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T-shirt venture inspired by poor customer service
A frustrating attempt to get a piece of art printed on a black T-shirt has led to a part-time business for a Spotsylvania veteran.

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Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 12/1/2012

BY CATHY JETT

A frustrating attempt to find a company capable of printing one of his designs on a black T-shirt opened Clyde Caminos' eyes to a business opportunity.

Some of the printers that the Spotsylvania County man had contacted politely turned him down. While black is one of the most popular T-shirt colors, printing a crisp image on it is notoriously difficult.

But it was the company that treated him like a number rather than trying to cultivate him as a customer that really kicked the Marine Corps veteran's competitive spirit into high gear.

Caminos decided to open his own print shop. Its specialties would include printing on dark fabric and offering great customer service. Seven months later, he won top honors in the direct-to-garment digital apparel decoration category of the 2011 Impressions Awards.

Not only is it a prestigious competition in the apparel decorating industry, but the entry was for one of his own designs--three spooky skulls based on Hawaiian folk tales that are surrounded by a swirl of mist.

And, it was printed on a black T-shirt.

"I gave this big 'Whoop!' and ran upstairs [after receiving the call]," he said. "I told my family, 'You're not going to believe this. I won!' We started dancing. It was like I got a date to the prom."

Caminos said he'd entered the contest because he wanted to see where he stood in the T-shirt printing industry. Not only did he best much larger companies to take first and third in the direct-to-garment printing category in 2011, but he won first and second places in the contest this year.

He also was recently picked as the grand prize winner in T-ShirtForums.com's seventh anniversary Design Contest Extravaganza. The award was a Roland VersaStudio BN-20 T-shirt printing press, complete with a supply of inks and media.

The awards have helped to raise the profile for Caminos' business, KA Grafix Custom Printing & Designs, which he runs out of his basement with occasional help from family and friends. Requests for his services, which range from orders of two or three garments to more than 200, have come in from as far away as Australia.


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