Celebrating Women In The Print & Embroidery Industry

March 8th is International Women’s Day. Here at DecoNetwork, we’re highlighting two outstanding women business owners in the decoration industry going above and beyond in their business. We’re proud of all the success they’ve accomplished and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them.

Meryl Katlin – Make A Tee Online

Coral Springs, FL

Meryl has been in the custom decorations industry for over 10 years and has turned it into a lifestyle. Recently, Meryl has been accepted to the Gildan Board of Decorators 2021. Congratulations Meryl from all of us at DecoNetwork!

What first inspired you to jump into apparel decoration?

I was first in the printing business working as a Graphic Designer for trade shops. When I went out on my own I was creating graphics for screen printers while at the same time providing custom apparel for my clients. I opened up a location in a retail-style location because I wanted to be in a safe location working late nights and weekends. This started bringing more customers into my shop and we started to grow. I am a very creative person and I love the current trends and styles. We didn’t turn down anyone with a creative idea to make their own apparel. This is how we still think and work.

Can you tell us about a self-rewarding project you’ve worked on?

There would be 2, and we have affiliate stores for both.

One is a tee shirt design contest that we started 8 years ago for the kids in our community, we come up with a topic every year and let the kids do their thing. We choose 60 runners up and print a tee shirt with their design. We display the tees at a local carnival and the people who come to the carnival vote on the best design in each age group. On the last day of the Carnival, we hold a Tee Shirt Fashion show and the kids get to come on stage and talk about their artwork. We give out trophies and lots of other goodies for the finalists and of course, they keep their beautiful tee shirts. It has become very popular and now some of the kids are entering college and put their entry and winning status on their college applications!

The 2nd and very important rewarding project is our affiliation with Make Our Schools Safe. Our area had a horrible mass high school shooting on Valentine’s Day in 2018. 17 people were murdered. Make Our Schools Safe is a non-profit created by one of the families to Make Schools Safe EVERYWHERE. We have done many Campaigns, sold a lot of merchandise, been instrumental in helping with marketing the non-profit, and been a source of emotional understanding. Stephanie, my daughter, now a graphic designer and customer service person here at our shop, and my son who is also a graphic designer went to that high school, so my heart is with the families, and Make Our Schools Safe will continue to be my mission.

Has the pandemic affected your business? If so, how have you adapted?

Yes, it definitely has. Our lost sales from events that we did work for every year are huge. So we took the step to really push our affiliate stores and teach people how to sell, show them how we print better than outsourcing to Shopify stores, etc. I started a class on the 2nd Saturday of the month called Apparel Masterminds to teach design, marketing, how to work the affiliate stores, etc. It is a small step but my goal is to have 50 active working stores by the end of the year.

Any advice for those new to the business?

Yes, but the newcomer has a fantastic advantage and can learn so much online that we didn’t have a long time ago. You have to understand marketing, people, visual design, technology, printing (all sorts of printing), and of course application, meaning materials. If you don’t know all of these things you need to have someone on your team who does. All of these together need to be there to create a successful business. Come to my Apparel Masterminds and hear more.

Bailey Moman – Royal B Threads

Alto, TX

Always hard at work on her business, Bailey has been in the industry for 6 years as a mixed decorator and has built strong ties with both the rodeo and agriculture communities.

What first inspired you to jump into apparel decoration?

I was diagnosed with Cancer during my college years. I was accepted in the top 5% into my career program, but after the diagnosis, I asked for some time to get treatment, they didn’t approve and let me go from the program. While I was going through the cancer treatment, I was bored and wanted something to do, which is where I started Embroidery. I couldn’t believe how fast people learned about what I was doing and soon I had people asking me to do more and more. That is when I decided to take the plunge and buy my first embroidery commercial embroidery machine.

When did you realize you could turn this into a career?

I was in my senior semester of college, still going through cancer treatment when I bought a pickup to haul my horses around. The owner of the company happened to ask me what I did, I said well I am just finishing college and starting to do embroidery for the public. He asked me to come back a few days later for a meeting, where I was handed my first commercial embroidery job! It has been the same joy, for each and every order, to get to take care of my clients, just like I took care of my very first customer. I don’t think it will ever get old, to see how excited people are to take their logo and put it to work advertising for them!

Can you tell us about a self-rewarding project you’ve worked on?

I have heavy ties to the rodeo and agriculture community. The most self-rewarding project was helping the special needs rodeo crown their first rodeo queens (of course we crowned all of them!!) The company they had been working with, did not fulfill their order, but we were able to pick up the pieces and sponsor those special needs individuals so their rodeo could go on! I will never forget those smiles and cheers. It will be forever a cherished moment. We live by – no matter the situation always stand up tall and straighten your crown before continuing on.

Has the pandemic affected your business? If so, how have you adapted?

When the pandemic hit, we were in a small town in a very conservative state. We were asked to close our doors, and not work. We ended up closing our retail location and moving to a more private warehouse spot so we could keep operating! As hard as it was to see into the future, I am a high risk individual myself; I wanted to find a way to support small business all the way up the corporate chain, without having to sacrifice my service due to restrictions.

Any advice for those new to the business?

My advice for those new to the business is to find your niche and your passion and run with it. I have seen people refurb old vintage hats with new embroidery to whole businesses on engraving ear tags! If you love what you do, enjoy your work, your work will show the passion you have!

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