Lindsey Theisen Designs Her Future
Just Fab Graphics | Mount Pleasant, Michigan
When the industrial company she worked for laid off their most recent hires in 2017, Lindsay had a decision to make – and she went for it. She bought a powerful computer for design and founded Just Fab Graphics in Mount Pleasant, Michigan from her living room.
We talked with Lindsay about the challenges of starting her own business, how she went from outsourcing her prints to running a full-service shop, and what lies ahead for this ambitious entrepreneur.
How did you make the decision to start Just Fab Graphics?
Lindsay Theisen: With all the different jobs I’d had before I was laid off, I’d become a well-rounded designer. Working at a sign shop taught me to design for large format. Then I worked for the Saginaw/Chippewa Tribe in the non-gaming side of the casino, designing for the golf course, the water park, and the Tribal Observer newspaper. At the woodchipper manufacturer, I learned industrial design, including designing safety signage, machine manuals, prints and mailers. Now I feel like I can design just about anything.
“I sold my couch and put my Roland DG printer in the living room.”When I got laid off a few years ago, it seemed like the right time to start my own company. I took all my money, bought a souped-up computer, and launched Just Fab Graphics. Everybody knew I’d been in the field and people began contacting me about designs. I was meeting with clients and designing in my dining room.
I did everything I could to find an outsource for printing. I even started using out-of-town sources. Then, one of my friends who owns a sign shop started printing my designs for me. When I figured out how much money I was giving him every month, I decided to take the plunge and buy a printer.
How did you decide which printer to purchase?
The first print shop I worked at had a Roland DG printer, so I had experience with Roland’s quality and reliability. I also really liked having print and cut in one workflow. I decided to get the Roland DG TrueVIS VG2-540 54-inch printer/cutter. I’m using CMYK and light cyan, light magenta, orange and light black inks, which gives me a lot of range.
I sold my couch and put my Roland DG printer in the living room. Then my house really started looking like a graphics shop! That was an issue when I was selling the house a few years later. But those same clients that I worked with back then are still coming to me today.
Tell us about Just Fab Graphics these days.
Four years later, I have three employees and we’re printing and wrapping everything from whiskey labels to 53-foot semi-trailers. I’m still the primary designer and I also do installs. Jill Payten is our project coordinator and installer; Zach Maatman, a graduate of Kendall College of Art & Design, is a designer, production manager and installer; and my mom Sherry has just retired as our head of eBay sales.
Now we have moved to a different house with a shop right next door to it, located on the outskirts of Mount Pleasant. Our install bay, which we call “The Wrap Room,” is 20’ x 40’ and our office is 18’ x 30’. We also have an extra section measuring 30’ x 30’ that we can expand into as needed.
What industries do you serve?
We provide graphics and signage for companies in the hospitality, construction, industrial manufacturing, retail, restaurant and service industries. We also provide vehicle graphics and lettering for the local fire department and the sheriff’s office.
We do vehicle graphics for personal vehicles, fleets, snowmobiles, side-by-sides, food trucks, and regular delivery and service trucks. We also do window graphics for storefronts, along with banners, labels, decals and floor graphics. We print graphics for promotional items like license plates, lip balms, and key chains, and we even print fish fry tickets!
I love the variety of the work. I can be on a semi-trailer in the morning and selling interior window perf in a sales department in the afternoon. No two days are ever the same.
Tell us about your eBay store – that seems like a great way to expand your market reach.
Our eBay store has been really successful for us. It’s tailored to auto enthusiasts. We sell all types of floor graphics and banners for garages and “man caves.” Some of our most popular items are 4’ x 4’ floor graphics with the customer’s favorite car make and model printed on non-slip floor material. We also sell a lot of 2’ x 4’ banners, some with custom images of the owner and their vehicle. We ship these graphics all over the country as well as internationally, and we have tons of return customers.
What is he role of social media in your business?
Our clients definitely appreciate being able to connect with us through social media. We also get a lot of new clients that way. I maintain our social media accounts, and the second I post something, I’ll get five people calling.
How did Just Fab Graphics fare during the pandemic? Are you seeing a return to “normal” or are you and your clients still dealing with the effects of the shutdown?
Our business dipped initially, but things are better now. We were able to stay open, however my employees were at home. I was wrapping enclosed trailers and full semi cabs by myself.
During the shutdown, we ran a special for businesses that needed signage. We produced lots of safety signs and floor decals. Lately we are printing “open now” signs. Unfortunately, some of my clients have gone out of business due to the pandemic.
What lies ahead for Just Fab Graphics? What areas of your business are you looking to expand?
I’d like to expand our eBay store. It’s a really great tool, and it provides extra income for print-and-ship items. I would also like to add one more person to our staff to keep in constant contact with our customers. We have the production power we need, and a great team already in place. I’m looking forward to the future.