Happy Makers Monday and welcome to *adjusts glasses * July 15th!
This hot summer has been moving right along and we’re already halfway through July! A graphic tee or tank is perfect in this weather and I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to introduce you to another talented, focused maker- Meshia ‘Red’ Easley of The IncREDible Designs!
I learned of Red and IncREDible Designs through my dear friend Naseera at the Creative Saints Loft. The loft was still in it’s early stages when we talked about it, and I’m so happy to see how they brought this amazing space to life!
As a graphic tee lover, I was very interested in learning more about the process and I thought it would be cool to share it with you guys!
There are some great gems here not only about the process of screen printing, but about life and entrepreneurship as well. I’ll continue to keep my love for graphic tees on the consumer side, but if you’re thinking about making that leap into screen printing I hope this can be a starting point for you 💙
Please enjoy getting to know Meshia and her IncREDible Designs!
With your background as a basketball coach, how did the shift to screen printing apparel take place?
As a coach/athletic director of a charter high school in Chicago, I was having a difficult time finding quality screen printing options for my teams’ uniforms. At the time, I was doing the graphic designs for all of the team uniforms and fan gear (thanks to my advertising + art classes in college) and found myself getting more curious about the screen printing aspect of it.
Walk us through the creation process. What does it look like from idea to final product for one of your apparel designs?
I receive and edit the vector files that clients send me using Adobe Illustrator, then print the design out on a transparency film. I then choose the appropriate sized mesh screen, (they vary by thread cross counts), coat it with a photo sensitive emulsion, and let it dry overnight.
Once the job is sent to production, the transparency film is then taped on the screen and UV light is burned in an exposure unit. The film is removed after the image is burned onto the screen and taken to a wash out booth. A pressure washer is used to blow out the emulsion where the design on the transparency film was placed. Once the image is fully visible, the screen is placed on a drying rack for a few hours.
Once dry, the screen is loaded onto the screen press and aligned with additional screens if it is a multiple color job. The alignment process consists of putting plastisol (or water based ink) on the screen and using a squeegee to push the paint back and forth over the design. This process can take anywhere from 10 mins (1 color) to an hour (6 colors). After a test print is successfully run, production begins!
During production, layers of ink are printed onto the garment and placed under a flash dryer to gel the ink onto the shirt one color at a time. The final step is to take the fully printed shirt off of the loaded pallet and into a 340-375 degree conveyor dryer to cure the ink onto the garment. Once removed from the dryer, the apparel is folded and boxed.
What is the soundtrack to IncREDible Designs (what's playing in the background when you're creating)?
Like a real 80's baby, give me some early 90's music. I LOVE to jam to Mary J's Pandora radio when I first sit down to start the artwork process, BUT once I'm ready to load the screen printing machine and get in my zone, “Alexa-- play Lil' Wayne.” I'll take any of his albums!
As a small business owner, sometimes motivation can ebb and flow. What slows you down and how do you overcome it?
For me screen printing is not only my livelihood but also my passion and being an entrepreneur is the only way I can see me living my life. I honestly can’t think of a time when I’ve lost motivation and I hope that never changes. The freedom to choose how I spend each hour of my day and to be able to pursue something that holds so much of my interest keeps me going 24/7. I think about my future and how I want to live my life with my family and that gives me all the push I need.
What's the most fulfilling aspect of owning your own creative business?
I have NEVER been a morning person so sleeping until 9:30 every day has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of owning my own creative business lol. I set how my work day goes. If I feel like going for a bike ride in the middle of my day, I do. Nothing trumps that feeling.
How does your sports background compliment your creative work?
The two are very similar actually. As a point guard most of my career, my job was to prove to my teammates that they could trust me to create the big plays on the court because the ball was in my hands 90% of the time. It's the same in this industry… I ultimately have to establish a rapport of trust with my clients to create the best product in order to come out with the WIN and keep them happy.
What's been your favorite entrepreneurial highlight so far?
Hands down my favorite entrepreneurial highlight has been making all of the shirts for the "Native DC" photoshoot that went viral. Seeing my work in magazines and on websites was a feeling I can't describe. Just being a part of such a monumental movement means everything to me. Another highlight was during a happy hour event in DC a few months ago when 6 or 7 people in the restaurant walked past me with shirts on that I had screen printed lol. I was all smiles that evening.
What's the most important thing you've learned so far about yourself as a maker?
That I'm ambitious and love to take risks. I've had to stretch my capabilities and take on orders that I knew were above my shop's abilities BUT I've learned from those instances and was able to see my business grow from it. I've also learned that the love and support from my family and friends since day 1 really makes me who and what I am. They are without a doubt the reason why my vision came to fruition and has continued to blossom. I've had the opportunity to collaborate with other creatives all around the country and that keeps me going. My partner Naseera, has been the real MVP behind the scenes of the social media platform. She and I are the co-owners of Creative Saints Loft but she has taken on the role of handling the marketing content for IncREDible Designs and it has opened so many doors that I didn't think were possible.
I hope you enjoyed learning getting to know Meshia and learning more about the screen printing process!
Keep up with Meshia online: Visit her website: https://theincredibledesigns.com/, and follow her on facebook and instagram. For more information about the Creative Saints Loft, you can visit https://www.creativesaintsloft.com/, follow on facebook, instagram, (and buy some merch here).
Miss the first 5 makers features? Check them out here!
Want a makers photo session for yourself? Check out the details here 🖤
Stay tuned for the next Makers Monday feature on July 29!