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Davis, California

Sunday, September 26, 2021

UC Davis alumnus-owned shirt printing business expands

Steven Zhang, a UC Davis graduate, started his own shirt screening business — formerly known as SacShirts — while enrolled in school to help offset the costs of his tuition.

Since its humble beginnings in Zhang’s garage in late 2011, the business has recently relocated to an office in Sacramento on Broadway and 21st streets, and was renamed and rebranded as Qissa.

Zhang started his business while attending UC Davis when he realized that there was a need for a shirt screening business that could specialize in smaller orders, because so many companies had minimum order requirements that smaller clubs and groups had trouble filling.

After graduating from UC Davis, Zhang began to work for Wells Fargo but kept up his shirt printing business on the side. A year ago, he decided to quit his job at Wells Fargo and pursue his dream of being a full-time business owner.

“I felt like I was selling my soul to corporate giants,” Zhang said.

Qissa is Punjabi for “pursue passion,” which goes along with the company motto “Do what you love — life’s too short to do anything else.”

Each order requires a minimum of 12 shirts or hats, which, according to Qissa’s website, is 36 less than a typical screen printer. Additionally, the company offers price matching.

Sylvester Vang, a professional photographer and acquaintance of Zhang’s, has watched the business transform in the past year. He speaks highly of the company and the way Zhang looks out for his clients.

“Steven can only shine his humbleness and work ethic onto those that have the pleasure of coming into contact with him and his business,” Vang said.

A professional photographer, Vang also chose to pursue his dreams after taking a photography class in college that he fell in love with.

Joyce Han, the ASUCD special projects director and a second-year psychology and human development double major, recently placed an order with Qissa for approximately 250 shirts for ASUCD. She said ASUCD decided to work with Qissa because Qissa was less expensive than other companies.

“We were working to get the shirt design done in time and Steven was really responsive, patient and understanding — even though we kept making changes,” Han said.

When asked about advice for blossoming entrepreneurs, Zhang said the toughest thing about going out on your own is that “the lack of correction is foreign to students.”

He wonders if college is the right choice for everyone, because oftentimes “school doesn’t prepare students.”

Xavier Montalvan, an undeclared first-year student applauds Zhang because he thinks it would be tough to start a business without having previous business experience.

Zhang said that during the development of his business, he had many naysayers telling him why it wouldn’t succeed — many of them stating concerns similar to the one mentioned by Montalvan.

“I would say they should start off at a corporation and gain the experience and knowledge that it takes to run a business,” Montalvan said.

TAYLOR CUNNINGHAM can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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