Q10: Delaware House

February 1, 2013

Kathy Howell —photo Jennifer Kresse

Delaware House
Established 2007
Kathy Howell, Owner
2499 S. Delaware Avenue
(414) 617-2469
delaware-house.com + Facebook

1. What is Bodies in Motion?

Bodies in Motion is my physical therapy practice. I have been a PT for 19 years. I specialize in orthopedic and manual physical therapy. I treat the whole body. I take insurance from many companies.

2. Describe the Delaware House businesses and offerings.

Delaware House is a community of skilled, independent small-business people, all dedicated to wellness and movement. There is acupuncture, yoga, physical therapy, massage, personal training, skincare, nail care, and ballroom/Latin dancing. Everything you need to feel good, look good, and have fun.

3. How did you conceive of the concept for the Delaware House?

Because of my ballroom dance hobby, I was very familiar with the way independent dance studios share space. And, for some time, I had envisioned a way to create a space where multiple businesses could do that. When I walked in my building, before I bought it, I could see the potential for a ballroom studio, yoga studio, and my physical therapy practice. The layout of the original building allowed me to see the possibilities for multiple related businesses, and I am very thankful that it has developed.

4. How many businesses lease space? How long did it take you to lease out all your space?

Currently, Delaware House has 17 businesses that operate full- or part-time. I have one room available for a private physical therapy practice. All other private rooms are rented. The dance teachers, yoga teachers, and personal trainers all pay by the hour. I had the building fully rented with one year.

5. What made you decide to take the leap and invest in the Delaware House?

My decision to invest was based on the needs of my patients. When I bought my building, I was practicing out of my home. My practice was growing and I needed more space and equipment to meet the needs of my clients. It also was a unique opportunity to combine my hobby and my profession.

6. Tell us about your interest and participation in ballroom dancing.

I started dancing just for fun over 15 years ago at the YMCA. I really enjoyed it and gradually became more serious. I have been an amateur competitive ballroom dancer in the professional-amateur division for 14 years. My last competition was the Pro-Am World Championships, where I placed third in the American Rhythm Division and fifth in the American Smooth Division, in the open level in my age.

7. Do you teach ballroom to novices, or only to those with professional dance aspirations?

I do not personally teach lessons. But there are excellent teachers who love teaching students of all levels, from newcomer to serious competitor. Most people who dance at Delaware House just do it for fun. We have group classes and private lessons available.

8. What would make Bay View a better environment for your business?

I honestly love Bay View and at this time do not have any criticism. I feel that it is a supportive business community and a great place to live. I feel very grateful to be part of Bay View’s business community as it grows.

9. What is the most challenging aspect of operating a business?

For me, the biggest challenge has been maintaining my physical therapy practice while I manage the building and the tenants. It is a job within a job. I do my best to stay balanced, and I have learned to accept what I can accomplish each day.

10. What is the most gratifying?

I love helping my patients. That is what keeps me working hard to stay a knowledgeable, cutting-edge physical therapist. But my business has given me even more joy. I am very happy working in a beautiful space with many skilled, intelligent people who are equally enthusiastic about their professions.

Q10: Homestyle Custom Upholstery

October 1, 2012

Larry Schneider brought his upholstery business to Allis Street in Bay View in 2007. He said it was a good move because of his proximity to the marinas.
—photo Jennifer Kresse

1. When did you start your business? What appealed to you about upholstery?

I started doing upholstery in 1973 and opened my shop in 1983. Upholstery appealed to me because it was creative and hands-on, as well as clean and warm compared to the bodywork and construction my friends were getting into.

2. How did you learn your trade? School? On the job? Or?

I studied at MATC, starting with a Furniture and Auto Upholstery class. I started at the Trim Shop in Waukesha, working with automotive upholstery and tops. Then I worked for Custom Top Shop in Butler for a few years before I tried my hand in a factory setting at Laacke and Joys making tents and other production items. I was hired by Kendor Marine in Franklin in 1980 to open and run a boat canvas and upholstery shop for their marine parts store, where I became a specialist in boat tops, covers, and upholstery. Happily, that brought me to Bay View because I wanted to be close to the many marinas and boat yards in the area.

