Since launching Small Town Sunday, I’ve focused primarily on small businesses within the food and beverage industry. The reality is that there are so many amazing small businesses that are also in the industries of retail, health, beauty, events and beyond. This is why this week I’m featuring a local silkscreen printer who makes custom apparel for individuals and small businesses. Some of my past Small Town Sunday features have even used this business for their apparel needs! So, let’s meet the talented couple behind Flying Eye Press.
Business Name: Flying Eye Press LLC
Owners: Tana + Seth Williams
Established Year: 2019
Location: Stuyvesant, NY
Tell us about your business and the story behind its creation!
Seth and I are high school sweethearts, and have shared dreams to own a business since teenagers. We just didn’t know which kind of business to start! When Seth graduated from the School of Visual Arts in NYC, he began his Illustration career drawing for magazines and children’s books, while I was finishing my degree at F.I.T. We loved living in the city with our friends and mentors, but we outgrew our tiny apartments and got tired of carrying strollers up and down subway staircases. We were also wanting more time with our family and less time in the office. The push to start our own business came to us when we received an inquiry for a large order of sweatshirts. It was a big enough order that we decided to do the paperwork immediately and grab a few important items to start a silk screening business. It all happened so quick, and we haven’t looked back. We really love what we do now, and we get to have fun doing it!
What products and services do you offer? What makes them unique?
Our main product is custom apparel for other businesses as well as our own, including T-shirts, Hoodies, Longsleeves and Sweatpants. We’re also working on getting more paper products to our customers, something to set us apart from being simply an apparel or merchandise business. We can hand print holiday cards, gig posters & wall art, tags, pastry boxes, coffee sleeves, or paper bags. The possibilities are endless! We could even print on skateboards! (though we don’t have the skateboard printing equipment just yet). Design work is another essential part of our business. Seth is a talented Illustrator and Graphic Designer. Our priority is to give our customers a solid product made by our hands from start to finish.
I can’t forget the addition of our ice dyed items! It started as a way to bring in more business during the pandemic, and it really became a hit. Now it’s an integral part of our line, and we’ve acquired many new colors that we’re excited to test out! We really love what we do, and we have fun doing it. Our design work is conceptualized from scratch, our traditional hand printing is eco-friendly and longer lasting, and we offer quality apparel which will become your favorite new shirt or hoodie!
What do you love most about running your own business and being a business owner?
Tana and I started Flying Eye Press because printmaking is a passion of mine. I had an amazing silkscreen professor, David Sandlin, who taught me everything I know, and the time spent in SVA’s print lab is really what started the dream of having my own studio one day. I thought it was really cool to be able to wear my art, and the feeling you get when you lift up the screen to see all of your hard work coming together to make something beautiful is the greatest. We also felt compelled to keep the environment at the forefront of the business.
Silkscreening and digital printing use dangerous chemicals and create a lot of waste, something we want to stay far away from. To combat pollution we use all eco-friendly cleaners & chemicals, as well as water-based inks which take more time and skill to print with. We look for ways to improve all of the time! Today, we run our business completely by hand, using top of the line water-based inks, sustainable products like Pinatex (pineapple leather), and aim to minimize energy consumption in the studio. We are always looking to create partnerships with other small companies who manufacture in the USA, and those who uphold environmentally conscious standards. Our priority is to give our customers a solid product made by our hands from start to finish.
What has been one of the most memorable experiences or opportunities that you’ve experienced since opening your business?
We’ve been lucky to make such great connections with businesses in the area that we really admire like Hudson Clothier and Brooklyn Industries. Meeting all of the other people who are chasing their dreams and are successful has given us the desire to keep going!
Also thanks to our experiences outside of Columbia County traveling and living in NYC, we learned so much about what matters to us. Education and experience are so necessary in order to share something with others. We see ourselves expanding in the future, but in the meantime our focus is to make a difference on a local level.
What advice would you give to aspiring business owners in your industry?
There’s a lot of knowledge to obtain in silkscreening and printmaking. Things can go wrong quickly even if you do know what you’re doing! So, you have to persevere through the tough parts, mistakes are going to happen. It’s the only way you can learn. And take the time to make sure the off-contact is absolutely perfect! My teacher David Sandlin, said to us once that printing on the press is really the last 25% of the job.