In 2002, Ricardo L. and his wife, Marielos, started screen-printing t-shirts in their garage for his father-in-law’s t-shirt business. After a while, they decided to print custom t-shirts for other businesses. One business asked them “do you do banners too?” And they said “of course!” even though they hadn’t made banners before and did not have the necessary equipment. “Anytime they ask me something, I say ‘of course’ and I start doing it – and with a lot of success! … in that fashion, little by little, we grew. That’s why they say that this is a good business.”
Now they can print business cards in an hour or two. “We’re very fast. … We’ll stay up all night if we need to. If we resolve our clients’ problems, they’ll return or recommend us.” It takes a while the first time they create a new product, though, because they have to buy materials and access machinery. “My intention is to do everything in-house”.
Ricardo L. and his wife plan to use this loan to stock up on raw materials, such as rolls of vinyl or rolls of magnetic sheets to print on and cartridges of ink and toner for the machines. He always wants to have materials in stock so “I never have to think ‘I have to buy this, and that, and that.’ So I can think about service and quality - not spend my time on thinking ‘I have to buy’. You just buy it and then you’re set.”
Without this loan, Ricardo thinks his business would continue to function, but it would have delayed their goals.
Ricardo and his wife would like to be able to support more people. “We want to give employment to people – to sustain many families. That’s always what we’ve had in mind. We don’t want to be rich; we would rather make it so people have something they can live off of. We would also like to be very organized, and expand. It’s been a dream for many years to have many offices in other cities.”
About two years ago, Ricardo and Marielos moved the business out of their garage. “These have been the two most difficult years for the economy, but we’ve grown! It’s a blessing for us. The most difficult times are when you can put yourself to the test and prove your potential.”
That success is also passed on to his children. “I’m proud that people recognize my business every time as having high quality and good service. And of the lessons that it leaves for my children – it’s important. When you have your own business, your horizon is very large. Every day is an opportunity to do business. And the children learn that way of thinking.”
Ricardo has three children. Ricky is in his third year of studying civil engineering, Odette plans to study architecture when she goes to college next year, and Dhais is in high school.
Born in Chicago, Ricardo grew up in Monterrey, Mexico. He returned to the United States 11 years ago.
Ricardo describes himself as a very honest family man with a lot of faith. He said he “gives thanks to God for what I’m living. That my business is successful. That everything is going well with the business and with my marriage.”
Ricardo describes his marriage and business as “a partnership where each of us do what we know best how to do. She knows how to manage money. And I know well how to do the work with high quality.”
The advice Ricardo would like to give to other business owners is to “make the client feel like this business is for them; make them feel comfortable. It doesn’t matter if the business is tiny or huge; treat them well. You never know which small business will grow huge, and if you treat them well when they’re small they’ll stick with you.”
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.