Evolving to survive and grow: Subhash Thapa, S. T. Custom Prints, Shillong, Meghalaya
30 September 2020: As COVID-19 started battering our country, good sense prevailed early and the lockdown was imposed. As a result, countless people lost their source of livelihood. During the lockdown, I didn’t have to close my business as I work from home. There was no material loss due to lockdown. We received orders for customised masks and we are still supplying printed masks. This minuscule virus might have wreaked havoc but it can’t beat the human spirit to fight and ultimately prevail !
We have a printing unit with sublimation; screen printing and a heat press 5 in 1 facility. We offer customised gift items, t-shirts and other commercial printing. All raw materials are sourced from Guwahati and Delhi. Like other businesses, printing too took a hit as I could not market my products and leave my business cards door to door. However, my existing clients placed orders through WhatsApp and I delivered the products on the days of lockdown relaxation.
COVID-19 did make ‘masks’ a new normal. It is an everyday use product now and a household name. Printers like us (big or small), really did some business leveraging this product. And we are still doing it. Now we make masks with sublimation. We also do sublimation on school caps, key rings. Additionally, we also do some of the decoration with heat transfer vinyl.
We use screen printing for printing school t-shirts and wedding cards. This year I did not get any orders from the schools due to lockdown and school closures. I received orders for personalized caps. Maybe when the schools reopen, we may get some orders related to schools such as caps and t-shirts. We may also get orders for masks from schools.
As I work from home, there was not much difference in my personal and professional life although the business was down. But when it came to killing the monotony of life during the lockdown, I was not an exception. So, to counter the boredom, I started woodworking with hand tools as I always found woodworking fascinating. I also took a digital marketing course from Kallada Academy. I have yet to implement the things learnt there. In addition to this, I also watched YouTube tutorials on Photoshop.
I sell wooden stands with printed tiles. I make a stool from wood covering it with foam and rexine. The stand is of old mura, a kind of stool. Finally, I invite readers to visit Shillong once. It is a hill station in northeast India and capital of the state of Meghalaya. It is its beautiful capital, home to several waterfalls, parks, rolling hills and quaint landforms and also known as the ‘Scotland of the East’. Shillong receives heavy rainfalls during monsoon and the weather is really pleasant.