Casey Coolbaugh ‘12 and Chauna D’Angelo ‘12 embarked down an unlikely path after graduating from Binghamton University: starting their own business. Post-graduation they created Muckles! Ink, a custom and commercial screen printing business, and have since made their mark on the local area.
Coolbaugh and D’Angelo met at SUNY Broome before transferring to Binghamton University. Studying cinema, they both became active in the local art scene.
“We started throwing shows together for first Fridays,” D’Angelo said. “The cinema class that we were in at Binghamton University was putting on an experimental festival.”
Drawing from their artistic roots, D’Angelo and Coolbaugh sought to make custom merchandise for the film festival and found the right opportunity to buy their own silkscreen equipment to print custom apparel items.
“We found a guy who was selling his whole basement operation,” D’Angelo said. “He was 70 and ready to sell the whole shebang.”
D’Angelo had done some screen printing in high school, and they were both up for the challenge. In April of 2012, as they printed their first shirts, Muckles! Ink was born.
“We had the background of getting these disparate elements together into a cohesive system,” Coolbaugh said. “That background in production from the cinema department helped us coordinate systems. Making a film or a video, and getting those components together, is similar to making a t-shirt.”
Six years later, Muckles! has become a Binghamton staple.
“I think a big benefit to Muckles! Ink is that all of our stuff is local,” Coolbaugh said. “We were doing things in the area for so long that when we started Muckles! we had the support, which was huge because that’s the community coming together.”
Working from their headquarters on the East Side of Binghamton, Muckles! took space at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator as a hub to coordinate with their interns.
“The incubator was a good resource for mentorship and building a community, and it was a great clean place to work,” Coolbaugh said. “Everyone was supportive; they’d help you market, and it was a great community.”
Muckles graduated from the Koffman Incubator in July and now with their operations expanding, Muckles! is moving from their old headquarters to a new 3,000-foot space on the corner of Court Street and State Street.
Their new operation is vertically integrated, meaning they are both the manufacturers and the retailers, screen printing their products in the basement as well as selling their products on the first and second floors of the space.
Because the small business handles designing, printing, and sales, Muckles! interns have been able to gain experience with every aspect of production.
“Running a small business, the interns are interested in the whole operation, rather than just one part,” D’Angelo said.
“And because it’s vertically integrated, we can teach interns everything from production to graphic design to accounting,” Coolbaugh added.
Working on every facet of the company, Coolbaugh and D’Angelo get to teach their interns how to run a small business from the inside out.
“I think that’s what the Incubator is all about, seeing how things are built,” Coolbaugh said. “Our internship program is critical to the operation, and it keeps that integration to Binghamton University.”
Becoming a business staple in Binghamton is an ambitious task, but with support from the Koffman Incubator and the business community, they are certainly up for the task.