Saturday, June 16, 2012

Small Business Saturday: Not Just Another Catalog Business

Being an active-duty Army Wife means meeting a lot of other wives who own small businesses. From Silpada to Mary Kay to Pampered Chef to Fun Parties and everything in between, these women are taking advantage of catalog businesses to help bring in a little extra income without having to interview for another job every time the military says, "Pack your stuff. You're headed to...X." I buy from Avon occasionally because their clothes are cute and ridiculously inexpensive. And I've been known to purchase make-up from a Mary Kay rep. I even have a few Pampered Chef gadgets in my kitchen drawer (apparently, when they say "don't put the ice cream scooper in the dish washer," they really aren't kidding). But I don't buy Silpada or Lia Sophia or Stella & Dot because, honestly, I like what pours from my brain and through my hands better.

However, I love a monogrammed...anything. I believe it was Reese Witherspoon who said, "If it isn't moving, monogram it." I wholeheartedly agree. And so some of my most cherished pieces feature a swirly or blocked LAM. You know who does monogramming better than anyone? Thirty-one. As luck would have it, they also do colorful patterns, polka dots, and the color pink pretty darn well, too. But sometimes you just really don't know about the quality of the material until you order something (which is why I get all sketched out about ordering anything from a catalog.). A friend of mine from high school (and a Libra who is so close to being a fellow Virgo that she gets an honorary club card from me) is a rep and had been posting the company's specials for the month of March on Facebook. Spend X amount, get these precious cargo totes for just $5 each. Who could resist? As it turns out, my sister's birthday is in March and she definitely needed a colorful, multi-pocketed, monogrammed beach tote for their impromptu trips to the sand, sun, and surf (oh the glory of living so, so, so close to the coast). I placed my order and a week later, this arrived:

in all of its monogrammed glory

with plenty of pockets, both on the outside and inside

The material is a heavy-duty canvas with strong stitching all the way around. Grommets at the top allow her to clip her caribiner with keys and pool pass to the top. A zippered pouch is perfect for money and things. And she can slide goggles, suntan lotion, and anything else her 2 young daughters may need for a day at the pool or beach so they aren't rooting around in Mommy's bag looking for it. Not pictured here is the matching keychain in the same burst of yellow fabric, as well as the 2 small totes I got for $5.00 each (which are monogrammed and will be revealed later), and the pink ruffle clutch that I was able to justify getting myself as a late Valentine's Day/early Military Spouse Appreciation Day gift. It's a polyester blend so I can fit my keys, phone, pool/gate pass, and my ID in it and if it gets wet at the pool, it repels the water and dries quickly.

All of this, with shipping, ran me a little over $100. Honestly, I think that's a bargain because the quality of the material and the embroidery is just that amazing. I have been giving our bank account a workout over the past few months, but as soon as it gets a little breathing room, I'll be back for more. A pink polka dotted and monogrammed cooler may be perfect for picnics in the park and the purses with interchangable outsides really appeals to my desire for customization. Thirty-one is one of the few companies I know who run deeply discounted specials almost every month. And when you buy from a Thirty-one representative, you are helping her support her own family. It may not be handmade, but it's certainly a small business and vital to keeping our money local. Should you need a rep, I just happen to have one, too. Look at being all helpful. And if you find something you love today, June's special is a large utility tote for $10 (regular price $35) for every $35 you spend. Large utility totes are awesome. They will fit almost everything except a dead body.

The bottom line:
Represenative: Natalie Bruner
Cost: Depends on how fancy you go. Everything is reasonably priced. Monogramming is additional, but it's minimal. Don't forget to factor in shipping. The quality is comparable to Land's End (as in, buy it once and have it for the rest of your life. I'm still wearing a gray sweatshirt I got from there my junior year in high school).
Shipping: About a week.
Recommend?: Absolutely! Especially if you are a girly girl who loves to see her initials in thread! 


  1. Love monograms - mother had a monogramming shop when I was in high school and college, so everything except my "skivvies" was done, but I could use a new round of monogram shopping, so thanks for the info!

    And, you're right about that ice cream scoop thing .. it really doesn't like the dish washer. Who knew they were serious?

  2. I just got a really awesome bag from Thirty One and I LOOOOOOVE it a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

  3. What a cute gift idea! Love this bag!!!


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