Branded, a new shop in Tempe, offers its space up to Arizona businesses looking to sell fashion and art items, like clothes, jewelry, accessories, photography, and other artworks.
We chatted with store owner Drew Reyner about where the idea to start such a business came from and how he wants to create a collaborative team -- and we got the lowdown on the grand opening for the shop on Saturday, March 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Next door to the retail space is a screen printing warehouse, where bands, businesses, and nonprofits can print clothing at a fraction of the price it would cost elsewhere, according to Renyer.
He says the idea for the shop was born during his efforts in a nonprofit he started, called Give1Too, which was formed to help a friend's daughter suffering from alopecia.
Reyner says that escalated into Give Back Printing, which is the screen printing side of the Branded retail shop, where anybody can come learn how to screen print under Reyner's instruction, and print their tees for much cheaper than it would cost them from other screen printing companies.
When Reyner started the Give1Too, most of his money earned was coming from T-shirt sales, and he was using local screen printers for all the Ts.
"I was curious how much it is to actually print these, compared to what I was paying," Reyner says. "I looked it up and was like: Gosh, we could be doing this ourselves. So I found a screen printing shop in Sacramento that was going out of business, flew out to Sacramento, loaded up a U-Haul, and drove back."
At that point, Reyner says he set up a little shop in an industrial warehouse not too far from the current Branded location, where he planned on printing solely for himself and the nonprofit. After deciding he needed to do something to help pay off the costs, he brought in a local company that was looking for a place to print and started teaching them to do their own printing.
Reyner says the man from that company ended up being there six days a week and that the screen printing lessons were a big help to him.
"So I was like: This is awesome. I wonder if I can teach people to do this, they can save money, entrepreneurs can start new clothing lines, and let's see if this will work," he says. "So we started seeing if people wanted to print for themselves, and it worked. They were saving money and learning a trade, so it was awesome. Then we started working with nonprofits, so they could save money and make more money for their charities."
Soon after, he decided to move locations, to a spot right by Four Peaks on 8th Street in Tempe that had a little space next to it, attached by a door. Reyner says he decided to let people who were coming in and printing have a place to sell their stuff.
"So they can come in and print and then sell right next door," he says. "They can learn how to get into stores, learn how retail works and all that stuff, and we added the charity component from the Give Back Printing on the side. We have three rotating charities every month, so for anything that is purchased, we give like a little Nerf golf ball, and the charities have their own little stations, so you put it in which charity you want to support, and then we do custom shirts for the charities that we donate proceeds to."
Over on the screen printing side, 10 percent of the sales are donated to a charity of the company doing the screen printing's choice, selected from a list provided by Reyner.
"Nonprofits come in and don't want to pay a lot of money," says Reyner. "And I sit with them and we'll print shirts together... You just pay for the T-shirts, the screen that we're printing on, and then it's just a small hourly fee."
Reyner says he loves the work he's doing with Branded and Give Back Printing because he went to school for secondary education and wanted to teach business in high school and coach.
"This is the best of both words, I still get to teach, I still get to run a business, so I love it," Reyner says.
The only criteria, as of now, to get an item into the shop is to be an Arizona company -- the store won't accept anyone from outside the state -- and it has to fall in line with the overall theme, which is anything related to fashion and art.
Reyner says he wants everyone who comes in to sell their product being a collaborative member of the store.
"I don't want people to come in, just drop off the clothes, and be like, 'Well, I'll come back to pick up a check, hopefully it will sell,'" he says. "And I don't don't want to be the types that's 'put your stuff here, hopefully it sells.' I want them to be in it with me -- so working on marketing together, working on sales, working on growing their brand, and growing this store. So it's super interactive."
Reyner says that every month the companies will come in for a brainstorming session, where everyone can say what's worked and hasn't worked for them, exchange contacts, and engage in forward-thinking discussion.
"Every clothing company that I've talked to, starting out you just waste an immense amount of time and money, just the learning curve," says Reyner. "So this is just a great way to skip a lot of the hardship and learn from other people."
Aside from nonprofits and local clothing companies, Reyner says a lot of his screen printing business comes from local indie bands, who are in weekly getting shirts printed.
As of now, Branded offers products from about 15 different businesses and three local artists.
The shop's grand opening is Saturday, March 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held in front of the store, with vendor booths from all of the companies, games and raffles, coffee from Espresso Italia -- the coffee shop that will be going in next door to the store -- offered on donation basis, as well as two of current charities, Mayday Pit Bull Rescue and Advocacy, and Jette's Journey Foundation.
Reyner says Jette's parents came in and discussed how they could work together to help the charity raise more money. Jette is a 12-year-old going through another round of chemotherapy, and came up with a concept to help other kids who are going to go through their first round of chemo.
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"His whole goal is to raise money to create what he calls 'fighter boxes,'" says Reyner. "What it is, is for kids going through chemo for the first time, it's kind of the essentials, of what he learned he would want in a box. So he's raising money to create the boxes and put the supplies in it."
All of the money raised from the event will be donated to Mayday Pit Bull Rescue and Advocacy and Jette's Journey Foundation.