Retailer Julie Butler still treasures her baby blanket. Her mother, Charla Schlabs, monogrammed it for her many years ago with a traditional sewing machine.
As co-owner of the store Texas Threads in Hereford, TX, Schlabs has since upgraded her sewing machine to a more commercial one but the driving reason behind the business model still remains the same as when she created that baby blanket: Monograms make for memorable keepsakes.
The enormous rise in popularity of monogrammed products is not surprising to people from many pockets in the South where the art has long been a way of life. "Monogramming has always been a staple in the southern regions of our country," says Karen K. Hugenberg, the executive director of Monograms America, Inc. based in Houston. Hugenberg adds that in the Deep South pretty much everything has always been monogrammed—from bed linens, to handkerchiefs, to table cloths, napkins and even, yes, undergarments.
Charla Schlabs, for instance, was taught an impressive array of sewing techniques by her grandmother. Charla's daughter, Julie, says that such knowledge shows in the work her mother creates. "I know [Charla's] monogramming is what it is because she has such a thorough foundation in sewing, and understands at the most basic and advanced levels, how the different elements interact to create what they create," Butler says of her mother. Butler and Schlabs co-own their store.
Initially, Schlabs translated her passion for monogramming and embroidery into a home-based business. The work gave her some supplemental income as she raised her five children. In March 2003, when her youngest was a senior in high school, she moved to a storefront. Daughter, Julie Butler, joined the operations after she graduated from college that very year.
Explaining the popularity of monogrammed gifts, Butler points out that there are relationships and occasions in all our lives that call for a gift that's not ordinary. Monogrammed gifts work because they are custom-made for just that person. "A personalized gift is just that—an expression to your recipient that they are, in your eyes, extraordinary," she says. "I think people realize that when they get a gift that someone has taken the time and effort to have it customized—just for them—it's a very special thing. Face it—anyone can roll into a gift shop and pick something off the shelf. It takes a special gift giver (and a special store) to make the ordinary truly extraordinary," Butler adds.
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Probably the tagline for the store, Texas Threads, says it all: Personalized Gifts, Treasured Keepsakes. "We truly pride ourselves on providing customers gifts that live up to that standard," Julie Butler says. Monogrammed products let her do just that.