3. Where was your first shop located? When did you move, and why? Was it a good move?

I opened on the northeast corner of Ryan Road and 27th Street in May of 1983. We moved in 2004 because a developer purchased the building we were renting, and demolished it. In 2007 we finally settled in here in Bay View. It was a great move coming here since we are now surrounded by marinas, and the business they generate has become the largest facet of our work.

4. How many employees do you have?

I have three full-time and three part-time employees.

5. What do you upholster? Do you make tarps or sails? 

I have a diverse mix of work—furniture, boat interiors and tops; cars, trucks, and motorcycle seats; awnings, restaurant and hotel interiors, and even airplane seating. Anything that has material attached or sewn we work on.

6. What is the range of fabrics you work with?
Leather, fabric, vinyl, canvas, and polycarbonate; I can’t think of anything I haven’t worked with.

7. What other services do you provide? Do you do repairs or renovations? If so, on what sorts of objects?

I offer repairs as well as partial recover/replacement for anything that we work on where it is practical to do so. For example, replacing the windows in boat canvas or patching small rips and tears in tarps and covers.

8. What would make Bay View a better environment for your business?

More parking, or at least less stringent and obscured parking rules. We often have customers who have trouble finding parking, or even worse, who are ticketed because the posted parking restrictions are not the only ones in effect. Because we do not live in the area of our shop, we are not familiar with most of the parking rules either.

9. How has your business changed over time?

We have added different skills and expanded the different kinds of work we do. For me personally, as time has gone on, I have less time to do the work myself and find that I am more often talking with customers or running the office rather than actually sewing.

10. What is most challenging about operating a small business?

Letting people know what we all do and where we are.

Homestyle Custom Upholstery
Larry Schneider, Owner
2059 S. Allis St.
(414) 761-9244

Anodyne Coffee

September 2, 2012

Matt McClutchy —photo Joel Jaecks

1. Why coffee? How/when did you develop the passion for it?

Growing up, coffee was a ceremony in our house. Watching the routine every morning was a comfort I only understood later. Then the coffee business found me and I was in for good.

2. How did you get started in the roasting business? Café part of the business?
Post college, I worked several jobs. I worked as a TV production camera operator, I kneaded bread dough at a bakery, I worked at the two best movie theatres in town, and I worked for a local coffee roastery. Coffee stuck and I bought my own shop a few years later.

3. Have you visited coffee growers? If so, where?
We have been fortunate to travel to Guatemala a couple times and El Salvador, with more trips in the works.

4. How do you do it all—roast, distribute, operate the café, run the business?
I have the greatest and best staff in the world!

5. What is the most challenging aspect of your business?
Finding the greatest and best staff in the world!

6. The most rewarding?
Seeing the neighborhood come together in the café is great. It gives my kids a sense of what a great community we are a part of.

7. What would make Bay View’s business district better for you?
A bike lane over the Hoan Bridge would make the district better.

8. What is the best thing Bay View’s business district has going for itself?
I think the lack of big chains in Bay View is refreshing and reflects the loyalty of the population in supporting locally owned businesses.

9. What made you decide to plant a sidewalk garden next to the café? What do you grow in it?
This year my wife planted tomatoes, peppers, fennel, and beans. She’s a farm girl stuck in a big city with an eye on the apocalypse.

10. What is your favorite bean or brew?
We have a coffee from Papua, New Guinea, grown on a farm that is cooperatively owned by the area’s traditional landowners, mainly people from the Opais tribe. What else do we get here in Milwaukee that comes from the Wahgi Valley in the highlands of New Guinea? How cool is that?

Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.
Matthew McClutchy, Owner
Established August 16, 1999
2920 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue
(414) 489-0765    matt@anodynecoffee.com
anodynecoffee.com + Facebook


Wild Flour Bakery & Café

April 2, 2012

Dolly Mertens serving customers at the South Shore Farmers Market.

