By Madison Hakey | The Charlotte News
“Everything you do gets you to where you are, so I can’t complain. I’d do it all again,” muses Evan Webster, owner of Evan Webster Ink, a creative screen-printing company in Shelburne that produces wholesale for groups and businesses. Webster, a Charlotte resident, moved here from Boston with his wife in 2012. After living in cities his entire life, he thought it would be an interesting change. It turns out Webster loves Chittenden County, especially the views on his bike to work. Nothing can beat Charlotte’s scenic views of the lake. Plus, Webster says the Charlotte-Shelburne area is perfect for owning a business. “I don’t have to drive up to Burlington, but those folks are close enough.”
Webster started out in his mother’s basement, just wanting to learn. “I grew up in a white collar town where people didn’t really make stuff for themselves and no one was very handy, so I thought it would be interesting to learn how to do something.” After learning the basics, he opened his business in Boston. When his wife said she was considering moving back here, where she grew up, he thought why not. “With the magic of UPS, I figured I could keep doing my thing.”
Upon moving up here, Webster was pleasantly surprised to find that Vermonters were excited to work with him. In comparison to Boston, people in Vermont are more excited to work—and work closely—with locals. City folk are always rushing, Webster thinks, but Vermonters love to get to know people. “Before I moved here I thought that unless you’ve lived here for four generations and knew someone’s grandfather, they wouldn’t even talk to you.”
Another surprise was “who knows who” in Vermont. Small towns make for a big community. This idea helps Webster to develop stronger relationships with his clients, which is something he has always striven for.
The products Webster makes range from sweatpants to wedding invitations, and orders range from a couple dozen to several thousands. Paper printing happens less frequently at Evan Webster Ink, as apparel is the company’s focus. T-shirts are most popular because they have multi-season appeal. Sweatpants and sweatshirts are popular in winter, while tank tops and shorts are popular in the summer. Even though it may sound like it, Webster says, “It’s not all peaches and cream 24-7.” There are many positives and negatives to owning a business, whether it be in Vermont or somewhere else. Responsibility is a double-edged sword for Webster, as it is fulfilling but stressful. Having employees is also a two-way street. They need to make a living, even in the dead of winter when Webster isn’t too busy all on his own. Employees are very helpful, however, especially if Webster needs some time off.
On the positive side, Webster loves connecting with the community and meeting fellow business owners. He also enjoys the “boring parts of being a business owner,” such as balancing finances and keeping track of records, which have come as pleasant surprises to him. Finally he says, “It’s never too boring.” While the learning never stops, the fun never stops for Webster. Being able to continue learning has kept the work interesting for him through the years.
In his time as a business owner, Webster has learned quite a bit. He says the key to learning is to allow enough time for it to happen—rushing doesn’t help anyone. Communication and follow-through are also vital to running a business and to everyday life. “It’s about thinking about the client as a neighbor and what you would do for a neighbor,” Webster says. Finally, allow for time away from work. “It allows you to give good, focused time at work if you have had that break at home.”
For more information visit Evan’s website at evanwebsterink.com.