By Charlotte Underwood / Staff writer
It’s that personalized monogram on a T-shirt, a towel or even a napkin that makes something uniquely yours. Monogram Me in Barbourville creates one-of-a-kind personalized designs for a single item or set, according to owner and operator Carla Hughes Hinkle.
Using state-of-the-art machines, Hinkle and her employees can put a personal design on just about any kinds of clothing or accessories. Whether it is embroidery, vinyl lettering, screen printing, heat-pressed or bedazzled, Monogram Me can bring custom designs to life. The business also offers a line of clothing and various accessories in addition to custom orders.
“We also do wholesale orders for other stores and offer school spirit wear, such as UK shirts,” Hinkle said, adding that her business services a lot of the local cheerleading and sports teams.
Hinkle started her business in 2000 at the London Flea Market and is now located at 267 Parkway Plaza in Barbourville in the shopping center next to Walmart. She has been at this location since 2007.
“I like this location because it is in a shopping center, which makes it more convenient for my customers,” Hinkle said.
In addition to running Monogram Me, Hinkle trains Reading Recovery teachers for the University of Kentucky, teachers who after training go on to work with low-level readers in their communities.
She is also very active in her community through her children’s activities in cheerleading, baseball, band, choir and ballet.
“As a mother, I always pull my weight when duty calls,” she laughed.
Hinkle was inspired to go into business for herself because of her mother, the late Wanda Hughes, who owned and operated Wanda’s Florist on Knox Street in Barbourville for many years.
“I pretty much carried on my mom’s legacy of owning her own business and being self-sufficient,” she said, adding that owning a small business had its ups and downs.
“It’s nice to have a smaller business as opposed to something larger because you end up building relationships with your customers and you get to actually know your employees,” she said, adding that she currently had wonderful employees that she “couldn’t live without.”
“Being a small business, you also get repeat customers who help with word-of-mouth advertising,” Hinkle said.
A disadvantage to being smaller is her inability to open chains and serve more customers in other areas, though according to Hinkle, she has customers that come from Harlan and even Bowling Green to place orders and purchase merchandise.
“It’s all part of being a small business owner; you have to have the energy to keep going when the waves get high and ride it out to the last,” Hinkle said of her business strategy for surviving in a tough economy.
Monogram Me is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 606-545-7740 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or find Monogram Me on Facebook.