When Rachaad Howard graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 2010, he returned to Milwaukee with his shiny new degree in graphic arts. He searched for design work, but instead found himself working in a cubicle making customer service calls.
"It was the most boring thing ever," says Howard.
Determined to live a more creative life, Howard started his own screenprinting and embroidery business around working at the office. Called Lion Press Ink, the business grew to the point where Howard was able to leave his day job in January.
Lion Press Ink, 125 S. 85th St., prints T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, ball caps and corporate signage.
"We can print on pretty much anything," he says.
Most of his clothing messages are Milwaukee related. One reads "Soul Milwaukee," another "I Love My City MKE." He says his "Milwaukee Made" baseball caps are one of his best sellers.
Howard also created one of the most un-stereotypical Bob Marley shirts ever – a simple drawing of Marley’s face as the "o" in Bob – on a green T-shirt.
Lion Press Ink designs are printed on a variety of different T-shirts, from Bella to Anvil. They are available in men’s and women’s styles and soon in kids’ sizes, too.
Howard set up a booth at numerous local festivals this summer and he will be selling at the Milwaukee Carnival which takes place Saturday, Aug. 23 at the Horny Goat Hideaway, 2011 S. 1st St.
The Milwaukee Carnival, put on by Swarmm Events, is a one-day event that features performances by local and national artists (including Far East Movement), DJs, sideshow acts, carnival games, competitions, live art, local vending and more.
It runs from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. and tickets are $20. Guests must be at least 21. Go here for more information.
Howard was born and raised on Milwaukee’s North Side, near 85th and Villard. He graduated from Madison High School before attending college in Pittsburgh. He enjoyed his time in Pennsylvania, but decided to move back to Milwaukee to create something positive in his hometown.
"I had a good experience in Pittsburgh and it was good for me to leave for a while, but I wanted to come back. I started here. I grew up here. And I wanted to help get the message out that this is a city that’s better than what’s on the news," he says. "There are a lot of positive things happening here."
Lion Press Ink has printed materials for the Sheridan Hotels, the Epilepsy Foundation and numerous other not-for-profit organizations. Most of his customers come to him from Facebook or via word of mouth.
"We’re growing a lot right now. Trying to get even bigger, getting our name out there," he says.
Next year, Howard plans to create "wearable advertisements" – promotional shirts for his business that he will hand out for free.
He currently has friends and family members helping him to fill orders, but someday plans to hire employees. Most of all, he just wants to remain being his own boss.
"It was a risk for me, but one I wanted to take. I’m determined to make this work," he says.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.