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Votes

BLT Shirt Printers, Inc.

<b>Owner: </b>

Lois Butcher

<b>Short bio: </b>

One of four PKs (preacher’s kids), I grew up in Hagerstown, Md. I was voted "Most Artistic" in my high school senior class. Went to the University of Maryland for a BA in Art Education. Work experience includes public school teaching in PG County, shared ownership in a picture framing business, commercial graphics production work and sales.

<b>Why did you choose this particular business? </b>

In the early 80s, to be able to decorate t-shirts with your own slogan and graphic design seemed endlessly fascinating to me. I still have fun with the technology, the photographic process of making a screen (stencil) for printed apparel. When we added embroidery to our capabilities in the 90s, the creative possibilities doubled.

<b>Why did you choose to work for yourself rather than as an employee for someone else? </b>

I was self-employed at the time, as a graphic designer working at home. There didn’t seem to be many screen-printing shops around in those days; the industry was relatively new.

<b>What have you learned from being in business? </b>

That running a business is all about people. The people you work with, the customers and employees. More about people than product.

<b>Share an anecdote of a challenging or humorous experience or biggest surprise learned from working your business: </b>

Occasionally, a customer will come into our shop with a clever design, one so unique and attractive that, when printed on a t-shirt, it is bound to "sell itself." That’s when I am again reminded of the design I spent hours developing for the Alexandria Y’s Scottish Walk, December 1983. It was printed in four colors of ink on the best quality shirts, with such originality and precision they were sure to be well-received, or so I thought. We printed a lot of them.

At the end of the day, we actually donated most of our precious hot items to Mrs. Campagna (after whom the Y ultimately came to be named The Campagna Center). I hope the shirts were somewhat appreciated by those who received them — for free — while I learned a very costly lesson in sales and marketing.

<b>What have been the advantages and/or disadvantages of operating a business in Alexandria? </b>

There has been wonderful growth in Alexandria since we started printing t-shirts for schools, churches, clubs, businesses, sports organizations, and associations in the 80s. With the commercialization of Old Town, the opening of Metro, the development of Eisenhower Avenue, and the proliferation of new enterprise throughout our area, the market for our services has steadily increased.

<b>Description of services and/or products: </b>

Custom screen-printed and embroidered sportswear: t-shirts, golf shirts, sweats, dress shirts, sports jerseys, hats, jackets, work uniforms, aprons, tote bags.

<b>Professional affiliations/associations: </b>

I am active in the Alexandria Professional Women’s Network.