The Ground Floor: Walford woman making an impact in embroidery business
Entrepreneur began with Prairie High show choir shirts
An impulse buy led to Renae Gibson’s home-based embroidery and screen-printing business in Walford.
As Gibson’s children prepared to leave home for college, her husband, Brian, suggested she take up embroidery to keep her creative mind busy.
“I’m not a seamstress by any means,” Gibson said. “I couldn’t even put a button on a shirt.”
But on Valentine’s Day 2015, the couple visited Shields Sewing Center in Iowa City and came home with an industrial, six-needle embroidery machine.
“I’m kind of an impulsive person,” Gibson admitted. “When I saw how creative you could be, I just went for it.”
Gibson said she practiced using her new machine by monogramming just about every towel and pillowcase she owned. Within a week, she agreed to embroider shirts for Prairie High School’s national show choir competition, in which her son was performing.
“Since then, a lot of people started asking about it,” she said.
Gibson formed a business, Impact Embroidery, and worked on her embroidery jobs on nights and weekends while maintaining a full-time position as a nurse. She started out doing mostly logoed racing apparel for her husband’s racing team at Hawkeye Downs, but business soon grew through word of mouth.
“We know so many people through racing and show choir,” she said. “Everyone knew I was going into the embroidery business and started sending business my way.”
Gibson said most of her jobs involve embroidering business or team logos, names or slogans onto apparel, hats and other items. She also does custom birth announcements and gift items for weddings, births and holidays. Customers can supply the items to be embroidered, or she will order the items herself.
“I don’t have minimum requirements and will do onesie and twosie orders,” she said, noting that she charges based on stitch count, plus a one-time digitization fee if the customer does not supply digital artwork.
Last summer, Gibson expanded her business to include sublimation — a process that uses a heat press to transfer images onto fabric — and screen-printing. She also started using a graphic design program to create her own shirt designs.
“It’s fun to see my shirts out there,” she said.
Now an empty nester, Gibson not only has a business to keep her occupied, she also has space in her home to run the business. She said that as as soon as her youngest daughter left for college, Gibson took over her daughter’s bedroom to use as an embroidery room.
“I call it my happy place,” she said.
AT A GLANCE
Owner: Renae Gibson
Business: IMPACT Embroidery
Telephone: (319) 350-2506
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