Katie Aretos and her husband have a young toddler and operate a restaurant together in their hometown of Genoa, Illinois. Until recently, Katie was also a part-time college professor and stay-at-home-parent. But in October 2013, Katie purchased an AnaJet mPower direct to garment printer, and has since quit her teaching job and enrolled her son in full-time daycare because her DTG orders have grown to a full-time revenue generating job.
After purchasing her mPower in October, Katie took a few months to become an expert on how to operate her printer before taking orders, since it was a new technology to her. She didn’t officially open her garment decoration start-up, Your Graphix, and advertise her DTG printing services until January 2014. Now only five months later, Katie says: “I'm well over halfway to paying off my initial investments. I would say that I should reach a full ROI by the end of summer at the latest.”
Word of mouth gained Katie “over 300 shirts just in my first week of business.” About fifty percent of her business comes from large orders of 50 to 100 shirts each, and the other fifty percent is made up of customers doing small 1 to 5 shirt orders. “Now I have started advertising online. I use the Inksoft program for my website, have a presence on Facebook, and have also started hitting some local craft/business fairs. I do some donations to non-profits to help showcase my work and have also held ‘printing parties’ to reach out to new customers.”
Katie charges $10 to $20 per printed shirt and $10 to $15 per canvas tote, depending on style, image size, quantity and other factors. “Most people are amazed that they can afford to buy a single, custom shirt and this has made me really popular with people wanting to buy one shirt for a special event, present, or even just a joke.”
Katie also sells a lot of extended media items such as printed horse saddle pads, which start at $30 each. “Customers keep coming up with interesting ideas of things to print on,” says Katie. “I've loved printing on wood. I just started doing horse name plates for stall doors. I've also done names on barn wood frames that look like they have been branded on the wood.
“It’s amazing how versatile the printer is and I'm looking forward to getting my name out there and growing my new company. I originally planned to do this as a part-time operation but I've actually quit my teaching job and put my son in full-time daycare so I can complete the projects that have been rolling in since I put the word out that I had started with the DTG.”
Katie first discovered direct to garment technology at a garment decoration industry trade show that she attended with her friend who does silk-screening. When she saw DTG technology at the show, she became interested and started doing research from home. Katie had always enjoyed computers and graphic design, and saw that this would be a fun way to use her love of graphic design and art to make money.
Her research helped her narrow her purchase decision down to two brands of DTG printers, and ultimately she chose AnaJet because of the low ink cost, the patented closed-loop ink delivery system, and the extended media options. Says Katie: “I'm really excited about some of the extended media wood prints and the horse saddle pads that I've been doing. I want to be able to advertise some of those different things online to very specific groups of people, but I also try to keep my main focus on shirt printing. The shirts are really low-effort, cost-effective money makers and I have a blast doing this.”
Katie has had to call AnaJet’s technical support department a few times while learning her printer, and says “tech support is AWESOME! Those guys are willing to stay on the phone with you as long as it takes to resolve the problem. They give me tons of great tips and respond to emails quickly. Very rarely have I been this satisfied with phone support.”
Since she’s seen her business take off so quickly, we asked Katie if she has any plans to expand in the future. Says Katie: “I've just started doing some shows and fairs with some of my pre-designed products and I can definitely see the benefit to having something portable like the SPRINT to take to larger shows. (I have my eye on one show in particular next April that has over 50,000 people attend every year to shop for horse-related items).” You may be seeing a write-up on Katie’s success bringing her DTG printer to horse shows in the future (like the write up we had on Susan Asplin's success at county fairs), but for now we’re happy to report that Katie is nearing her ROI after only five months, and enjoying her growing DTG business as so many AnaJet customers dp.