LUCAS — Even before their official opening, Michelle Jager and Chris Leach say they were busy filling orders from their new screen printing shop, Grey Beard Graphyx, in downtown Lucas.
It was a welcome surprise, especially since the small Russell County town has a population of less than 400. Local support has been strong, and orders also have been coming in from throughout Kansas and even Nebraska.
A grand opening for the business, which has been in the works since last fall, officially was celebrated earlier this month.
Jager previously worked for a print shop for 20 years doing graphic design. She and Leach were looking for a new business opportunity and considered several ideas.
“I knew I like graphic design,” she said. “I was ready to get back into doing what I love.”
A building became available on Main Street, and they decided to give screen printing a try. The name Grey Beard is a nod to Leach’s interest in seafaring and pirates (he’s a native of Hawaii) — and also his grey beard, he said with a chuckle.
The two co-owners designed the logo together, which incorporates subtle references to several of their interests, also including Leach’s Indian brand motorcycle.
“It’s a little bit of everything we kind of enjoy,” Leach said. “I have a gray beard, so that plays into it as well.”
Their shop at 206 S. Main offers screen printing, embroidery and graphic design. They also have equipment to print custom-designed wall decals and are one of a few print shops in the area to offer a direct to garment printer.
That enables clients to more affordably order small quantities and more colors, Leach said, gesturing to elaborate, colorful designs they have printed on the machine, which resembles a computer printer.
“We have both a manual and an automated press,” Jager said. “Which you don’t really find too many of those around in this area.”
The manual press is the more traditional method that requires layering different colors of paint onto the shirts. It typically is used for large orders.
The business also has launched a website that allows customers to design their own shirts and upload their graphic designs or images. The website has helped bring in customers from outside the immediate area, Leach said.
Customers — such as schools or large businesses — also can use the website to set up their own T-shirt or merchandise store, allowing individuals to place their orders directly rather than going through the process of collecting orders and money.
The business also is launching a motorcycle-themed apparel line called Stains & Stitches, which already has more than 13,000 followers on social media.
“We’re fortunate,” Leach said. “There’s a lot of companies, especially in rural areas, who have great ideas, but they open their doors and they’ve got nothing. The Internet is a very important part.”