Four Buddies Bring Printing Business To North Philly
Business partners Tariq Buckner, Ikeam Simmons, Marty Geez and Chad Black were friends long before they became business partners. The group of pals recently merged their individual businesses into one and held a grand opening in their home neighborhood of North Philadelphia. The guys collaborate like a finely tuned engine as they bounce ideas off each other and ask for a second set of eyes to sign off on each other's work.
Their business, the Busy Stage Screen Printing, is located at Germantown Avenue and Diamond Street. It's a product of being frustrated at the high price of screen printed shirts combined with the passion to do something good within the neighborhood in which they grew up.
Buckner says that their longtime friendship will always be at the core of their business and that the name of the newfound company reflected their coming together. Their idea was to combine all of their individual businesses into one, hence combining Get Busy LLC and three other partners' individual screen printing shops amounting to Busy Stage Screen Printing. The combination of names reflects upon their friendship inspired collaboration.
The friends and partners combine their knowledge and skills to help achieve their efficient work. One person creates designs and consults with clients about the direction of the project. Other folks test prototype designs for the orders being prepared for print and production.
Buckner and Geez both taught themselves, not at a fancy technical school, but from videos they watched on YouTube. They tested their newly acquired knowledge with a serious amount of trial and error until they achieved the desired results.
Prior to the advent of their new business, Bucker was a musician trying to sell shirts that he outsourced through third parties. He found that the prices the screen printers were charging were astronomical in comparison to what the cost would be if he did it himself. After learning about the sky-high prices, he went out and purchased an entire setup of screen printing equipment, without any prior knowledge on how to use them. After watching the YouTube instructional videos he said he ended up destroying many of his own clothes in the trial and error process, but eventually got it all ironed out.
Geez was also unhappy with the exorbitant prices of shirts he was selling and taught himself to screen print. He notes that the learning process is forever ongoing for all partners at Busy Stage.
Simmons is somewhat new to the screen printing scene and suggests that everything he knows about the business he learned, and continues learning, from Tariq.
While the print shop is open normal business hours, there is usually at least one person in the shop burning the midnight oil. That would be Chad Black. He works another job during the day, but makes himself available in the late evenings. The hours of operation seem flexible so this works in their favor if they have other things to tend to.
Bucker says he was apprehensive at first after leaving his previous job. He hopes their collaborative, homegrown business model will serve as a model to others in the local community. Bucker grew up in North Philadelphia and that was a primary motivating factor in their decision to do something different, locally. He noted that many in the neighborhood only seek to 'get out' of the area and do so by not thinking outside the box and just grinding away at the same stuff they've been accustomed to.
The four friends are soon to make a dent in the shirt business and this is the most homegrown business you might ever see. They have built this from the ground up and they're doing a great job so far.