In celebration of National Businesswomen's Week, Jeanene Edwards sat down with women in the decorated apparel business to learn more about their experiences, inspirations, and aspirations for future women in the industry. In case you missed it, check out this Q&A with Jessica Tillery of All Quality Graphics.
Company: P&M Apparel
Title: Art Director
(Pictured above, left)
Tell us about yourself, your organization, and your role in the business. How did you first enter the screen printing industry?
I’m the art director at P&M Apparel, and I have a husband, a 4-year-old, and a 10-month-old whom I adore. P&M Apparel is a family-owned business, started by my grandparents and now owned by my mother. My brother and I are the store’s third generation. Since I was 16, I’ve always been around to help at the shop. I never had any real desire to jump into the family business. I went to school for graphic design and journalism, but I soon realized that I wanted to be able to focus on my family and still pursue my passions. So I found my way back here, and it ended up being the perfect fit!
What inspires or excites you about this industry?
I get inspired watching high-end fashion trends trickle down into the decorated apparel arena. I love incorporating new printing techniques and styles into unique products that clients can’t find anywhere else.
What are some of the successes and challenges that you have faced over the years operating your screen printing business?
We’ve seen tremendous growth and success during the past seven years, which is fantastic, but with growth comes growing pains. We’ve had to learn to manage twice as many people and twice as much equipment. We’re knocking down walls and stretching our limits in our current building, and soon we’ll have to find another building. One thing I truly value about this company is the pride that our employees take in their work and how passionate they are about it. It’s rare to find an entire staff that cares this much.
Are you proud of a particular project or milestone that you have accomplished?
My mom (owner, Kay Ferin) is great about allowing people to explore their passions. We have one person who’s really into craft breweries, so we’re finding new ways to attract and service breweries with ink that we make from beer. It sounds silly and ridiculous, but it’s a way to experiment and do something that other people aren’t doing. We also love to give back to our community. We hold fundraisers and even host an annual 5K to benefit families in our community affected by cancer. We've donated money, merchandise, even a specialized bike custom-built for a child with physical disabilities. I’m so proud that we can take care of our employees and give back to the people that helped us get here.
Company: P&M Apparel
(Pictured above, right)
What does it look like when your employees are also your family?
While communication is key to any workplace, it’s definitely the most important thing in working with family. I love working with my family. I get to hear more about their daily lives, see my grandchildren more often, and be a larger part of their lives.
What would be good advice for other women who take over a family business?
Transitioning a business is tricky. For us, there was no clear point when my parents handed over the business to me, and I was the new owner. A gradual transition gave all of us the time we needed to become comfortable with the change.
Is it challenging sometimes for the previous generation to hand over the reins?
My parents started the business, so it was their baby. My dad is 94 and still comes by the shop to help where he can. It may be harder to hand over a business to the family because you can’t completely let it go. You care about your children and their livelihoods, so you want to help ensure the business continues to be successful.