Northwest Custom Apparel’s Winter Prom Party

Winter Prom Banner

A Royal Welcome by Erik

I am the Operations Manager at Northwest Custom Apparel, and I have witnessed many holiday parties at our company since I was three years old in 1977. However, nothing quite compares to the organized party we had on December 16, 2023, at the Indochine restaurant in Tacoma. Our team exchanged our work clothes for prom attire to celebrate our 2023 successes with a Winter Prom to remember. Here’s the inside scoop on the fantastic night that we all enjoyed, including the awards we received as employees.

  • Erik’s Welcome: At the event, Erik Mickelson, who was the speaker for the night, started with a blend of humor and gratitude. He playfully referred to his upcoming 50th birthday, which falls on February 14th, 2023, and mentioned that he is a Valentine’s Day baby. He also joked about needing reading glasses and getting his first cavity right before hitting the milestone age.
  • Mongkon Ham, who served as our production manager from 1982 to 2012, attended the event along with her husband Steve. They sat next to the owner, Jim Mickelson, to commemorate the 30 years of service that Mongkon had put in. They also discussed her retirement and spending more time with her grandchildren.
  • Focus On Teamwork: I expressed my gratitude to the staff for their contribution to the team’s success this year. Accomplishing our goals was only possible because of the collective effort and importance of every individual. Our focus on teamwork was evident in our WOW program, which we used to thank our customers for their business. As a result of our efforts, our embroidery sales increased by 20%.
  • Jim’s Welcome: Jim stood up and took the microphone to welcome the team members to the 46th Christmas party. He encouraged everyone to enjoy the night and thanked the staff for being exceptional team members who helped increase our company sales by 7%.
Jim Mickelson and Mongkon and Steve Ham
Owner Jim Mickelson (left) sits next to Mongkon and Steve Ham. Mongkon was the production manager from 1982-2012

A Queen’s Tribute: Ruthie’s 25-Year Service

  • From Operator to Production Manager: Ruthie’s journey from machine operator in 1998 to Production Manager in 2012 s nothing short of amazing.
  • 20% Increase in embroidery sales: Her leadership has not only increased our embroidery sales by 20% but also introduced efficient processes for our custom webstore orders.
  • Crystal Award and Vegas Surprise: Ruthie received a crystal award with 25 years inscribed on it. Ruthie’s big surprise was a trip to Las Vegas, complete with a mini slot machine reveal and $500 of spending money while in Vegas.

Fun Awards at Northwest Custom Apparel Winter Prom Party

  • Always Timely: Sorphorn’s punctuality captured in an engraved time clock.
  • Distributor of Smiles: Nika lights up every room with her smile and positivity.
  • Ultimate Team Player: “Ali is a person who exemplifies support of team members and Ruthie.
  • Innovator of the Year: Brian, our problem-solver extraordinaire. Brian keeps the Kornit printers running keeping production rolling.

Years of Service Awards

  • Kanha & Brian: 5 Years Service
  • Steve & Bradley: 6 years (the ‘5+1 Special’). Last year Erik forgot their award.
  • Savy’s 15-Years: Savy had 15 years service as our Custom embroidery machine operator.

Celebrating Sales Awards: Nika and Taylar

  • 1.25 M In Sales Award: Nika and Taylar, both had sales of 1.25M. This marks the first time in company history that two sales reps have hit this sales goal.
Sales repsales goal
Nika$1.25M in sales
Taylar$1.25M in sales
Nika and Taylar’s 2023 Sales

A Winter Prom to Remember

  • King and Queen of the Night: After I was crowned as the King and Ruthie as the Queen, we celebrated by having a few dances with our spouses. The production staff entertained us with some fast-paced Cambodian music, and Kanha, who was among them, showed off some great dance moves and light-footedness.
  • Accordion Tunes: Toby Hanson, our accordion player of 15 years, filled the air with Christmas songs.
  • Snapshot Souvenirs: Ali’s photo booth creation allowed us to capture our prom night memories against a charming Christmas backdrop. We were provided with a QR code that we could use to upload all our photos. This made it easy for the staff to check out the prom photos when they returned to work. It was a great way to remember such an amazing party!

