My Life, My Words: Jeremy Browning — ‘A pretty full life’
Owner of Chaos Ink
“We’ve been here for seven years now, me and my wife, Cyme. We bought it from the old owner in 2004. The first couple years were pretty rough. It was a lot of really late nights and long hours and struggling to get by, and we started hitting all cylinders around 2006, 2007, and we’ve been really fortunate to stay really busy.
“My brother, Joel, was my pressman for two years and my brother Nate, well, all my family just helped whenever. Whenever we run into a bind or we’ve got a big order they’ll come down and help us out.
“My job’s really interesting because on any given day I might be doing anything. I might be giving quotes, and maybe artwork for customers, ordering shirts from suppliers, I may be in the back screen printing or cleaning screens. You never know, you know? One thing that’s nice about it is it really keeps me hopping and it’s hard to get bored because I do so many different things.
“I think it’s really neat that I get to meet so many different people. Most of my customers, we have really good relationships and they’re really cool people. Doing business with them for seven years, I get to deal with people I do stuff with outside of work, too, so that’s good. We’re fortunate to have a lot of local businesses, local sports, local events like the horse drive or the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials and we get to do T-shirts for all the cool local events going on.
“I don’t know (why I first started here), it just seemed exciting to me. I had some friends who kind of turned us onto it. It was an established business, but it was getting ready to just sell all the equipment. There was this idea that maybe this service in Craig would be gone, and so we kind of got excited about taking it over and keeping it running. I was a reporter and my wife was a production manager at the Daily Press, so she was doing pagination and putting in art and my job was writing stories. That was every bit as taxing as this is.
“The thing about owning your own business is that you get to decide what order you do things in and when you do them, and that’s nice to have that kind of freedom. You can be gone for a little while and then decide, ‘OK, I’m going to come back tonight and finish that.’ The downside of that is that if you don’t do what is required to get the job done, you will directly see that loss on your paycheck. In a way, it’s scary to be that close to where the rubber meets the road, realizing that if I don’t put in a couple extra hours today, this job isn’t going to happen and I’m not going to get paid.
“None of my school experience really relates to graphics or artwork, which is ironic.
“I went to CSU, and I studied engineering for a while and journalism for a while, neither of which I’ve got a degree in, but I studied both of them. This is the kind of thing that I just learned on the fly, learning by doing. You just learn what needs to be done, nothing more and nothing less. It’s like the old school apprenticeship type of learning where you do the job to learn the job. My new pressman has been on the job about three months, and he learned how to print by printing. He’d never seen how it was done before he worked here, and I just got him a screen and said, ‘Here’s how you do it,’ and he did it. Fully like an apprenticeship.
“I get really excited about gardening. I can’t wait until the weather warms up. Whether you own a business or not, people put in a lot of hours at their job, getting the kids to school and back, and you need some time to relax, and for me that’s getting in the garden. I get the kids after work, we go up to the garden, and that’s where we spend the evening. That’s my favorite time of year for sure. We’re getting really excited about it. I’ve got three kids. My stepson is 12, my little guy Roark is 5 and then Oliver is just about to be 2.
“It’s mostly vegetables, all kinds: zucchini and corn and tomatoes and all kinds of stuff. The kids love it, and I think it’s nice getting them out there in the dirt. They get their hands dirty, they’re playing outside, and getting acquainted with the idea of ‘Where does a carrot come from?’ At the grocery store, it’s like it just appeared there, and then you realize that it took a lot of work to make a carrot or a tomato, and I think it’s really cool to show your kids where that stuff really comes from.
“It’s a great diversion from this work because this stuff is all digital, on computers, on people’s emails, it’s fast-paced. Not so with the garden, totally different. It’s all hands-on, it’s very slow. We go camping a few times in the summertime too, and that’s about it. Between the garden and going camping and working, it makes a pretty full life.”
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UPDATE: The West Fire is now burning 2,403 acres Monday afternoon, after only about 700 acres were burning late Monday morning.