published Monday, May 12th, 2014

Monogram mania is a red-hot trend

Danielle Nicole Phillips used vinyl letters to monogram her jeep. She is wearing a T shirt with her initials on it.
Danielle Nicole Phillips used vinyl letters to monogram her jeep. She is wearing a T shirt with her initials on it.
Photo by Tim Barber.
  • photo
    At the Monogram Gift Shop in Ooltewah, Danielle Nicole Phillips, left, waits on Ashley Woodhams, who wears a monogramed tank top and carries a monogrammed phone case.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
    enlarge photo

Finding Monograms

There are plenty of stores in the Chattanooga area that do monogramming. Here are some

Chattanooga

• Monogram Gifts, 423-910-1448

• The Preppy Monogram, 423-760-8111

• Letter Bug Monograms, 423-954-3211

• Charlotte's Web Monogramming, 423-266-4022

• The Athletic Shop, 423-875-4905

• Custom Werks, 423-756-1144

• All-Star Embroidery & Sports, 423-629-7827

• Embroidery by GG, 423-702-5001

• Little Darlin's Boutique, 423-488-6358

• Many Beautiful Stitches, 423-902-3292

• Advantage Logo and Custom Rubber Stamps, 423-624-8883

• Joni's Monograms and More, 423-870-8416

• Genevieve Bond, 423-510-0099

• Apparel Sew Right, 423-894-4942

• Athletic Specialties, 423-870-3966

• The Galleries on William Street, 423-521-4445

• Apparel Embroidery, Inc. 423-894-2240

Cleveland, Tenn.

• The Monogram Market, (423) 584-6621

• Artrageous Embroidery, Screen Printing and Tackle Twill, 888-959-4549

• Steve Kirkpatrick Design, 423-339-2620

• Paisley, 423-472-1174

• Threads Embroidery (at Bradley Square), 423-472-5080

• Monogram Me, 423-284-6775

• Hilliard Group, 423-472-7646

North Georgia

• Pinstripes & Paisley (Dalton), 423-368-5294

• Tickle Me Pink (Dalton), 706-529-9021

• Paper Princess (Dalton), 706-226-5011

• A 2 Z Monograms (Dalton), 706-218-4371

• Wild River Embroidery (Ringgold), 706-937-2931

• Debbi's Flowers & Favors (LaFayette), 706-638-5828

• All Things Personalized (Fort Oglethorpe), 706-820-6632

Top 10

Here are the most-popular monogrammed items at Monogrammed Gifts:

• Comfort Color T-shirts

• Racer back tank tops

• Kavu rope bags

• Rain jackets

• Fleece pullovers

• Athletic shorts

• Beach bags

• Backpacks

• Towels

• Bandeau swim tops

Source: Denys Tawzer

Danielle Nicole Phillips was not a fan of monogramming. Then she started working at a store that's all about monogramming.

Now she's a full-blown convert.

"Most everything I own is monogrammed," she says.

Even her car.

Phillips says she chose her favorite color, seafoam green, for the large vinyl letters that display her initials on the passenger side of her car.

"I thought it would be cute," says Phillips, who works at Monogrammed Gifts in Ooltewah. "I get a lot of compliments about it. We've had several customers say they want to do the same thing."

While monogramming has been around since the early days of Roman and Greek nobility, it has recently skyrocketed in popularity as a fashion statement. Denys Tawzer, owner of Monogrammed Gifts, credits the craze to social media, namely Pinterest.

"Because I put monograms on things for a living, anytime I see an item, I know right away whether or not it has monogramming potential," Tawzer says. "Monogramming clothing has been popular for generations, but it is fun to come up with new ways to keep it fresh."

While there's no stereotypical customer for monogrammed items, she says, high school and college girls are frequent shoppers at her business.

"I love to give monogrammed items as gifts. It shows that the giver put thought into designing the fit -- it wasn't a quick, off-the-shelf gift," says Dawn Jumper, an etiquette consultant who lives Chattanooga.

Such items are reminiscent of a simpler time, she says. "I have memories of monogrammed silver pieces in my grandmother's china cabinet. Monogrammed items take on an heirloom quality."

Pat Collins, co-owner of Tickle Me Pink, a gift/monogramming shop in Dalton, Ga., says upcoming high school graduations have kicked her job into high gear.

Collins, who owns the store along with her daughter, Candi Chandler, notes that many are ordering monogrammed garment bags for graduating boys. "I'm monogramming their initials," she says but in the colors of the colleges they'll be attending."

Collins says she monograms everything from place mats -- she's currently working on 30 for a customer who loves to entertain-- to floppy hats, tote bags, fashions and, another hot item -- diaper bags.

"We're doing a lot of onesies for babies," she says. "A customer may order six onesies and have different things put on each one, such as the baby's name on one, initials on another, and phrases like 'Little Princess has arrived' on another."

Tawzer says some of the more unusual items she monograms include smartphone cases, tennis shoes and automobiles.

"We have done a number of equestrian items such as saddle pads, barn banners and fly masks -- things most people would not think of monogramming," she says. "We can even cut small vinyl monograms for your finger or toenails," she says.

Bonnie Hensley of Ooltewah describes herself as "a fourth-generation fan of anything monogrammed."

"I have my great-grandmother's brooches that are monogrammed," she says. "To me, monograms are classic and will never go out of style. I have, though, stepped out of the box and taken monograms from classy to sassy. For example, at Christmas I had a big monogram put on a black sweatshirt, as well as on a leopard skirt. And I loved it."

Soddy-Daisy resident Rochelle Bolton made sure her young granddaughter, Brylee, was ready for swim season with a batch of monogrammed attire.

"I have tons of items monogrammed for Brylee," Bolton says. "In her Easter basket, she had a swimsuit and matching cover-up with her initials and a matching hat with her name on it."

Monogrammed gifts are ideal for graduation gifts, Jumper says, and she lists affordable items such as toiletry kits, letter openers, knives and pocket tools for guys, while girl gifts could include throw pillows, bangle bracelets, jewelry cases and cosmetic bags.

"My husband has a unique silver letter opener he received from his grandmother as a graduation gift. At the time, he was not too excited about it but he appreciates it now many years later, and it is a treasured keepsake," she says.

"I believe we love monogramming because a monogram puts our personal mark on an item," she says. "A common item such as a white bath towel becomes a reflection of our individual taste and personality."

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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