1. How is sourdough bread different from breads made with commercial yeast?

Sourdough is sour and tangy made from natural yeast. A small piece of the sour (yeast) is added to the ingredients as the dough is being mixed. Natural yeast is a slower-rising yeast than commercial yeast; it is a 48-hour process from the time we start mixing the dough to selling the finished bread: Before we bake, the dough rises, cools, and is proofed.

2. How did you get interested in sourdough bread?

I have always liked the different taste, texture, smell of these breads. A natural sourdough bread just adds so much to meal.

3. How did you learn how to make sourdough bread? 

Practice, reading, more practice. Also, I helped to bake with my mother when I was a young girl.

4. Who makes your food and soups at the café and bakery in Bay View?

We have many trained employees who do the food prep, and much of the food is made to order when the customer places the order, so it is always nice and fresh and tasty.

5. What are some of your most popular baked goods?

Breads and cookies, muffins, and all our sweets.

6. Do you serve lunch at the Bay View café? Can customers get take out there?

Yes, we do. We also have breakfast sandwiches made on our breads and buns. Many customers call their order in so they can pick up and go.

7. How many locations do you have? Where are they?

We are a family-owned and operated business. We have four locations—Bay View; 28th Street and Lincoln Avenue; Grand Avenue Mall; and South Milwaukee. In addition, we sell our products at many grocery stores.

8. Do you cater? If so, what kinds of items do you provide?

We do light casual catering, sandwiches
and salads.

9. How has your business changed over time?

We started out only making breads, but our customers asked for sandwiches for take-out. We began making sandwiches and soon, soup and salad. And then they wanted sweets too so we added those.

10. How has Bay View changed since you opened Wild Flour?

I was able to be involved in the start of the South Shore Farmers Market. It has developed into one of the nicest events in the city. It is a very happy time and it crosses all barriers—people of all ages attend. It brings people into the community from everywhere. It is a delightful event and helps my spirit!!

Wild Flour Bakery & Café
Established 1996
Bay View Store opened 2003

Owners Dolly, Greg, and Josh Mertens
422 E. Lincoln Ave.
414-727-8145 (Bay View)
Wildflour.net   dolly@wildflour.net

Top Shelf Guitar

February 1, 2012

Jeff Benske owns Top Shelf Guitar. Benske also plays guitar in the band Five Card Studs along with fellow Thomas More High alum and Tonic Tavern owner Paul Jonas. ~photo Michael Timm

1. Did you open the shop from the start or purchase the business?

I opened the shop from the start in May 2003 in what used to be a tattoo shop.

2. Why did you focus your business on guitars?

I’m a guitar player myself and have worked on instruments at other stores in town. I figured, Why not open my own place?

3. Do you sell acoustic and electric?

We sell acoustic, electric, basses, amplifiers, and accessories.

4. Do you sell other stringed instruments?

We stock ukuleles in addition to guitars and basses. We do sell the occasional banjo or mandolin.

5. Do you play guitar?

I’ve been playing guitar for 31 years. I started in high school at Thomas More where I was in a traveling jazz ensemble and never stopped playing. I do a hundred shows a year with the Five Card Studs.

6. Which guitarists to do you admire? Which guitars?

Any guitar player from the British Invasion. Guitars—American-made: older Fenders, Gibsons, Rickenbackers, Gretsches. Guitars that are my age.

7. What other services or merchandise do you provide? Do you do repairs?

Full and complete guitar repair, amplifier repair, and lessons. Our bread and butter is repairs.

8. Do you do instrument set-ups?


9. What are some good starter guitars for beginners?

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a decent guitar these days. Many of our used instruments are set up before they are hung on the wall and play better than some new instruments that were never set up.

10. Does Top Shelf Guitar provide lessons?

I have two very qualified teachers, Todd Richards and Will Branch, who will teach students ages 5-105.

2358 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Jeff Benske
(414) 481-8677

Bay View’s bookbindery will soon close, but here is their profile

September 1, 2011

Brother and sister Bob Hertzberg and Nancy Mack pose by the mountain of paste in their bindery at 347 E. Ward St. since 1974. They plan to close the business and retire at the end of 2011. ~photo Michael Timm

1. What sorts of publications do you bind at Wisconsin Book Bindery? For whom?

All kinds of books, periodicals, Bibles.

