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Wide F♀rmat

(November 2011) posted on Tue Oct 25, 2011

Five women changing the face of large-format printing.

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By Paula L. Yoho

For years, sociologists as well as talkshow hosts and comedians have debated endlessly about the differences between the female and the male mindsets. Whether the topic at hand is obtaining directions, giving instruction, commandeering the TV remote, or enduring pain, there are certain typical images everyone has in their head when it comes to the feminine versus the masculine.

The same can be said when it comes to owning and running a business – particularly a company that produces wide-format printwork. The typical owner’s image that immediately comes to mind is almost always male (and older, too, but that’s another article). Move beyond the stereotype, however, and you’ll find that it’s not just men you’ll encounter in the print shop’s “corner office,” as women make their presence felt more and more in the wide-format marketplace.

On the pages that follow, you’ll be introduced to five women who are spearheading successful businesses in the world of wide-format digital printing. Their leadership has enabled their respective companies to build solid client lists and impressive portfolios, pushing their shops forward in difficult times to achieve some uncommon results.


Manufacturing ideas: CR&A Custom
Carmen Rad is the quintessential entrepreneur. Armed with a degree in fashion marketing and design, she began a successful business out of her home 18 years ago creating custom costumes, props, and various promotional items for the film industry. When the laws affecting duties on Chinese imports were changed, she says, an influx of cheap items introduced from overseas put the squeeze on Rad’s business, sending her in search of a different field that would capitalize on her creative finesse, while still allowing her to market to those same clients.

At the time, she was dabbling in dye-sublimation for printing on fabric, so the evolution to wide-format printer was a natural one. Today, her company, CRA Custom, Inc. (, is the only dually woman- and minority-owned large-format digital printing operation in the US. But don’t pigeon-hole her as a printer.

“We are more of a design company that owns the equipment to print, so in that sense we’re able to take your creative idea and manufacture it,” Rad explains. “Now we’re all digital. We have the newest, greenest equipment in the industry. We have a water-based printer, and we’re getting the largest flatbed printer in the industry.”