Mass Threads

Cross-Country: A Conversation with Joshua Camplin and Andrea Malley at Mass Threads

Mike Clark is the associate editor for Printwear and Sign & Digital Graphics magazines. Contact him at mclark@nbm.com

Moving a business across town isn’t uncommon for many apparel decorators, especially as inventory starts to stack up and a client list begins to grow. Moving an entire business across the country, however, is much more of a process, and in some cases it means starting from the ground up with building a reputation, finding customers, and learning the overall market in a geographic area. For Mass Threads shop owners Joshua Camplin and Andrea Malley, a cross-country move helped form the shop they operate today. The husband and wife-run operation is based in the Northeast city of Worcester, Mass.

Originally from Arizona, Camplin began screen printing in early 2013 after relocating to San Diego, Calif. Both Camplin and his wife entered into the industry by accident he explains. Camplin, a self-taught designer in graphics software, always had an interest in design but had never run a press before. Malley worked with a local Pitbull rescue in the San Diego area during that time, and when the couple learned they were having a child in 2013, Camplin started brainstorming ideas on how the couple could supplement their income. Camplin began teaching himself graphic design for apparel decoration, and eventually printing T-shirt orders for the Pitbull rescue.

“Within three months we had our first lease,” says Camplin. “I was basically working full time and running the print shop on the side.”

From the initial small-scale jobs, Camplin says the company’s client list began to grow, picking up larger contracts from hotel chains and national events like Comic-Con. Amid the growth, the reality of raising a family also weighed heavily on how the couple would run the business. In late 2013, Camplin and his wife decided to move across the country to Worcester, Mass., closer to Malley’s family. Since the move to Massachusetts, Mass Threads has changed location three times, starting just outside of Worcester and now based inside the city. Established in the Worcester area since Jan. 2014, Mass Threads is a full-service decorated apparel shop offering screen printing, embroidery, direct-to-garment printing, and promotional products. The business operates out of a 1,500 sq. ft. space based in an old textile mill. The busy shop runs on a small, but productive staff of five people. Malley also simultaneously runs an online storefront of childrens apparel. 

Camplin and Malley's clients cover a broad spectrum of retail clients, nonprofits, and promotional product contract customers. While the shop offers a broad range of decoration and customization options, Camplin notes that Mass Threads places a large focus on water-based printing. 

“We sought out water-based printing from the very beginning,” says Camplin, adding that he and his staff prefer the soft-hand print which often resonates with clients.

In the coming years, Camplin and Malley say they hope to continue refining the shop’s approach to water-based printing, and offering it to more clients who might be new to the technique. While they want business to grow, Camplin emphasizes it’s more important to him that Mass Threads evolves as a 10-person shop who can offer the best quality products. With water-based printing, Camplin hopes to establish Mass Threads as more of a printer for clothing companies and apparel brands.

In the more immediate future, Mass Threads was recently chosen as the shop to produce embroidery for the Boeing Starliner CST-100 space suits. The CST-100 is scheduled to send one test pilot and one NASA astronaut to the International Space Station in Feb. 2018.

For more information, visit: http://massthreads.com/