On Thursday, March 9th, 2023, CAN BE welcomed two of its newest tenants to the Innovation Center in West Hazleton: Pure Beaver Hat Supply, a local felt and hatter supply house, and Stray Threads, a woman owned screen-printing shop.
As a hatmaker for over a decade, Tim Mahovich has been aware of the highs and lows of the hat-making industry. When the pandemic hit, it only emphasized the industry’s greatest weakness – supply shortages. Mahovich, however, saw this as a business opportunity and launched his startup company, Pure Beaver Hat Supply.
Before global supply chain issues impacted businesses everywhere, the hat industry had been facing the scarcity of beaver felt, a key component to Mahovich's hat-making, for a long time. As a result, demand issues and product availability became a global problem for hatmakers, particularly among small hattery businesses and hobbyists that couldn’t afford to purchase or import bulk supplies.
For Mahovich, that's where his business comes in. "Pure Beaver Hat Supply provides the [hat-making] industry with the best product available to hat makers," he said. "I'm helping to keep a lot of small hat makers alive. There is a supply demand that isn't able to be met. So that's where we come in.”
In addition to selling premium felts, Tim also makes homemade hats for sale in-house and offers hands-on training to fellow hat makers looking to improve their skills. Eventually, Tim hopes to offer hat-making classes to the public in a similar style to a paint-and-sip event.
Mahovich, a Hazleton native, found out about the Innovation Center when he initially began looking for financing for Pure Beaver Hat Supply. Once he had a commitment from his supplier that he would have steady access to materials, he moved forward with finding affordable space for him and his two employees to work and store felt.
Pure Beaver Hat Supply operates from their felt distribution warehouse and training facility on Rotary Drive in West Hazleton. For more information and to view their current supply catalog, you can visit Pure Beaver Hat Supply's website, purebeaverhatsupply.com.
After a local screen-printing shop retired, Megan Sterenchock, another Hazleton area native, was inspired to open her own screen-printing business once she realized it was something she could do. "I've always had an interest in screen printing and love a well-designed hoodie! It seemed like a good way to merge my graphic design background with creating something with my hands while getting out from behind a computer," Sterenchock said. So, with the support of her family and friends, she officially opened Stray Threads inside the CAN BE Innovation Center in January 2022.
At Stray Threads, Sterenchock uses a manual press, which means she prints all designs by hand. This gives her work more of a personal touch and the ability to accommodate smaller production runs, which she hopes will be attractive to small, local businesses not looking to place large, bulk orders. "Smaller businesses seem to have a need for a smaller run of items because they might not want to sell their own merch, only have a handful of employees, or don't have the budget for larger orders. I hope to be able to fill that need for them."
Currently, Sterenchock can print on t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and tote bags. Customers can use their existing logos and designs, or if they have an idea and need some help making it come to life, she can work with them to create a design they love. In the future, Sterenchock also has plans to collaborate with different artists to create limited-run designs for sale through the business’ Artist Collective.
When Sterenchock decided to pursue this passion project, setting up shop at the CAN BE Innovation Center made sense. “The CAN BE Innovation Center is a great place to start a new business in NEPA. They have the great resources, provide guidance to new businesses, and help guide people who aren't as experienced in the entrepreneur world.”
To learn more about Stray Threads Screen Printing in West Hazleton, visit their website, www.straythreads.co.