Success Stories with Marshall Atkinson

Episode 15: "The Art of Leveling Up" with Eric Solomon from Night Owls

February 24, 2021 Marshall Atkinson Season 1 Episode 15
Success Stories with Marshall Atkinson
Episode 15: "The Art of Leveling Up" with Eric Solomon from Night Owls
Show Notes Transcript

How are you with the mindset of failing?  I know that I usually learn more from my mistakes, than from my successes.  How about you?

As we move through our careers and business, the concept of constantly evolving and learning has helped one business thrive.

Eric Solomon with Night Owls in Houston Texas has taken the concept of leveling up by constantly challenging themselves to do better.  

On today’s Success Stories podcast, we will explore the notion of how learning and the concept of intentionally conquering challenges have set them apart from other screen printers.

Marshall Atkinson: 

How are you with the mindset of failing?  I know that I usually learn more from my mistakes, than from my successes.  

How about you?

As we move through our careers and business, the concept of constantly evolving and learning has helped one business thrive.

Eric Solomon with Night Owls in Houston Texas has taken the concept of leveling up by constantly challenging themselves to do better.  On today’s Success Stories podcast, we will explore the notion of how learning and the concept of intentionally conquering challenges has set them apart from other screen printers.

Eric, welcome to the Success Stories podcast!

Eric Solomon: 

Good morning. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

So you run your business with your wife, Val, and she just won an award for women in business from Screen Printing Magazine

Eric Solomon: 

She did. It was very, very exciting. I personally think it is very well well-deserved.

I know she was very honored to receive that along with, I think it was four or five other women that are also in our industry, all very deserving of it as well. And I think it was really cool that they're starting and to make changes and recognize, you know, different people in this industry.

Because as you know, Marshall, there are so many different facets of what we do, and there are so many different types of people and personalities in this business that it's exciting to see. See them kind of foster that in different areas. Maybe they haven't before. Let's go back 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Let's go back to the beginning, Eric. So tell us the origin story about Night Owls and how has your business and skillset evolved?

Cause that's what we're talking about today is growth.

Eric Solomon: 

So our story with Night Owls is I feel, you know, probably not different from a lot of other companies that, you may have talked to you or, or you may have heard from over the past couple of years, my wife and I, who, uh, we started this business together and Matt Ellis started in 2010, but we had been printing since 2004.

We started in my bedroom at my parents' house in North Houston. I was in a band. I was making one-inch pin back buttons for my band, for my friend's bands. And we slowly decided that we were going to start printing t-shirts and we started by going to, I think it was Hobby Lobby and just getting a Speedball Kit and, uh, and you know, finding old coloring books that we liked and sort of “borrowing”, the images from the coloring books, just because they were black and white.

And, we spent a lot of time messing up at one point in time. I tried to wash plastisol ink out in my parents' kitchen sink. They were not very good, excited about that. 

And, and yeah, we just sort of, I kept going and going and going. I think we took a screen printing class at, at a local like community space here was teaching us how to print with, uh, with Speed

ball water-based ink and kept getting frustrated and kept trying to go back and really learn more and more.

And that's sort of our, our career, I think like in a, in a very brief synopsis of just like, get frustrated, go back and try it again until we can figure out how to make it work. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Well, an interesting thing here is I just finished Seth Godin's new book The Practice. If you haven't read it, you should. And in that book, he talks about what he calls desirable difficulty, which is the notion that we set challenges that are beyond our grasp in front of us to intentionally learn.

And once we master that, then there's the next thing. So we're always looking at leveling up. And I think, you know, you're starting the way that you have is proof because you're such an awesome printer that you've constantly set these little challenges up in front of yourself to knock them down. Right? 

Wouldn't you agree with that? 

Eric Solomon: 

I would. And, and thank you for saying that for that observation. Val and I work really, really hard, and I often joke that we tend to work harder and not smarter, uh, which is, not the best business practice, but it's, it's been something that's been pretty prevalent in our, in our career to where we sort of don't really have this end goal, but we know what we want the finished product to look like.

