Owner Kelly Johnston calls her store in the heart of Bedford Village a real “clicks and mortar” business.
, the gift shop that specializes in monogrammed gifts for men, women and children has been open since 2006 and moved to its current location at the historic 1857 Jackson House this past April. The combination of online and in-store sales has turned this start-from-scratch idea into a viable business that is now part of the quaint village's downtown shopping scene.
Johnston began her career as an investment banker and when she stopped work to raise her three children, she saw an opportunity in the personalized gift business.
“I am not good at being idle,” Johnston said. “And I saw that there was a real scarcity of reasonably priced gifts for the important occasions in life—birthdays, weddings, hostess gifts, anniversaries, graduations, communions, bar mitzvahs to name a few—and so I taught myself how to use a sewing machine and to do personalized embroidery.”
The Bedford resident showed her products at different shows and fundraisers and eventually responded to growing demand by opening a shop that offers a variety items—from towels to tote bags, scarves, jewelry and more.
Customers can order the items via the company’s website or in person and within a week or less, Mrs. Monogram or one of her staff of six will personalize it with initials or a name.
One of the company’s best-selling items is a waffle-weave cosmetic bag that can be used for anything from a Kindle to an iPod or to tote around personal items and retails for under $20 with a monogram.
Despite the economic downturn of 2008, Johnston explained, business has remained at a steady volume.
“We really fill a niche in providing quality items at affordable prices,” she said. “People who may have once been willing to spend $100 on a baby gift might only want to spend $50 or less now—but they still want the gift to say 'I thought of you.'”
And with over 2,200 "likes" on Mrs. Monogram's Facebook page, Johnston understands the power of social media.
"We have used targeted adverstising and I fully understand that people do their internet research when buying an item," the entrepreneur said. "It is a very important platform where friends share a good thing that they have found."
She added that although 15 to 20 per cent cent of the company's sales are made via the website and come from over 49 states, the feedback she gets from local customers is invaluable.
"Face-to-face contact and personal service are a essential part of the business—if you come in and tell us that your grandfather is a fisherman and you are looking for a special gift, we will find you the perfect thing and personalize it just for him.”
is located at 617 Old Post Road in Bedford. Kelley Johnston adds that her husband does not, however, go by the name Mr. Monogram.