April '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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80 || P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 8 PRINTWEAR SHOP SNAPSHOT B Y E D D I E W I E B E R Awesome Graphics Stuckey helped line up a 4,000 sq. ft. building, which the com- pany moved into in 2011. By then, the shop had grown to include a digital printer, lami- nator, sublimation printer, cut- ter/plotter, and screen-printing equipment. The new equip- ment came out of a need to fill customers' growing demands. As more clients asked for bulk decorated apparel, automatic screen printing and embroi- dery became necessary. "Sublimation is a hard way to satisfy an order of 100 printed T- shirts," says L. Stuckey Today, the jobs vary from customer-to-customer. "Sometimes it's labels, small signs, banners, and decals, so the digital printer gets used a lot," R. Stuckey says. "Then suddenly it will flip and we're doing embroidery or 300 T-shirts." After growing the business for 10 years, both Stuckeys anticipate growth to continue for some time yet to come. "To succeed you have to be willing to learn and to grow," R. Stuckey says, "so we'll be looking for more informa- tion." In the coming years, the couple says they plan to con- tinue their education and research by attending trade shows and networking. It benefits both them, and shop employees, R. Stuckey notes. "It really helps our employees gain a different perspec- tive on our business. They also have great experiences visiting with people from other businesses." To learn more about Awesome Graphics and see ad- ditional photos, visit W hen Rachel Stuckey considered starting a busi- ness in 2007, she thought it would be something she'd do part-time in a spare room at her home in Hobbs, New Mexico. That was when she first heard about sublimation printing. It seemed like a simple home-based craft that would be fun, creative, and, hopefully, she'd end up with a little extra cash. Stuckey planned to start by selling personalized coffee mugs to friends and neighbors. Stuckey gained some new insight after attending THE NBM SHOW that year. She took some classes and gleaned advice from industry professionals on how to get started in selling sublimated goods. When she returned to Hobbs, she commenced operations with a sublimation printer, a heat press, and graphics software. From there, the business grew by word of mouth. As more orders came in, she brought on family and a part-time employee to help keep up with volume. In no time, her spare room was crowded with stacks of blank mugs, ink, packaging, and other supplies. To help expand, Stuckey moved into part of an 850-square-foot two-car shop that her husband Loren used to work on cars and other projects. Even with the transition, the business continued to outgrow its surroundings over the next two years with the addition of a manual screen-printing press. To streamline operations, the Stuckeys moved their business offsite into a separate 800 ft. lo- cation. "It was inexpensive, but difficult because we couldn't fit all the equipment there," L. Stuckey remembers, "and we still were going back and forth between there and the house." As Awesome Graphics con- tinued to build its client list, L. AT A GLANCE COMPANY NAME: Awesome Graphics LOCATION: Hobbs, New Mexico OWNERS: Rachel and Loren Stuckey SQUARE FOOTAGE: 4,000 sq. ft. PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT: • 1 M&R Sportsman EX automatic screen printer • 1 Roland VersaArt 64 inkjet printer • 1 Roland Camm 1 Pro 65-inch cutter • 1 RICOH GX7000 sublimation printer • 2 SWF embroidery machines Since the early sublimation days, the business has expanded to offer services like screen printing. Awesome Graphics has added services over time as a response to customer demand. The shop also takes in large-format jobs like vinyl signage. Loren and Rachel Stuckey, with their shop staff. (All images courtesy Awesome Graphics)

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