Duluth screen printer puts focus on craft, quality

ian-scherberThe term “craft goods” has been slowly working its way into the Duluth lexicon. It’s been applied to micro breweries, manufacturers of outdoors gear, bakeries and on down to individual blacksmiths and jewelry makers. A new screen-printing business recently joined the ranks of those embracing this “craft” philosophy.

Proctor native Ian Scherber launched Duluth Screen Printing in May 2015 with a focus on creating sustainable products for those in need of a quality, customized T-shirt. In an odd twist, the popularity of the craft trend quickly led him into partnerships with large corporations like Target, Patagonia and Ernst & Young, putting out small-batch custom apparel for three behemoth brands.

“Industry is changing,” Scherber said. “There (are) a lot of really awesome options out there. We sell that opportunity and we wanted to be a nitty-gritty, hardworking brand based right in Downtown Duluth that’s making awesome stuff right out of our shop.”

Scherber has been practicing screen printing since his days at Proctor High School. He learned the trade through his after-school job at Proctor Builders Supply, where he learned how to use the screen-printing machine the company had just purchased. One of his first attempts at making a T-shirt was for the infamous Proctor/Hermantown “hammer game” in which the winning football team becomes the proud holder of a six-foot sledge hammer until the next year’s rematch.

“After I met with the boss, I went to football practice the next day and told him that I could make the hammer shirts, and after that it just kind of took off,” Scherber said.

electric-machine

His Duluth Screen Printing Company occupies a studio space above Lake Superior Bottle Shop on East First Street. Along with two employees, Scherber has put a lot of work into the overall environment of the company and the mission to use high-quality materials such as organic cotton and water-based ink. The theory is that longer-lasting shirts won’t end up in the waste stream as quickly, consuming fewer resources over time.

“T-shirts are meant to be T-shirts and not rags,” Scherber said. “We all have those crappy T-shirts that we don’t want to wear, but our big goal is to produce stuff that lasts.”

Scherber is also developing a second business, Neverest Outfitters, producing canvas bags and apparel with a similar focus on old-fashioned work ethic and quality products over the fast and cheap approach.

“Get out there and get your hands on something and do it,” is Scherber’s advice to other young entrepreneurs. “If you haven’t found what you’re passionate about, don’t stop, keep going, do something with your hands and try it.”

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4 Comments

Pablo

about 3 years ago

I believe both Duluth Screen Printers and the Lake Superior Bottle Shop are located at 31 E 1st Street.

Paul Lundgren

about 3 years ago

Correct. PDD apologizes for initially being directionally challenged. The sentence has been updated.

Nobody

about 3 years ago

Cool story.   I can extra appreciate this as my first job was cleaning t-shirt screens with mineral spirits for a $1/screen after riding my bike 7 miles each way (including the hill).  
T-shirts that are high quality are awesome.  I love a good t-shirt that lasts a long time (they get so much better with age!).  I have a few Patagonia t-shirts that have aged nicely (maybe they came from a sub like DSP!).

The canvas bag endeavor seems like a tough space with the big boys Duluth Pack and Frost River in town, but the Neverest products and materials look good so there must be room in the market.

Kodiak

about 3 years ago

Nice bit of promo by a creative young entrepreneur but the biz name lets me down.  Duluth this, Duluth that.  Very tired.  Hackneyed.  Not clever or catchy for an up n comer.  Throw the Lake Superior Bottle Shop name in there, too.  Come on Tyler, put your marketing cap on and Go for it!!

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