This month we are highlighting customer shops around the US. Last week we spoke to Malcolm over in Ohio for National Ohio day. This week we are talking to Jacob who owns a cool print shop in Louisiana, and this is a special blog post because today just so happens to be National Louisiana day. So, without further ado, let's get to it.
Screen Print Direct: So Jacob why did you start screen printing?
Agenda: For me, it all started as a kid skateboarding. I was always drawn to the DIY mentality of skateboarding and punk rock.
I hand drew shirts with brands like Spitfire, Independent, and The Misfits Crimson ghost logo when I couldn’t afford to buy the real deal.
I then turned that into a small business with friends recruiting me to make them shirts for a few bucks.
In high school, I messed around with block printing in art class and played in bands, out of necessity I was drawn to screen printing. Every band needs merch after all!
I worked in print shops after high school but didn’t get started on my own till I was about 23. One of the members of the band I was in at the time was stationed in Iraq and had money to burn and wanted to get shirts printed. So I proposed, that instead of him spending $400 for someone else to print the shirts that instead he buys me a starter kit that I had been eyeballing (Thanks Mudge!).
That’s how it started. A little table top press in my kitchen, curing shirts on a baking pan in my oven. I burned a lot of shirts that way!
From there it’s just grown and grown. Now I’ve been working full time from home for almost 3 years now.
Screen Print Direct: That’s cool man, awesome startup story. Now as a business owner what is important for your work? What matters most to you?
Agenda: Being that it’s a one-man operation I do it all. Owner, printer, graphic designer, customer service, etc.
It’s hard to say but I think one of the most important things for any business is consistency. Especially when it comes to prices.
If a customer orders 24 shirts then 2 months later they order another 24 and the prices are way different they’re going to start asking questions.
It makes you appear unreliable if prices change every month.
Screen Print Direct: That’s a good one we don’t hear too often. Pricing does go up and down, but we see what you mean about the consistency.
Screen Print Direct: Now with everything on Instagram and the internet are there any shops that you look up to for inspiration?
Agenda: Of course! Screen printers are a very creative bunch and I love to see what different shops do.
One of my first inspirations is a friend of mine Brad Jenson. He has a similar setup as mine and runs a local retail shop that carries some of my stuff as well. He’s an awesome graphic designer to boot!
@industryprintshop out of Austin, TX always does killer work and they do live screen printing as well.
@_yyyys_ also does really rad prints. I really enjoy his artwork.
I could go on for days!
Screen Print Direct: Yea there are some cool ones out there, we have heard of a few that you named. Now the question that no one wants to admit to... Have you had any close calls on orders gone wrong or unhappy customers?
Agenda: Of course! I try to mitigate it as much as possible, but it’s bound to happen from time to time.
I’ve had to fire customers before because we just didn’t work well together. Sometimes the money just isn’t worth the hassle. We all know the types!
You can’t please everyone and you’ll go broke trying to.
Screen Print Direct: Do you have any business goals for the next couple of years?
Agenda: My main goal is to gear my business towards my brand, Agenda Trading Company and do less custom printing.
I have no desire for a store front or employees. Am I leaving money on the table? Sure! Am I willing to trade all my time for a few extra bucks? Absolutely not!
Screen Print Direct: We hear you, man! The next question is one I'm sure you get all the time as a small business owner. Do you have any tips for people that want to start printing?
Agenda: People ask me this a lot. START TODAY!
You won’t have all your ducks in a row or all the equipment you want and you’re going to mess up a lot of shirts but that’s all part of the process.
People look at others and see the end result and think “it must be nice” what they don’t see is all the years it took to get there. So stop procrastinating!
Watch some YouTube videos, get a starter kit, and get to printing!
This is for all the established shops.
Get creative with your post. It’s so boring to see a print shop's page that is just a straight shot of every print they do. Show the process, go behind the scenes, and let your customers get to know you and your crew. Also, CLEAN YOUR WORKSPACE, IT'S FILTHY!
PRINT OR DIE! - Jacob
Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube: @agendatradingcompany
Screen Print Direct: And that's a wrap here. Thank you Jacob for doing this with us. It's always cool to hear where people start! There are so many sides of the spectrum when it comes to beginner stories, some people start with homemade equipment and some buy a legit shop set up to start just because they can.