In January of 2013 I formed a brand using a logo I made when I was 10 years old. My intention was to put the logo on tee shirts for me and my brothers to wear. I used some money from my birthday to buy a small DIY screen printing kit at the crafts store. The first shirt was made on my mom's kitchen counter. It took forever to make a print and the quality wasn't the greatest, but I found a way to make it work. People at school started to notice my clothes and wanted some stuff of their own. My random idea turned into a small business.
Later in the fall, I started my senior year of high school. I stopped playing basketball to pursue my new passion - I let it take up all of my time. My focus was making my products the best that I could. I wanted to learn how to produce my own work, so I went looking for a job.
Through some connections, I got word of a lady in Charlotte that had a screen printing shop set up in her garage. I reached out and met the one and only, Sara Kelly Jones. Sara ran Tighten Up Press. She's a super rad individual that's into radio, kick-ass music, and the Atlanta Braves. The shop belonged to her late husband, Rodney, but SKJ kept his setup totally in tact. After time had passed, she was ready to open back up for business. I came knocking at the perfect time. Every part of me wanted to join the TUP regime. This was my chance to learn all about the process while earning some money.
Enter Drew Adams, Spawn of Gnar. He's the first person I ever knew that screen printed. Drew had experience printing in other shops around Charlotte. He is also a commander of the Carolina skate scene, filming work for Black Sheep Skate Shop and Nike Skateboarding. The three of us agreed to work together to get print jobs. I mostly worked on the designs, Drew printed everything, and Sara ran the business. During runs, Drew worked the press while I was assigned to catch steaming shirts as they rolled down the conveyor belt. Our nights were usually late. We would work sometimes until three in the morning making tee shirts. I learned a lot by watching and asking questions. With the help of High Life 40s and Marlboros, Drew knocked out every shirt perfect.
During this time I brought in orders from clubs and organizations at school. Business grew steady for Tighten Up Press. I was now printing my brand in the shop with Drew and people were ordering from all across the United States. Sara and Drew had both gotten busy working their day jobs, but I wanted to work full-time. In order to make this happen I set out to open my own print shop. My dad helped me get started. With luck, I found all of my equipment on Craigslist. The operation at the kitchen counter had now turned into something much more legitimate! I used all the knowledge I'd gathered from my mentors to teach myself how to print with my own equipment. People in the community began to notice my achievements and business continued to grow. By the end of senior year I was voted by my graduating class Most Likely to Succeed. To this day I am still successful doing the things I started when I was seventeen and I am more than proud of how I got here.