Today we’d like to introduce you to Mallory Zimmerman.
Hi Mallory, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I grew up in South Baltimore and always had a heart for the city and the people here. Growing up, I saw the real struggles of Baltimore and how my parents did everything in their power to help people in need. My parents dedicated their lives to helping people in our community which eventually led me to pursue a degree in Social Work. I went out of state to college thinking I’d settle down and plant roots in another city, but it wasn’t until I came back to Baltimore to obtain my Master’s degree that I truly fell in love with Baltimore and it’s people. Baltimore is a special place. It has its dark parts and struggles that often Baltimore is known for to outsiders, but this city is made up of some of the most talented, beautiful, resilient people I have ever come in contact with. My father started a non-profit, The Transformation Center, in the neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2014. I was fortunate enough to intern there, where I began establishing relationships with people in the community. Eventually, I became the Director of Operations, where I have been able to oversee the various programs that we offer. Throughout the years of investing in the community, the lack of employment opportunities became very apparent, especially for those previously incarcerated. When released, individuals often have no support or structure and cannot obtain jobs, housing, or even apply for student loans. Because of the countless barriers they face, it makes it nearly impossible to return to our communities as contributing citizens. With help from a fantastic team and mentors, I was able to help launch a social enterprise, T.C. Prints, a screen printing company that employs individuals in our community that has been recently released from prison. T.C. Prints offers more than just a job. Working at the print shop also allows employees to learn a trade, work in a safe environment where there is space to grow, receive mentorship from staff and other previously incarcerated individuals farther down the road to success, and access therapeutic resources and services.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been smooth?
It was a journey to start T.C. Prints. I have an excellent team of dedicated people that want to see this business and our employees succeed. Creating the structure of the business and program took time and a lot of intentionality. We received mentorship from a best practice in South Carolina that helped us with the mentorship component of T.C. Prints. As far as starting an apparel printing company was a huge learning curve. Our team did not have any experience in screen printing. This trade is an art that takes a lot of practice to get right. We learned from professionals in the field, YouTube, and a lot of trial and error to get the screen printing method down.
Through a lot of literal blood, sweat and tears, we were able to confidently open for business in January of 2021. We have been fortunate to grow our business to a full-time operation. We have received great support from some of the most gracious customers as we got the hang of screen printing. We can now print thousands of apparel items such as t-shirts, hoodies, fleece, and more every month. The nature of this job comes with struggles. Our employees that have been recently released from incarceration deal with some very real things. Whether transitioning back into a work environment, learning how to communicate effectively, or maintaining sobriety, it is constantly a work in progress. Our goal is to help support each individual that comes through our doors in the best way we know how, with love, acceptance, and opportunity.
Thanks for sharing that. So, you could tell us a bit more about your work.
My work days look different every day! I still function as the Director of Operations at The Transformation Center, so I oversee our programming, help with development, and am on the front lines of needs in our community and directing T.C. Prints. Most of my days are spent working with our Print Manager, Reds, and other T.C. Prints employees in the print shop. I do a lot of quality control to ensure our customers get the best product possible. I am always working on graphics/logos to get our screens prepped so the customers’ images can be burned on our screens and printed! I am not trained as a graphic artist at all. I have had to learn a lot from experts in the field, as well as tons of Youtube research! A well-printed product starts with a good graphic, so I have made it a priority to continue to learn and improve my graphic craft.
Do you have any advice for those just starting?
My advice is to surround yourself with a great team equally as invested as you. The work we are doing is complex and challenging. It can feel isolating and overwhelming at times. I have been blessed to work with some of the most inspiring people who helped me become the best leader I can be. T.C. Prints would not be where it is without the investment of each team member here. Launching a social enterprise and working with the people we do is a risk, but it is rewarding and what we believe will bring true transformation to individuals’ lives.
- Website: www.tcprint.tc
- Instagram: @t.c.prints
- Facebook: @tcprints
- Other: https://vimeo.com/667379669