MADE is a paid partnership with Little Lake County.
Welcome to MADE in Lake County! MADE introduces you to the people and stories behind local Lake County businesses. This month we’ve gotten to know Nancy Needham Solomon owner of Melon Ink, screenprinting, embroidery and promotions in Lake Zurich. Today we are going to get an inside look inside Melon Ink and why you should consider local when buying your promotional products.
As a parent and a marketer, I have a lot of promotional products. T-shirts, pens, bags, thumb drives, bottle openers, pens, bags, pens, mugs, you name it, and we probably have it! I have also ordered my fair share of promotional products. Honestly I usually just jumped online and ordered whatever I could find for the least amount of money. I mean a t-shirt is a t-shirt right? After spending an afternoon at Melon Ink and talking to Nancy, they will be my go-to from all future purchases.
Melon Ink produces almost all their promotional products in house at their Lake Zurich Facility. After you move past the front offices, the facility is a buzz of activity and whirring machines. When I was there, they were working on a screen printing t-shirt order, creating new screens, embroidering beanies, and adding names to dance teams t-shirts.
When I sat down and talked to Nancy, you realize right away the benefit of working with a real-live person with 25 years experience, when deciding on your products. For example, we were talking about t-shirts, I was wearing one that had made somewhere else. Nancy does a lot of t-shirts. Corporations order for special days, schools order on the regular, she knows t-shirts. When I mentioned the brand, she says “oh that’s a good one, we do a lot of those, but they run a full size small” Yeah! I learned that the hard way! That kind of insight into the materials and fabrics and how the different methods will work is not something you get when you blindly order online.
While I was there, I got to see how they do the screen printing. You don’t realize how much of the printing process is just a person and his hands, it’s not a big machine line. Each shirt is printed by hand, running the ink over the screen, and then curing it.
The screens are all made in house. They can basically take any image you have and turn it into a screen. Not sure what you want? They can help you get started with stock designs or connect you with a local graphic designer to help you create an entire brand. Melon Ink makes thousands of shirt a month and outfits many of the local teams and schools. In fact, it’s one of their specialties!
They can take the hassle out of team orders, and school spirit wear through their Company/school Stores. Melon Ink will do everything, set up a website store, handle all the ordering and payment, as well as production. You just send the link to your team or school. When the order period is over, they produce the order and have it ready for pick up or delivery. As a PTO parent, I may have got a little starry-eyed at that idea.
While the production of these large orders is the bread and butter of the business Nancy still loves the smaller personalized orders they do the most. They can embroider almost anything you bring in and helping the client create that vision, “makes her heart sing.” Nancy has worked on everything from sailboat covers and casket covers to embroidering heirloom baptism gowns – including a very famous singer in residence in Vegas (Celene Dion). She was worked with widows to help them create memory bears out of a husband’s old shirts and even added embroidery to a wedding dress – that was stressful!
Everyone I met while walking around Melon Ink was friendly and excited to tell me about what they were working on and how it works. It’s a family business not just because Nancy’s husband and sons work there, but because everyone acts like a family. When you become a customer, they will treat you like family too, and that’s an experience you can only get at a local company.
Melon Ink is offering our readers 20% off a first time order and 10% off a repeat order. Just mention that you saw it on Little Lake County!
Disclosure: Melon Ink is our featured Business of the Month. This series is part of a paid promotion partnership with Little Lake County. If you are interested in featuring your locally-owned business in our series, please contact the sales team.