In our ultramodern, digitize-everything-in-sight age, it's tough for the modest ink-stained page to get much attention. And for those who labor at the craft, well, let's just say the days have become longer and the pickings slimmer over the last decade, with printing companies of all sizes shuttering their doors and leaving the hulking mechanical beasts of creation mute.
And though this tale of a once giant medium humbled is not new by any means—and I swear this isn't yet another whiny lament for the old-timey days—there does exist a new generation of brave souls ready and able to take on the art of the printed word, and pictures, and all kinds of other stuff, too. See, this is a hap-hap-happy post!
Gretchen Kletzien, owner of Milwaukee Printing Press, is just one of these new gutsy go-getters, and today we're gonna talk about how and why-oh-why she decided to take a life-altering, fairly scary swim in the blackest of black ink.
So, as with most this-could-be-nuts-but-I-just-gotta-try stories, this yarn begins with art. Gretchen earned her BA at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in—wait for it—Fine Arts! Oh, and also got herself a Minor in Art History. And what do you do with that combo? Why prepress, of course!
As she tells it:
"I got interested in design in college and Prepress seemed like the logical direction to go in to get use out of my degree. Before starting my business, I worked in Prepress and Design for about 5 years until that printing business closed and I decided I would have a go at opening my own business."
Did ya catch that? That little "have a go" buried in the last sentence? Such nonchalance makes my heart ache with pride. Indeed, why don't more of us "have a go" at something we wanna do, eh? Beautiful.
And so she went, opening Milwaukee Printing Press in February of 2009 in downtown Miltown at the corner of Broadway and Michigan. Today she does 90% of the work in-house—farming out only when the jobs are comin' in fast and furious—including the usual suspects—ya know, business cards, invitations, brochures, etc.—but also design and layout, typesetting and bindery work. Twas that last one that led me to contact her for a quote to print and bind my novel Artifacts, and the results are quite simply stunning.
But owning your own business ain't no joy ride, and much kudos and gratitude must be given to those who help you along:
"Even though I am a sole owner, I could not have opened by own business without the support of my family: Husband, Parents, & Siblings. They support me immensely in my life and business! Starting a business in not easy on any level, as you know. It takes it's toll on your stress level and relationships. It is a major commitment that, looking back at who I was before, I am glad I didn't know how hard it would be and how much work and sweat it would take to succeed. If I had known, I may not have chosen to proceed, and that would have been a mistake because I now that I am into it am so very happy I did. There is a certain pride unlike any other that comes with the success of something huge that you work so hard at."
And work hard she does, folks, so let's hear it for having a go, go and go! You may also show your support and enthusiasm by flowing some jobs Milwaukee Printing Press' way 'cause keeping good people who do good work in business is what good towns do.
Link (Thanks, Gretchen!)