’s start with your story, what made you get into screen printing?

Magnolia: Our start in screen printing was a result of working with young people on the south side of Chicago and identifying a real need for job opportunities. The opportunity for a young person to find a decent first job that sets them up for future work experience is very limited on the south and west side. Most young people who do have jobs are often commuting for more than an hour to work an entry-level job. We felt that the community in which you live should also create opportunities for growth and development. That’s why we decided to start a small business in Chicago lawn and do our best to create job opportunities for youth of this community.

We had zero screen printing experience prior to this. We knew that we could learn at minimum the basics and learn the rest along the way.

Screen Print Direct: Wow that’s just really cool to see that there are people that are willing to actually plant your feet down and head in a direction where you are going to be helping the current and future generation in your area.


Screen Print Direct: As an owner what really matters to you in terms of running your business? Is it quality or customer service, or maybe it is something else? Let’s hear it.

Magnolia: Although we are driven by our social mission, our number one concern is always providing our customers peace of mind when they choose to work with us. We know our customers can choose to print with dozens of local shops and several online stores when they need custom shirts. We don't take the decision to do business with us lightly.  We do our best to ensure our customer's receive exactly what they were expecting with their products. We take responsibility for any mistakes or mishaps that may arise. Our customers are busy people and they want to work with a shop they can trust to deliver on what they need without having to spend more time thinking about printing shirts than they need to.

Screen Print Direct: That’s true there are so many options these days and easily available that printers need to care about the job at hand and make sure their customers are happy with what they are receiving.


Screen Print Direct: Do you have any shops that you draw inspiration from or have as a mentor? Maybe there is someone that you thank for inspiring you to get involved with screen printing.

Magnolia: We definitely owe a lot to Rene over at Groovy Silk in Los Angeles. In the beginning, I spent a week with him at his shop and he trained me in the basics of screen printing. Everything from reclaiming screens to artwork preparation and then finally getting hands on press time. There is only so much you can learn in a week and he continued to be a wealth of guidance and information after our week long intensive. I also have to thank the Ryonet customer service team. I was calling them a lot in the early days to help me problem solve complicated orders and issues with our equipment.

We definitely draw inspiration from learning about how some of these bigger successful shops first started out and the challenges they endured to get to where they are at. We're not trying to emulate anyone's path to success because we feel we are the only ones that can determine whether or not we are successful in the business.

Screen Print Direct: That’s really cool that Groovy Silk brought you in to give you a little boot camp to get you going on the basics. That’s something not everyone gets, a lot of people turn to YouTube which is good but hands on in this type of work is always 10 times better.


Screen Print Direct: Since you started printing have you had any close calls on customers’ orders, or have you had anything go wrong?

Magnolia: The close calls and the unhappy customers really determine who you are as a shop. They can either set you down a path of reflection and improvement or cockiness and stagnation. We have chosen to be a shop that learns from each mistake, each colossal screw up, each situation where we lead a customer to be unhappy with their final product. When I think back on the last three years, these are the moments that I identify as contributing to our growth as a business.

Screen Print Direct: They may not be fun but you definitely grow from them.


Screen Print Direct: Do you have any goals you want your business to hit in the next couple of years?

Magnolia: The next couple of years will really determine the success of our shop. We have never been a shop to jump the gun and invest in new equipment without there being an absolute need for it. However, there will come a time in the near future when we need to take some bigger calculated risks to encourage growth in our business. Our goal for 2020 is to implement some strategic marketing efforts to drive more business our way. Word of mouth has gotten us this far but now it's time to invest strategically in our growth.

Moreover, our goal is to increase our efficiency and output by investing in an automatic press. This will allow us to be more competitive with pricing and hopefully attract larger volume orders. This will ultimately allow us to create more part time positions for our community. We currently have 3 young people that work with us part time. Our goal is to have at least 6 young people working with us part time by the end of 2020.

Screen Print Direct: Very cool, scary to take the next step, especially with an automatic but hopefully with the risk you get the reward and are able to help out more youth in your area by creating those jobs.


Screen Print Direct: Well so far this has been an awesome interview and its nice hearing that you are so involved with the community and want to help where you can. So, to close this up do you have any tips for someone that wants to get into the screen printing business?

Magnolia: I know as small business owners, we hate wasting time, resources, and money.  However, for anyone who is looking to get into screen printing, my biggest piece of advice would be to not be afraid of learning through your mistakes. You can watch all of the how-to videos online but the best way to build experience and confidence in your process will be to learn by problem solving through your challenges and setbacks. There are no shortcuts for experience. There are shops that have 30+ years of experience in the screen printing business. This doesn't necessarily make them smarter or better, it just means they have had more time to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.

What I love about the screen printing industry is that there is no cookie cutter approach to success. Only through your mistakes can you build grit, confidence, and resilience.

Screen Print Direct: That’s perfect, thank you so much for taking this little interview into consideration and really sharing your story and motivation on why you do what you do. Good luck and you know if you need advice, supplies, or whatever you can feel free to reach out to us!


You guys can check out Magnolia below on:

Facebook Magnolia Screen Printing

Instagram @Magnolia_Screenprin

Or on their Website