How Mychal’s Prints and Embroidery started
I was invited to the ribbon cutting at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, the new home for the Los Angeles Lakers training facility. When I arrived, they took your picture at the step and repeat and as I left, gave me a coffee mug with the Lakers logo and my photo on it. I must admit I thought this was funny that I would drink from a mug with my face on it. Putting that aside, I watched the process of producing these gifts and thought we could do this at Mychal’s with our students. I knew that Jose, who was a program support staff member at the time, had been printing t-shirts, mugs and other items on the side. We discussed adding this component to our adult program and he was immediately on board.
So off we went! We started by printing mugs and then a parent made a donation that allowed Mychal’s to purchase a t-shirt printing machine. The only thing was that machine we bought wasn’t a good purchase on our end. When it arrived, it didn’t come with any support and I like to describe it as the unused treadmill that many of us have in our homes. This became a door stop, big and bulky only having one job, hold the door open.
When we realized this machine wasn’t going to get us where we wanted to go, Jose researched and found a Brother DTG printer and pre-treat machine for an amazing deal. So, we bought it and now we were really ready! Jose took the lead in learning the machine and we started printing t-shirts. Our new problem was, what if our one machine broke down in the middle of a job? It would not be a great scenario, so we focused on smaller jobs while at the same time strategized how to raise the money for more equipment.
The first step was applying for an Impact grant from the John Gogian Family Foundation for additional print equipment. At our Annual Luncheon, we held a paddle raise for that was specifically for our print shop expansion. With the $50K from the foundation and the $55k from our luncheon we were able to invest in the best equipment and to also expand into embroidery.
Our board member and dear friends, Carol and Jerry Muchin, along with Jerry’s brother Danny, donated space at their Inglewood commercial property. We were now up and running with our own space and new equipment. We started bringing more students to train on the machines as well as learning other aspects of running a print shop! In December 2020, we hired our first full time student employee, James!
The word started spreading about our social enterprise and the phone started ringing. Our largest order came in from Northrop Grumman for 2,000 t-shirts. We were over the moon about this and jumped right in. We learned many lessons from this order and that relationship continues to grow as they are our biggest client to date.
Over the past year, we’ve added 3 new embroidery machines that were generously donated by Michelle Meister in loving memory of her sister, Rhonda Meister, who served on our board. This has allowed us to fulfill many more orders!
In September 2021, the Inglewood property sold and we had 4 months to relocate. And so the search began! We reached out to many realtors in our community to help us locate a property that we could purchase and call the new home of Mychal’s Prints. This process wasn’t as easy as we had hoped for, but a property in Redondo Beach became available and with the support of the board we moved forward with securing our new print shop home.
I had reached out to friends and supporters, Carol and Dennis from the Troesh Family Foundation, for their help in securing the property. They jumped right in and purchased the property giving us the option to purchase it back from them within two years. We are extremely grateful for their generosity and willingness to help!
We are so appreciative of this community and all the support they continue to provide us each year. This was made possible by every one of you and everything that happened before we ended up here. We exercised the option and intend to purchase the property.
Oh, and that first machine we bought. Well, we donated it and hope they are making good use of it!
Thank you all for making this possible, it really does take a village and Mychal’s has the best village around.