Uptown Prints

“If I tell you my goals, you might think I'm crazy.”

Abraham Mercedes

Uptown Prints has been on a steady increase, outgrowing four different studios since 2005.

Abraham Mercedes and his family immigrated to the Bronx in 2005 from the Dominican Republic, where his parents owned a successful photography studio. Once the family settled in, Abraham’s parents began pursuing photography jobs, and eventually opened a new studio. Abraham describes his childhood with a laugh, “As a kid, I was always translating between English and Spanish on business calls, going to work with my paeents, and helping at weddings and other events. I’m now 23 and I have about 10 solid years of experience.”

The Mercedes family also also decided to expand their services to include printing. Demand quickly grew, and customers also began inquiring about other printing projects as they wanted their photos printed on t-shirts and other non-paper materials. These requests inspired Abraham to consider the next step: “I really got into screen printing in high school. I was watching tutorials on YouTube, learning how to do embroidery and printing. I knew how to screen print before we even got the machine.” Thanks to this foundational knowledge and Abraham’s entrepreneurial spirit, the family incorporated Uptown Prints in 2020.

embroidery machine sewing a hat
screen printing machine

We took out loans to finance a lot of the equipment. We opened and just kept growing.”

The initial goal was to serve the needs of all customers, with Abraham and his team completing projects of all sizes, for a widely diverse range of clients, using a multitude of finishing styles and materials.  However, Abraham realized that in order to successfully scale, he would need to focus on more niche services and client types. With support from ITAC, he identified clear customer personas and offerings. While still offering a range of printing services, from direct-to-garment printing to custom embroidery, Uptown Prints is now focused on delivering the highest-quality creative solutions to his well-defined target market.

Laser-focused on customer satisfaction and deeply dedicated to his craft, Abraham wants Uptown Prints to redefine printing in the Bronx: “We’re known for our quality and knowledge. Customers trust that we will help find the best option for their project and deliver a product they’re proud to wear or resell.”

Dreams only come true when you wake up and pursue them.”

Uptown Prints is on the brink of another exciting expansion, as Abraham and his team set their sights on a larger space in the Bronx. This new facility will not only house additional printing equipment, allowing Uptown Prints to scale its operations, but it will also feature a dedicated studio space for its photography business. With plans to introduce new offerings for marketing materials, such as product photography and headshots, Uptown Prints aims to be a one-stop destination for businesses looking to elevate their brand presence. “We’ve got a great team right now, and I am looking for even more specialized skills. We first need to scale, and our plan is to then hire more staff.”

This new space will also help the company achieve its long-term goals. By combining the printing company with the photography studio, Uptown Prints plans to host workshops and classes for adults and children to learn about screen printing and support their creativity. Abraham shares, “ I’m really eager to give back to the community; I want to help kids in the community see all of the opportunities that are available to them.”

embroidery machine sewing on fabric

Q&A with Abraham

What work have you most enjoyed?

Creating! I recently worked on a specialty collaboration that was a lot of work and really short deadline, but it was so fun. It was such a fun and creative project, and I really want more like that.

What keeps you motivated?

Thinking about the past and how it was before, compared to what it was now. My family came here and we had nothing. We've come so far but we’re just at the start.

What’s your advice to someone starting out in this business?

Find a niche and attack it. We started tackling so many different projects and it was too much. Start small and grow.