And we know the standard that we want it to be, and we're not always necessarily attaining that, but we are constantly trying to push to. Get to that imaginary goal. And there is a lot of failure in it and there's a lot of, a lot of long-term learning. And really for us, like there have been several key things that have sort of unlocked different levels for us, but, you know, we're, we're talking like, I can't even tell you how many hours we've spent, like being frustrated over prints or, or being frustrated over jobs, not going right.

Only to like get one little piece of information that we go back and retry it with that one little key and all of a sudden it's like, it makes everything so much easier. That's something we've constantly struggled with. But in my opinion, I don't mind because we learned from it and I'm, I'm all for like, sort of paying for our education that way.

Um, because I think at the end of the day, it makes us really good at it. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Yeah. That's the epiphany moment. That's the aha. 

Eric Solomon: 


Marshall Atkinson: 

So, what's, let's talk just briefly about who you serve, your markets, your customers, what do they value, and how they kind of see you as our partner? 

Eric Solomon: 

So I started screen printing, like I mentioned, about 2004 working in the music industry for a lot of local bands, a lot of local brick and mortar stores and companies.

And, you know, 16 years later, not much has really changed. 

We still service a lot of local businesses, small businesses. We still work with a lot of bands, big and small, and we work with a lot of companies, big and small. I think that over the past couple of years, as we have, we have really focused on. 

Our niche of just being a very high-end print shop printing with really high-end materials and trying to tackle things that are maybe a little bit more complicated has been sort of lost and lost in the sands of printing time.

We've attracted a lot of customers that maybe don't really like the quality or don't want to go to a digital solution. And that's, that's proved pretty, pretty awesome for us. Um, so I would say now our clientele tends to be a mixture of small businesses, bands brands, um, and a mixture of people that like traditional screen printing or that appreciate the craft and the art form of it.

So that's the majority of who we're working with. We have a small portion of people. I'd say we work with people that are excited that we're working with water-based ink and the eco-friendly properties of it. And then we have a couple of customers that just like us, because we communicate with them. We talk to them, we, um, let them know what's going on.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Okay. You mentioned earlier that you made the mistake of washing plastisol ink down your, your, uh, parents' kitchen drain. So how did you move from using plastisol to really going heavy into using water-based ink?

Eric Solomon: 

Well, we, we printed it's a software a really long time, and I was, I was in a band and we were playing with another band and in his face up in Fort worth about four-ish hours away from us.

And I learned that one of the other bands had someone who was in a print shop and this was very early on in our... When I say our, like my wife and I sprinting career, she was there as well. And he was showing us a shirt that he had made that he was wearing that used this, this magical ink that I could not understand called discharging.

And it had a discharge print with a plastisol print around it, and they worked that into the design of it. And if I remember correctly, it was like a Banksy type of shirt with like, um, I want to sit there as like a bomb, like bombs dropping from a plane, but the way that the bombs were done, they were printed with a natural discharge to get the natural fibers and then outlined in black plastisol.

So it was really cool. Um, my drop shadow effect and it looked just, it looked great. And when I felt it, I was blown away. I want to say that was probably like 2005, 2006. And that sort of dislike. It just blew my mind. And that's, that was kind of the first inkling of like, we need to figure out what this is.

We were printing a lot of band t-shirts. So a lot of black t-shirts white print. And if we could go from printing a base in a highlight with plastisol. Two printing just one white screen with discharge. That just seemed like it was like a no-brainer. It just made it really, really easy. So we went down that path and it took a long time to sort of find information about it.

And I don't really think that we ever understood the real basics of discharge probably to like 2000. 15 2016. So you know, about 10 years of experimenting with it. Um, and even then, like, I can recall times of printing a five-colored discharge shirt on an automatic press, but having to stop like every three shirts to retape the screen and try and trace down these like, These mystical lines that were just appearing on, on our black t-shirts and then having to go in and Sharpie them, uh, to make sure that they save black.