 2. For whom?

We’ve done newspapers for schools. We’ve bound material for businesses; professionals, like doctors; and individuals, including students publishing their thesis. We also have rebound many textbooks for suburban schools.

 3. What types of book stock do you bind? Hardcover, paperback?

We do hardcover binding.

 4. What types of bindings do you do?

Nearly everything is oversewn. Some items need to be hand-sewn due to size.

5. Do you do any cloth binding? Leather?

We used to use leather. Recently, though, it has been imitation leather and a material called buckram. Our family business actually has an antecedent in Chicago, Arthur Hertzberg & Craftsmen, which bound leather books and crafted other leather objects like wastepaper baskets.

6. How many employees do you have?

Three part-time. At one point we had 12 working for us.

7. When and where did you start your business? How did you select your location?

My father started in 1957 at 229 E. Mineral St. in Milwaukee. My sister and I are fourth-generation. In 1974 we moved to 347 E. Ward St.

8. What impact have you felt from ebooks and electronic publishing?

It has been devastating and is one of the many reasons we are closing. We’re referring clients to the family-operated Grimm Book Bindery in Madison.

9. Why did you decide to open a bookbindery?

My family has been involved for years. In 1957 my father came up from Chicago to start Wisconsin Book Bindery.

10. Do you work directly with individuals who might want to bind a family history in a press run of 100 books or less?

Yes, we have done many family histories.

Wisconsin Book Bindery, Inc.

Nancy Mack

347 E. Ward St.

(414) 482-3630

Bay View Books & Music

July 31, 2011

[flickr id=”5996279791″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”left”]
Bill Frickensmith owns Bay View Books & Music at 2653 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in the space formerly occupied by Matamoros Jiu-Jitsu. Frickensmith and Dan Dehling pose in the children’s section of their bookstore. On the stepladder, Frickensmith holds Alvin & the Chipmunks; in front, Dehling holds Organ Grinder’s Circus. ~photo Michael Timm

1. Where was your business located before you moved to Bay View?

We started in Riverwest in 1988, then Prospect Mall, and then Cudahy.

2. What caused you to get into the used books trade?

Love of books. And Dan’s experience with running rummage sales. Dan’s been selling things since he was 5 years old.

3. Do you find that there’s an upsurge in people’s interest in and purchase of vinyl 45s and LPs?

Yes. They are making a huge comeback and are the majority of our in-store sales.

4. From where do you acquire your inventory?

Estate sales, house calls, customer drop-offs, and an assortment of friends who sell on consignment.

5. What do you think about electronic books? How are they affecting your business and our culture?

They are telling us that it is the future, but they also said the same thing about CDs.

6. Have people followed you from your previous location on the east side of KK to your current location on the west side?

Yes, many have.

7. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading?

Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Charles Dickens, Philip K. Dick.

8. What is the most unusual book title you’ve had in your inventory?

Topplistan: The Official Swedish Single & Album Charts.

9. What are some of your favorite bookstores that you’ve frequented?

Renaissance, Constant Reader, Martha Merrell’s, DCS Trading.

10. What is the most rare or valuable book in your inventory?

It was a signed first edition of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, which sold for $1,000.

Bay View Books & Music

Bill Frickensmith & Dan Dehling

2653 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.



Bay View Neighborhood Association

June 30, 2011

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Bay View and other south-side residents relax and enjoy the first week of Chill on the Hill, a weekly concert series in Humboldt Park coordinated by the Bay View Neighborhood Association. ~photo Veronica Rusnak

1. How many members do you have? How many do you want?

We have about 350 dues-paying members. It’s part of our mission to encourage informed and active citizenship, so it’s hard to imagine “too many.”

2. Why was BVNA formed? How do you define the geography of Bay View?

The BVNA was founded in 2004 to promote the welfare and livability of our community by serving as a voice for our common interests. Bay View has traditionally been defined as the area bound by Bay Street on the north, Morgan Avenue on the south, and from east to west by the lake and Howell Avenue. For what we do, it’s the entire 53207 Zip Code.

