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Build Your Business: Shop Talk
Strong RootsThis conglomerate consisting of sister companies and multiple festivals brings a new meaning to 'something for everyone.'
The California Roots music festival and clothing line took off together, according to Jeff Monser, founder and co-producer of California Roots Presents.
To say that California Roots Presents (CRP) is a dynamic and intertwined group of creative businesses may be an understatement. The interaction and crossover between the different companies is as complex as the roots of a mighty California Redwood, but it’s a recipe that works.
“We have a few different entities,” says Jeff Monser, founder and co-producer of the company. “Under CRP, we have California Roots Music & Arts Festival, California Roots Branding and Dry Diggings Music Festival. Our [screen-printing] company is called Revolve Ink and is owned by myself and Albert Coppolo.”
Monser’s first screen-printing experience was in his parents’ backyard shop, and the memory isn’t so rosy. “I remember stacking shirts for my dad, while he was working in a very hot environment, and the heat made me not want to help,” Monser says. “Screen printing became a chore to me, and this made me hate it even more.”
Eventually, Monser saw the work-from-home opportunity as a way to spend time with his family and he began enjoying it. In college, the printing industry offered a decent-paying job, and this was the time period in which he fell in love with it.
“I started to do my own graphics, too,” he says. “This catapulted me to a new level of love for the industry. I wasn’t working anymore; I was creating art.”
Monser began helping his parents with their business, Double L Designs, in Discovery Bay, California. He also owned a small shop in a garage, printing all of his clothing lines. He soon began printing for other companies; working as a screen-printing-products sales rep and head printer; and started a clothing line called Extreme Population. The line was geared toward extreme lifestyles in land, air and water.
“One of my designs started to really take off,” Monser says. “It was of the state of California, with roots coming off the bottom. It started to really gain some speed, so I decided to quit my day job and focus on my clothing line.”
Monser changed his clothing line’s name to California Roots and focused on California-based designs. To circumvent the difficulty of establishing a retail presence, he took the line on the road via the California Roots Music & Arts Festival, which began in 2009 and occurs each Memorial Day weekend.
“The festival and the clothing line took off together,” he says. “In 2011, I knew I needed help and to get some backbone, but I had no funds. So I took a full-time, contracted-printer job at Specialized [a company that sells bicycle components], commuting 2.5 hours a day.”
After two years there, Monser became permanently self-employed. With the festival thriving, and the growth of Revolve Ink and the Dry Diggings Festival (occurring each Labor Day weekend), Monser had his hands full — in a good way.
“We do all the printing for the festival now, as well as printing for other festivals, bands, schools, breweries, tap houses, construction companies and underground clothing companies,” he says. “All of my businesses work together, and Revolve Ink prints all the clothing for all our events and for the clothing line. Mama Roots Clothing is a new line from my mom, Debby Labrucherie, known affectionately as ‘Mama Roots.’ Festive Friends is a clothing line started by my kids, Sawyer and Parker, and Mama Roots.”
Revolve Ink Evolves
Monser says Revolve Ink has gained momentum during the past four years. The full-time shop operates a six-color M&R automatic press with a Fusion Fast dryer, and it specializes in spot-color, process; simulated-process; and water-based printing.
“Every company has its own needs, and I love working with all my clients,” Monser says. “We don’t advertise; all our business comes from word of mouth. We are priced fairly, and have quality prints and great customer service. All of our clients are loyal and we respect each other.”
Revolve Ink brings a unique perspective regarding printing for big clients, since the art is on display for all to see. Monser sees the pros and cons of such a situation. Imperfections can be a con, of course, since bad prints or damaged goods reflect on the printer and the company’s quality control, at large. Being nearly flawless is a necessity.
But there are pros to having a large audience. “If you’re good at printing and have passion for quality control, your art will be present in your prints,” Monser says. “The power of word of mouth is the best advertisement we could ask for.”
He adds that the music industry has a wide variety of merchandising needs. Revolve Ink provides everything a band or festival needs in a one-stop shop at a less-expensive rate, along with delivery. Monser and his team also handle fulfillment for the festivals and leftover clothing.
Down the Road
Monser is proud of his festival and the roots he plants each Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend.
“What started out as a modest vision has blossomed and grown into a dynamic, multi-layered event,” he says. “Most festivals don’t make it this far, and there were times we didn’t think we would. But we persisted and have cultivated something magical.”
The festival sparked programs for Redwood Reforestation, Water Conservation, Waste Diversion, and Steel Pints, as well as partnerships to provide carbon offset, and bike and skate valet.
“From this music festival came passion to create a rich experience for festival goers who have come to expect much more than just a random bunch of bands on a couple of stages,” Monser says. “The festival also spurred our commitment to give back to non-profits in creative ways, choosing organizations that align with our brand and our passions, and raising thousands of dollars while bringing awareness to incredible organizations.”
Jennifer Morrell is an award-winning writer who has written for a number of national consumer and trade publications. For more information or to comment on this article, email Jennifer at email@example.com.
Revolve Ink at a Glance
Company Name: Revolve Ink
Address: 700 Harvest Park Drive, #D, Brentwood, CA 94513
No. of Employees: 2 owners, contracted printers
Decorating Methods Offered: spot-color, process printing, simulated-process printing, water-based printing
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