Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Anne Johns.
Hi Kelly, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
From a young age, I have always loved making things. I learned to sew at the age of eight and never really stopped. As a result, I ended up getting a degree in Theatre with a concentration in Costume Construction from George Mason University.
There, I joined Alpha Psi Omega, the Theatre Honor Society. It all started when there was a timeline issue with our normal Greek letter vendor that would have resulted in the new class not receiving their letters in time for initiation. Being the costume, crafty person I am, I offered to make them.
After making the letters, I decided to put them up on my Etsy page, where I had already been posting some clothing and items I was making. And it just took off from there! Within three months, I had sold over 100 custom shirts all over the country!
As college graduation grew closer, I decided to focus on my theatre career and closed my shop. For many years, I went on to work in some of the best theatre companies in the country with some really talented actors, designers, and technicians.
But then 2020 hit. At that point, I was already looking at making a career change, and the pandemic served as the perfect catalyst to start my own business. Given my previous experience, I knew there was a market for Greek letters, and living in the Triangle of NC, I knew there were plenty of colleges to market to.
Fast forward to 2022, where I now have my own business, Kelly Anne Embroidery. We now hold multiple licenses for Greek apparel and have expanded our services to offer custom embroidery. We currently sell personalized bridal and bachelorette products, as well as do custom embroidery for corporations and businesses.
We embroider on a wide array of products, from baseball caps to polos to sneakers and more. We love to allow our customers the flexibility of providing their own items or offering them the option to purchase from us.
Looking forward, we’re excited to expand our products and services to more people in addition to adding screen printing services and other customization options to be a one-stop-shop for all your customization needs.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Starting a new business in the midst of a global pandemic was definitely a challenge but also a huge opportunity.
As schools shut down and went fully remote, many people sought out custom apparel to make up for the proms, graduations, and events that were canceled. They still wanted that connection to their schools, and apparel was one way they could have that.
That proved to be great for my business, as we quickly had orders rolling in from all over the country. But we also ran issues scaling the business to accommodate.
In the early days of our business, all orders were made by hand on a regular sewing machine with a small domestic embroidery machine to add little customization features. This was incredibly time-consuming as we could only complete 8-10 Greek letter shirts on a good day.
That led to long timelines for customers getting their orders and a lot of stress for me as I tried to get orders out as quickly as possible. I knew I needed to scale up operations and invest in the proper equipment. Getting a commercial embroidery machine was the key, and luckily, I could get the funding to invest in one.
Another major challenge we ran into, and are still confronting today, is supply chain shortages and shipping delays. I think everyone has experienced issues with this in the last two years. There is not much we can control about that, but we try to keep popular styles and colors in stock by buying inventory when we see them available.
As you know, we’re big fans of Kelly Anne Embroidery. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
One thing that sets us apart from others is we are an owner-operated, woman-owned business. We take great pride in that. As a result, when you work with Kelly Anne Embroidery, you always deal with me directly.
That gives our customers more flexibility as we can work with you one-on-one to truly customize an item for you, how you want. I genuinely enjoy working with people to customize an item from the ground up and love being creative and providing different options to meet their vision.
Additionally, I tend to gravitate toward offering products for women in my online shop. I do a lot of work with sororities and brides and am looking to expand to provide more items for moms. I want to offer options for women at all phases of life – from school to work to marriage to parenthood and beyond.
As a brand, one of the things I’m proudest of is expanding our business from just Greek letters to offering more customized embroidery options.
We rebranded a year ago to fit with the new direction of our company, and I’m so excited to see where we go next! With our custom embroidery services, we can engage more with the local community, including working with local businesses and vendors.
Another really exciting moment for us was when we were asked to embroider a pillowcase for Ryan Seacrest to be featured on LIVE with Kelly and Ryan!
A local pillow case company had reached out to us as they were in a bind and needed embroidery in an incredibly short timeline as their products were going to be featured on the show. I was able to embroider the item with a one-day turnaround and that item was included in a segment in January 2022.
Finally, we work hard with everyone to create the pieces they want. If you want something done but don’t see it offered on our website, you can always ask us! We love working one-on-one with people to customize their items.
We’re standing by, ready to meet all your customization and personalization needs.
- Custom embroidery has a $15 minimum. Pricing is based on qty and design.
- Greek Letters are $30+apparel
- We offer discounts to returning customers.
- Website: kellyanneembroidery.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellyanneembroidery/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KellyAnneEmbroidery/