Muckles Ink is more than just T-shirts
The Binghamton area is being reinvented, one business at a time. Casey Coolbaugh ’13 and Chauna D’Angelo ’12 hope their business — launched before they graduated and now serving as a springboard for the dreams of other students — will be part of that resurgence.
“We weren’t looking for a business opportunity, but it found us,” says D’Angelo of Muckles Ink, a custom T-shirt studio in Binghamton.
As Coolbaugh and D’Angelo wrapped up cinema degrees, they wanted to make custom merchandise for an experimental student film festival. By chance, they found a man who was willing to sell his silkscreen equipment. The first run of shirts led to the couple setting up shop next to their Windsor home, and Muckles Ink was off and printing.
“We used the internet to teach ourselves modern-day screen printing, marketing and business management,” Coolbaugh says.
In 2015, Muckles expanded to a 2,000-square-foot studio on Binghamton’s north side, an industrial area home to manufacturing, plumbing and electrical businesses. It’s a perfect environment for this “let’s-not-be-starving-artists” venture.
The business isn’t confined to the studio space, as Coolbaugh and D’Angelo can take the equipment to events and print shirts while you wait. In fact, thanks to the generosity of an alumni couple, several hundred Homecoming 2016 attendees received Bearcat shirts created on the spot.
Last fall, Muckles opened a design lab in Old Rafuse Hall, creating internships for aspiring entrepreneurs. As students get their hands covered with ink, they also learn how a business works and are encouraged to think about developing necessary skills. If you’re a graphic designer but lousy with money, your design business may not last very long.
“I tell them the real world doesn’t have to hit you hard. You can hit it first,” Coolbaugh says. “They ask how to start a business, and it invigorates us to tell our story because we did it.”
He and D’Angelo hope the students will start their ventures in Binghamton, saying that the small community with a low cost of entry can be a land of opportunity if the students are committed enough.
“It took us four years before we got our first paycheck,” Coolbaugh says. “You can’t be afraid of hard work.”