CRYSTAL LAKE – After 14 years in corporate America, Janice Means wanted out.
So the former IBM employee and Elgin resident began exploring her options – laundromats, liquor stores, "you name it, I investigated it," she said, adding "I signed more nondisclosure contracts than you can shake a stick at."
"I was sick of working in corporate America," said Means, 52. "I was tired of every decision being driven by the stock price."
But after a meeting with representatives at EmbroidMe, she was hooked.
"On the drive home, I was making a customer list in my head," Means said. "I thought, this can work."
EmbroidMe bills itself as the "world's largest promotional marketing company." With more than 400 retail locations, EmbroidMe provide full-service custom embroidery and screen printing for clothing, as well as promotional products.
"To me it's small enough, but big enough," Means said, adding that as a franchisee, the company offers her training, and support.
After that initial meeting, Means soon learned that Crystal Lake's EmbroidMe owner George Sezemsky was looking to retire, and the Crystal Lake location at 6226 Northwest Hwy. was available. Means jumped at the chance.
"The biggest value was that he already had a customer base," she said.
Little has changed at the store since Means took over in October what Sezemsky had started seven years ago. She kept the store's four employees.
"The employees came with," Means said. "They know the business, they know what to do and how to run the machines better than I do."
She made slight revisions to the front showroom, which give customers a glimpse at all EmbroidMe can do.
There will be an open house at the store from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. today.
Mean's main client base comes from large and small businesses alike. And it's not just stitched embroidery these days. Her customers are looking to put their logo on just about anything – from pens to glasses, notepads to key chains.
"You name it, we can put your name on it," Means said.
The turn around is typically seven to 10 business days, but for who want items sooner, options are available.
Means also puts "cool" logo designs on a Facebook page, which she described as a win-win. Not only can the social networking website showcase EmbroidMe's work, but it offers added exposure for clients.
Where: 6226 Northwest Hwy., Crystal LakeWhen : EmbroidMe is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The store is closed Sundays. Information: Call 815-444-1081.