CopyCat Printing and Apparel brings a new local option to River Falls, with a focus on humanitarian and environmental values.
Business partners Daniel Lysander and Joe Bertelsen opened the studio in February at its location off St. Croix Street. It offers screen printing and heat press and will also offer embroidery in a couple of months.
CopyCat is focused on being eco-friendly and fair trade throughout the whole process. That means vetting suppliers all the way back to the factories used to make the apparel and fields where the material is grown.
"To make sure the whole process is transparent, good for the environment and good for the people working there," Lysander said.
They use non-phthalate inks, Lysander said, and in the future will use water-based and discharge inks to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Lysander said the studio is the first screenprinting business in the area that is wholly environmentally friendly and fair trade.
Issues like human rights and the environment are important to them, and something they wanted to focus on in their business.
"It's just something that I think we've both always been passionate about," Lysander said.
Lysander was previously working as a screen printer at another company when he and business partner Bertelsen decided to branch out on their own. Doing so allowed them to focus on these values.
"We wanted to introduce another business in the area that focuses on things like that," Lysander said.
Lysander and Bertelsen both love the arts, and bring their experience to the business.
Lysander said he at first struggled to find his place in the arts. He wasn't much of a drawer or painter, but he discovered printing was an outlet for his creativity.
"This is an avenue where I can put my creativity into it without having to focus so much on the creation of the art. I can focus more on the colors, that sort of thing," he said.
Bertelsen has a degree in fine arts, and has been working as a graphic designer since graduation.
Lysander and Bertelsen, both business partners and roommates, work well together, handling different parts of the process.
"It's fun, we get along really well," Lysander said.
Lysander is the first point of contact for customers. He works with them on the product they want including colors, placement of design and type of apparel. CopyCat offers a variety of apparel including hoodies, long sleeve shirts, hats and aprons.
Bertelsen then takes on the design aspect, working through the art process.
The next step is printing off film positives, and sending it off for production. A black light exposure unit is used to expose the negatives onto a photo-sensitive screen. Then it's printed onto the apparel.
The process of printing is more technical than it looks, Lysander said, and requires precision.
"I picked up on it pretty quick, I was told," he said.
Lysander said CopyCat is there to provide a more personal touch and local opportunity for screen printing for schools and businesses in the area. They do not have any order minimums.
River Falls was a natural location choice for the business. Lysander has lived in the area his whole life, and Bertelsen recently graduated from UW - River Falls.
"We like the community in this area," Lysander said. "All of our friends are here, a good chunk of our family is here."
Lysander said he wants people to know that they're here, and will be going around to introduce themselves to the community.
To order from CopyCat, contact them through email at email@example.com or visit the CopyCat Printing and Apparel Facebook page.