In 2008, Brett Wilkin found himself replacing a turntable with a squeegee.
Renting a flatbed truck and leasing a small shared warehouse in Fort Lauderdale with some old equipment from his dad, he abandoned his electronic music career after feeling the pull of his father's old business and decided to open his own screen printing shop.
Seven years later, Squeegee Science has gone through a serious overhaul, moving into a bigger space downtown and expanding its team. Wilkin is now flanked by local artist and screen printer Lowell Donofrio, also known as Jinx Remover, and Wilkin's fiancée and business partner, Betsey Denberg.
Tonight, the Squeegee Science team is throwing a "relaunch extravaganza" for their family, close friends and customers to celebrate their success. "This party is about moving into a new era for the business, or as we calling it, a relaunch," Wilkin says. "While the night is partially about us, it's mostly about letting our customers know how much we appreciate their business."
One of the biggest additions to the business is a brand new 12-color automatic printing press, which guests will be able to look at. Customers may even get to meet the shop's canine mascot, appropriately named Squeegee.
Funky Buddha Brewery will also be providing craft beer for guests to drink, and a party at a screen printing shop wouldn't be complete without, you guessed it, free T-shirts.
It will also feature performances by Fort Lauderdale rapper Bleubird, a longtime friend of Wilkin's and DJ Sensitive Side. Bleubird, who frequently collaborates with alternative hip-hop artist Astronautalis, has been making songs and promoting shows for over 10 years.
According to his website, Bleubird turns the euphoria and pain of daily life into music through humor and wit. 2014 has been a busy year for the rapper, who performed at the Weird City Hip Hop Festival in Austin, Texas, in September and also released a new single, "Skyblue Skylark," produced by New York's Steel Tipped Dove, at the end of November. This month he'll be touring throughout the state, hitting venues in Pensacola, Tampa, and Orlando.
Wilkin believes Squeegee Science has prevailed because of the business' interactive practices. From the very beginning of the shirt-making process, customers speak directly to the person who will be printing their shirts, something he says is a rarity in large print shops.
"From start to finish, you're going to deal with the person printing your custom apparel," he explains. "Our customers allow us to do what we're passionate about, and in turn we want them to have nothing but the best. What better way to close an amazing year than being surrounded by the people who brought us here?"
This is a private event. Squeegee Science is located at 500 SW 21 Terr., Ste. B102, Fort Lauderdale. Visit squeegeescience.com.