So it took us a really long time to figure it out. And, uh, and even now, like there are still challenges that get thrown at us that we're like, what is going on? Is 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Is that just because you use the wrong emulsion? 

Eric Solomon: 

Uh, our screens were, were not cured correctly for, for sure. Um, but also when you introduce a tape into a screen that's using discharge, there's, you know, there are some properties like the way that the humidity can affect the ink and the emulsion. 

So the screen wasn't necessarily breaking down, but what was happening is it was seeping through like our registration marks. And even though we had it taped, it may not have been firmly pressed against the screen.

And so you just have clear discharge traveling down the screen, forming lines where the tape is. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, discharge is forever.

Eric Solomon: 

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. You can, you can cover a little bit with some, uh, with some Sharpies and we, uh, you know, we recently, and I mean, like within the past month, Figured out that I'm black shirts, you can use black water-based ink.

Uh, and it, it actually works really well. Um, but again, we figured that out last month and we've been working with discharge for like 15 years. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

That’s a good tip. So you just use a toothpick or your finger and smear it in. 

Eric Solomon: 

Yep, exactly. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Uh, okay, cool. There you go. So I learned something today, cause I didn't know that either.

All right. Uh, so how does using water-base do you think really, uh, aligns with your customers because you certainly can print a t-shirt with plastisol if you're doing stuff for bands. 

Eric Solomon: 

Yeah. Um, for us, we really liked the fact that first and foremost, even though it is debatable, I think to some extent the majority of water-based ink is a bit more eco-friendly, um, discharge excluded, but yeah.

Low solids. Even some high solids can be a little bit more eco-friendly compared to plastisol. So that was, that was like a big reason for us moving towards it. But then as we learned to use it more, in my opinion, you can print a great shirt with plastisol, but there is just no comparison to the hand, the feel, um, even the crispness and the definition of water-base compared to a plastisol print.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Your customers, are you educating them about it? 

Are they asking for waterbase? So they just naturally, like your craftsmanship and what you're doing for them. 

Eric Solomon: 

It's a combination of all of that. Um, I would say early on, it definitely was a word of mouth type of situation where we just did good work. Um, we had a lot of referrals even to the state.

We still have a lot of referrals from people that we've met throughout the years that are working for different companies, um, even from other print shops. So I would say it's started, with craftsmanship and communication. And then as we got more and more advanced in our printmaking with water-based sync, it sort of merged between really high quality to, you know, really like the way that water-based prints and the way that feels and them having a good that they can deliver to their customer, that they feel is a really the really high end.

And this year, I think, has been. You know, for a lot of people who've been, it has been challenging for us. It's definitely no different, but we started to run into other challenges that I wasn't really prepared for where. We consider ourselves a higher-end shop. Um, we definitely charge accordingly for that.

And we definitely started getting pushback from some of our long-time customers, just because there are a lot of, there is a lot of competition in this world and they're starting to, to be very focused on their bottom line. And therefore they're starting to look at other solutions that might be a little bit cheaper or.

Um, you know, they're coming to us and they're saying at first quality was important, but now not so much, which was something that even now I'm still trying to recognize. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Okay, so let’s dig into that a little bit because. Well, how are you taking that and really demonstrating to them your value, that you're a partner that, you know, you help them with, uh, you know, their designs or an online store, something, and you're doing more than just the print?

So what are you doing about that? 

Eric Solomon: 

Yeah. And that's, that's been a lot of the conversation inside my own head in terms of talking with these customers is trying to really figure out how we can show that we are aligned with them in a specific way. That's more than just putting ink on cotton because you're, you're absolutely right.

We do a ton of value-added service that, for me personally, I think that's where I'm sort of dropping the ball as I'm not able to articulate it. And I don't necessarily have the strongest pitch. I think that our pitch in the past has just been like, we can do it, we've done it. We'll continue doing it. Um, and we'll, we'll sort of rising to your, your challenge, but now I'm finding that we're having to tweak that because like, we can work with our customers, all we want, but at the end of the day, now with a lot of these bands or artists, they're, you know, this is their only source of income that they have this year because all their other avenues have been canceled or, you know, they're not allowed because of COVID right now.

