Big Picture - October 2017 - 14
outside the gamut
How to handle elements out of your control so your business can succeed.
| by Carmen Rad
n 1993, I founded CR&A Custom. Today, we are a fullservice large-format digital print production and visual
display company in Los Angeles. I was also pregnant with
my oldest son, Chris - I just didn't know it. Four months in,
I thought I had a really bad flu. I visited my neighbor, who
was pregnant, and asked her to share her symptoms. As she
spoke, I remember saying, "I have that. I have that, too. Isn't
that the flu?" I congratulated my friend and wished her the best
during her pregnancy, and then drove straight to the pharmacy.
Needless to say, my first year in business was challenging.
There are many obstacles we face as business owners,
some of which are completely out of our own control. From
personal life changes - like becoming pregnant - to internal
and external conditions in your business and in our industry
- like adding new offerings to stay relevant throughout the
years - there will always be experiences that will test us and
our companies. The important thing is to tackle them head-on
so we come out stronger than ever.
FINDING A NICHE - OR MANY
CR&A Custom was founded as a custom apparel manufacturer, specializing in sublimation printing. My background is
in fashion design and marketing, with degrees from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and the University
of California, Los Angeles. My husband, Masoud, was a
fashion designer with a degree from the University of
London and became my partner after my first year in
business when he saw I made a profit. We designed and
produced custom apparel items for clients such as Sony
CARMEN RAD is the founderpreneur of CR&A Custom, a woman- and
minority-owned wide-format digital print operation located in Los Angeles,
and a member of our Editorial Advisory Board. Follow the one-stop shop
on Twitter @cracustom.
Pictures, Paramount, and Universal, and created thousands
of items for many of their featured films, such as "A Beautiful
Mind," "Gosford Park," "As Good as It Gets," and "There's
Something About Mary." My favorite project was creating
jackets for Ricky Martin's "Living La Vida Loca" tour. The
ladies who sewed in our factory and I wrote him love notes
with our numbers and then sewed them into the liner of his
jacket. We are still waiting for the liner to break and to
receive his call.
We also designed, manufactured, and engineered
motocross jerseys for companies such as Puma, the Corona
Racing team, Troy Lee Designs, and Ralph Lauren. Motocross
sublimation jerseys are very technical in design; they have
stripes and branding that cannot vary in color. The shades
of the colors must match, otherwise the chest does not
match with the right or left sleeve. The cost for printing and
manufacturing sublimated T-shirts was decreasing in the
early 2000s, and we began turning down large contracts due
to quotes our clients were receiving from manufacturers in
other countries. As a manufacturer in the US, complying with
all the regulations required makes it tough to be competitive
against other countries.