Meet the husband-wife duo of Midwest Prints

"Everyone is striving forward to just create something great."

Photo Credit: Brad Wolf

Meet the husband-wife duo of Midwest Prints

Written by: Julia Perla Huisman
March 8, 2018


For Nic and Andrea Sanchez, everything is a family affair. Even this interview. I’m sitting across from the young couple at a Potbelly in Munster. (Our original meeting place was Starbucks, but it was overrun by an enthusiastic Pokémon Go group, forcing us to relocate next door.) They’ve brought with them their cooing, well-behaved baby girl Ava. “We don’t really have family here, so babysitters are hard to come by,” Nic had mentioned in an email prior to the interview. “Hope it’s okay to bring her.”  

Of course it was okay, I told him. This is the reality of many up-and-coming local entrepreneurs like the Sanchezes, who own Midwest Prints, an apparel and printing company out of their Munster home. Starting a business is all-encompassing, where work and life intermingle by the minute, and “balance” is a battle. But we’ll get to that. 

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

For Nic and Andrea Sanchez, everything is a family affair. Even this interview. I’m sitting across from the young couple at a Potbelly in Munster. (Our original meeting place was Starbucks, but it was overrun by an enthusiastic Pokémon Go group, forcing us to relocate next door.) They’ve brought with them their cooing, well-behaved baby girl Ava. “We don’t really have family here, so babysitters are hard to come by,” Nic had mentioned in an email prior to the interview. “Hope it’s okay to bring her.”  

Of course it was okay, I told him. This is the reality of many up-and-coming local entrepreneurs like the Sanchezes, who own Midwest Prints, an apparel and printing company out of their Munster home. Starting a business is all-encompassing, where work and life intermingle by the minute, and “balance” is a battle. But we’ll get to that. 

The idea for Midwest Prints developed from a combination of things: Nic, who is an architect but surprisingly does more email and paperwork than actual drawing, desired to work with his hands again; and Andrea wanted to leave her job as a CAT scan tech so they could have a family.  

When discussing potential business opportunities, Andrea said, “Hey, let’s make T-shirts.” The idea stuck, with the goal of starting an athletic clothing line. After a couple months of research, the couple began printing shirts from a tabletop press in their sunroom in March 2016. That same week, they found out they were pregnant. 

They had “some success” at first, making shirts for a few athletes, “but it definitely wasn’t going to replace our income any time soon,” Nic says. Then a friend who owns an ice cream shop asked if they could make T-shirts for his employees and Nic agreed, even though it wasn’t their target market. That ice cream shop owner “told a friend, then that friend told a friend, and it just kind of boomed from there,” Nic says. “So in those two weeks after that first ice cream shop, we had printed more for businesses than we had in the past six months.” 

They quickly rebranded their name and website to focus on the business market, “and that’s pretty much all she wrote,” Nic says. They grew so quickly that they were able to purchase larger commercial equipment and add to their services. And their income was sufficient enough to allow Andrea to quit her job by July 2017. 

Photo Credit: Brad Wolf
Nic and Andrea Sanchez, with daughter Ava
Photo Credit: Brad Wolf
Nic and Andrea Sanchez, with daughter Ava

The idea for Midwest Prints developed from a combination of things: Nic, who is an architect but surprisingly does more email and paperwork than actual drawing, desired to work with his hands again; and Andrea wanted to leave her job as a CAT scan tech so they could have a family.  

When discussing potential business opportunities, Andrea said, “Hey, let’s make T-shirts.” The idea stuck, with the goal of starting an athletic clothing line. After a couple months of research, the couple began printing shirts from a tabletop press in their sunroom in March 2016. That same week, they found out they were pregnant. 

They had “some success” at first, making shirts for a few athletes, “but it definitely wasn’t going to replace our income any time soon,” Nic says. Then a friend who owns an ice cream shop asked if they could make T-shirts for his employees and Nic agreed, even though it wasn’t their target market. That ice cream shop owner “told a friend, then that friend told a friend, and it just kind of boomed from there,” Nic says. “So in those two weeks after that first ice cream shop, we had printed more for businesses than we had in the past six months.” 