And so they're pivoting in a specific way and we're having to figure out ways to pivot with them. While still adding value, but also like making it so they can make a profit from it. And it's been very interesting to try and take all of those pieces. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

So are you adding more possibilities, like different things to merchandise or better fulfillment services?

What are you doing?

Eric Solomon: 

We're trying to figure it all out, honestly. Um, I think right now for us, one of the things that. That's been a really big focus for us this year, as much as it has been, I think a lot of other shops are really trying to become more efficient with the things that we have already.

Um, if we can cut our lead times down by a week, or if we can get, you know, um, X amount of jobs done in an hour. Just trying to speed up those processes and, and the quicker we can get things to market for them is a position that we're trying to figure out how we can really like become leaders because our, our business model for the past couple of years has really been heavily reliant on growing our...

Our portion of the business that does fulfillment and e-commerce, and we're not doing print on demand. So we're doing a lot of production that is then fed into fulfillment. And we really understood that because of COVID and because of this year, like it closed a lot of doors way faster than I think anyone was really anticipating.

And so now we view ourselves much more as a merchandise logistics company in terms of. We're not just printing goods and shipping them out anymore. We're now trying to figure out how we can help our customers maximize their web store? 

How can we help them create unique products? How can we help them connect to their fans better and faster, um, and convert that into sales?

And, you know, we were lucky we already had a leg up on a lot of that stuff, but, um, we're finding that we're having to more or less like strip everything down and rebuild it up just because so much has changed so quickly. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Right. And there's a phrase I read somewhere and I can't remember where I wish I could attribute it to the right person, but it's: “nobody pays a juggler to toss one ball.”

And I think these days we need to do a better job of really understanding we're in the problem, solving business, not just the apparel decoration business. And I would be very careful with the labels that we use for ourselves. So if we think of ourselves as a screen printer or as an embroiderer, we're really limiting ourselves.

And I really love that you're digging deep into more options in what you're doing to help you. Solve your customer's problems. I think it's fantastic.

Eric Solomon: 

Yeah. And we recognize too that like, if we can help solve their problems, we can, we can basically try, try to a frightening keyword, make it scalable.

So if we can figure out a problem for one customer, well, now we just unlocked a whole other level of things we can figure out for others. And. If we're able to grow that and scale it in an organic or natural way. Um, it really helps our, you know, our community of customers because that's not, you know, it's not Night Owls helping A, B, and C it's Night Owls helping this group of folks that all sort of having a similar goal or common characteristic.

And it really starts to set us apart a little bit more like what you think.

Marshall Atkinson: 

What's the one thing with this kind of new direction that you feel like you're just absolutely killing it. 

Eric Solomon: 

To be honest. I, I don't, I don't really feel strongly in, in one area or another because I don't miss this year has sort of proven to us like we're not absolutely killing it.

In fact, there's a lot of areas that need improvement and whether we've identified that, or they've been brought to our attention by our customers, there's a lot of things that we're working on fixing and. I think that, like, I think when you start to get complacent, then you start falling behind and, and yeah.

So to answer that question, like, uh, I don't really feel comfortable answering that because I don't feel, um, like we're killing it. I feel like we're getting by, but we recognize that there's so much room for improvement in what we're doing. Um, that. All of our issues are growing pains, which is like a hard thing to sort of taking a step back and understand.

But really if I'm looking at my list of, you know, issues that we need to focus on in one department or another, it's just that, like, we've grown at a great pace, but it's been very, very small. Business-minded not, not bigger business-minded, if that makes any sense. So a lot of the things that we have set up.

While they worked when we were in a garage with, you know, myself and my wife now having 30 people in three different departments and, um, you know, having, uh, having invoices for just shipping that are a hundred thousand dollars in a month, like it's a completely different scale and things have to kind of shift and change because of it.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Well, that's okay. You know, we talked earlier about you purposely leveling up. You know, with that whole desirable difficulty kind of idea. And then this is just a natural evolution of your business, right? 

