The Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce recently held its annual Growing Business Awards Gala. Among the honorees was All Colors, a woman-owned business in Highland Park.
Gayle Brill Mittler is the founder of the company, which started out as a souvenir T-shirt manufacturer. Seventeen years later, the company has changed its focus, branching into all kinds of branded products for Rutgers University, among other institutions and clients throughout the state.
And it's still growing: The Middlesex Chamber recognizes businesses that have substantially grown within the past five years, and Gayle said All Colors has been looking at annual growth of 15 to 20 percent in that time.
Having Rutgers as a client through the merger with UMDNJ led to a bunch of business, Gayle said, and she's looking to add even more clients in the coming years.
But it was a steep climb to where she is today. Gayle said that when she started All Colors, screen printing was a bit of a man's world.
"When we were first getting started, it was a little hard to get the suppliers to take us seriously — until I actually found a woman who was a sales rep for a major inks and machine supplier. And so she really helped me get started up in business, in terms of learning the right things to have," Gayle said.
Now, Gayle is trying to pay that forward, with an internship program that teaches college students how to run a business and do artwork.
"Sometimes just making something that is creative isn't enough. You need to be able to make something that people are going to buy and want to wear," she said. "When the students graduate from college and either we hire them or they get jobs in a related business and they come back and they tell you, 'I learned so much here,' that's a real good feeling."
And for those women who may not wind up at the All Colors internship, she shared a bit of wisdom:
"The most important thing to keep in mind is to not be afraid to try something," she said. "We as women or girls are often raised to please everyone, and sometimes you're not going to please somebody, and you can't take it personally but you have to really stand for what you believe is the right thing to do and do it."