The Garage Years

Mike is stepping in to be our guest writer this week. Here is his take on the early years of Bravo.

In college Jake and I had an idea that had never occurred to another college student before; we decided that we should start a t-shirt company. Even though at the time we had no idea what making a t-shirt required. About a year after college I ran across an infomercial for a DIY style screen printing kit on TV and it instantly sparked the memories of our plans. After several months of research we began our initial business planning and in September of 2011, filed the papers to make our new company, Bravo, official.

Once the company had it's papers and we opened a bank account, the first thing we did was buy a press. We started with a brand new shiny 4 color single station press that came with all of the start up chemicals, inks, and supplies to start printing. A screen printing shop in a box! We set the press up on an old 4 foot long folding table in my garage and made a make-shift washout booth for our screens.

Our first print shop located in the garage. It was the perfect setup to learn on.

Our first print shop located in the garage. It was the perfect setup to learn on.

We worked our 9 to 5 jobs during the week, Jake as a regional purchaser of chemicals for a large distribution company and me as an accountant doing bookkeeping and payroll for small businesses. The weekends were our times for printing and experimenting. My wife jokes about how the garage was slowly taken over inch by inch by our endeavors. We went from having the small press and a washout booth on one side of the garage, to adding several more racks, tables, folding benches, a new and even bigger press, and a new conveyor dryer, making the shop span every inch of the garage.

Our online sales began to stabilize in early 2013. By the time Christmas came around our shop expanded from the garage to include the dining room as a folding and shipping station. After you include the upstairs office as the design and film studio and the closet as our inventory storage the entire house became half house, half print shop.

Our first folding and shipping area formerly known as the dining room.

Our first folding and shipping area formerly known as the dining room.

After reaching the maximum potential we could achieve in the house we decided that in January of 2015 we would quit our day jobs and find a legitimate shop to setup in and make this our careers (more on that in another post).

We definitely were not the first print shop to begin in a garage and won't be the last, but looking back I don't think I would have done it any differently.