The path to this company didn’t start with Monograms. It’s safe to say that Monograms found us in a way.
Where to begin?! I graduated college in 2011 with an Elementary Education degree. I was never really passionate about teaching - it was just something I thought I would enjoy and be good at. I knew deep down teaching was not going to be what I did for the rest of my life. During my first years as a kindergarten teacher in Philadelphia, I started helping Sean with his early business endeavors. He was having some early success selling tees & tanks to different audiences he was building through social media. Twitter was HUGE at the time and he had a few growing accounts of 20-50k followers where he would sell. (Back when your followers actually saw what you posted and advertising was FREE!) He had enough success to start working on the business full time. It was really cool to see how social media had such a large impact on a small business, and that was only the beginning of the social media craze. Our first main business was called United Tees.
I started helping in many different ways - most of all bringing a girl’s perspective & adding ladies designs and shirts to the websites. We spent most of our nights and weekends learning how to use Photoshop, Shopify (our selling platform), and the ins and outs of starting a business (& still learning every day!) One of our audiences was American Pride themed, and welcomed a very country/southern audience. This is where monograms come into play! Many of the female customers would ask us “Can I get a monogram on this?” To be honest, I really didn’t know what a monogram was. Being from the north, they weren’t really a thing. I remember seeing an engraved jewelry dish my friend had from her sister's wedding and I was always confused why the initials were in the wrong order! It is funny to think about being monograms are my whole life now. Through some research, we discovered that monograms were worth a try. I convinced Sean to get me a $500 at home embroidery machine. Through lots of patience, and many youtube videos, I learned how to work the embroidery machine.
I was so pumped when I made my first successful embroidered monogram sweatshirt! It was a grey quarter zip sweatshirt with neon pink thread (STILL one of our best selling products!) I soon wanted to monogram anything and everything. We started to notice how popular monograms were (especially in the south & east coast). It was like a whole world existed we never knew about. There weren’t too many monogram companies focusing on their direct selling through e-commerce, only smaller mom & pop shops. First we created a ‘Monogram’ section on United Tees and a store on Etsy.
After a few months and a lot of success, I wanted the monogrammed items to have its own site and own identity. I didn’t want to sell on a “boyish” site that had navy and red as their colors and had ‘merica f* yeah’ shirts (haha) on it. I wanted to build a brand that was feminine, pink, and pretty! That’s when United Monograms started and the beginning of an amazing ride.
The workload soon consumed my nights after teaching, and weekends. I would even call off work to get the orders out (whoops!) I really fell in love with building this business, and brand. It was time to make a decision about my future and my career. Sean had so much confidence and faith in me, us, and our little business. With the early success we had and the drive I saw in Sean to grow the business - it was an easy choice to quit teaching and work on this thing full time. Most of our friends and family were super supportive, but there were definitely a few people that thought I was crazy! It is a little scary not having that security and certainty of the future - but if you are passionate about something you need to take that leap of faith and go for it!
After committing to working on this business full time - we started to plan our life together. Being an online business, with not much equipment or employees at the time, we noticed that we had a rare opportunity where we could run this business from anywhere! Feeling confident & adventurous, we decided to move to Charleston, South Carolina- a beautiful Southern city and a place where monograms are EVERYWHERE! You know they say ‘Great things happen outside of your comfort zone’ and I believe it took us leaving our family, friends, and everything we’ve been comfortable around to truly get this business going. We have been here since Fall 2014 and love it.
The past 5 years of growing this business have been pretty crazy with many many ups and downs. One of Sean's favorite quotes is “never get too high, never get too low” which we’ve certainly had to practice. From shipping packages out of the second bedroom of our first apartment, to renting out a trailer and hiring our first employee, to now having a second office space and 11 employees - I can confidently say that I am excited for our future as a company - I think we are destined for great things! United Monograms has taught me so many things and I am happy to continue sharing this journey with y’all!