Eric Solomon: 

Yeah, exactly. And you know, if I have to choose one thing to say that we're, we're, you know, we're doing a really good job in killing...I would say that it's in recognizing our own shortcomings and our own faults and trying to figure out ways to, to overcome them. 

Um, we've had. A lot of changes in our company in the past 12 months, the person that was running fulfillment for us, uh, for three or four years, you know, he, he stepped out, left the company to focus on his own, his own company, which is our number one customer this year.

So that's kind of cool, but you know, it sort of left this vacuum and we had to figure out really quickly how to put someone in with really not much training and not much experience. To run a department that as of a month ago, was close to 200% what it was last year. So we've had a lot of crash course learning and hands-on experience on, you know, failing upwards in that department.

I would say, No.

Marshall Atkinson: 

That's very interesting. And the perfect segue to my question here, which is all about your company culture, right? 

So, you know, you've had to promote somebody, you also have done a really good job of building a team. So talk about what it's like to work at night hours and the culture there and how now your people are really the, you know, where your success comes from?

Eric Solomon: 

Yeah, so we definitely like to talk up our employees. 

We're really proud of the people that we work with and really proud of the fact that they're, you know, willing to come on this, this journey with Val and I every day, I think from an employee standpoint, working at night owls, you know, it's, we, we try and treat our staff.

Well, and take care of them. But at the end of the day, one of our shortcomings that we're trying to overcome is better, better accountability for everybody. And also, um, Better visibility for everybody. So like right now, there's, you know, a couple of people in the company that hold the keys to everything, and not everyone can sort of see what's going on.

And therefore, not everyone really has a full, clear picture of what's happening. And that's something I've struggled with over the course of 10 years of this business to really like to figure out ways to make sure that everyone knows like what's happening in the company, but also then everyone knows we're doing, we're doing things that not many other print shops can do because it's like, I'm looped into other printers and, and the screen printing community and even learning more about the fulfillment community.

I see that. Um, but you know, on a day-to-day basis, like, uh, you know, Corey down in production, he's not looking at the forums and not seeing what other people are doing. And so. We're constantly trying to make sure they're like, they're understanding and proud of the work that they're doing. So yeah, that didn't really answer the question.

I don't think, but it just comes down to like we try and treat people well, and it's still, you know, we're still very much growing and I would say we're growing into or learning how to be a better business. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Okay.  So let's take the example of the person you had to move into the fulfillment role. So are you giving them some training or what tools are you using to set them up for success?

Because obviously, that has to work out. 

Eric Solomon: 

Yeah. And so for us, it was a really complicated situation. Um, this other employee had left. We had figured it out. Prior to his leaving, he was doing responsibilities and duties in that department that probably would have been better suited for two to three other people.

So we had made a decision when we knew he was leaving to hire based or just split that role into two. And when he made that announcement to leave, we had put some people in place and the person that we had put into place for. Part, you know, that the customer service part of that position, he took over when that previous employee left.

And then, uh, he immediately had to leave because he had, um, he was, had exposure to COVID. So now we had a perfect storm of this vacuum, where we had no one really in charge. Uh, we had orders flying in left and right. Like we couldn't keep up. We had customers upset with us because we weren't getting things scheduled or out the door quickly. And I had to jump in and try to learn a department in my company that I knew nothing about. 

And so in the middle of the summer, we sort of took a step back. We repositioned some folks that were running the day-to-day of it and, and pulled some other people from some other departments.

And really just came up with a game plan of like, okay, first we just need to do damage control. And really try and make sure everyone, all of our customers and all of our customer's customers know what's going on in that required a lot of like one-on-one phone calls with, with our fulfillment customers explaining what was going on and, and, you know, really trying to overly communicate and apologize and, and put in clear channels of communication because there weren't any, and that's, that's a big problem for Night Owls, in general, Is that we've grown really fast and really rapidly. And we feel really confident that our, our print levels are second to none or print quality, but like all these other things were sort of falling behind. 

