Total Graphics offers clients the total package in custom design


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From hair bows and craft shows to offering custom graphic designs out of her own storefront, Mandy Parker had no idea her hobby would evolve into a successful business.

What began as a simple craft project, ended up “spiraling out of control” as people discovered her work and wanted to buy items for themselves.

“At the time, I had an in-home day care,” Mandy said. “I made bows for my daughter, got a Cricut, did crafty things, and started making them for others. Then, I went to a craft show or two and people started asking for more/different items.”

Mandy’s work became so popular she didn’t have time to continue both running her day care and creating designs. Since she has a degree in graphic design, Mandy chose to go that route, where her passion was. Eventually, an office space opened up in Wayne, Nebraska, and Total Graphics found a permanent home in June 2019.

Less than a year into running her business, Mandy, like so many small business owners, was caught in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some businesses had to close, Total Graphics was considered an essential business and stayed open. Mandy found herself in need of more equipment to keep up with the pandemic-induced demand for new items.

“It was a tipping point for me,” Mandy said. “Everyone needed signage. From ‘drive-thru open’ and ‘stand here’ signs to more personal requests for graduation banners and ‘Honk, it’s my birthday’ signs. It was driving me nuts that there was a market that I couldn’t serve.”

With the support of friends and other local business owners, she researched financing options and found the Center for Rural Affairs. She reached out to Senior Loan Specialist Lori Schrader, who helped Mandy through the loan application process. Lori also helped Mandy with business accounting and budget training, as well as creating a business plan.

“Mandy is always looking for more ways to expand her business and to help provide more options to clients,” said Lori. “She’s very flexible and is willing to travel to accommodate clients. From concept to final product, it’s all done in-house with the customer in mind. She then brings those custom designs to life.”

In May 2020, Mandy received her loan and was able to buy the equipment she needed to add extra services for her customers.

“Lori was fantastic,” said Mandy. “She answered every question I had and showed me how to navigate things I hadn’t even thought of yet. My business evolved out of my basement, and Lori helped educate me on what forms I needed to fill out, who I should contact, and where I should go to get everything I need.”

Mandy was also able to use federal COVID-19 relief funds, which made expanding her business less nerve-wracking.

“The first six months of loans were paid,” she said. “It took the scary out of it, and gave me six months to get on my feet. This way, the business could make money before it had to make money, customers could discover what I could offer, and I had time to learn and make mistakes on new equipment. It was really nice to have six months of breathing room. By the time I had to make payments, I was printing every day, so it was a really good thing.”

Today, Mandy offers a number of services to the community of Wayne and surrounding areas, as well as Wayne Community Schools and Wayne State College.

She provides her customers with more than apparel and signage, creating custom designs for everything from graphics for vehicles and buildings to logos for company pens.

“My goal through my store is to be everyone’s one-stop shop, truly total graphics,” Mandy said. “Once I create the design, the art is on file, and I can run the gamut for my customers. As far as retail, it’s all about being custom, and having the ability to customize to fulfill a client’s total need. Other businesses can do part of what I do, but no one else can do everything all in the same place.”

Along with the help of two part-time employees, Mandy continues to grow her business and add new products for her customers. She says this is her favorite, yet most challenging, part of being a business owner.

“I love and thrive on a good challenge,” said Mandy. “I love it when someone brings me a project that makes me focus on learning something new. Every service and piece of equipment I have came from someone asking if I could do it. I love fulfilling their ideas and learning new things, so it’s the best of both worlds.”

She also believes in the idea of a little healthy competition, not only for herself, but for anyone looking to open their own business.

“You don’t have to start a business alone; reach out to the Center, your local chamber, or other small business owners who will be more than happy to help,” Mandy said. “Don’t ever be afraid of competition. They’ll push you to be better. Befriend your competition, because they are the ones you can reach out to when you’re in a pickle and need extra parts or a helping hand. ‘Co-opetition’ is a good thing.”

Mandy enjoyed her experience working with the Center so much she has recommended the organization to others who are looking for a loan and/or support.

“I’ve described the Center to several people as a large rural chamber,” Mandy said. “They have resources for whatever you need, or offer a voice on the other end of the phone when you have questions. The Center has been a great resource.”

As she moves forward with her business, Mandy says no two days are alike, and that’s exactly how she likes it.

“Every day is new,” she said. “Six months prior to obtaining any new equipment or skills I have, I would have told you you were nuts. Each day just depends on what customers want and what I have to learn. I can’t wait to see what I pick up next.”

Are you in need of financing for new equipment for your business? Contact your regional loan specialist. Find yours at

At a glance

Total Graphics
Mandy Parker
904 Jaxon St.
Wayne, Nebraska
Hours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.