Belleville business owners Ryan and Amanda Malaschak owe at least some of their success to a professional hockey player.
Ryan was watching "SportsCenter" on a Sunday morning in 2009, when ESPN reported that Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks had been arrested for punching a cab driver over a fare dispute in Buffalo, N.Y.
"I immediately came up with the idea of making a T-shirt for Patrick Kane Taxicab Company," said Ryan, 33. "The slogan was, 'Dropping the gloves on high prices.' It was brilliant."
Two hours later, the Malaschaks, who ran a part-time screenprinting business out of their basement, were selling the shirts on eBay for $15.
"By the next morning, the whole run (35 shirts) had sold out," Ryan said. "But the eBay page had gotten 10,000 hits overnight, which was insane."
Ryan kept the press running while Amanda packaged, labeled and mailed. They sold nearly 1,000 shirts in a week.
"I'm to the point I can't even stand," Ryan said. "I'm printing on a bar stool because of the fatigue of working 18-hour days. Then she would come home from work and ship until 8 o'clock in the morning. And not one person got the wrong size."
That windfall paid off the couple's press, dryer and other equipment. It gave them "top seller" status on eBay and eventually helped them move into a storefront.
"It was one of those jobs that comes along once in a lifetime," Ryan said. "It was a game-changer."
Today, the Malaschaks operate Adrenaline Prints at 126 E. Main St. A high ceiling, exposed ductwork and brick walls give the shop an urban-warehouse feel. The press is in full view of the counter.
"We wanted people to see us in production," said Amanda, 34. "We wanted them to see us making our product."
Adrenaline's niche is clothing with vintage logos from St. Louis Steamers soccer and local pre-prohibition breweries such as Schott, Wagner, Millstadt and Star Peerless.
The couple also make custom T-shirts and other apparel for bands, schools, businesses and sports teams. St. Teresa's Catholic School is a regular customer.
"I can go in with a rough idea, and they can take it and make it look better," said Kim Zimmer, 42, of rural Belleville, treasurer of St. Teresa's Perpetual Help Society.
Ryan attended Southwestern Illinois College and worked as a chef before getting a job as a graphic designer for a screenprinter in 2001.
"I walked into my first shop, and I just knew it was something I wanted to do," he said. "I was just fascinated by the process."
Amanda is a former restaurant server who still works part-time in VIP suites at St. Louis Blues and Cardinals games.
The Malaschaks have two children, Paz, 11, and Iulia, 15. Ryan is drummer for a garage punk band called "The Dead Rabbit Circus."
"He's an artist in every sense of the word," Amanda said.
The couple's entrepreneurism goes back to 2006, when Ryan played in "The Ether Project." They spent $200 for a button machine so they could make buttons for fans.
Eventually, other bands and businesses placed orders. They launched a website at 1inchpins.com.
"The website sort of blew up," Ryan said. "We started seeing about 10,000 hits a month. We were producing anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 buttons a month."
Then came a big break: A restaurant called "Hungry Mother" near Boston started buying 20,000 buttons a year.
"When a Hungry Mother order came in, everything else stopped," Ryan said. "And that's when Amanda started hating buttons. You can make money, but it's very tedious."
In 2007, Ryan decided to build his own press for screenprinting posters. He gave his parents a Christmas wish list of supplies, everything from raw lumber to screws and box tape.
"I didn't even know what (some of the items) were, but we found them," said his mother, Donna Malaschak, 66, of Belleville. "It was a weird Christmas."
Ryan and Amanda later expanded from posters to T-shirts. They "cured" the ink in their oven, which was stressful.
"It's easy to do in a proper shirt dryer (which reaches 325 degrees without burning the fabric)," Amanda said. "But it's not easy to do in a kitchen oven."
The couple continued to invest in bigger and better equipment for the basement. Then came the Patrick Kane project, then Ryan got laid off from his full-time job as a warehouse shipping clerk.
The Malaschaks opened Adrenaline Prints on Main Street in 2011. Since that time, they've managed to increase local business while continuing to sell on the Internet.
"(To run your own business) you have to be willing to put the work in," Ryan said. "You have to basically structure your life around the job."
At a glance
What: Adrenaline Prints
Where: 126 E. Main St. in Belleville
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. most Saturdays
Specialty: Clothing with vintage brewery and soccer logos, custom T-shirts, other apparel and buttons
Information: Call 277-9600 or visit adrenalineprints.com