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Community Highlights: Meet Sha’ron Pryor of SquirrelPrintz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sha’ron Pryor.

Hi Sha’ron, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve been an artist my entire life. My first output of my talent was an interior drawing of the USS Enterprise (that’s right Star Trek!) around the age of five. From there, I grew up drawing comic book panels and making video game concepts with friends. By the time I reached high school, I was convinced I wanted to be a full fledge animator for Disney, of course! But got discouraged by how much work actually went into making an animated feature. While in high school, I remember taking a class in Drafting which I really liked considering how technical it is. I think it was this class that sparked my interest in Graphic Design, which is what I decided to pursue upon graduation. I went to a technical college in Long Beach for one year studying Graphic Design before life hit and it was work or else. Working to survive became my standard mode of operation and art took a backseat that only landed in the passenger side when I got bored enough. I entered the transit industry and really had no time for my art. It was just a day-to-day grind going in circles literally. I would show some of my artwork to coworkers and the first thing they would say is “why are you here?” and I’d be embarrassed and struggling to find an answer. Sadly, This went on for 18 years.

In 2019, still working transit I began researching T-shirt business and what all it took to get started. After months of youtube reviews back and forth thoughts I pulled the trigger and bought my first heat press and vinyl cutter. I instantly fell in love with the process. I came up with a business name, SquirrelPrintz which is a small nod to my mom who has always been supportive of my talent and calls me “secret squirrel”. I began making shirts for friends and coworkers including a special coworker of note, Javonne Sanders who is the owner of Toss It Up Salads also here in South L.A.

By mid-2020, I had figured out where I wanted to go with my business and that was the eco-conscious route with the fashion and print industry being notoriously known for its dirty practices I didn’t want to contribute to it especially in my neighborhood but still remain creative. By 2021, I was totally into my business and completely dissatisfied with my job and left for good in March.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Making the decision to leave my job was not easy at all. First off, I’m a serial overthinker so I had to think, think again, think some more because I also have a family to support and I’m pretty much the breadwinner so I had to weigh in those factors. But I got soo much positive feedback from those who know me that when I did decide March 25, 2021 would be my last day I was pretty confident that I would be okay. Also, I continue to battle with self-doubt and anxiety but every sale, like, comment, and share helps me get over that.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about SquirrelPrintz?
SquirrelPrintz is a custom print and embroidery shop that specializes in small batch printing to cater to other small businesses and makers/other creatives who do not need high minimum quantities. Squirrelprintz is proud to use techniques and materials that are earth positive. We currently offer heat transfer services, direct to garment, screenprinting, and embroidery. We love working within the community but are also open to working with anyone within the United States.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Find someone who believes in you and what you do, if possible even more than you do. I really am just now seeing how blessed I am to have some wonderful people placed in my life path to guide me along this journey. Like I previously stated I battle with anxiety issues, but I recently joined a business accelerator program, LACI (Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator) and it has helped tremendously empowering my business goals and networking with like-minded individuals. You definitely can not go at entrepreneurship alone and mentorship programs like these I feel are essential.

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Image Credits
Sha’ron Pryor

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