3. Why should people support BVNA with membership?

Largely for the same reasons that someone should, for example, join public television or buy a subscription to the Compass rather than picking one up anywhere along Kinnickinnic Avenue.

4. How does BVNA communicate with members? With nonmembers?

In addition to our website, quarterly membership meetings, and old-school post office box, we use both print and social media. You can also access our Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr pages through bayviewneighborhood.org.

5. What are some yet-to-be-realized accomplishments of BVNA?

Last fall the BVNA made significant leadership changes, and with that came a change of focus in the way we expend our energies and resources. Most people know us for the events we sponsor, and while we’ll continue to do those things, they are evolving to serve a broader purpose than mere entertainment. We want our activities to have both a longer-lasting and wider-ranging impact than they have had in the past, and that includes supporting—financially and otherwise—the efforts of other Bay View organizations.

6. Describe the work of some BVNA committees.

Communications and Environment are the two busiest of our standing committees, led by Gretchen Theisen and Rob Miller, respectively. This time of year Rob’s group is busy with river, beach, and park clean-ups and acting as our liaison with other environmental projects. BVNA recently made a substantial matching grant available for the bluff restoration project at South Shore Park.

Gretchen’s team handles press releases, advertising, printing, graphics, and most of our photography. Besides being the driving force behind our social media pages, she also developed and coordinates our new, much easier-to-use website.

7. What do you need from Bay View residents to further your mission and goals?

Input. We want people to make their concerns known to us. Secondly, we’re always looking for volunteers.

8. How many volunteers does it take to make Chill on the Hill happen?

Chill is a monumental undertaking and preparations begin in February. Every Tuesday for the run of the series we rely on volunteers to manage the stage and the booths and handle setup and tear-down.

9. How does BVNA raise the money that it spends?

Sponsorships, grants, and membership dues. We don’t hold “fundraisers” in the traditional sense and we keep our spending local.

10. What are some past or ongoing BVNA projects?

Last year our biggest project was the construction of Bay View Hide House Community Gardens. We recently provided funding for their urban beekeeping project; and once again, produce from BVNA’s plot at Hide House will go to the meal program at Bay View United Methodist on KK. We’d also like to expand Project Crayon Box to include more schools. Other things include scholarship funding, a Humboldt Park movie night in August, voter registration at Chill, and more improvements to our park facilities.

Bay View Neighborhood Association

Teri Crain, President

P.O. Box 070184, Milwaukee, WI 53207





Hi-Fi Cafe

May 29, 2011

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Mary Hart and Peter Steinhoff purchased the Hi-Fi Café in April 2004 from Sage Schwarm, who established the business in October 1996.
~photo Michael Timm

1. How long have you owned Hi-Fi Café and how has it changed since you’ve owned it?

Seven years. The menu has approximately doubled. We’ve added more entrees and beer/wine to increase dinner business.

2. How many menu items do you offer? Do you serve breakfast? How did you select your menu? During what hours do you serve food?

Full menu: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Food is served from open (7am Monday-Friday, 8am Saturday, 9am Sunday) to 9:30pm daily. Breakfast till noon M-F, 1pm weekends. The rest of the menu is available anytime. There’s a large selection for vegetarians, vegans, and meat lovers. Everything is homemade from scratch with fresh ingredients—bakery, soup/chili, hummus, dressings/sauces, salsa, guacamole, quiche, pancakes, made-to-order omelettes, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, burritos/quesadillas, specialty shakes and smoothies, coffee and coffee drinks… Everything available for dine-in or carry-out.

3. Do you use any local suppliers for your ingredients?

Local produce whenever possible. Alterra fair-trade organic coffee, Rishi teas, El Rey Mexican products, Glorioso Italian products, Casablanca falafel, Breadsmith breads, Lakefront beers, Sprecher beers and sodas, Attari Supermarket pita bread and Middle Eastern foods, Luv Unlimited incense.

