Name: Calystah Carr
Title: Owner in Training
Company: M3 Printing
Company URL: https://www.m3printing.com/
Personal LinkedIn Profile URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/calystah-carr-67a373136/
Company LinkedIn Profile URL: https://www.linkedin.com/company/m3printing
My name is Calystah Carr and I grew up in the printing industry.
I’m currently 21 years old and have been working at my family-owned company, M3 Printing (Philadelphia, PA) since I was 15. In 1998, my dad (Barry Carr) began the business but I am here to continue it. When I was younger, I would always come with my dad to work. I got to see our business not only grow bigger but also evolve into something better. When I got into high school I began working at M3 Printing doing production and learning how our machines ran. This is when I started thinking about whether I was cut out to take over the company. Could I be a businesswoman? Would I be looked down on? Would I be taken seriously? Did I have the capacity to do what I saw him do (emphasis on him)? At the same time, my dad stepped back from the company to work on other projects and I got to see my stepmom, Christine Ramos, took over our company. I saw her passion, focus, and most of all motivation to run the company. I saw all that in my dad too, it’s just different as a woman seeing another woman doing all the things I doubted that I could do myself. Flash forward to now… I am graduating from university in the Spring, preparing to be 100% focused on M3 Printing and so enthused to be doing so.
Please share advice for young women considering or starting a career in print… Which includes design, sales, marketing, and all jobs within.
Although I’m only 21, I’ve seen the ins and outs of the print industry but I still have much more to experience. This isn’t necessarily advice but what has helped me grow to be in the industry. This is me passing my experience to you. 🙂
Know Your Paper!
– There are tons of types of paper and understanding their weights and texture is extremely important because different papers bring on different clientele. This takes years of learning but is well worth it when you have a customer give a description of what they’re looking to get done – say it’s “normal business cards” and you know immediately that it will be on 14pt cardstock.
What About Products?
– Printing is NOT just a sheet of paper. It can be anywhere from flyers to stickers to banners to apparel and so on. The industry is huge with more moving parts than I ever thought there were. Knowing what your company can and cannot produce are super important because your client will always feel confident when they come to you and say “I need this printed, can you do it?” If you say yes then have to backtrack because you don’t have the capability they may not come back for a different product. If you say let me see, they could potentially doubt your knowledge in the industry. A clear answer can only come from knowing your products.
– I went to college to learn about management. But all my marketing skills have been self-taught. I learned to use Google tools like MyGoogle Merchant, Google Analytics, Google My Business, and GoogleAds. This has helped immensely in teaching me about how important exposing our company but also looking at the data is. Other tools that I use on a regular basis (again, self-taught): SEMRush.com and AdRoll.com. They take time but they are worth every minute of time you put into them. If I can do it, so can you!
Do You Need Graphic Design?
– Absolutely, graphic design is one of the most useful skills I’ve learned. You don’t need to be a professional though (if you’re not looking to be a full-time graphic designer of course). I am so grateful to have been able to take an Adobe Photoshop class in high school which taught me all the basics. This gave me a foundation which then allowed me to understand other programs like InDesign. It may not seem needed but sometimes you impress a client as a representative when they send some artwork and you have the knowledge of PPI/DPI, CMYK vs RGB, sizing, etc.
How have mentors helped your personal and career development?
Over the years, I’ve met many men who are or were in the printing industry. It’s actually crazy how many I’ve met who have been involved in one way or another but rarely do I come across other women who are/have been. My parents are my mentors. They have taught me that gender is not something to be intimidated by. Over the years I have been able to grow my confidence and be sure of my capabilities to be a woman in business because of them.
Christine (my stepmom) has shown me that I can be the most woman version of myself whether that be in my personal life or my work life. My biological mom taught me to be fearless and never back down from something. My dad has always been my biggest supporter, he never once made me feel like my gender would prohibit me from following my dreams. In fact, all the people who surround me should be considered mentors.
My coworkers, my professors, my friends, my family, and even strangers teach me lessons (good and bad) every day that I will never take for granted. I am constantly learning which in hand has allowed me to continue growing.
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