10 Q’s With Nick Roccanti Of Threadbird Printing Company

The focus of this weeks “10 Q’s With…”; our question and answer series that’s aimed at offering insight to our readers who are interested in the ‘Adventure’ of becoming: The Boss – is Threadbird.

From their website:

“Threadbird is a full service Screen Printer & Merchandising Company that specializes in high-quality printing at affordable prices. In 2009 our shop won 1st place for best screen printing quality on a dark color shirt by TSC Apparel & One Stop Inc. We are currently operating with 5 screen printing presses and produce over 1 million shirts/impressions per year.”

Q. Tell our readers about your business, your passion, and what it is that you do? What’s your story? And what sets you apart from other businesses in your particular market?

“My name is Nick Roccanti and I started Threadbird Printing Company. We are an online-based apparel printing business and we are also getting into offset printing now. It all started when I was involved with the music industry. It was always frustrating to order t-shirts for my bands. I always seemed to get horrible quality, bad service, and my orders would be messed up half of the time! After spending so much time looking for the right printer, I thought to myself, ‘I should start my own printing business!’. Later that year I met Iain who had a small local print shop and had the same vision of focusing on quality. We partnered and decided to take this online. So in 2008 I started Threadbird (which was originally called Storenvy printing), with the focus on quality printing. Most print shops try to focus on the price and think that’s how they will gain their clients. They end up hiring inexperienced staff, cheap equipment and use poor materials/inks to do it. Sadly a lot of people fall into this trap of going after the cheapest company and a lot of the times the average person will never know how bad the printing really is if they have never seen good printing. We try to keep our prices very reasonable but we’d rather charge $0.50 more per shirt because we are using the best quality inks/equipment out there that get us the best results. All of our printing comes out extremely soft and you can barely feel the inks, where a lot of print shops use a thick plastisol and it makes you feel like you are wearing cardboard on your shirt. We have four printers that work for us who each have 15-20 years of printing experience.”

Q. What inspired you take the steps to becoming your own boss? Is this your first/only business?

“I have always been an entrepreneur. My father had a few businesses growing up and both of my grandfathers also owned businesses, so it’s in my blood! At the age of 16 I started getting involved in the music industry by doing concert promotion and artist management. In 2004 I got involved with a record label and worked there until 2008. While at the label I helped start a merchandising division.  Merchandise and the music industry go hand in hand and I have always been around it so it only made sense for me to get involved with it. Around that time I met my head printer Iain and became a sales rep for his small shop. In 2008 I made the hard decision to leave the music industry behind. I just got frustrated with how it worked and how they treat bands. It’s just a dirty business! So the new online printing business was formed. Besides the printing business I decided to also start a free online store and marketplace website with two other guys called Storenvy.com. The printing business and online stores worked well together, but after 2 years the printing business blew up and we decided it would be best to split the business apart. Because I enjoyed the printing side of things, I left Storenvy to focus on it more. Storenvy Printing then changed its name to Threadbird Printing and has its own identity.”

Q. How much planning was involved prior to the start-up of your business? Can you offer some insight into that process?

“I spent a lot of time writing the business plan for Storenvy.com but very little for the printing side. While working at the record label and running their merch division I learned a lot about the industry and learned what worked and didn’t work. I’m pretty sure I did everything wrong the first year. A great entrepreneur is someone who learns from his mistakes and makes his business better from it. So I took everything I learned in the past and figured out how not to make those mistakes with my new business.”

Q. In terms of running your business, what does a typical day look like for you; or is every day different?

“Right now I focus on overlooking the business and making sure everything is going smoothly. I am currently training a new employee and I still work with a handful of our clients on a daily basis. I help solve issues that come up involving our clients and orders. Lastly, I work with my partner Scott on ways to improve the business, marketing and new business ideas.”

Q. What has been the most challenging part of your entrepreneurial adventure?

“The two biggest challenges for me is giving up control and trusting others to get the job done and learning to balance running a business with family life. When starting out I tried to be a one-man team and do everything. So I worked 15-hour days and just burned myself out. It was hard for me to hire new people to take over different parts of the business. I knew that if I just did it, it would be done right. But that wasn’t the case. When you started working 15-hour days and handling 100 things at once you were more likely to make mistakes and have worse service. I am also married and in the beginning of our marriage I did a horrible job at balancing work and the marriage. I made the business more important than my wife, which was wrong. Over the last year I have focused on stepping back and making my wife the priority in life.”

Q. Besides the obvious of being your own boss, what is the most rewarding part about being an independent business owner?

“I love having the freedom to do what I want. If I need to run to the store and get something I can just do it. Or go on vacation without permission. But I also get a high on life from seeing my business grow.”

Q. How do you promote your business? Advertise? Endorse? Contests? Social networking?

“We have focused on quality and service and let that speak for our business. Because of this we get tons of word of mouth business. Every year we seem to double in size and do very little advertising. We do online banner ads here and there and sponsor a few events but that’s about it.”

Q. Has the Internet or social media helped/hurt your business?

“It has helped us for sure! There are lots of forums and blogs out there. Because we focus on taking care of people, they will naturally promote us. There are design communities we are involved in and whenever someone asks about t-shirt printing a bunch of people in the community recommend us before we even get a chance. It’s pretty awesome!”

Q. What advice do you have to those reading www.bossstart.com that you feel is valuable?

“It’s not about what you can do or how well you can do things yourself. Don’t be selfish. It’s how well you can put together the right team. I have an amazing partner named Scott whom I trust 100% and does an amazing job. You don’t want to be a one-man team and work yourself to death. You want to enjoy life and enjoying life has nothing to do with making a bunch of money. You can have all of the money in the world and hate life because you have to work 24/7. In the end, your family should be the most important thing in the world, not your business.”

To learn more about Nick Roccanti & Threadbird Printing Company, please visit:

Website: Threadbird.com

Blog: Blog.threadbird.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/threadbird

Twitter: Twitter.com/#!/threadbird

About the Author: Daniel Ballard

Daniel is a Writer and Entrepreneur. He is Co-Founder/Main Author/Editor of BossStart and Co-Editor/Featured Author for BossStart's sister site, PauseStart, launching early 2012

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