Wrapping Up with Cheer

As the clock struck 9 PM, we ended our Northwest Custom Apparel Winter Prom Party. We packed up all the leftover food and boxes and loaded them into our cars. The night was filled with laughter, smiles, and a few surprises by Erik that reminded us all why Northwest Custom Apparel is more than just a company – it’s a family.

Erik’s Thank You

“I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who helped organize the winter prom. It was the most well-organized Christmas party that Northwest Custom Apparel has had since 1977 when I was only 3 years old. We are looking forward to a prosperous 2024 and aim to achieve a sales target of 3 million dollars. Our customers can expect to receive more amazing gifts throughout the year. Our company’s webstores will be our main source of revenue, with Nika and Taylar working closely with our loyal customers to move them into the future of online shopping.”

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Antonio Massey

Production Team: Folder

Antonio Massey recently joined NWCA in June of 2022. His role on the Production Team has greatly improved our processes and productivity. Antonio is always willing to lift heavy boxes or help his co-workers during busy times. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog and mastering video games.


Alicia Wada

Shipping Clerk

Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.


Erik Mickelson


Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.



Ruth Nhoung

Production Manager

Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.


Steve Deland

Art Director

Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.



Taylar Hanson


Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Nika Lao


Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.


Bradley Wright


Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.


Dominic Nguyen

DTG Operator

Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.


Sothea Tann

Production Team: Trimmer

Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.


Brian Beardsley

DTG Supervisor

Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.


UT Tri Tran

Embroidery Machine Operator

UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.



Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.


Sreynai Meang

Embroidery Machine Operator

SreynaiMeang is a hard-working Machine Operator. She is most passionate about helping people. Sreynai, who goes by Nai, likes to exercise in her free time and talk with her family in Cambodia.


Kanha Chhorn

Embroidery Machine Operator

Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.


Savy Som

Embroidery Machine Operator

SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.



Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.


Jim Mickelson


Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.

Northwest Custom Apparel
Northwest Custom Apparel
163 Google reviews
Steve McMains
Steve McMains
Great place to do business with.
Hector Aponte
Hector Aponte
Splendid service by this team. I needed a job done in one day and without hesitation I was helped. Besides the no notice, need now accommodation, the overall quality of the job of superb.
anthony mckenna
anthony mckenna
Amazing service and quality of work.
katie latimer
katie latimer
This small business is excellent! Great turnaround times and pricing. We've completely switched over to them for our uniform needs. The embroidery looks amazing and very professional. We have gotten jackets, vests, safety vests, hats and uniform polo shirts with them. The screen prints are very resistant to numerous washes. They have been super flexible and patient with us and going through getting PO set up with our company.
Dave Lambing
Dave Lambing
I am the Quartermaster for the Tacoma Fire Buff Battalion. We use Northwest Custom Apparel to produce our uniform articles. Their work is always perfect and done is record time. I can't recommend them highly enough.
Kyle Keehnel
Kyle Keehnel
Our company has been going to NWCA for years and have always encountered friendly service and quality products.
Smokey B3ar21
Smokey B3ar21
Super friendly staff , wonderful products for our company and couldn’t be happier with them
Chuck Schilling
Chuck Schilling
Working with NWCA was like hitting the EASY button! Ten days from our initial meeting to completed shirts and we couldn't be more pleased.
Bret Lauritzen
Bret Lauritzen
Prompt service
Cassandra Johnson
Cassandra Johnson
Words can't describe how much I appreciate the outstanding customer service I received from Northwest Custom Apparel! I placed an order for two coats that I needed in one week for a Valentines' day gift and Nika made it happen! She was proactive, quickly responsive, and understanding of me needing to see different looks of our company logo. She was incredibly sweet, accommodating, and made every effort to make my order the way I wanted it. A part of me felt bad asking to see the different looks, but she reassured me it was not a problem and was on top of her game! Every staff member I interacted with when I came to their shop was very pleasant, welcoming, and attentive as well. All around great work! Will absolutely use them again and highly recommend!!! Thank you Northwest Custom Apparel!!!