12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
A dozen days of gift ideas
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chad Horimoto, owner of Carin Shirts, silkscreens T-shirts for customers ordering a minimum of 100 shirts. Ronald Iwashida, center, and Mark Watanabe run the silk screen machine in back.
Companies help customers create personalized T-shirts
SECOND OF 12 PARTS
OURS is a nation that takes pride in individuality, so if the messages on T-shirts don't fit your 'tude, try the D.I.Y. route. In the competitive business of silk-screening, a handful of companies will help individuals print up their own shirts, whether for Christmas gift-giving or for groups aiming to put up a united front.
"I've done as few as four shirts for a Micronesian singing group," said Lionel Wright, of Black Hawaiian. "They wanted to wear their shirts and take a photo for their album cover."
The cost of silk-screening plus the shirt itself generally runs about $7 to $8 per shirt, but that doesn't include the cost of design or silk screens. Depending where you go, the cost ranges from $25 to $40 per color screen used. At Carin Shirts in Kakaako, which deals with greater volume, screens run $25. At Black Hawaiian, which takes smaller jobs, the cost is $40 per screen, so Wright said he encourages his clients to stick to one-color jobs.
The expense can be worthwhile when the shirts are made for a big event, such as a family reunion.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chad Horimoto with graphic artist Raymond McCabe and a few of McCabe's designs.
Carin Shirts' owner Chad Horimoto printed more than 100 shirts featuring a family mon (crest) for one reunion group. "We typically work with schools, clubs and athletic teams," he said.
Because Carin prints for major manufacturers, he generally requires a minimum order of 100 shirts. Those with smaller jobs are often referred to Quali-T's Screen Printing, which shares space with Carin Shirts.
Quali-T's owner, Guy Nishino, will print a minimum of two dozen shirts, preferring to use camera-ready artwork. He generally works with small businesses that want logo shirts for fun runs or as promotional calling cards.
"I work with a lot of artists who want to show their designs, like tagging or graffiti, at car shows," he said, adding that turnaround time for jobs at Christmas is about two weeks with camera-ready artwork.
IN HALAWA, Active Sports- wear will print a minimum of three dozen shirts or, as a cheaper alternative for those able to print out iron-on transfer images from their home computers, will press the images onto T-shirts. The cost of the transfer is about $1 per shirt, with shirts brought in by the customer or sold separately.
A pack of Office Depot transfer paper measuring 8 1/2 by 11 inches costs about $15.
"A lot of times, people bring in their transfers after trying to apply it with an iron at home," said Active Sportswear owner Mina Jang. "It's usually because they damage the shirts. There's not enough heat or the pressure's wrong so the image fades after three washings."
Using professional equipment, Jang said, "The image stays longer. It's much nicer, much brighter."
At Black Hawaiian, Wright said he can also have transfers professionally printed on the mainland with finished costs and quality comparable to silk-screen printing.
"The heat press method is getting better," he said. "There's better equipment and inks so that they don't crack and peel in the dryer, so it can last longer than silk-screen."
Wright, a former city bus driver, entered the T-shirt printing/embroidery business three years ago. During the bus strike he was walking the line and thinking, "I need to do something to make money."
Also one of Hawaii's original rappers, he's no stranger to entrepreneurship, obtaining licenses for mortgage lending, real estate sales (currently inactive) and massage therapy.
Wright has temporarily shelved his own Black Hawaiian line of T-shirts to help others realize their entrepreneurial dreams. The name of his company is a reference to King Kamehameha I and synonymous "with leadership and all the qualities of Kamehameha," which Wright says are his aspirations.
"I print for 10 independent T-shirt companies," he said. "At the same time I'm doing this business, I'm motivating my friends, telling them you can do it, too.
"I'm just a new breed of person. In our generation, you know, we do everything."
» Active Sportswear: 99-1285 Halawa Valley St. Call 486-0939.
» Black Hawaiian: Call 545-3773.
» Carin Shirts: 831B Pohukaina St. Call 596-2097.
» Quali-T's Screen Printing: 831-B Pohukaina St. Call 591-2447.