Alexis Grivakis – This Month’s ImPRESSive Dealer Spotlight
After 18 years in the computer industry, Alexis Grivakis was ready for a change. Fortunately, her friend Pam was looking to sell the embroidery and transfer business she had started 16 years earlier, so the timing was perfection.
While Alexis had a customer service background, she did not have any retail experience. Despite that, she found learning the basics to be a simple process – from running the machines to creating designs – she was up and running quickly. The difficulty came in running the “business” side of things.
It’s now twelve years later, and it’s gone by in a flash.
Today, the shop has three single-head embroidery machines and two heat presses. Somehow, she does it all – sales, marketing, production – the whole kit and caboodle. In addition to her retail store, Corner Sports Embroidery, Alexis also has an e-commerce website, sells fun designs on Etsy and sells overstock on eBay.
While she does pull in extra help when necessary, we were blown away that she’s doing this all with no additional staff most of the year!
The original owner had a good reputation in town – which has continued under Alexis’s ownership. Most of her business comes from word-of-mouth (she estimates about 90%). Never one to rest on her laurels, Alexis’s focus for the coming year is to expand the geography she is servicing and to acquire more online sales.
Like many Transfer Express customers, the majority of Corner Sports Embroidery work comes from the school system, town and extracurricular sports teams. The rest of Alexis’s customers range from farms to plumbers to construction companies.
In her retail store, she carries transfers and apparel for walk-in spirit wear items. One of the more hysterical stories Alexis told us about was how when it’s really cold outside, her walk-in customers like to huddle around the heat presses to get warm!
When we asked Alexis what she wishes she knew when she got into this business, her answer was that she wishes she knew how hard it was going to be. Like all of us (the writer of this article included!), she’s made a few mistakes here and there – from putting a transfer on upside-down to learning the hard way that when heat pressing a bag made out of “recycled materials,” you just might end up with a pile of threads by the end of a few seconds. But after 12 successful years in business, we suspect she’s doing way more things right than wrong.
One focus of Corner Sports Embroidery we found interesting was toddler-wear. Making use of gang sheets, it’s inexpensive to produce and who can resist miniature clothing?
Another thing Alexis was doing that we found very clever was to use a digital picture frame as an in-store catalog.
When we asked Alexis how she does it all, she said that she sees seasonality to the business that comes in. Heat press and embroidery orders seem to have their own time of year. For instance, November is a big heat press month – with orders primarily for Basketball and rec league teams…but December is dominated by embroidery for holiday gifts.
Alexis has been a Transfer Express customer since she took over the business, since her friend Pam had already been a customer. She uses Stahl’s products as well since she does some cutting for smaller orders.
She says she’s probably used every product we have to offer. One of her customers is absolutely crazy for the glitter transfers. She says that Transfer Express has come a long way in the 12 years she’s been a customer and was excited to hear that we had some new releases this upcoming year.
We thank Alexis so much for taking the time out of her busy day to let us get to know her and her business a little better. I think you’ll admit that she embodies what the ImPRESSive Dealer Spotlight is all about.
Do you have an interesting story to tell about your apparel business? Leave us a comment or reach out to us.
Please congratulate Alexis Grivakis of Corner Sports Embroidery on being this month’s ImPRESSive Dealer!