Spelling Success Through Print: How a Word-Loving Couple Built a Thriving Modern Stationery Brand
Ashley and Paul Jankowski, owners of The Type Set Co. in Acworth, Georgia, are self-proclaimed “word nerds.” Long-time entrepreneurs, their love of letters led them to start a modern magnetic letters business, and from there, add a quote-driven sticker line.
We caught up with the Jankowskis to discuss how they built their dream business, which of their current printed products are resonating most with customers, and what lies ahead for this constantly innovating company.
WFI: Tell us about how you launched The Type Set Co.
Ashley: We started R&D in 2016 and launched in late 2017 with direct-to-consumer pre-sales in the wholesale market in early 2018.
WFI: Why did you decide to bring in UV printing equipment?
Ashley: Purchasing our Roland DG 64” UV printer/cutter was a reaction to the pandemic-fueled supply-chain issues we experienced with our overseas manufacturing operations for the past several years.
We were looking for a way to expand our product line and gain a little more control over manufacturing and timelines. Our initial goal was to expand into flat alphabet magnets, but we pivoted a little and decided to add a line of quote-driven stickers first.
WFI: What features on a UV printer were most appealing for your business?
Paul: We love that it’s an all-in-one machine for printing and cutting. For us, it also cuts down on material waste and labor that we would have if we were using a different type of ink. We love the durability and vibrancy of the UV ink as well.
We are new to digital printing and our experience with our UV printer has been good overall. I’d almost compare the setup process to making a friend — you have to learn about your new friend, what they like, what makes them tick, etc. We got to know our printer and updated the software, plus the Roland team came through with a few tips and pointers. Now, our printer runs like a dream!
Ashley: The colors it prints are vibrant and beautiful — just what we needed to help sell our products.
WFI: What substrates are you printing on?
Paul: We print our stickers on a 6.0 mil matte finish, semi-rigid vinyl with permanent adhesive which has a very high-end feel. We’re still experimenting with magnetic materials, but we’re currently printing on a 15-20 mil flexible magnetic substrate with a matte finish.
WFI: How do you process a typical order?
Paul: Our workflow is pretty straightforward. First, we do our daily maintenance, then we put the order into Roland’s VersaWorks software queue. Next, we adjust the queue and RIP the file to the printer. We typically print 20-40 units of each file, and our typical wholesale sticker order ranges from 480-560 units.
Our files are designed with packaging, so the printer does the heavy lifting and spits out a finished product. Lastly, we pop the stickers (or magnets) out of the rolls, bundle them, and bag bundles of 20.
WFI: Please describe the growth of your company. What new products have you added?
Paul: Our Roland DG UV printer has allowed us to expand into the stationery category and gain more control over our supply chain, with higher profit margins too! So far, we’ve added a large line of stickers that spans across several themes.
WFI: What are some of your best sellers this year? Any particular trends you are seeing?
Ashley: All of our stickers are designed in themed collections. They are simple, colorful, stickers featuring quotes related to a range of subjects — from books and plants to seaside or mountain towns, and anything in between. They’re fun, relatable, and are selling as collections shown on point-of-sale retail displays. Our customers can build their own display or buy a full collection.
WFI: Why do you think your clients are choosing your products?
Ashley: They are first attracted by our colorful tradeshow displays, then they stop and read the quotes. Once they touch the products and feel the quality, they are basically sold on a display.
WFI: Would you please briefly describe your facility?
Paul: We currently live and work on our 11-acre property. Our warehouse is a 6,000-square-foot space that houses our magnetic letterboard inventory. We use our stockroom for limited inventory storage and everyday shipping purposes. Our office and stockroom space combined is around 1,700 square feet and houses our printers and photo studio. We are planning on either building a larger office space on the property or investing in commercial real estate in the near future.
WFI: What channels are you using to sell your products?
Ashley: We’re selling across various channels — from direct-to-consumer via e-commerce to wholesale markets via sales reps and trade shows. We currently have approximately 60 sales representatives across the United States and a National Sales Manager to handle all that entails.
We hope to expand our distribution to other English-speaking countries worldwide.
WFI: How is your new line of UV-printed stickers being received?
Ashley: We just got through our first tradeshow season with our new line of stickers and have a lot of interest from large key accounts. These types of deals take months to work through and then, of course, to manufacture. We’re talking 50,000 – 500,000 units to print and pack. Completing these types of orders will be our most challenging feat — projects that will require us to purchase more Roland DG equipment to fulfill.
WFI: What lies ahead for The Type Set Co.?
Ashley: We’re looking to expand more into print and stationery products as well as printed magnets. We also have plans to expand our production lines in the near future. We’re excited to see all the additional things we can do with our UV printer!
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Virginia (Ginny) Mumm is a freelance writer and editor offering a wide range of public relations services and content marketing, including blog posts, press releases, social media posts, newsletters, trade magazine articles, and case studies. She has more than 15 years of experience working with companies in the technology, retail, construction, and consumer products industries.