Custom-stitched ID

Logo’d garments from Initial Designs Custom Embroidery provide instant identification

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In early October, Melissa Hambalek of Initial Designs Custom Embroidery in Cranbrook, B.C., was already ramping up production to handle the stream of pre-Christmas orders coming in from forward-thinking businesses.

“People are ordering shirts and jackets and toques and hats for their employees or their customers as giveaways and gifts,” Hambalek said. “It starts now, and it’s crazy—in a good way—until Christmas. Businesses may order just a few items, but I’ve done up to 500 and 1,000 pieces for one order.”

Hambalek has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a double major in marketing and small business management. At just 28 years old and with one year of business ownership under her belt, she handles the multitude of tasks that crop up in her store and production area like a seasoned pro.

Realizing her comfort zone

Hambalek confessed that at first glance she didn’t understand the embroidery business. After spending a day on the job with previous owner Liz Connor, though, she realized that this business would be a perfect place to exercise her marketing and small business management skills.

“I would see customers being thrilled to see their name or their logo on a shirt or a hat or a toque, and at first I didn’t really understand,” she said. “But when I saw my own promotional products, like a new sign on my door or my business cards, I found it so exciting and I really understood what I’m doing here. I’m giving people a unique, recognizable symbol that represents their hard work and expertise—it’s thrilling, especially to a new business.”

It takes a community

Hambalek said that her whole family has rallied to her support, and her father, Mike Hambalek of Caliper Machine & Hydraulics, has been a wonderful mentor.

“I’m also lucky that my spouse, Lloyd, is really handy and willing to help me out when I have mechanical troubles,” she said. “And I so much appreciate Cranbrook businesses for being supportive. Jiffy Lube is one example of a company that’s great about shopping locally. They will come in and talk to me about what they want and what we can work out, instead of just going online for their items.”

In her store and showroom at 37 - 7th Avenue South in Cranbrook, Hambalek stocks a wide selection of sample garments that show first hand the quality, colours and designs that are available.

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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