Shop name: Superior Ink
Location: Denver, Colo.
Shop Owner: Dominic Rosacci
Shop services: Screen printing, fulfillment, design, and photography
Machinery: Two automatic presses, two manual presses, one dryer, six heat presses, and four printers.
Shop size: 15 employees
Business: Local, nationwide, international
A passion for screen printing started early for Superior Ink owner Dominic Rossaci. At 15 and still in high school, the Colorado-based business owner tapped into one of his favorite past times to explore the apparel world. His first business venture was Neovolt, a snowboard clothing company which was his initial foray into the world of textiles and decorated apparel, and often times a one-man operation. Rossaci sold his apparel piece by piece to small shops in popular ski areas like Breckenridge, Colo.
“I was working for my grandfather’s meat market at the time,” Rosacci explains, detailing how he raised funds to start his company.
While working for his grandfather, Rosacci saved up enough money to buy his first screen printer, a six-color, six station press and began to teach himself screen printing techniques. Over time, he began to develop his skills through what he describes as “a series of trial and errors,” in a small, homemade print shop based out of a small one-car garage. The learning curve was steep, and Rosacci cites one particular moment that detailed how humble his beginnings were.
“The first warehouse I was in, I remember not having a sink or knowing how to work an exposure unit,” he recalls. “There were a set of pig troughs about a half a mile (from the shop) that I would have to rush to and rinse off the screens, one at a time.”
As he began to progress with his techniques and gain clients, Rosacci explains that the transition from a lifestyle brand who designed its own apparel to a screen printing company taking on clients came as an evolution.
“It became more lucrative to print for other people,” Rosacci notes. In 2010, he went from running Neovolt to starting up what’s known today as Superior Ink.
Originating in Sedalia, Co., about 25 miles south of Denver with just one automatic press, Superior’s client list grew over the course of the next three years. Business and two facility moves eventually landed Rosacci’s in Denver off of Federal Boulevard. Soon after settling into their new building, he explains that they lost a major snowboard apparel client whose large orders had prompted Superior’s move into the larger building. Despite that, Rosacci says the setback actually turned into an opportunity to diversify. At that point, Superior Ink expanded from the snowboard and ski apparel niche market into a diverse realm of clients like banks, startup companies, tattoo shops, stone masons, and artists. Today Rosacci says the shop’s customers are a mix of roughly 70 percent Denver-area clients and the remaining client base is both nationwide and international.
On the day of the shop visit, Superior’s operations were firing on all cylinders. In addition to standard screen printing and production, the company juggles other operations like custom art design, customer service, and fulfillment. The front end of the shop near the reception desk doubles as a staging area for local clients who utilize Superior Ink as a print shop, packaging, and fulfillment company for T-shirts. As Rosacci walks us around the shop, he explains that despite his business’s gradual success, he’s thinking about the next step, specifically sustainability. He pulls a prototype white T-shirt from the display rack in the upstairs office and explains it’s the product of alternative fibers he researched in Bali.
“As a business, I want to squash my carbon footprint as much as possible,” Rosacci stresses, citing materials like hemp, organic cotton, and bamboo as viable options for apparel production alternatives.
In addition to forward-looking initiatives with fabrics, Rosacci says Superior has been experimenting with water-based inks in an effort to cut down on volatile material.
A small staff of 15 employees makes up the mostly young, and energetic crowd, and Rossaci cites them as family, noting a low turnover rate at the shop. In contrast to earlier days when he hired on friends only when necessary, many of the employees in the shop stay on and become an integral part of the operation. In addition to a close-knit group of production workers, biological family helps run the business as well. Rosacci’s mother works at Superior, and has since its early start.
Rosacci says that he hopes to maintain this tight-knit operation as Superior Ink marches on into the future, focusing on a quality product rather than physically expanding with more machinery and space.
“We want to remain small and keep putting out quality products,” he stresses.
Scroll below for a full gallery of the shop.
For more information on Superior Ink, visit: http://superiorinkprinting.com/