The past several months have been marked with milestones for screen printer Tonic Studios, among them a name change, a move that tripled their space and a five-year anniversary.
If you had asked Tonic Studios Founders Andrew Goldsmith and Tasha Wheeler five years ago if they would be managing a team of five in 5,400 square feet of space, they probably would have said no. Launched as Outfit Good in 2013, the duo wanted to design and sell t-shirts that had a social, give-back component. And they did, but the requests also started coming in for custom printing.
“That demand really exceeded what we were doing as far as our own shirts to the point where that became our focus,” Wheeler says.
Each year the balance continued to drive more towards custom orders. Wheeler and Goldsmith wanted to keep a community aspect to their business, but realized it could be better accomplished in other ways, like writing a check, donating product or through sponsorships.
Staying community-focused, in any of its forms, was a business lesson Goldsmith learned from his dad.
“If you take care of your community, your community will take care of you, and I think that we’re total proof of that,” he says.
The business needed a new name to better reflect its offerings, and Tonic Studios says something about the way they like to do business: fixing the problems typically found in the world of screen printing.
In a business fueled by deadlines, Tonic Studios hasn’t missed a hard deadline in five years (even if that meant hopping in a van to drive shirts up to Toledo). Goldsmith and Wheeler aren’t sit-and-wait-for-an-order types, either.
“We really try to work and collaborate with our clients to help them figure out what product to use,” Wheeler says.
That means often going above and beyond for the sake of the product – using an extra ink color or suggesting a different design or technique.
The Tonic Studios difference really boils down to one basic principle.
“We really try to take care of the people that we work with,” Wheeler says.
It’s one of the factors she thinks have gotten them to the five-year mark in an industry which typically has a low barrier to entry. Since they started as an apparel brand themselves, Wheeler says they see those extra details and are laser-focused on figuring out what process will make the product look its best. They understand the nuance that comes with designing for screen printing, not just placing artwork on a garment and printing it.
The Columbus-centric print shop works primarily with small, local businesses on their apparel-printing needs.
“We love working with people who are passionate about what they do,” Goldsmith says. They’ve been there and know the hustle that comes with being a small business owner.
T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, tote bags, hats – Tonic Studios works with their customers to find the best options available in each category. They love the out of the box request, but are careful not to toe the line into promotions company, printing on anything and everything.
They are also not in the business of selling their clients things they don’t need.
“I think one thing that we’ve really learned is a good working relationship is worth a thousand times more than a quick buck,” Goldsmith says.
Tonic Studios prints for brands like Homage, as well as some of their new neighbors including Watershed Distillery and North Country Charcuterie. The new location on Chesapeake Avenue in Fifth by Northwest is nestled among a host of other local small business and triple the size of their previous location.
Goldsmith and Wheeler had had their eyes on the spot since first moving out of basements and garages and into rented space. Having outgrown a cramped 1,800 square foot open room, the new facility allows for dedicated areas to meet with clients, work on designs and print, with a little room left to grow.
Tonic Studios will continue to get settled in their space and grow their team. Hitting the five year mark, conversations are turning to being proactive rather than reactive. They’re also focusing on learning to manage a team after being a two-person operation for some time. It’s one step at a time, but always delivering on what they say they will.
For more information, visit tonicstudios614.com.