July 23, 2019
“Hi, I like you.” It’s a simple phrase, but to Maui Screen Printing owner John “Johnny” Edelstein, it’s so much more. What began as a way to help brighten someone’s day morphed into a business built during a decade giving back to the community, all in the spirt of “Aloha.”
“I started the brand ‘I Like You’ in Minneapolis in 1999 and our mission was to spread the ‘like’ through T-shirts and those three little words,” Edelstein says. “When you would see those simple words, hopefully it would make you smile and change your day for the positive. It worked like a charm. We didn’t sell much, but the mission was started.”
After relocating for a short stint in Key West, Florida, Edelstein settled in Maui, Hawaii, in 2008, allowing the brand to take the next step in its altruistic evolution. He began bartending for Maui Brewing Co. and immersed himself in the culture. Since Hawaii is a renowned tourist destination, Edelstein constantly encountered the letters “H.I.” on everything in discernible eyesight. Taking it as a sign, he added the two letters to his brand’s phrase, trademarking it “Hi, I Like You” and dubbing the newfound company Positive Apparel.
“In the beginning, we donated $1 off of every shirt to St. Jude’s Research Hospital,” Edelstein says. “Now, we donate to local charities and organizations with apparel and time. The brand took off like crazy! With the help of Jason Hanlin of Guru Ink, and his brilliant printing and design work, we were able to evolve and start printing locally in Maui.”
Popularity spread, and Edelstein partnered with the brewing company’s owners, printing all of its designs. Employee and equipment expansion, along with increased demand for Positive Apparel’s products, resulted in a new moniker: Maui Screen Printing.
Maui Screen Printing’s growth can be attributed to community support, positioning and sustainability. “If you have a passion for your craft and you put Aloha into it, the locals will support you,” Edelstein says. “If you can get the local community behind you, you’ve succeeded. When you make it here in Maui, everyone will buy it, especially the tourists.”
According to Edelstein, printing for the most successful local businesses requires a great reputation and the printing power to back it up. The shop’s equipment includes a ROQ XL YOU P14 screen-printing press with Quartz flash units, a ROQ tunnel dryer, an M&R Sportsman EX 10-color/12 station screen-printing press and two Epson F2000 direct-to-garment (DTG) printers.
“Our printing quality and techniques are second to none,” Edelstein says. “If we don’t like the print, we won’t print it. Maui is different than most places because the clients are patient. Add sustainability into the mix and we can help other businesses feel good about what they choose for their identity.”
Sustainability is essential to the local islanders and businesses. Everything the community uses could end up in the ocean if not properly managed. Maui Screen Printing has taken the necessary steps to maintain its waste and ensure quality of life for the environment via a water-recycling filter system, which removes most of the particulates before entering the water supply, and by using soy-based, eco-friendly chemicals.
Allmade Apparel Initiative
With T-shirts being its primary focus, Maui Screen Printing has put all efforts into a sustainable T-shirt by being a contributing partner of Allmade, an apparel brand created by Ryonet’s Ryan Moor and Rogier Ducloo. It is fully committed to dismantling poverty and raising awareness about child abandonment in third-world countries by using raw, organic materials and paying local workers more than the livable minimum wage.
“[Moor and Ducloo] wanted to ‘make it better’ and ‘break the cycle’ of human and planetary abuse in the clothing industry,” Edelstein says. “They got together with their top 10 clients that meet the core values and rallied the troops. I’m stoked to bring joy and Aloha to this incredible group of people. Every shirt we print with Allmade removes a shirt we used to print on that has a negative impact on the planet and people that put it together.”
Every Allmade partner uses 25% organic cotton, 25% Modal and 50% REPREVE, which is made of recycled water bottles, for production. As a fashion-forward innovation, Allmade produces one of the most comfortable and softest tri-blend garments on the planet, Edelstein says.
Allmade partnered with the Global Orphan Project, a non-profit organization that contributes 100% of its donations to orphan prevention and care programs in impoverished regions. Children in countries like Haiti, for instance, are at a high risk of becoming economic orphans due to the average worker earning only $3 per day to support a family of eight. The typical Haitian orphan’s parents can’t afford to provide their children’s most basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, education and basic healthcare.
“[At] the GOEX Haitian production facility, the employees make three to five times the living wage,” Edelstein says. “We are creating a paradigm of how to treat the people that make your clothes. We are able to keep families together and to create change in an environment desperately in need.”
Tackling Future Goals
To keep up with current decorating trends and where they may lead, Maui Screen Printing pairs sustainable printing techniques with sustainable garments. The company continues to use water-based printing when jobs allow, while balancing plastisol-ink use.
Maui Screen Printing’s No. 1 goal for the future is to become a better sustainability advocate, while making a bigger impact with the Global Orphan Project, according to Edelstein. The company and its clients, along with Allmade and Moor, will host a June 7 fundraiser in Maui to raise $25,000 for the Global Orphan Project. Moor will be donating the shirts to be printed.
“Being a leader in sustainability has its challenges,” Edelstein says. “Brand awareness and loyalty start with taking a stand with like-minded people. Celebrating what we’ve designed, being mindful of the planet and its citizens. Spread the like, spread the Aloha and keep people positive.”
Maui Screen Printing at a Glance
Company Name: Maui Screen Printing
Address: 130 Mamane Place, Unit 1. Wailuku, HI 96793
No. of Employees: 7
Decorating Methods Offered: Specializes in screen printing and discharge and water-based printing
Company Website: mauiscreenprinting.com
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