December '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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6 4 P R I N T W E A R D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 SHOP SNAPSHOT STITCHING UP DETROIT LOCATION: Detroit, Michigan OWNERS: David Camarena, Karizma Valdez, Jasmin Orozco, Abby Camarena PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT: • 1 M&R 8-Color 4-Station Manual Press • 1 M&R 6-Color 4-Station Manual Press • Multiple Flash Dryers • Hand Made UV Light Exposure Unit • 1 NPN 16" x 24" Heat Press • 1 NPN 15" x 15" Heat Press Motor City Printing W hen one thinks of Detroit, a myriad of American institutions come to mind including Automobiles, manufacturing, rock and roll, and Motown, to name a few. The city has undoubtedly seen its share of social and economic challenges as well, but there's always been a strong core of hardworking, creative people in the city. Stitching Up Detroit, a co-op based in the southwest part of town, is a team of young, inspired individuals with these values. Founded in 2012 by David Camarena and Pacal Zelaya at the ripe age of 14, the or- ganization was formed at Grace in Action church, a grassroots, faith-based organization that strives for growth in the area through education and cooperative economic development. Camarena, along with a small group of his peers, works the busy shop and churns out screen-printing jobs for a variety of local clients. For him, the craft started in childhood. "When I was 12, I went to a summer camp (hosted by Grace in Action), and that's where I got introduced to screen printing," Camarena says. "After the session, I was just talking to the guy who ran the workshop and asked if there was a way I could learn more about it." From there, Camarena started working in a screen-printing shop and learning the ropes from his former instructor. After a short time working for the shop, Camarena says he felt he needed a better opportunity. "There were times where I was running the shop by myself, and I wouldn't get paid," he contends. It was then that Camarena decided to reach back out to the directors of Grace in Action. From there, the concept of a youth co-op focused on screen printing took flight. Camarena says a donation from Sterling Heights-based All-American Screen Printing in the early days helped get things moving. "They googled 'Detroit youth screen printing,' and we were the only ones that popped up," says Camarena. The company donated a screen-printing press to the group to help further their efforts. Since those early years, the shop has grown, and in the last year, they've incorporated. Today, the shop has three other individuals who help keep the shop running; Karizma Valdez, who prints along- side Camarena, and project managers, Jasmin Orozco and Abby Camarena. When volume picks up, both project managers help in the shop. And even with a relatively small staff, the business has garnered attention from local politicians, artists, and news outlets for their high- quality work. But a steady stream of jobs and revenue aren't the only driving forces at the shop, says Ca- marena. The co-op takes their skills into the local community to share what they've learned. Currently, Stitching Up Detroit participates in pop-up events with local schools to help mentor students, similar to how Camarena got his start. "We'll have about 10 kids come in and work on the basics from drawing a design to putting it on a T-shirt," he adds. The team at Stitching Up Detroit also guides the students in crucial tasks like screen-making and basic design work on the computer. Moving into 2020, the shop has its sights on opening a storefront. Orozco says that the success is satisfying, but so is seeing the jobs make it into the hands of appreciative customers. "It's nice to be able to see people coming to us with their orders, and it's a nice experi- ence to know that we're able to make what they want," Orozco offers. In short, being part of the whole process, from working on a client's art to putting it on a shirt and ship- ping it out the door, makes the entire thing gratifying for the team, she says. For more information, visit www.giacol- PW Far Left: Stitching Up Detroit got its start through Grace in Action, a faith-based organization that strives for growth in Detroit through education and cooperative economic development. Left: The shop operates as a co-op and recently incorporated. Above: Co-founder David Camarena's passion for screen printing started at an early age. (All images courtesy Stitching Up Detroit)

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