Like I mentioned earlier, we had to sort of take a step back and learn how to be a business and really focus a lot of things on being a business.

And that stemmed from, you know, the very real possibility that Hey, fulfillment might fall apart. And if fulfillment falls apart and we lose, you know, anywhere from one to worst-case scenario, all of our fulfillment customers, 2025 different stores. Well, that's going to have a negative effect on production.

That's going to have an even more negative effect on the company as a whole. So it was really understanding that like, We needed to put in, you know, these SLPs we needed to put in, um, redundancy plans and we really needed to get organized. And we basically survived 10 years of things being on like, you know, band-aids and paperclips and, and duct tape.

Um, and you know, this year was the breaking point of just like, it can't be like this… 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Well, that's music to my ears, Eric, you know, I'm a big process guy. Um, I love the fact that what you had to do. To solve the problem was really just to take it in depth. Look, what does success look like? What with clarity, what do we need to be doing?

Let's map that out. Let's chart what we need.  Let's get down to brass tacks and solve the problem. And I think too many people, and you mentioned the word bandaid, they just, they just make a temporary fix to stuff. You know, they put the duct tape on the pipe, but they don't fix the pipe. And then always at the wrong time, that's when the pipe explodes.

Eric Solomon: 

Yeah. Yeah. Right. If you would agree with that challenging, really, really challenging, because like, again, like this. My strong suit is like paying attention to the trends in things like printing in and really trying to level up in that area. But like, it became really clear that like, as much as I consider myself like a visionary, I kinda needed to, to figure out some integrator roles, whether that meant me being an integrator for a little bit or hiring the right people, which, which, you know, there's nothing like trying to hire a fulfillment manager while you're.

You know, a hundred percent above where you were the year before with the same staff, no one knows what's going on. So we had to really figure out a lot of things really quickly. And even now, there are still things that are sort of like duct tape together because we can't quite pull the trigger on a plan just yet because if we did, it would just be catastrophic.

Um, so it's, it's sort of learning to roll with that too. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Yeah. So Eric, let's just shift into, what are your plans for this year? What do you have cooking?

Eric Solomon: 

So for, um, this year, we are really taking, uh, a real strong, um, dive into better. And your organization across the company. Um, we are really fortunate that we have a lot of people in our corner, whether it be from vendors, suppliers, or just other, other friends that are willing to help us out.

You know, we've been doing a lot of work with, uh, a really good friend of Val and I's and, and what we consider him to be a mentor with Danny Grunniger really trying to elevate the efficiency of our production team so that we're able to like I mentioned earlier, we're able to get things out faster.

We're able to produce at a higher quality quicker, um, which we think is going to have really good results for fulfillment and with that as well. We're really interested in really looking into expanding our fulfillment and expanding the options that are available outside of our traditional. You know, we, we print goods and then we store them and send them out for customers.

Um, so we're looking at different options for that, whether it be hybrid print solutions or, um, figuring out ways to do print on demand and better direct to garment goods. There's a lot of room in that area because I think, I think you'd agree Marshall, that the industry is really trending that way. I don't think what we do on a day-to-day basis is going to go away.

Um, but I think that it's going to be severely reduced and we're going to have to get really creative. With how we're marketing, what we do as well as how quickly we're able to roll things out. Uh, so we're, we're trying to do a lot of planning on that. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Yeah, I totally agree with that. And I think the industry, especially with online stores and e-commerce in particular is trending to more sustainable and lower-cost options.

Uh, you know, storing printed inventory is expensive printing on demand. Is more sustainable and cheaper because you're only doing it as the orders are coming in, but there are a higher infrastructure and other costs to get that set up because it's incredibly complicated. 

Eric Solomon: 

Yeah, and I've been thinking a lot about that too, because like, I think one of the biggest is services like Direct to Garment or hybrid systems like the digital squeegee or, or, you know, the ROQ hybrid or any of the other versions like that is they're very much advertised as like a plug and play solution. And I think you and I both know that it's very, very far from that. Um, once you get things dialed, sure.

