Jaime Castañeda, owner of EC Design and Print at 400 W. Lincoln St., has been printing since he was a sophomore in high school in Chicago.
“I started as a janitor at a printing company. I’m just very curious. As I traveled throughout the building, I asked questions.”
As the days and years went by, Castañeda said, he learned more and more.
“I was fortunate enough to have coworkers who took time to sit down with me and explain why things are done this way or that way. I was lucky. The minute I went in there that was it.”
By the time he left the company to investigate a “change of life” five years after his high school graduation, he was managing it.
At the time, Castañeda and wife Natalia were preparing for their daughter to enter school. In Chicago, Castañeda said, “They’ve got good school systems, but the classrooms are big. I wanted something different for my daughter.”
So the couple began to think about moving to Tennessee, where Natalia’s family lived.
Visiting Tullahoma, Castañeda saw an opportunity.
“I didn’t see very many printing places, other than your basic copy and printers.” So he told his wife, “If we do actually move down here, I want to start something of my own to keep doing what I learned already, because this is what I love.”
By December 2013, Castañeda was doing just that, operating a small printing business tucked away inside a (now defunct) Mexican restaurant and grocery store operated by his in-laws, Taqueria La Fuente.
“I was actually managing that restaurant and that grocery store while doing my printing as well,” said Castañeda.
When La Fuente closed in September, Castañeda moved his printing operation to the West Lincoln Street location formerly occupied by Monarch Gail Salon. By November, his dream of opening his own stand-alone print shop was finally realized.
EC Design and Print is a full-service print shop, able to tackle just about any printing project a client can imagine. Whether the job involves standard paper printing for items like brochures, business cards, and invitations or printing onto solid marketing materials like mugs, magnets, T-shirts and yard signs, EC Design and Print can handle the job from design to execution.
“What I do here is take things to a personal level,” said Castañeda. “From a blank screen, I always design something that’s exclusively yours.”
The name of the business is personal, too. “EC stands for my oldest daughter, Emily Castañeda. Ever since I set my mind to wanting to open my own printing business, I always wanted to incorporate her letters.”
Emily, who celebrated her 10th birthday last week, can often be found at the shop on Saturdays, spending time with her father. He says she’s just as curious and interested in the business he was.
“She’s picking up a lot,” said Castañeda. “We’re also an authorized UPS shipping office, so when (customers) drop off packages, she can scan them and give the customer their receipt.”
Notably, UPS shipping is just one of many services EC Design and Print offers in addition to printing. And many of those additional services are of particular interest to Tullahoma residents for whom English is a second language.
“I was fortunate that lot of the Hispanic population here in Tullahoma followed me (from La Fuente),” said Castañeda. “A lot of these are services nobody in Tullahoma offers.”
For one, through a partnership with Boss Revolution – IDT Telecom’s flagship communications and financial service – the print shop is also an authorized bill payment and money transfer center.
After helping a Spanish-speaking customer wire money to Peru, Castañeda explained that for such a transaction, “There’s no agency in Tullahoma but me. They say they can do it in Wal-Mart, but they have the language barrier, whereas here, they come in and chit chat with me and joke around.”
The partnership with Boss Revolution also allows EC Design and Print to offer its customers convenient and affordable ways to communicate with friends and family around the world, whether through international calling services or by adding funds to prepaid mobile phones.
And as an EC Design and Print customer exits the shop, he might even purchase a Mexican ice cream bar from a cooler placed near the door.
“We’re a one-stop shop,” laughed Castañeda. “We do a little bit of everything.”
“I don’t see it as a job; this is what I like doing. I’m actually happy to open the doors in the morning.”
EC Design and Print is open from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.