Teen printer set to go national with website launch

By Rhys Handley, Monday 15 January 2018

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A 16-year-old running his own printing business has sights on going national now he has left college to work full time.


Smith: "College was taking up too much time and I was turning down jobs."

Flash Design was founded by Essex-based Joe Smith in 2016, at the age of 15, using a Graphtec plotter that had been left unused for years by his older brother. Smith began his work at Flash by producing shirts for local football teams.

He left college in September last year, and is now preparing a revamped version of his firm’s website, which will support e-commerce. Once live, he hopes it will draw in customers nationwide, enabling him to expand his client base beyond his home area of Canvey Island, off the south coast of Essex.

“I do all sorts of jobs really, I still work on football kits but, for example, recently I put together some posters for a local fish and chips shop,” Smith said. “In the future, I think my dream clients would be clothing brands and outlets, such as Foot Asylum.

“Over the next year I want to focus on picking up contracts and expanding my customers. I know that can be hard, so, I hope a new website will help me get that reach across the country. I also want to make sure I learn a lot more about printing and the industry.

“It’s good to be able to commit to Flash now. I left college because the entrepreneurial course I was taking didn’t really benefit me, plus it was taking up a lot of my time so I was having to turn down orders at Flash.”

Visiting Sign & Digital UK 2016 in Birmingham, Smith purchased a Roland DG TrueVis VG-640 to upgrade from his old Graphtec plotter. With the support of his father, John, he invested £15,500 in the 1.6m-wide inkjet printer and cutter, which was installed in November 2016 and now runs alongside the Graphtec CE5000-60, which is used for heat flex vinyl work.

Flash Design’s finances are currently run through Smith’s father’s business account. Smith, who turns 17 in February, said he is looking forward to the “independence” of getting his own business account when he is legally able to next year.

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