Hayfield’s one stop custom shop

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, March 24, 2011

Becky Jax, owner of Hayfield T-shirt, embroiders a jacket Wednesday afternoon in Hayfield. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Hayfield T-shirt offers printing, signs, trophies

The name of Becky Jax’s business, Hayfield T-shirt, hardly encompasses the scope of her work.

Among screen printing and embroidery, she makes her own designs, vinyl and metal signs, trophies, stickers, and more.

For five years, Jax has been perfecting her craft. Five years ago, she dove into it and had to learn everything.

Becky Jax, owner of Hayfield T-shirt, does screen printing on some t-shirts Wednesday afternoon in Hayfield. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

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“It was all things I had to learn quickly,” she said. “I’ve always worked with computers, but there’s a lot of other things than just computers.”

Becky trained with the man she bought the store from for a couple weeks before she took the reins. In that time, she learned how to operate the embroidery and screen printing machines, and began making trophies, plaques and other items. But to her, a career change, a small-town location and a chance to be close to family were all worth it.

“I like being in the small town,” she said. “I grew up and went to the school here in Hayfield.”

Although she wanted a career change, she has realized owning her own business holds its own setbacks, too.

“There’s definitely pros and cons,” she said. “Pros are: You’re your own boss; you set your own hours. Cons are: You work a lot harder at your own business than you do at a job where you work a 40-hour week.”

Jax said she receives calls at nearly all times. She’s taken orders at 11 p.m., and she’s taken orders while on vacation.

“You’re kind of married to the business, or so to speak,” she said.

Although Jax doesn’t have a website and works in a small town, she’s managed to build a hefty customer base. She serves people from central Iowa, to Minneapolis and St. Paul and both the Wisconsin and South Dakota borders. She’s had a customer order from as far away as Colorado.

Hayfield T-shirt is the quintessential evolving business. It started in a Hayfield teacher’s basement with simple apparel. From there, it opened as a retail business with a store front in Hayfield. Then it changed hands with another man, and then Jax bought it.

A long series of shelves holds shirts and sweaters available to Becky Jax at her business, Hayfield T-Shirts in Hayfield. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Now, Jax keeps busy to the point where she’s unsure if she’ll have time to run a website. Some of her short-term goals include a renovation and becoming more energy efficient. Long-term, she’d like to keep pace with the industry.

Jax said new machines can produce designs on clothing in just minutes. Because she wants to continue to serve customers, especially those who want instant gratification, she plans to update her machinery.

“If you don’t satisfy the customers, they’re not going to come back,” she said.

Jax has been fortunate the economy hasn’t negatively affected her business, and the community has always been very good to her.

That’s why Hayfield T-shirt continues to expand, solely by word of mouth.