Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Mullis.
Dana, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I started my business, Great Plains Promo, in August 2019. I previously managed a screen printing shop in Lawrence, KS for about five years and after having our first child, I decided to start my own business in the town where we live, Baldwin City, KS.
I knew I wanted to create custom apparel because I saw the need in this community, but I also wanted to help other entrepreneurs like myself, build and create their dreams. When I first started, my main goal was to dive into the community. I am originally from a very small town 6 miles north of Pittsburg, KS, we had lived in Baldwin City for about 5 years, and I didn’t know many people. I was fortunate enough to discover that my community is chock-full of amazing and creative people. People who care about their city and making it better for everyone in it. Creativity flows in the veins of this town. I knew I wanted to use my wide variety of skills to make valuable contributions to what was already happening here.
So I jumped in, hard. I purchased equipment so that I could get started printing apparel. Instead of a traditional screen printing setup, I chose DTG. Direct-To-Garment printing is an apparel decoration option that allows me to print single shirts with no limit on colors. Being able to offer branded apparel with ‘no minimum order quantity is something that people are definitely not used to. It completely changes their thought process on branding, gifting, or just creating something custom for themselves. They no longer have to commit to, for example, 12 shirts with the same image printed on them. Customers can do one shirt at a time, a different design every time, and we can even print on demand. While I do offer bulk screen printing as well as embroidery, this doesn’t always work for everyone.
I got involved in our Chamber of Commerce. With the goal of helping other business owners, I thought this was the perfect place. They gave me opportunities. While getting my business started, I even provided contract services for the Chamber doing marketing, design, social media, and more. This opportunity got me in front of the audience that I was seeking. It also gave me a unique perspective of what the business community’s needs were and what others thought our cute little town was missing.
Then Covid hit. Events were canceled, people stopped getting together, and demand for custom apparel dropped. I used my other skills to continue pushing forward. I started doing social media for the local gym. I was able to provide contract services to the City as well. I did the administrative tasks that often find themselves neglected; I filed, I organized, I showed my work ethic. From there, other businesses were contacting me for assistance. I started providing virtual assistance for a couple of local restaurants. I started volunteering for the local arts center, and amazing things started happening.
The art center had lost their usual revenue streams like facility rentals, classes, and such due to covid and they had just received a grant that provided funding for creating a revenue-generating project. The idea culminated in a local art boutique. I was approached about volunteering as the boutique manager and I jumped at the chance. Along with four local student volunteers and guidance from the art center’s amazing Director, we created a concept, developed the idea, and successfully opened a retail space dedicated to promoting local arts and artists in September 2020. I continue to manage the boutique.
Working on this project really solidified where I wanted to take my business going forward. My ultimate goal is to open my own print shop/retail space in our cute little downtown. I have found a space that will become available and am currently planning on reaching this goal by Fall/Winter 2022. My vision of this retail space is to provide Baldwin City with a gift shop, a custom print shop, and a collective of other local talents. Hosting the work of other entrepreneurs, giving them a space to show and sell their work, benefits our entire community.
This town has so much to offer. If you’ve not been to Baldwin City, this is my formal invitation to you!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It’s been a bit rocky starting a new business while raising a little one, but I remind myself that some days I just have to take it literally, one day at a time. Focusing on what I can do that day to keep moving forward. Some things have come easy; I have had a lot of great support. I don’t expect it to be smooth.
Covid has been the biggest challenge. It changed the way people do business, it changed the way you can operate a business in some cases. Being fluid and flexible has been my greatest strength. I never boxed myself into a set of services I offer or made myself inaccessible. Willingness to help, no matter what the project is, has kept me going.
As you know, we’re big fans of Great Plains Promotions. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
I specialize in custom printed apparel. This is NOT vinyl or cheap transfer printing. I can offer single shirt prints and small orders to bulk orders in the hundreds or thousands. I offer embroidery services and promotional products as well.
Besides products, I offer services to businesses ranging from administrative-type work, marketing, and more. I strive to provide the very best, customized service and I stand behind my products and work.
I think my customer service sets me apart. I am not afraid to take on challenging projects and want to help my customers reach their goals. I want to create a culture of collaboration and shared success that makes our community great.
Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
I think with the advancements in printing technology, traditional silk screen (screen printing) could become a lost art. The traditional process takes a lot of materials, equipment, time, and skill. Not only that, a screen print setup takes up a lot of space.
With Direct-to-Garment printing, there are no screens to burn or inks to mix and you are not limited on colors with your designs. There is a lot more flexibility and with no minimum order quantity, this imprint option is available to anyone with a design or an idea.
Customers are becoming more creative and challenging this industry to keep up with them. I am ready.
The biggest change I have been seeing is the increase in quality all around. Manufacturers are making softer, more comfortable apparel, printing technology is getting better and more consistent across material types, and customer expectations are there to be exceeded.
- Single short sleeve shirts start at $20
- Bulk pricing is available for 24 pieces + orders
- Single piece embroidery prices are available
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greatplainspromo