Creative: Mario Reyes
Local Long Beach screen printer, Mario Anothony Reyes, started his business Marsteez from humble beginnings. Middle Child first came into contact with Mario about four years ago, when he operated his business out of his personal home garage. To Mario, starting Marsteez was more than a way to make money, more than a business, it was a way funnel his suppressed creativity as well as the personal connections that can be made between two creatives.
“Anybody can print, but for us it’s beyond that. I’m not so much concerned about the sales, I’m more concerned with the connections we build with people.”
Mario was born in Saint Mary’s Hospital, right here in Long Beach. Being raised locally, Mario attended Monroe Elementary, Demille Middle School, Millikan Highschool, and Calstate Dominguez. Being the first ever in his family to go to college, Mario found himself unsure about his future career. Reluctantly, Mario chose to select the major of business marketing after going two years undecided.
“I went to college not knowing what the hell I wanted to do. Besides soccer, there was no other real passion. I found it strange that during college I was almost forced, in a sense, to choose what I wanted to do for the rest of my life at the age of 19. I was a lover of the arts, but being a part of the Salvadorian culture my creative dreams were shot down quickly. There’s a mindset in a lot of minority cultures like, ‘Where’s the money in that?’”
Whilst working in a gym during college with one of his best friends, they both came up with the idea to start a clothing brand. Through trial and error, Mario researched the screen printing process and decided that he could do it himself. There, at that gym, the idea to start his own screen printing business began. Keeping on to the dream, Mario started the operation at his friend's garage. Defeated by not making enough money to support the household, he decided to find a “real” and steady job. Motivated by his family, Mario decided to take the leap and put his all into the screen printing business.
“It didn’t work out once, and I ended up taking the '9-5' marketing job. When my wife became pregnant with our third boy I just thought about my job and realized, ‘I’m good at what I do, but do I want to do this for the rest of my life’. My mentality was that if I don’t do this now, then I’m never going to do it.”
Mario beams as he talks about his wife and kids and their involvement in his screen printing operation, which is truly a family business. He credits his wife, Leslie, as one of his biggest support systems in the business as she also helps out with the graphics and invoicing. As for his kids, he would love it if someday they would want to take over, but he doesn’t want to force them. Mario couldn’t emphasize enough how much his family has done for him, from his wife to his kids, all play a vital role in Marsteez.
“Our oldest is 12, the other is six and youngest is three. I don’t know if they remember me traveling to Culver City or their mom catching buses and metros to Northridge. She did that for me for two years. I come into the shop and see the screens all fresh and clean and that's because my pops just showed up in the morning and washed them.”
Mario has been screenprinting for the last ten years and reflects on the labor aspect of the job andadmits that “pushing ink” is quite tiresome. Currently the business is run by his family, however, in the future he hopes to expand. His ultimate goal is for the shop to become self run and have the chance to open another franchise. For Mario, his family, and Marsteez, the future possibilities are endless.
Follow his journey: