Person of Interest: Meet Jessica Mullan & Rick Gallegos
● By Kylie Cooper
Conversation by: Kylie Cooper Photos by: Troy Alan Garza
How did the idea of opening Elevated Screen Printing first come about?
The idea of Elevated came about one night when we were hanging out with friends. Printing custom merchandise came up in a conversation, and Rick took a huge interest in it because he has always been into graphic design. We ended up finding a cheap single station press – that was in horrible condition – on Craigslist to practice on and to do our first orders with. We had that press for about 6 months, until we were able to get a brand-new one, and the rest is history!
So, this really grew from an intriguing idea and then into a passion for the craft. How did you pick it up and, in turn, learn the tools of the trade?
When we first started, Rick and I both had full-time jobs, so this was really just supposed to be a hobby/side hustle for us. I (Jess) honestly didn't have much interest in screen printing at first. One day out of the blue, after having our Craigslist press for a few weeks, I had gotten let go from my nursing job. Rick was planning on calling out of work the next day to print an order, but a girl with no job has a pretty clear schedule. So in a matter of 8 hours, and with Rick showing me the basics, I taught myself how to screen print (with the help of YouTube, still to this day), I printed my first order, and delivered it to the client. I knew from that day on I didn't want to do anything else. Rick ended up leaving his job to join me full-time 7 months later.
What do you think Elevated brings to the community that it was lacking before?
Elevated brings a social element to our clients when they come in to chat about their order. Most of our printing and embroidery machinery is in our front showroom, so clients are able to see how the process works, and usually end up chatting with Rick about what they need while they watch me print. We also try (emphasis on try – ha!) to provide the best customer service we can.
Why is supporting other local businesses so important to you both?
Supporting other local businesses is essential and critical because we all survive off of each other. Ninety percent, and maybe even more, of our client base is brick and mortar local businesses. So, if they don't thrive, we don't thrive. We are so incredibly lucky and fortunate that we are able to print for a large majority of the businesses downtown. Our Corpus Christi small business owners are amazing, and we wouldn't be able to do any of what we do without them and their support.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Rick's favorite part of the job would be the process of creating custom designs and logos. Mine is being able to show clients their printed apparel when they pick it up, especially if they're first-time clients. My other favorite part is when photos get posted to social [media] of the products they received. That means they must love it!
Do you have a favorite design or product that you've created?
Our favorite design we have created would have to be the Corpus Christi Shark design. Rick flipped the Santa Cruz shark design and it was featured on CC BlissBox's September edition. From that, they ended up donating $1 from each box sold to the Border Angels. BlissBox typically donates to Coastal Bend non-profits but ended up making an exception for that month.
The "Corpus Doesn't Suck, You Do" design is my personal favorite, and I know people freaked when it first came out. How did that idea come about?
To be honest, we had a market coming up that week and needed a good idea for new merch. After a little brainstorming, we ended up settling on “Corpus Doesn't Suck, You Do” to be a positive and funny message for people who truly love living here. We have ended up selling a bunch of them to people who used to live here but have moved, and we love that we can provide a little nostalgia to anyone who wears their tee.
How have you seen the local community evolve over the last few years?
The local community, especially the downtown area, has completely changed in the short two years we have been open. BUS has opened and now is a staple in our community that won't be going anywhere anytime soon, and Chaparral has completely transformed with the two-way conversion and new bars and restaurants opening up. Living downtown, as well, it is so fun listening to all the people at pint night at Executive Surf Club on Tuesdays from our balcony, and enjoying the festivals going on year-round that continue to draw larger and larger crowds. It's starting to feel like a new downtown every day. We are so lucky to have been embraced by downtown in such a pivotal time for its revitalization, and we can't wait to see what the future holds for our amazing city.
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