We're proud to feature local maker and business owner Jesse Barlow, founder of Blacksheep printing.
Before joining us for the Summit panel: Strategic and Sustainable Growth, moderated by Andrew Edens of Smoky Mountain Vintage Lumber, we caught up with Jesse to learn more about his personal journey with Blacksheep and how his business has grown successfully in spite of the challenges he faced.
If you haven't yet, grab your tickets for The Maker City Summit, happening at The Mill & Mine on September 19, 2017.
Established in 2016, Blacksheep Printing had one goal – to make tee shirts better. Our team came together with years of combined experience in the industry with a common vision to do things differently. Our focus on our craft, and dedication to our community has been the driving force behind our company.
When you first started Blacksheep Printing, did you have a goal or plan in place to grow as much as you have?
When we started Blacksheep our goal was to do things differently. We all had years of experience in the industry and throughout our careers, we learned what we “didn’t” want to do. Having a plan for the business and focusing on our processes was extremely important to all of us, and we believe a lot of our success can be contributed to that. We believe if you run a lean, efficient business, that always focuses on doing the right thing, growth will follow.
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome as your business has grown?
I would say our biggest hurdle as a startup was finding the right facility for us to produce out of. Without a lot of capital, it is difficult for a small business to make the step into a more permanent location. We were extremely focused on finding a facility that could suit our long term goals, so we spent a lot of time on that. After doing a lot of research and setting a guideline for what we would, and would not sacrifice, we wound up exactly where we wanted to be, but I would say that is the biggest challenge we have faced.
How do you see the Maker City Summit being beneficial for makers in (and outside of) Knoxville?
We are passionate about being makers, and we have found our community to be one of our strongest assets to lean on as a business. We have made several great friends in the maker community and have spent countless hours just sitting around and talking with them. Those heart-to-heart conversations about our passions, woes, dreams and ideas have been something that we hold very near to our heart. We believe the Summit is a beautiful platform to keep that going and spread that passion to others in and outside our community. We find great joy in the relationships we have with those who are passionate about what they create.