Weatherford Democrat

March 15, 2010

Designs-N-Time is a cottage industry success

Marsha Brown
CNHI

WEATHERFORD — After operating the business out of their home for the past two years, the Hollises had the perfect opportunity to bring their products into the spotlight of the general public. A storefront opened up at 1704 Santa Fe Drive and they jumped on the opportunity to move the business from family-operated cottage business to a full-fledged retail endeavor.

Working out of the house, using bedrooms as manufacturing space, the home office as storage space and the living room with a large printer and supplies for banners in it was becoming tiresome.

“We just pretty much got overrun in the house. It was just taking it over with equipment and supplies and orders,” Anne Hollis said. “We outgrew the house. This building was open, and a friend of mine owns it, so he said ‘I’ll rent it to you.’ We thought about it, prayed about it and made the decision and went with it. We moved in the beginning of February.”

Why did the Hollises get involved in this business in the first place?

 Anne Hollis said it was her husband that prodded her to go into the business after watching her design logos and other business paraphernalia as favors for friends. “He told me I was creative on the computer,” Hollis said, “and that I needed to get paid to design stuff instead of continuing to do it for free.

“John went out and bought an embroidery machine and I learned how to work it,” Hollis said. “We bought a program that works with our embroidery machine and I learned how to create and design with it.”

Then the word about the embroidery business got out. The orders started coming in and they were off to the races.

“We started out small, we’re not that we’re big now, but we started out doing small stuff like aprons and shirts,” Hollis said. “Little logos on them and then we just pretty much by word of mouth, friends talk to friends, we just kept getting more orders and expanding to more things.”

“We go to (trade) shows and see something and say we want to do that,” Hollis said. “Last November we had the opportunity to buy a printer to do full-color banners.”

Designs-N-Time expanded their product base as requests kept coming in for various customized items, some just one-of-a-kind.

“People were wanting personalized items,” according to Anne. “So we do personalized coffee cups, we can put your picture on a coffee cup, a mouse pad, ceramic tile and other items”

People started to ask if they could put names and numbers on the back of a softball jerseys.

“A team manager came in and ordered his shirts from us. We had customers requesting that so I checked into it and bought a vinyl cutter and started doing that kind of stuff,” said Anne.

The business has morphed into an eclectic mix of items to be personalized in quantities starting as low as one.

A friend of the Hollises’ ran for a political office and because of his request for signs, they ended up offering those also. Other products in their ever expanding line include window decals, magnetic signs, auto decals, stickers and just about anything you can think of that can be customized.

“I’ve known Anne for years,” customer Kelly Green said.  “She did all of my (campaign) signs for me. The prices are good and the work is good. She has a lot of creativity. I was in Anne’s shop and I said, ‘I wish these could be reflective.’ She said, ‘We can do that.’ Anything you can come up with she can do. The nice thing is that she’ll do things quick. No shipping, no waiting.”

The new storefront has opened up more opportunities for the Hollises. They also offer sports equipment and apparel, gear and more, available by special order at the moment.

Anne added, “Whatever they want we can get it.  Eventually we will stock items on site.”

In-house art design work is available or customer art can be used. Most orders have a turnaround time of about one week at the moment, although small quantity requests can usually be done in one day.

The storefront is staffed by a constantly smiling Crystal Hollis, Anne’s stepdaughter. She had just lost her job — just in time for the Santa Fe Drive location to become available. “It worked out fine,” she said.