4. Does Hi-Fi have Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi at Hi-Fi is free with any purchase.

5. Have you noticed a shift in business to or from sandwich/soup/food items versus just coffee/beverages?

Less all-day coffee drinkers with the smoking ban, more food sales but still plenty of both. House coffee is still the most popular seller.

6. Many people may not know that Hi-Fi also sells beer and wine. How important are beer and wine sales to your business?

Offering beer/wine has increased business in evenings somewhat. It has caught on more slowly than expected.

7. What do you know about what your building was used for prior to the café?

It was a restaurant before Hi-Fi but not a coffee shop/café. Not sure how long. At some point Hi-Fi was a TV repair shop/showroom.

8. What have you noticed about your clientele since the smoking ban took effect? Has your business plan changed as a result?

Many smokers stopped coming altogether. Very few customers stay as long as they used to, which is good for turnover. Food business has definitely increased, but not as much as we expected. Possibly people who ruled out Hi-Fi because of smoking in the past don’t know how much we have to offer.

9. Do you have plans to ever expand or open a second location?

We almost expanded our current location recently, and would still like to if/when possible.

10. The burning question: What happened to your sign?

No exciting answer about the sign. It burned up during a storm, most likely the result of an electrical short. We prefer the explanation in the Compass April Fool’s edition, though: “Hi-Fi Café So Hot, Melts Own Sign.”

Hi-Fi Café

2640 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Mary Hart & Peter Steinhoff

(414) 486-0504  hificafellc@yahoo.com   hificafe.com



Kathy’s Cat Care

May 1, 2011

Kathy Cat Care

Kathy Bauernfeind holds Porch Kitty for a photo-op inside the playroom at Second Hand Purrs Cat Shelter, 4300 S. Howell Ave. Porch Kitty, whose tail is amputated, is one of about 55 cats being cared for by volunteers inside the shelter. Bauernfeind started her home-based cat-sitting business in Bay View in 2008 and supports the shelter’s efforts. ~photo Michael Timm

1. Do you only care for cats and if so why?

Yes, I’ve chosen to focus my service on cats. Dogs are very different, and most folks either take them along when they’re away or make other arrangements. Cats are much happier staying in their usual environment.

2. What made you decide to start a cat care business?

I was on a two-week vacation and had a friend and brother alternate coming in every day to care for my cat. They didn’t mind doing it, but I wished I’d had another option and realized that many other folks were likely in the same position.

3. How much time do you spend with your client’s cat and what services do you provide?

I offer a “menu” of visit types: a stop (feeding/litter box/hugs/kisses for $10), a half-hour (including play and grooming for $15), and an hour (everything for $20). Some cats are more independent than others, so clients mix and match the types of visits, and when visits occur, to best meet their needs. We prepare a visit plan and I also offer electronic progress reports if desired, but always leave a paper “Visit Repurrrt.”

4. How do you market your business?

I stay pretty much within Bay View for marketing—advertising in the Compass and leaving business cards in the area. Word-of-mouth referrals are also very important.

5. What is the most challenging part of your work?

Caring for cats that are very old or ill, and helping their owners make difficult decisions. It’s about acknowledging and remembering the joy.

6. What is the best part of your work?

Meeting so many special people who love their cats.

7. What do you love most about cats?

I love everything that walks, crawls, and flies (except mosquitoes) but find that more than any other creature, every cat is remarkably unique. I could name specific personality traits of each of my cat clients—they’re like little people.

8. Who takes care of your cat when you travel or are out of town?

I haven’t traveled much in the last few years but have dear neighbors who help me out when the need arises.

9. What advice do you give prospective clients about preparing to work with a cat care provider?

One of the most important things is to make sure your cat feels comfortable with the visitor. Part of my service is a free pre-visit to meet and learn about the cat(s) I’ll be caring for. This also allows owners to feel comfortable that their pets will receive earnest, loving care. My service is all about making both cats and people feel comfortable when they have to be apart.

10. What makes your cat care business unique or different than other similar businesses?

I can’t say if this makes me unique but I honestly look forward to every cat visit I have—each one brightens my day. I also have a client who wants her cat to have an hour’s time, but who isn’t much into playing. So I read to him and, without fail, he curls up next to me and purrs. He’s enjoyed my literature choices so far.