It can be that way, but like, I look at print on demand and I think the printing is the easy part. It's the infrastructure behind it and yeah. I don't know many people or many shops that have the pockets to carry that amount of inventory on hand at any given time, as well as like. You know, running fulfillment for a couple of years, we moved into a new building.

We purchased our building three years ago. Um, and we add about 3,500 square feet dedicated to fulfillment. And, you know, we knew, okay, like this isn't necessarily going to be like the forever home for it, but we'll be good, probably like five to seven years. Well, here we are at the end of year three, and we're so maxed out beyond capacity that we're constantly trying to figure out how do we move things around?

Where do we put things like, when does this release come out? And so there's so much more to print on demand in DTG than setting up a DTG printer and printing it that, as I said, that's the easiest part, but like, how do you carry all these styles? 

How do you build a network so that you can ensure that the right goods are being picked and the right goods are being packed and you know, how do you control that, that flow?

And those metrics someone much, much smarter than me will figure it out. And I know they already have, but. It's not as easy as just buying a DTG machine and saying, I can do print on demand now.  

Marshall Atkinson: 

Well, there's software, there are all types of processes. There's a lot of choices. And I would, I think it all boils down to one thing, which is clarity, which is all about setting yourself up for success by really understanding where you want to go. 

So, you know, it's the “begin with the end in mind” kind of concept. Right. Right, right. So if we're going to go down this route, Right. What's success look like? Do we need to offer 20 SKUs or can we do it with three? 

Right. And so what are we really kind of narrowing down here?

Because there are space limitations, there are technical limitations, there are all types of constraints that we need to process. 

And at the end of the day, The person is ordering from the webpage online store. They just want to share it with a great look and design, you know, and I think sometimes we make this type of thing harder on ourselves, but we're because we want to offer more variables and more choices. And I think if you limit some stuff, you can arrive at your destination faster because you're on purpose. 

Just kind of thinking about what is the end result, and how can I make my customer happier. Yes. It's a whole nother podcast topic, Eric...sorry.

Eric Solomon: 

Absolutely. And I'll, I'll just end on it and say like, as I'd mentioned earlier, I don't think what we do on a day-to-day basis in terms of traditional screen printing is going away. Um, I think that it's just going to shift and, and the type of clients that, that want, that is going to be people that recognize, and maybe, maybe they, they understand, maybe they don't understand, but as a good example is like, we have a lot of customers that we do.

A lot of printing for that. We run fulfillment for that. They're not interested in going to DTG. They liked the look and the feel of a traditional screen printed shirt. When you add in the aspects of water base and you add any aspects of discharge, even with technology changing, I still have very, very high hopes that with that new technology, there's still going to be a lot of room for some of these older techniques, especially when they're done.

They're done well. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

 I don't think screen printing is going anywhere. There's just, it's, there's another whole sector that's going to emerge. And I think screen printing still stays strong. 

So, but Hey, thank you so much, Eric, for your time today and for sharing your story of success. Uh, if somebody wanted to learn more about Night Owls or you in particular or whatever, how can they reach out to you?

What's the best way?

Eric Solomon: 

Um, probably through our Instagram account, which is at night, N I G H T owls O W L S print. 

Um, we post a lot of stuff on there. A lot of behind-the-scenes kind of look at how we build our projects, uh, that that's actually a big goal for this year is. Really trying to help create better content for people to understand how to work with water base and also sort of give them a peek behind the curtain as to what's going on with fulfillment and all these other areas.

Marshall Atkinson: 

Awesome. Awesome. Hey, thank you so much for your time today. It's been great. 

Eric Solomon: 

Thank you so much. Take care. 

Marshall Atkinson: 

Well, that's our show today. Thanks for listening. And don't forget to subscribe so you can stay up to date on the latest Success Stories, episodes. 

Have any suggestions for future guests or topics?  Send them my way at [email protected]

And we'll see you next time...