Jeremy and Aspen Logan are big thinkers in a small town. Having moved to Fort Bragg in 2006 from Los Angeles to live in an old family home on the north side, they were at a crossroads in 2015. Should they move or stay in Fort Bragg? On a walk through town one day they walked by an old copy shop on the corner of Redwood and Harrison – and saw a sign that said the business was for sale.
Jeremy’s mom had been in printing for thirty years, so there was a quick personal connection — the sights and smells of a print shop were nostalgic. They’d already set up a corporation to do freelance work, which Aspen was feeling was too isolating, and they knew they wanted to be in business for themselves.
Ready for a new adventure, they took the leap and bought the business.
They consulted with West Business Development Center to learn about their options and with their advisor they wrote a business plan, learned what their funding options were and dove into market research. “We’re quick learners and West gave us the education we needed to begin. Also, when you’re changing your life in such a big way, it’s emotional and West was a voice of reason, which helped us to make good decisions. They kept us focused on facts.”
Jeremy and Aspen have since grown the business from an old-time copy shop to expanding into design work, doing large format printing for architects on the Coast, and launching a consumer print arm that does postcards, business cards, menus, and more.
Having previously worked for large corporations in Los Angeles, they were also able to implement more efficient systems and streamline the workflow. The previous owners ran the business primarily on paper, so they’ve digitized everything and say that although the business was already doing fairly well, it’s been exciting to revitalize it. “We’d love to think about expanding to other towns and set up a system that can function in a modular way.”
Aspen notes that where Jeremy can see the big picture clearly, she can manage the minutiae to make it happen. Their vision has proved to be successful and they’ve almost doubled their revenue in the first two years.
Looking forward, they have more ideas about how they’d like to expand and to serve the community. They feel strongly Fort Bragg is going through a renaissance, and hope to be part of a continuing trend of professionals bringing big city skills to this pristine Coastal town. They also believe in the power of a creative hub to lift the aesthetic and overall feeling of the town.
Their biggest challenge as small business owners is that they have to wear so many different hats at the same time. “We end up spending a lot of time in the trenches and can’t devote as much time fine-tuning or going deeper into focused work. We’re running the cash register and the payroll, but it is what it is. I don’t think any business owner doesn’t work 24/7.”
The Color Mill services many businesses and non-profits along the Coast and is expanding their large-format printing into Ukiah as well. Aspen is enjoying the social interaction that comes with running The Color Mill and Jeremy loves the visual problem-solving. They’re constantly learning and trying to expand or evolve their skills. “You can’t stand still. There’s always something new to learn, which is where West comes into play for us, whether it is working with a specialist marketing advisor or taking a class on Instagram.”
Jeremy and Aspen are immersed in the community, hosting events in their revamped space and working with local non-profits every Fall on their annual fundraising efforts. They gauge their success by the happiness of their employees and the engagement level of the people they’re working with.
“The more we’re exposed to other people in the community, the more invested we feel in thriving together. You realize you can’t flourish where others are dying. All boats rise with the rising tide.”