Kathy Bauernfeind

(414) 482-0390



INK Designs

April 1, 2011

Q10 Ink Designs 017

Kevin Ristow’s wife designed the “daisy” patterned T-shirts that are part of INK Design’s thINK Conscious Apparel. ~photo Michael Timm

1. Why did you move INK Designs from Cudahy to Bay View? How has the new location worked out so far?

We were waiting for the appropriate time to move INK Designs to Bay View. The opportunity had presented itself this past year and we decided to make the move. There is such a strong support for local business in Milwaukee and we wanted to contribute to the support-local movement. We are very excited about our new Hide House location.

2. Why did you start your own apparel line, thINK Conscious Apparel?

thINK Conscious Apparel was introduced in fall 2007. Its purpose is to promote awareness of social and environmental issues through a thought-provoking line of art-focused, original, ethical, and fashion-aware apparel. Our designs focus on nature, peace, and the environment.

3. INK Designs is featured on the cover of the Fair Indigo catalogue this spring. What/how much does that mean to you?

We are extremely honored and excited to have the opportunity to work with a like-minded company that is equally as passionate about sustainability and fair trade.

4. What are some examples of innovative or interesting jobs you’ve taken on?

Last summer we worked with a local Bay View treasure—Rishi Tea—on an all-over print for their Chai with Roots campaign. The art wrapped around the shirt from front to back and then off the bottom. That was probably the most challenging and intricate print that we’ve done.

5. How did you get connected with doing merchandise for the Brewcity Bruisers roller derby?

We had done some work with the Urban Ecology Center and met Joey Zocher, UEC Washington Park program director. From there, Joey (Bruiser name: Pound Anya) connected us to the Brewcity Bruisers and ever since then INK Designs has been a proud sponsor.

6. What makes INK Designs different from any other T-shirt printer in the area?

What sets us apart is our commitment to giving back to the community. In 2009 we partnered with the Milwaukee Community Service Corps (MCSC). Through community service, young adults lead a local clean water initiative to preserve, conserve, and restore water quality throughout the Great Lakes basin. Since 2009, we’ve continually donated proceeds from our thINK Conscious Apparel sales directly to MCSC in support of this clean water initiative.

7. What is the screenprinting process like? How does it work?

Screen printing is a printing technique that uses woven mesh (screens) to support an ink-blocking stencil. The stencil forms open areas that allow ink to be pressed through the mesh when a squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing ink past the threads of the woven mesh. The ink is then cured or dried.

8. What makes INK Designs environmentally friendly?

Our entire printing process from start to finish has been structured to lessen our impact on the Earth. We filter all of our waste water, use soy- and citrus-based solvents, non-toxic environmentally safe inks, and water-based adhesives. We also believe in sourcing apparel from sustainable manufacturers that use organic cotton, naturally sustainable bamboo, post-consumer recycled polyester, and low-impact dyes.

9. What graphic design services do you offer?

We offer a variety of design services—logos, business cards, web design, custom apparel, and various other print media.

10. What’s your professional history? How did you get into the printing business?

I’ve had a lifelong passion for print. I screenprinted my first T-shirt in a high school industrial arts class when I was 16 years old. I then studied graphic design in college and received my first job as a graphic designer in 1996. I’ve since worked for a newspaper, a direct mail company, a television station, and two advertising agencies. Ultimately, I decided to leave the corporate world behind to open INK Designs.

INK Designs
2625 S. Greeley St., Suite 305
Kevin Ristow
(414) 747-8998

Batcave Recording Studio

January 30, 2011

Q10 Batcave

Sam Malaj —photo Michael Timm

1.Who is Batcave Recording Studio and what do you do?
The studio is me, Sam Malaj, and the bevy of session musicians I’ve known over the years. The studio’s capabilities are flexible to suit live band recordings as well as detailed post-production, songwriting, and collaboration. I approach studio operation from the perspective of a “street smart” musician with a tactile sensibility.

