, Muskogee, OK

October 17, 2012

Best friends strive for best graphics business

— One in a series on locally  owned, small businesses.

By Travis Sloat

Times Correspondent

Tonia Cooper and Denise Bain met in 1996 when their kids were in preschool together. The connection was instant, and 16 years later they remain not only close friends, but also business partners.

“We have customers walk in all the time and ask us if we’re sisters,” Cooper said.

Bain and Cooper are the owners and operators of SonBurst Graphics, a shop on Poplar Street in downtown Fort Gibson which specializes in screen printing, signs, embroidery, signs and more.

Graphic design is not the first business venture they’ve been a part of, though. They previously owned a daycare together and then bought SonBurst in 2004.

Bain said they even ran both businesses successfully for a while before committing wholeheartedly to SonBurst.

“We work so well together because we know each other’s strengths and shortcomings,” Bain said. “If you can work 10-12 hours a day with someone and still be friends at the end of the day, that is a good thing.”

Their shop is large and spacious, filled with machinery that allows them to print as many items as a customer needs. They have done projects as big as “pinking out” the Fort Gibson football stadium for breast cancer awareness, and as small as single T-shirts for a customer wishing to honor the memory of her mother.

Kathy White said she is incredibly happy with Cooper and Bain, and thinks SonBurst Graphics is perfect for any job.

“I’ve had two graduate school already, and one more still in school,” White said. “I try to get all my school apparel through them. Every time I go in, I try to challenge them with a design and every time they rise to meet the challenge and exceed my expectations.”

White also said she was particularly fond of the “bling” at SonBurst, which is a type of shirt ornamentation that uses small crystalline rhinestones pressed onto the fabric to create customized designs that sparkle.

Cooper said she loves being in Fort Gibson because of the friendly and local atmosphere.

“I love watching a tractor drive down the street,” Cooper said. “I love having people come in off the street and just talk to us for a while. We’ve gotten a lot of business from customers referring us to their friends and family. Word of mouth can be a great thing.”

Bain said her favorite part of the business is being able to see the end result of her work — a satisfied customer.

“I also love being able to participate in the community,” Bain said. “If something comes up at the school, we love to help out.”

SonBurst Graphics is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday–Friday and takes appointments after 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

They are Tribal Enforcement Rights Office certified, and can be reached at (918) 478-8600 as well as online at