Making T-shirts is no monkey business for Clarendon Hills man
William McGhie of Clarendon Hills, owner and operator of MonkeyPencil, embroiders a hat using an embroidery machine in his home studio. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:59AM
CLARENDON HILLS — William McGhie’s interest in T-shirts has developed into a nice home business for the Clarendon Hills resident.
McGhie, 45, originally is from Scotland and has lived in Clarendon Hills for the past 15 years. He got the ball rolling on his business, Monkeypencil, two years ago.
“I really like T-shirts; I don’t know why, and I originally wanted to just make some for myself,” he said. “I read up about making them and watched some videos on YouTube, and then I got starter equipment to do the screen printing.”
Shortly after making the first few shirts for himself, some of McGhie’s friends expressed interest in being on the receiving end of his product.
“My friends started asking for T-shirts, and the word started to spread a little that I was doing the shirts,” McGhie said. “I had been a stay-at-home dad for 13 years. It was getting close to the time when I was going to have find something to do, and I’m really not a 9-to-5-er.”
McGhie secured the necessary businesses licenses and equipment he needed to start Monkeypencil. He designs and prints T-shirts, which is the bulk of his business. He also does machine embroidery and makes buttons, signage, custom guitar picks, stickers, headwear, sportswear, posters and banners.
The name of his business was sparked by his desire to come up with something that wasn’t easily forgettable.
“It’s just way too easy for someone to forget “J and R Printing,” or whatever,” he said. “This is a really silly name, but people remember it.”
While some of McGhie’s T-shirt orders are presented to him along with specific artwork desired by the customer, he sometimes is asked to create a design for a shirt, button or sign.
“I really like that creative part of coming up with a design,” he said. “I draw all the time when I get the chance, although I usually have to have an end product in mind for me to get really interested in drawing.
“When someone hands you a napkin with an idea and it becomes a T-shirt, that’s a good feeling. It’s really something to be at a school, or something, and see a bunch of people wearing a T-shirt I did.”
McGhie said he clientele still includes friends, but also has grown to include Westmont School District 201 and Hinsdale South High School. He has had orders of up to 300 T-shirts at a time; typically, orders range from 100 to 150 shirts.
“It takes about six hours to do 100 to 150 shirts, from the design, setting the screens and getting ready to finishing up,” he said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get things done on time because I don’t ever want to let anyone down.”
McGhie said he enjoys screen printing, embroidery and the rest of his work. However, there is one aspect of screen printing he would gladly do without.
“Screen printing is messy,” he said. “The cleanup definitely is the worst part.”
McGhie has remained a one-person business, but might have to consider hiring help if the demand continues to grow.
“I’d like to maybe have younger people do the printing, and I would concentrate on sales,” he said. “There’s a part of me that would like to get bigger, but the bigger you get, the more problems you have.”
More information about Monkeypencil is available online at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Monkeypencil-Screen-Printing-Apparel/134330909927673.