2. What is your professional, musical, and/or technical background?

Gigging musician for 22 years—bass, vocal, guitar—locally, on the road, live, studio, hired gun, collaborator, Swiss Army knife, etc. Recordist for 18 years. Instructor, guitar tech, instrument builder, soundman, electronics nerd.

3. How did you come to operate in the Hide House? When? Where were you before?

My main band, Fire on Your Sleeve, was acquainted with local artist/guitar wiz/snicklefriss Brian “Beanz” Grinwald when our need for a spot coincided with a vacancy he had here in ’06. Previously the studio was located in an East Side basement.

4. How do you compete/cooperate with other recording studios? What makes you unique?

Maybe all the odd-ball, home-made rigs? (Now that’s a band name!) I also offer services uncommon to most studios like songwriting/rendering, part writing/recording, backup vocal production, in-studio vocal coaching, in-studio guitar setups, pre/post-editing, creative editing, and a bunch of tech stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting.

I specialize in esoteric aspects of vocal production and delivery, and I believe a producer needs to have a certain grasp of language to explain what “needs to happen” at any step. Usually it can be accomplished by example and mimicking, but a simple, cleanly-stated explanation can go a long way. I set a steady, productive working pace.

I offer the option of pricing hourly or flat-rate (per song) and bulk rates for longer projects.

5. Describe some work you’ve recently done with some local clients.

Last month Bay View local Drew Ingle (formerly of Spirit Creek) and I wrapped up a Springsteen-esque production of a bunch of his open-mic originals with the help of my secret-weapon, hired-gun drummer and friend Chad Clausen. Production fell together without a hitch and the legendary Trevor Sadler is slated to master it.

6. What advice would you give to a local band that is looking to create an album?

Play dynamically and “mix yourself” as you record your part. Structure steps when possible. Less is more. Don’t be scared of the click track. Don’t clip. Study math and physics if you’re going to do it yourself.

7. Your website says you’ve added a local didgeridoo player to a live act. For whom? What was that like? How much is Batcave involved in your clients’ production process?

I’m the didgeridooist. I overdub them when desired. I build and tune them. PVC works best and is easiest to tune. I have them in B, E, C#, and an adjustable “slide” didgeridoo in PVC. The wooden one here is likely tuned to H-minus. I devised two new methods of making a didge. One became my current drum overhead rig. The other wound up becoming my trade secret technique. I’ve said too much already.

Depth of involvement fluxes based on needs. Sometimes I’ll “be” and/or hire the backup band for a project. Other times it’s reconstruction on an existing song or beat track. I do a lot of backup vocal “stacking,” especially on hip hop productions. Sometimes operations require a creative nudge and sometimes all I have to do is simply be the engineer.

8. What is the most rewarding part of your work? What is the most challenging?

Many younger players who come through get better at their instruments after a finished project because we’ll have spent time going over things like techniques for following a click track or alternate picking or a breathing technique or whatever.

Challenges can come from song composition and interpretation. It can flow or be tedium. That said, those types of speed bumps are overcome once everyone is speaking the same language and after the right “color” is found.

9. Who are some big-name or special/memorable clients you’ve recorded in Bay View?

Currently, my wheelhouse is wrapped up in Jason Loveall’s (of The Danglers) new project. It’s forming into an otherworldly experience. It spans wide going from snarling country/punk to old-timey gypsy to swirling, atmospheric, alien-induced dreamscapes. I’m giddy like a schoolgirl.

10. How would you describe Bay View’s vibe for business and for music?

Thankfully there is a scene with a lot of talent and venues. We’re so lucky to have a wide range of venues like Frank’s, Cactus, Lulu, and the Brew Haus. There’s a lot of good energy on and near KK for art and independent business to be further cultivated and I don’t ever want to see it go through a McConversion to chain stores and strip malls.

The Hide House complex itself is a nerve center of artistic activity. I’m blessed to be here amid the constant bustle of pro artists of many walks. Shout out to Gibson Bathrick, yo!

Batcave Recording Studio
2625 S. Greeley St.
Sam Malaj (414) 839-8680

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