Federal Ink: a hopeful imprint in Youngstown’s revivalFederal Ink is proud to join in Youngstown’s revival
Published: 4/24/16 @ 12:05
By Kalea Hall
Strings of T-shirts are displayed on two walls inside a former warehouse turned ink shop.
The T-shirts, some with words, some with pictures – but all with detailed perfection – are a show of pride.
Jason Telford and David Bianco have made it through the first year as professional screenprinters at their business, Federal Ink, 350 E. Federal St., Suite 2.
With chill attitudes, the 27-year-old Canfield natives remember the first year with excitement for what they already have accomplished and what they still plan to.
“It’s been an adventure,” Telford said. “Our first goal was to make it a year. The first year is typically the hardest for screen shops.”
Telford and Bianco, friends since sixth grade, began the adventure about two years ago. Bianco, a graphic designer, got Telford to join him for screen-printing classes.
“It was a lot of hands on,” Telford said.
Their teacher came with 40 years of experience. Other wisdom in print screening and business was gathered from Google and Bianco’s father, a Youngstown business owner.
Bianco knew he wanted to use his graphic-design skills for apparel, and he also knew he wanted to run his own business. Telford was always on board with starting the business.
After the training came the purchasing of equipment and finding the right space. The equipment investment came in at more than $10,000, but it was necessary.
“A lot of it could be cheap, but we needed something better than entry level,” Telford said.
As far as the space, the two wanted to be in downtown Youngstown, the center of the city’s revival.
“When I saw the space, I knew we could fix it up,” Bianco said.
The lease was signed in 2014, and renovations took six to eight months. The space wasn’t just fixed up, but cleaned up with an added swing for fun after work. The environment had to be sterile and temperature-controlled for the process of making prints to work properly.
The business became official in April 2015. Right away, Telford and Bianco received a shirt order from Ironman Warehouse gym for its SteelTown Struggle event, and that helped get the Federal Ink name out there.
“There were some gaps in between jobs,” Bianco said. “During those gaps, we would do more testing and legwork on our website.”
The testing to perfect their work helped get the word out about the business. Soul Food Mafia, a local edgy apparel company, used Federal Ink as its printing source.
The first year had some slow times for Federal Ink, but Telford and Bianco would prefer a steady growth so they can handle it. The two want to remain as personal with each customer as possible.
Bianco works directly with customers on designs while Telford handles the numbers side of the business, and both work the press to create the product.
Creating the product is a multistep process that starts with the design and ends in a conveyor dryer. The end result can be basic color to gradient color or a shiny finish.
The future for Federal Ink includes the possibility of additional services, including embroidery.
One fact is Federal Ink wants to make its print in Youngstown. Telford and Bianco see the revival of the city and want to be a part of it.
“I would love to be a part of breathing new life into this area,” Bianco said.
“You have to make your own change,” Telford added. “If everyone leaves, nothing will happen. As the city grows, so will the business.”
For information about Federal Ink, go to www.fedink.com.