They quickly rebranded their name and website to focus on the business market, “and that’s pretty much all she wrote,” Nic says. They grew so quickly that they were able to purchase larger commercial equipment and add to their services. And their income was sufficient enough to allow Andrea to quit her job by July 2017. 

Photo Credit: Brad Wolf

Andrea now performs office tasks like invoicing and taking orders, while also helping Nic print the products, which include bags and promotional items in addition to the T-shirts. Nic still works full-time at his architecture firm, so he has to fit the business in after hours. He walks me through his schedule: he wakes up around 5 or 6 a.m. to do artwork or answer emails, then goes to work at 9, comes home for lunch, then goes back to work till 5 p.m., when he returns home and has dinner and family time. Then the work begins again. “Ava goes down at 7:00, so then we go to the garage and print,” Nic says. “Some nights, we finish in a couple of hours. Some nights it’ll take till midnight or 1:00 in the morning. We just repeat it over and over.” 

Andrea adds, “He’s always on the clock, but he’s never clocked in.” 

Despite Nic’s inherent desire to work nonstop, he and Andrea have learned to set very clear boundaries with their family time. “Early on, I was always on the phone, writing emails or doing artwork till midnight and I never spent time with [Andrea],” Nic says. “So now I make it a point that when I get home at 5:00, it’s dinner with the family and it’s time with Ava.” He also commits to keeping weekends strictly family, no work. “I have to keep my relationship strong with both my wife and my daughter, because they’re the reasons I’m doing this. If that’s strained, then what’s the point of working so much?” 

Their hustle has landed Midwest Prints with several accounts, and the number is growing. They’ve worked with corporate accounts like Chick-fil-A and the Boys & Girls Club, but many of their clients are fellow local

Photo Credit: Brad Wolf

Andrea now performs office tasks like invoicing and taking orders, while also helping Nic print the products, which include bags and promotional items in addition to the T-shirts. Nic still works full-time at his architecture firm, so he has to fit the business in after hours. He walks me through his schedule: he wakes up around 5 or 6 a.m. to do artwork or answer emails, then goes to work at 9, comes home for lunch, then goes back to work till 5 p.m., when he returns home and has dinner and family time. Then the work begins again. “Ava goes down at 7:00, so then we go to the garage and print,” Nic says. “Some nights, we finish in a couple of hours. Some nights it’ll take till midnight or 1:00 in the morning. We just repeat it over and over.” 

Andrea adds, “He’s always on the clock, but he’s never clocked in.” 

Despite Nic’s inherent desire to work nonstop, he and Andrea have learned to set very clear boundaries with their family time. “Early on, I was always on the phone, writing emails or doing artwork till midnight and I never spent time with [Andrea],” Nic says. “So now I make it a point that when I get home at 5:00, it’s dinner with the family and it’s time with Ava.” He also commits to keeping weekends strictly family, no work. “I have to keep my relationship strong with both my wife and my daughter, because they’re the reasons I’m doing this. If that’s strained, then what’s the point of working so much?” 

Their hustle has landed Midwest Prints with several accounts, and the number is growing. They’ve worked with corporate accounts like Chick-fil-A and the Boys & Girls Club, but many of their clients are fellow local

creative entrepreneurs like RegionWear, Aster + Gray, Smalltown Coffee and Designer Desserts. Nic says working with these clients brings life to his business. “The passion they have, it fuels me to keep going,” he says. “It’s a collective—a pool of individuals that are so creative and so passionate that I feel like it’s not an individual type of effort. It’s more of a unison where everyone is striving forward to just create something great.” 

The couple has big goals for the future of Midwest Prints. They’re currently searching for a commercial space so they can print at a higher volume, and they hope to take on some employees. In the meantime, they’re just continuing to work hard and fast, make connections and serve their clients well. When pondering their future, Nic grins. “This year I really want to push our capabilities of what we can do.” 

MIDWEST PRINTS
Based in Munster
mwprints.com