Making Fantasy A Reality

A custom coffee mug

Mike Pemberton
Owner of Fantasy Shirts

Tell us about your business. We’re a screen printing and promotional products company.

We offer T-shirts, hats, mugs, shot glasses, koozies, beach towels … really anything that can be customized.

We can take products and put logos on them so businesses throughout Kaua’i can increase their brand recognition. It gets their name out and becomes a big part of promoting their business, in a way that’s profitable to them.

How did you get started in this business and how long has it been going? I moved to Kaua’i after spending 20 years in the greeting card business. At one point in my career, from 1992 to 1995, I was on O’ahu working for the American Greetings company.

Then we got transferred back to the Mainland. We always missed Hawai’i, so in 2000 I quit my job and we moved out here. We started this business that same year.

A custom-designed surfboard keychain. Photos courtesy Mike Pemberton

Where are you from originally, and what role does that play in your business (if any)?

California, and a big role my neighbor in California was a screen printer, and when we moved out to Kaua’i he was the one who talked us into moving out here, and he moved out here as well. I bought him out in 2006.

What is your specialty, and who can benefit from it? Our specialty is brand development. If a client comes to us and gives us a good idea of what they want, we can design and brand their logos. We’re not just putting logos on T-shirts.

We take the brand identity and put it on different products. Most bars and restaurant owners will say, “Here’s my sign, put it on a T-shirt.” But we help them think about the customer, too.

If you want to promote Bubba’s Burgers, you’ve got to consider different audiences, like what will appeal to a woman buyer, for example, like shorts versus a shot glass.

What sets your business apart? I would say the way we look at things, our perspective, which is more comprehensive than some of the other screen printers out there. Instead of just printing up logos, we approach it from a brand development point of view.

Why do you do what you do?

Mike Pemberton of Fantasy Shirts. Amanda C. Gregg photo

I love the freedom of it I love being my own boss.

Plus, it’s kind of fulfilling in a cool way. I remember being on an Hawaiian Airlines flight and I saw a girl wearing the Bubba’s Burgers shorts logo that read, “We relish our buns,” and it was just really cool to be able to say, “Hey, that was our idea.”

What motivates you to get up and go to work every day? I have so much to do. When you run your own business, you’re the delivery department, accounting department and production department.

You’re taking care of customers, meeting with them and striving to give them the best product possible. Also, I just got some new equipment, which means regardless of the image, we can produce/print anything. This means less outsourcing for customers, and I’m able to meet the needs of business owners on Kaua’i in a more sustainable way.

Do you have a business motto or philosophy for doing business? Get on the phone and get out the door, and don’t wait for business to come to you.

What is the most challenging aspect of your business? I’m able to better meet the challenge that would occur sometimes when people would say, “I need 500 shirts printed up by Friday.” While now I can make that happen, it still can be a challenge to meet lastminute needs.

What is your business plan for the future? Continue to grow, grow, grow.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I would be on the water or in the water.

Where can people learn more? Go to fantasyhawaii.net, call 821-1097, or email us at alohamike@fantasyhawaii.net.

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