Sorority Sisters Start Business That Makes Things Personal

Jill Giddens and Anne Marie Goodwin own Me & Re Design, which offers monogrammed blankets, cups, trays, shirts, and anything else you might want your initials on. (Staff photo: Allison Slomowitz)

When college cohorts Jill Giddens and Anne Marie Goodwin reunited in University Park years ago, they were more concerned with play dates than design templates.

But one friend’s 40th made the ladies realize they could juggle business and motherhood. Giddens and Goodwin were at the helm of that friend’s birthday blowout, and they had 40 partygoers decorate plates for the honoree’s beach house. Attendees raved about the event, and the women went home with a newfound appreciation for their creativity.

“We realized there was a business in there somewhere,” Goodwin said.

It didn’t take long for the women to find a niche market.

“Six weeks later, we had our first plate,” Giddens said.

Now, the duo behind Me & Re Design curate 20 personalized “mom-tested” products. Their collection of home décor and accessories range from melamine plates and bowls to blankets and lucite trays.

Clients are able to customize individual products in unique color combinations and patterns, from paisley and chevron to stripes and polka dots.

Whether it’s beach towels during the summer or blankets when temperatures drop, the ladies are constantly looking for items to add a dash of their flair.

“We really have gifts for any occasion,” Giddens said.

Melissa Utley is a repeat customer who relies on the women for birthday and holiday gifts.

“I did all of my Christmas shopping with them in one stop,” she laughed.

Giddens has designed dishes for Utley’s lake house, key chains for her friends, and cups for entertaining.

“I’ve pretty much bought everything they sell,” Utley said.

Me & Re broke onto the scene in 2009, but personalized products have long been popular in the Park Cities. McCartney’s University Spirit owner Carolyn McCartney Culbert said the monogramming business is booming year-round, but she notices a surge during graduation season.

“People love to give personalized gifts,” she said. “Anything you can find in a dorm and know it’s yours.”

Greek life is another ball game. Culbert said sorority and fraternity newcomers flock to “left chest embroidery” on sweatshirts, tanks, and T-shirts.

And while Giddens and Goodwin donned their fair share of Greek letters as sorority sisters at the University of Texas, they do not have the licensing to print official insignia — a service that McCartney’s pays additional royalties for.

But that hasn’t stopped the duo from filling orders when bid day rolls around. They can design products using sorority colors, and as Giddens points out, the novelty of Greek letters fades away after a while.

The women have recently seen a surge of growth with the help of trunk shows and a newly launched website that pulls in orders from across the country.

Plus, both women have children in Highland Park ISD, and their children’s classmates clamor to sit down with them and design their own iPhone cases. It’s an aspect that Giddens and Goodwin adore.

“Our heart is in the creative part,” Giddens said.

And Goodwin echoes the sentiment.

“We love helping clients show their personality through designs,” she said.

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