Kotis Design

Printwear Shop Profile: Kotis Design

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

Shop Name: Kotis Design
Location: Seattle, multiple satellite offices
Director of Facilities: Eoin Doherty
Shop Services: Screen printing, embroidery, design, fulfillment, and e-Commerce
Machinery: Three automatic presses, two manual presses, one rapid tag machine

College is where many entrepreneurs launch the prototype of their business, and for Kotis Design owner Jeff Becker, his fraternity was the first set of clients for his business. Becker, along with creative director Nic Thomassen started Kotis Design in 2001 while still attending the University of Washington. Post college, Thomassen and Becker soldiered on as a small startup in the Seattle area; first in a nine-bedroom house, then to a small warehouse building. Continuing with a series of location changes and expansions up through 2011, Kotis Design grew from a small fraternity T-shirt operation into what is today a continually evolving, multi-service company that provides customers with a wide range of apparel services including screen printing, embroidery, fulfillment, and e-commerce services. Printwear caught up with Kotis print shop director Eoin Doherty, via phone, at the company’s current headquarters, a 16,000 sq. ft. warehouse on the north end of Seattle situated in Tukwila, Wash.

“We do full-on folding, bagging, and retail packaging, as well as community event work, on down to small, custom 10-piece orders,” says Doherty, explaining the scope of what Kotis covers with their operations.

Being situated in the Seattle area is special to Doherty and numerous staff members because it’s also where they grew up, he explains. Bright colors and a modern, open-air design give the company’s office staff a space that fosters both creativity and a sense of community, even as Kotis continues to grow. In late summer of 2015, the company opened a second production facility in Fairfield, Ohio. Bolstered by satellite sales offices in California and Illinois, having two production facilities enables the company to offer two-day shipping to virtually any location in the contiguous United States, Doherty contends. And while Kotis does occasionally work with outside shops to fill larger orders, Doherty explains that the goal is always to work with shops that are equal parts reliable and able to get orders to customers in a fast, efficient manner.

Doherty says that it’s likely Kotis will continue to grow in both locations in the coming years as well.

“We’ve grown 30 percent year-over-year for almost 10 years straight” Doherty points out, adding that the company plans to add more equipment, introduce more training, and schedule new shifts in the near future.

Despite the ambition and promising future, Doherty stresses that at the core of what Kotis does, a quality product is still the ultimate goal. A key to maintaining this balance, Doherty says, is ensuring the company attracts some of the “better minds in the industry,” and young, motivated individuals who are interested in taking the screen printing and design market into the next decade.

“I think a healthy shop has a balanced mix of both old and new,” stresses Doherty, noting that experienced, industry veterans and newcomers ready to learn techniques like screen printing both benefit the shop.

For more information on Kotis Design, visit: http://kotisdesign.com/