It all began way back in 1965, when five year old Margaret Hamm’s maternal Grandmother taught her how to embroider her name on a scrap of fabric. Her Mother kept her handiwork, although nobody imagined that one day, Margaret would open a business using commercial embroidery equipment to monogram names and initials on thousands and thousands of items.
Fast forward to March, 1999; Margaret and her husband, Mark, purchased a commercial embroidery machine, with the intention of building a home based business while their 10 and 12 year old daughters grew up. That intention lasted until July, when Margaret made her first trip to market in Atlanta, as part of an association of monogrammers, most of whom owned retail shops. Within a week, the lease was signed on 1200 square feet in the newly renovated historic Warehouse District in downtown Cullman. Opening day was October 6, 1999, with one part time employee, one embroidery machine, one cash register….and a whole lot of prayer. There were only 3 businesses open in the building, which was still under renovation….and there were no retailers across the street.
Prayers were answered, and six months later, Monograms Plus doubled our space, added another embroidery machine, another employee, a website and a little known line called Vera Bradley. At that time in 2000, Monograms Plus was one of the first e-commerce sites to offer personalized items online, and internet business grew to 25% of sales. Corporate orders for businesses and schools also grew rapidly, making the business multifaceted; diversified across both the retail and service spectrums.
Over the next 9 years, there were 4 more expansions, one of which included a much needed 2300 square foot production/inventory space. By 2009, the store occupied a total of 9000 square feet in the Warehouse District, had 4 cash registers and 10+ employees. Exclusive lines like Brighton, Pandora, Mud Pie, Kendra Scott, Tyler Candle, Yeti and many more joined Vera Bradley in making Monograms Plus a regional destination gift store – one of the largest in the state. It had transformed from a business in Margaret’s garage to a monogram shop selling a few gifts, to a gift store offering monogramming and multiple types of personalization.
At about that same time in 2009, a local high school entrepreneur and customer by the name of Lynsey Stansberry asked if Monograms Plus was interested in carrying her handmade jewelry line, Tickled Pink. That began the next chapter in the store’s history, unbeknownst to both Margaret and Lynsey!
By 2016, Margaret’s two daughters had married and were on their way to bringing 4 beautiful granddaughters into the family. Margaret was ready to retire to spend more time with family, and travel. Lynsey was married to Tommy Todd, with a daughter of their own, and was ready to recognize her life-long dream of owning a retail business. When Margaret asked if she was interested in working at Monograms Plus for a year or two, with the ultimate goal of buying the business, she was all in! God’s hand was evident in the perfect fit, and after working to learn Monograms Plus from top to bottom, Lynsey bought the business in June of 2018, with Margaret’s blessing. The tradition of growing and evolving the business continues to this day, despite the Coronavirus pandemic and all of its challenges.
The next chapter is about to get underway……