MARENGO – Twenty years ago, Pat Lawlor started HyperStitch embroidery business in her Marengo home.
Now the business at 117 W. Prairie St. has five full-time and six part-time employees, and provides custom hats, shirts, mugs, blankets and more to teams, companies and individuals across the country.
The mission of the company is to see the customer’s vision as close as possible for a good value, Lawlor said.
“When they say, ‘Oh, that’s just what I imagined it would be,’ I’m like, ‘Yes, we hit it!’ ” Lawlor said.
And with the showroom, embroiderers, digitizer and screen printer all in one place, mistakes are few, Lawlor said.
“Since all of our work is custom, we tend to not make mistakes because it’s not like some phone bank somewhere that took the order,” she said. “We’re actually here.”
The biggest challenge of the job is completing orders quickly, Lawlor said, and seeing the customer’s vision by using common vocabulary to ask questions such as “thread or ink?” rather than “embroidered or screen printed?”
The 3,500-square-foot space holds three embroidery machines and one six-station screen press, Lawlor said.
Behind the showroom, Misty Boss prepared shirts to be stitched, as the embroidery machines moved next to her, adding yellow thread to green polo shirts being made for a company’s outing.
Boss said her job includes putting the programs that digitizer Pam Grant creates into the computer and making sure the right colors of thread are in the machines.
“And then we push the button, and it goes,” Boss said.
Grant, a Marengo resident who’s been with the store for about nine years, works with computer programs that allow her to translate graphics or logos into stitches.
“I click every single stitch,” Grant said.
Samples are always made before putting the design on the actual product, Grant said, and the complexity of the design determines how long creating the program will take to make.
Sometimes, companies need their exact logo replicated; other times, they use Grant to help transform an image from a business card to stitches.
“That’s our job, too,” Grant said. “To help them clean up our logo a little and make it look more professional.”
Aside from embroidery, HyperStitch uses tools including vinyl stickers and a screen press to put customized names, numbers or designs on clothes.
About 10 to 15 percent of the business comes from contract work from businesses that may do graphic design or screen printing, but don’t have the $40,000 embroidery machines, Lawlor said.
Business also comes from the online store, hyperstitch.com, which provides options for individualized products, or for schools, clubs and teams to create a page with apparel for people to purchase.
Lawlor started the business when she was looking for a career change from teaching, and said what’s kept HyperStitch around for 20 years is the dedicated customers.
On the store’s “wall of fame,” letters and photographs hang from thankful customers wearing the apparel HyperStitch created.
“Having fabulous customers, fabulous employees, my day is different every day, and I really like that,” Lawlor said.