After spending 10 years in the commercial print and graphic design industry working for big box retailers, James Owens made a decision to start working for himself. In late 2014, he founded Owens Print & Creative Solutions, a company that specializes in the quick turnaround of commercial printing, graphic design, web design and other marketing services for businesses of all sizes.
James is also part of JumpStart’s Core City: Cleveland Impact program, an intensive business assistance program designed to support the development and growth of businesses located within some of Cleveland’s most underserved neighborhoods.
We recently sat down with James to discuss how a fork in the road led him to entrepreneurship and how the Core City program is impacting his business thus far.
What inspired you to create your business? What problem does your service solve?
I worked for five years at OfficeMax and for five years at FedEx Office. Office Depot bought OfficeMax, and when that happened, they closed the branch where I was working as a driver. At that time, I was given the option to either transfer to a new location or start something of my own. I decided to start my own company using the experience and skills that I developed at OfficeMax and FedEx Office.
We make accessing printing and creative solutions for businesses more convenient. Instead of clients having to come to us, we go to them. We offer free delivery, so they don’t have to come out to where we are to pick their product up. We also do same day and next day turnaround. In addition, we offer automatic price flexibility to fit clients’ budgets, which is dependent on the situation and the obstacles that they may be facing.
How did you connect with the Core City: Cleveland program, and what do you think so far?
I was researching options to make my company stronger and better. When I called JumpStart, I was referred to Lamont, and we’ve been working together ever since.
I feel that the Core City program has put me light years ahead of where I was before I started working with JumpStart. The program has given me the breakdown for marketing, financials and everything. It has definitely been a huge help.
What are your future plans for your business?
I plan for Owens Print & Creative Solutions to be a family business, and for it to be passed from generation to generation. I plan on building a company that is going to be here forever, like Ford Motors. I want it to be a family legacy.
Are there any unique challenges you feel you’ve had to face as an African American entrepreneur?
I haven’t had the same access to resources that others may have in terms of assistance with capital and things of that nature. I’ve come from a financially depressed situation, so that’s been my biggest challenge so far.
We ask all the entrepreneurs we speak with to give us examples of failure or setbacks they experienced. Anything come to mind for you?
Failure is the best teacher. When you fail, it lets you know where your weaknesses are and where you need help. You really have to pay attention to your failures, because they point you in the right direction.
My biggest setback has been figuring out how to make the company bigger. I kept running into obstacles that forced me to reach out for help, and that’s how I got into contact with JumpStart.
Watch James’ elevator pitch for Owens Print & Creative Solutions below. To learn more about the Core City: Cleveland program, click here.