The new recruits: Mychal’s printing and embroidery

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Mychal’s Learning Place creates a growing business in Redondo Beach staffed by people with developmental disabilities

by Garth Meyer

The grand opening was March 3, but they’ve been pushing it for a while. Mychal’s Print and Embroidery moved to its new location on the corner of Artesia and Felton in Inglewood two months ago.

It is a company since 2018.

The shop is a project of Mychal’s Learning Place, which employs people with intellectual disabilities in direct-to-garment printing, embroidery, packaging and quality control.

It is run by Jose Carillo, who was the main staff member at Mychal Adult Day School when he started a Saturday Photoshop class for students.

It sparked interest, and Ed Lynch, founder and CEO of Mychal’s Learning Place, had an idea one night in 2017, after heading to the grand opening of the Lakers training facility in El Segundo.

The event featured coffee mugs printed on site with a person’s photo and a Lakers logo.

Within two weeks, Lynch ordered materials, and staff and students quickly printed mugs themselves on a basic dye-sublimation printer.

Lynch brought in Carillo to lead the project.

“In 2018 we got serious,” Lynch said.

Mychal’s Learning Place students Max Curtis and James Barnes, Board Member Jim Alley, Chamber of Commerce Representative Tonya McKenzie, Founder Ed Lynch, Councilman Zein Obagi, Jr., and his daughter attend at the Mychal Printing and Embroidery Ribbon Cutting on March 3rd. Photo by Cheryl Kahnamoui/Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce.

The business first moved into a donated space owned by a Mychal board member on North Oak Street in Inglewood. When the building was sold earlier this year, the store found its new location in Redondo Beach.

A real estate agent searched for the space and a donor from Mychal bought the building, on the understanding that the Learning Place had two years to buy it. The rent goes to the principal.

The shop has five new embroidery machines, three of which were purchased by another donor.

“Commercial equipment,” Lynch said. “This is not a peel and stick print shop.”

Direct to garment means no screen printing, no chemicals.

“If you walked into our store right now, you wouldn’t feel a thing,” Carillo said.

The machines work like huge inkjet printers. The surfaces to be printed – whether it’s a t-shirt, hat or tote bag – are treated with a primer, then dried, then run through the machine.

Besides Carillo, the shop has one full-time employee, student James Barnes. Three additional students come part-time and operate the machines.

“Right now I’m talking to you on the phone and James is throwing out orders,” Carillo said.

Barnes, 28, who is on the autism spectrum, was hired in 2020.

“Our goal is to keep hiring more students like him,” Carillo said.

In 2019, an order for 2,000 t-shirts was placed with Northrop Grumman.

“That order put us on the map,” Carillo said. “We were able to prove that we could not only do small orders, but also big orders.”

Mychal worker Zachary Lynch, the founder’s son, at the embroidery machine.

The 2,000 T-shirts took Carillo and Barnes three and a half weeks to print. Each printer can produce 30 shirts in one hour.

“Our students are able to do so much,” Carillo said. “You just have to push them to succeed and believe in them. Let them do their thing and they will.

Mychal’s Learning Place supports youth and young adults with developmental disabilities through its after-school program and adult day program. One of the goals of the latter is for students to achieve a more independent life.

She will celebrate her 20th birthday in July.

“The unemployment rate for people with developmental disabilities is 85%, which we find ridiculous,” said Page Sacks, director of development at Mychal. “For lack of a better term.

Proceeds from the print operation benefit Learning Place, which began in a rented hall at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Hawthorne, before moving in 2011 to a building on Rosecrans, also in Hawthorne. Mychal’s also operates an after-school program in Culver City.

The operation is 50% subsidized by the State. Before the pandemic, it served 125 customers. It now has 85.

“It would be nice not to be dependent on the state in the future,” Lynch said.

In February, Mychal’s received a $200,000 grant from the John Gogian Family Foundation, a longtime supporter. The grant will be used to purchase the two-story printing building.

The store is open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a full staff on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“As soon as they walk through the door, we’re in production,” Carrillo said.

Monday morning this week, Barnes and crew members worked on a rush print order for 200 t-shirts.

Drake Baxter labels the shirts for shipment.

The age of the students varies from 25 to 28 years old.

“Working is good,” said Barnes, of Inglewood. “We make tote bags, shirts, aprons, sweaters and what else? And a few polo shirts.

They made 100 T-shirts last Wednesday, and on Thursday Barnes was on 11 tote bags with double-sided printing.

“I love all trades,” he says. “Very easy, but you have to keep working on the impressions so you don’t give up. Do your best and keep up the good work. Don’t be afraid, don’t be shy and be confident.

In addition to Northrop Grumman, Mychal’s has worked for Chevron, Kinecta Credit Union, Hermosa Hotel, El Segundo Middle School, and Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum, among others.

“They haven’t had a day off in nine months, a year?” said Lynch.

Carillo first came to Mychal as a sophomore in high school, looking for volunteer hours.

“My dream was to be an aerospace engineer and I’ve always done graphic design,” he said. “Once I started at Mychal’s I felt it was the perfect place for me.”

Lynch was inspired to open Mychal’s by his late daughter, born in 1988. That year, he started volunteering with LA Goal, a nonprofit that works with adults with developmental disabilities, where his now worked ex wife.

Lynch owned a janitorial business. Before Mychal was two years old, it became clear that she was mentally and physically disabled. She died in 1996.

“I am committed to this population,” Lynch said. “We have an amazing staff and board, and supporters who believe in the work and support the work.”

Learning Place students also work at Mychal’s Bakery and Coffee, a community event booth, food truck, and catering business. Mychal’s took over “The Cafe” at Torrance Memorial Specialty Center last September, in partnership with Sodexo Foodservice.

“I think there’s still a lot to do,” Lynch said. Emergencies

Joshua Ramos prepares a shirt for printing.

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