OCEAN SPRINGS -- Champion Print and Design is all about family and friends and community. Former bartender Johnny Mansholt left his popular station at the Government Street Grocery Bar and Restaurant to spend more time with his wife, Amber, and his daughter, Ruby. With more time available, the couple decided to start a business. Champion Print and Design was the result.
The small print shop adjacent to Government Street in Ocean Springs affords Mansholt enough space to print T-shirts, button-up shirts, hats and more on his own time, and to spend more time with his daughter.
"Bartending is a lot of fun and it's been one of my favorite parts of my life, ya know. (But) I'm a dad now and I kinda wanted to get away from the nightlife, take some time for my family and for myself."
Champion Print and Design started officially in January, and business has been picking up.
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"I had been (screen printing) on the side, kinda, making my band's merchandise and doing shirts and stuff for friends here and there. Then my awesome wife one day said, 'Why don't you try to do the printing thing full time?' and so I did."
Mansholt's first big order was the 2015 Feed the Need fish fry, and word of mouth grew and brought him business from a long list of area bands, as well as charities and businesses such as Relay for Life and Paddles Up Paddleboard Rental and Sales.
One of the more rewarding aspects of the business, he said, is designing graphics for clients. He uses skills he learned taking graphic design classes, often with help and feedback from his wife.
Mansholt said he also receives advice and designs from local artist Ben Prisk, who has worked many years with the art department at the Cartoon Network.
"I do about 50 percent of the design, I do a lot of work with Prisk," Mansholt said. "He's a guy that I call when I'm running into problems who can say, 'Well, why don't you try this?'
"But I would say, more than anyone, Amber, my wife, who has a degree in marketing and started out with a background in graphic design, has been a huge help. She's someone who can come and say, 'Oh, move
this, try that' or 'That's perfect.' Between their experience and my own background in graphic design I have a lot of strong support in this."
The business is about more than just apparel, though.
"We do fine-art posters and paper prints as well, anything from hoodies to pants, really anything that isn't made out of plastic itself."
He also has a button press.
After making shirts during the spring charity season, including this year's Feed the Need fish fry and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Summer Camp, Champion is looking forward to expanding. Mansholt's years working at the Government Street Grocery have given him connections with business owners and bands.
"I've been really busy so far this year. I just want to give the best product possible to my current clients while growing to include new ones," he said.
Champion is in line to expand as a brand as well.
"I've been working with Ben Prisk and I know some other local artists, I want to start making T-shirts for an Etsy store and I really wanna make band flyers, the kind of old-school three-color band flyers people put around town," Mansholt said. "I'm really happy with where we are but I really want to start branding ourself, you know, really create a personality and style that goes along with all of this."