THUNDER BAY -- Dave Christen started screen printing 10 years ago, back when he owned a small skateboard shop. He found it difficult to maintain a business for a sport that was only for three months of the year, and started teaching himself screen printing in his spare time.
Christen admits he is somewhat of a serial entrepreneur: “I’ve been running a lot of small businesses online for the past five to seven years. It’s been failure after failure. Everything from selling baby clothes to developing a beer bong, I just kept failing. I realized I was chasing money and decided I’m going to chase my passion instead. So I started focusing on just getting better at screen printing,” he explains.
He did contract work for other screen printers and clothing brands in town such as Ungalli, and honed his craft. He eventually decided it was time to rebrand and go on his own. Superior Screen Printing was established in January 2019 and he has been almost overwhelmed with work since.
His basement shop on Simpson Street displays an array of eye-catching shirts. Superior Screen Printing employs graphic designer and screen printer Uriel Lubuk, but also works with other designers and illustrators in town.
Christen says he felt swamped with even half of the volume of business he has now, but has since gotten more efficient and is able to handle larger volumes.
He prints shirts not only for businesses and small local clothing brands such as Northies, but also for charitable organizations. He has a mobile unit that can print four different designs, as well as a small dryer, and he has taken his screen printing to the Westfort Street Fair, Live at the Waterfront, a fundraiser for United Way and a workshop at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School.
Customers can choose their shirt and design, and have it printed in front of their eyes. They can even help with the printing, which is a hit with kids. “We’re putting ourselves out there, we’re out doing stuff that’s fun,” he says.
“I have learned from all my failures, and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Christen. “It’s not about time, it’s about focus. Everybody has 24 hours a day. But it’s what you use those 24 hours a day doing. I just love screen printing, and it’s also something you can always get better at.”
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