Meet Jesse Poteet, the cool and creative mind behind Alpine Apparel Co and Startup Screen Printing. Jesse’s the real deal - full of integrity and armed with a genuine passion for teaching the art of screen printing. Every time we connect with him, his down-to-earth vibe shines through and we’re so stoked to highlight him.
Written by guest writer Jesse Poteet with Alpine Apparel Co & Startup Screen Printing
In 2013, my graphic design career took an exciting turn when I joined a local print shop, marking my first foray into apparel design and screen printing. Despite almost a decade and a half as a graphic designer, designing for apparel was a new and thrilling challenge. It wasn't long before I fell deeply in love with the art of screen printing.
NAVIGATING THE SCREEN PRINTING LEARNING CURVE
Initially, I lacked experience in most of the screen print process, including art separations and creating film positives. However, industry pioneers like Ryan Moor and Jonathan Monaco (Catspit Productions) became my virtual mentors, guiding me through their comprehensive training videos. Their expertise was invaluable, and I immersed myself in their content, gaining invaluable knowledge. A pivotal moment came in 2016 when the print shop was sold, and my wife and I relocated to Colorado to be closer to her family. Having managed the shop's operations for six months prior, I was asked to transition into a consulting role for the new owners, further fueling my passion for screen printing. This experience was the catalyst for launching Alpine Apparel Co in 2017.
THE EVOLUTION OF ALPINE APPAREL CO
I began with a DIY press kit from Ryonet, eagerly testing and refining my printing skills. I signed up for Ryonet’s Screen Print Experience class at Denver Print House where Danny Grunninger's industry knowledge, plus his view of screen printers as problem solvers and the limitless nature of screen printing, deeply resonated with me. Danny started the class by saying “there are no rules in screen printing". Inspired by the Ryonet class, I upgraded to more sophisticated equipment, including a Riley Hopkins Jr 4x4 press, an exposure unit, and more. I chose to focus on water-based inks, a decision that not only set Alpine Apparel Co apart but also challenged industry norms, especially for a home-based setup. Despite Alpine being a side hustle, its growth has been remarkable, largely fueled by word-of-mouth and a commitment to quality and service. Over time, I've upgraded the equipment, including adding a Riley 300 8x6 press and Hotronix Fusion heat presses. A tour of my basement print shop is available on the Startup Screen Printing channel!
RELATED: EXPERIENCE MAKES THE SCREEN PRINTER
As 2022 ended, I pondered the future of Alpine Apparel Co. The allure of turning it into a full-time venture was there, but I found fulfillment in keeping it as a side project. Concurrently, my role as a Marketing Technology Consultant revealed my talent and passion for teaching, which led to a new idea: combining my consulting skills and knowledge of business with my screen printing expertise. Battling imposter syndrome, I reached out to Jonathan Overmeyer (Golden Press Studio) for advice. His encouragement was a turning point, leading to the launch of Startup Screen Printing in February 2023.
My goal was to demystify screen printing and empower others to start their own screen printing businesses from home.
BUILDING A SCREEN PRINTING COMMUNITY WITH STARTUP SCREEN PRINTING
The response to my initial videos was overwhelmingly positive, solidifying my desire to focus on this venture. I didn't want to overshadow existing creators that were already doing such a great job of supporting the industry (looking at you, Lee Stuart 🤘) but rather add my unique perspective to the mix. Early support from Brandon Schmunk and the Ryonet team was instrumental in this journey.
On the YouTube channel, I cover all things screen printing from artwork and Illustrator tips to making screens and printing with water based ink. On the podcast, I discuss the business side of starting and growing a screen print company. This is really where my expertise truly lies. I’ve worked in all types of businesses and I’ve run my own successful businesses for many years, so I’m bringing that, as well as my marketing automation knowledge from my day job, to the screen print world through the podcast. I have a new podcast coming out soon that’s more of an interview format, as well as new content coming to the channel and the existing podcast in January. Startup Screen Printing has evolved into more than a YouTube channel. It now includes a podcast, a community platform for screen printers called The Print Crew, and mentorship opportunities. My focus is on sharing comprehensive knowledge on screen printing techniques and the business acumen required for success. The community I mentioned was created simply because I hate Facebook groups but I wanted a place to connect with other printers. I wanted a way for printers to jump on and ask questions, support each other, and celebrate wins together as they grow their business. The community is free and if you’re not yet a member, we’d love to have you join. Aside from the channel, podcast, and community, I’m working on several online courses, all of which will launch on the same platform that hosts The Print Crew community.
A LOOK AHEAD & MESSAGE OF PERSERVERANCE
I envision Alpine maintaining its organic growth trajectory. For Startup Screen Printing, my aim is to expand its reach and influence, with the focus on making it a full-time endeavor. I’m constantly looking for more ways to support the community so if you have questions, video requests, or an interest in coaching/1:1 mentorship, please contact me. You can find all the various ways to connect with me here.To those at the start of their screen printing journey, my message is simple: persevere. Ignore the naysayers and embrace the challenges. Your dedication, creativity, and resilience are invaluable. This industry needs innovators like you. Keep pushing boundaries and, most importantly, keep going. Your future customers and the screen print world await your contributions.