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Talking Biz

Talking Business: Former Woodland cop opens new screen printing shop

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Dave Plaza and his wife, Michelle Plaza, opened a screen printing business, in their Woodland home last year.

In Dave and Michelle Plaza’s garage, there’s a paint-splattered floor and shelves crowded with cases of colored ink. A nearby box holds one outcome of the artistic mess — a box of green, hooded sweatshirts for the Woodland wrestling team.

“We’re kind of artists in denial,” Michelle Plaza, 43, said with a laugh.

The couple opened their screen printing and embroidery shop, called Fire Pigs Designs, about four months ago. For now they operate out of the garage of their Woodland home. They hope to expand to a storefront by the summer.

Michelle Plaza said opening the store seemed like a “natural progression” for the couple. She had dabbled in embroidery while making garments for her youngest daughter. Dave Plaza, 50, also is artistic, she said. He paints skateboard decks in his free time.

Ultimately, though, the transition to start Fire Pigs Designs happened after Dave Plaza lost his job with the Woodland Police Department in April.

“In my profession … they didn’t give me a lot of real-world training. So at my age, opportunities weren’t knocking at the door,” he said.

A couple weeks later, the couple began taking screen printing classes with the intent of opening their own shop. They invested about $15,000 in equipment, including a used screen printing machine, an exposure unit and conveyor dryer.

Dave Plaza said switching from being an officer to becoming a screen printer was tough at first. After doing police work for his entire adult life, starting over didn’t come easily. Now, he says, he enjoys the work.

He’s also found screen printing to be a much more relaxing trade.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s completely different than what I’m used to,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to meet people when I’m not taking them to jail.”

The couple charges $6 to $12 for a two-color t-shirt and $10 to $25 for a two-color hooded sweatshirt. Additional colors cost extra, and the type of garment can also increase the price. They also can put designs on water bottles, coffee mugs and tumblers.

Michelle Plaza said she charges between $12 and $14 for a small embroidery job. Larger projects — such as embroidering the entire back of a jacket — can run as much as $100. She also charges a $25 digitizing fee per design.

There’s a $25 setup fee for screen printing, though the couple said they waive the fee for charities and kids’ organizations. The couple ships orders anywhere in the country and hand delivers items locally to avoid expensive shipping costs.

Though it’s been a transition for the couple, Dave Plaza said he enjoys the work.

“Once I started doing it, it was really fun,” he said with a grin. “It’s a kick in the pants.”

To make an appointment or for more information about Fire Pigs Designs, call 360-270-1287, or visit their website at firepigs.com.

Contact Daily News reporter Sarah Grothjan at sgrothjan@tdn.com or 360-577-2541.

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