Hartford Prints! was a Silver award recipient at the 2015 reSET Impact Awards. The annual event recognizes winners of the Impact Challenge and honors innovative, impactful and viable early-stage ventures and startups from all industries.
Impact Award winners shared details about their companies and their experiences with Innovation Destination: Hartford. Read the interview and watch a video with Hartford Prints! Callie Gale Heilmann, Middle Sister, and Rory Gale, Younger Sister.
IDH: When and why did you start your company?/How did you develop the business concept?
HEILMANN: We started Hartford Prints! in 2012 as a letterpress and design studio. The impetus behind the business was a desire to merge our talents as sisters. Addy brought the handmade process of letterpress printing, Rory offered homegrown graphic design services and I provided my creative eye and administrative direction.
In the early days of the business, we were strictly focused on custom print and design services. In 2013, however, we received the iConnect grant from the City of Hartford, which allowed us to open a store in downtown Hartford and the business model evolved to include retail. Slowly over the last three years, Hartford Prints! has evolved to be a lifestyle brand for urban dwellers in Connecticut.
We just launched our new e-commerce site at www.hartfordprints.com, as well as our new “Small State Big Heart” commercial, highlighting the handmade and homegrown nature our community and the concept behind the Hartford Prints! brand.
IDH: Describe your company – what do you do/product/services (2-3 sentences).
HEILMANN: Hartford Prints! is an urban good brand that specializes in handmade and homegrown products. We sell urban apparel, letterpress stationery and unique gifts from makers around the state in our store and online.
We also wholesale our letterpress cards nationally and are carried in more than 50 stores worldwide. Additionally, we offer high-end specialty print services for graphic designers, large companies and marketing firms all over the northeast.
IDH: Why did you get involved in the reSET Impact Challenge?
HEILMANN: The reSET Impact Challenge offered Hartford Prints! the opportunity to showcase the creative impact that our business has on our city and our state. Geared toward young urban dwellers in Connecticut, our products offer people a way to express pride about where they are from, so we applied for the Impact Challenge as a way to give more exposure to the good work we are doing. We also wanted to win the reSET Impact Challenge as a way of validating our business model for potential investors across the state.
IDH: Where do you see your company in the next three to five years?
HEILMANN: Over the next three to five years, Hartford Prints! will become the lifestyle brand for people who live in Connecticut! Our online sales will grow each year, allowing us the opportunity to open another store location in New Haven or Bridgeport and offer our products via vending kiosks at Metro North train stations throughout the state. After a studio/store merger, our flagship Hartford store will remain an active community space, offering workshops, unique products and partnerships, and one-of-a-kind events.
IDH: Any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs or startup business owners?
HEILMANN: Understand and embrace the chaos but work hard every day to move things forward in an organized and systematic way. As Nathan Bond of Rifle Paper Co. once told us, as an entrepreneur “You are never and always ready!”