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Superior Ink | Mission to go Green

Making Some Tough Choices: Money vs. Mission

Deciding to make your company green isn’t exactly something that can be done overnight. If anyone tells you it’s easy, they probably did the bare minimum. Our process took about a year, and although I wouldn’t say it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, I would say it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my 10 years of business. The process of converting a business at this magnitude is something that takes a serious commitment both mentally, financially and emotionally. I mean truly, pale in the face, loose sleep, question your gut type of commitment. Risky but rewarding.

It all started early last year, when I realized I wasn’t living the life that I thought I was. Sure, I recycled and I was water and energy conscious. I also ate local and shopped organic whenever possible. However, I realized I had been neglecting the biggest thing in my life, the most non-environmental aspect of my life, my business. I was worrying whether or not I was putting my water bottle into the right trash can, but hadn’t looked at my company that produces, prints, ships, imports, and uses more energy in one day than my entire home does in 6 months. I knew it was time to make this change.

I started small, making little changes here and there, slowly becoming the green company we are today. There was one problem though, one major thing stuck in my head over and over; my customers. Now, you may remember me saying this was a tough business decision, and here it is. I realized that to truly be the green, environmentally conscious company we were aiming to be, I needed to pick my partners strategically. This meant evaluating our 300+ current clients we had and decide whether or not they matched with our new mission and goals. I found myself cutting ties with some of my biggest clients because they were not aligning with the future of Superior Ink Printing. For us to make this work we had to educate the consumer and seek out businesses that shared the same common goals and work together.

Waking up and realizing I had just cut off half of our revenue was a bit unnerving to say the least. We genuinely struggled the first several months and had to literally rebuild our brand, customer base and identity. These were companies though, that had no desire to make changes.They were the antithesis of what we were going to accomplish at Superior Ink. I didn’t make this change just to say we are green or conform to the new age hipster movement, I did this for my community, for my planet, for our future. This was bigger than me, and I knew it. I couldn’t bare to watch National Geographic and sit on the couch saying, what can I do to help the world? I see the crisis, but who am I to make a difference? I decided for me, the best way to help is to integrate positive change into what I already know…brand building, textile creation and consumer education.

Since the beginning, inspiration from Patagonia has fueled this process. Patagonia was truly revolutionary in their decision to be fully sustainable. Even though I have been in business for over 10 years, they educated me on things I was fully unaware of. If I wasn’t educated on this subject, how would the consumer understand? Patagonia revolutionized sustainability in the apparel business, this was a foreign concept at the time. They stood by their laurels and even if it meant business sacrifices, they were fully committed, and look at what they have become today. They are giants in the business and an inspiration to me and my team. But still, they have not lost track of the reason WHY they do what they do. If they can make this choice and be successful, so can we.

Once I made the decision to go green, it was full speed ahead. Nothing was going to stop us or get in our way. I knew this would be a decision that would pay us back in the long road and I felt good about it. In fact, I was excited about it, more than I had been about anything in a long time. Superior Ink was going green, we were going to be the new standard in the screen printing and apparel industry.