News

Make it your own: Bedford, NH, online business will personalize a single item, or dozens

Friday, January 24, 2014

Story and photos by LORETTA JACKSON

Staff Writer

Bedford’s Donna Figler admits she owns a pair of dream businesses, GetawayWear and FigWear. The online companies cater to people desiring machine embroidery, printing done with rhinestones, decals, screen printing, designs made from digitized images of their children’s best drawings and more.

No need to buy a dozen of anything bearing words, phrases, mottoes, logos or greetings for any occasion. Figler will do a single shirt. She will provide a customer a couple pairs of flannel pajama pants sporting a school logo name. She’ll design a baby’s pillow with the newborn’s name, birth date and weight. Sweatshirts with Bedford embroidered in applique across the front are frequent requests.

Figler is an avid proponent of buying what you want and only as much as you want. She makes it easy to have something personalized with embroidery or applique with no minimum purchase required. Orders requiring screen printing do require a minimum of two dozen items.

She and her husband, David, are the originators of the enterprises. The earliest efforts were shared activities, back when they lived outside of Chicago. There, they ran the business from a closet. A job opportunity for David and the desire to come home to New England drew them to New Hampshire, where they moved to their camp at Lake Winnipesauke. It was a get-away place for them and the refuge that inspired their first company’s name, GetawayWear.

They still enjoy year-round activities at the camp, aptly named Camp Wiweewurk (why we work), with their fourth-grade and fifth-grade girls, but the family has settled in Bedford to be closer to relatives and David’s job as a merchant in Merrimack. She, too, has a background in retail. Today, she is the day-to-day operator of the businesses and enjoys an environment more suited to jeans than to apparel mandated in the corporate world.

She credits her friend, Mike Kirwan, owner of Fulfillment Services Inc., for guiding her through her business plans, trademarking, regulations and other topics that nurture a sense of business savvy. Kirwan’s firm is a Massachusetts company that specializes in drop-shipping – delivery from a central warehouse of orders from customers who patronize the firm’s network of manufacturers and retailers.

Today, Figler is an expert at her business. She uses high-tech equipment, including a computerized embroidery machine that carries 15 bobbins filled with various colors of polyneon thread, a thread whose colors will not run when the item is washed. The machine finishes up to 1,000 stitches each minute.

“It’s come to the point where my products are very professional,” Donna said. “If a design is off even a fraction of an inch, the customer doesn’t get the piece.”

In her GetawayWear business, Figler groups products that share a theme. A boat owner’s embroidered custom gift pack, available online, includes beach towels, handrail clean-up towels, a tote, a soft-sided cooler, two zip-up bottle koozies and two can koozies, each with the boat’s name, a custom boat design and the captain’s monogramed initials.

One can shop by product or an extensive range of getaway lifestyle categories. Choose items related to an interest in the lake, the beach, a golf lifestyle, ski season or any celebration. The choices of fleece, rainwear, totes, aprons, grill wear and other specialties seem endless.

Her FigWear business is geared more to personalizing items for businesses, schools, clubs, events and the home. Bling is a big seller and adding rhinestones to tees and other apparel is one of her favorite activities. She turns out pieces for hockey moms, dance moms, brides, birthday girls and football moms. In addition, school logos and fundraising items abound.

“We can do good,” Figler said. “We did Boston Strong items that raised $1,100 for that cause. We have sponsored a 5K run for cancer awareness. We’ve done some Bedford schools’ Destination Imagination team shirts. Peter Woodbury School has its own website for clothing and gear for students and faculty.”

She touts the convenience of a school having an e-commerce site. An online site enables a parent to shop at any time of the day or night for all kinds of items reflecting school spirit. She wants to establish a site similar to that at Peter Woodbury School for all of Bedford’s elementary schools. The site is launching soon as bedfordwear.com. She said a shopping site is good for the school because there is no need for teachers to take orders, track orders, collect money or ship the items.

“You can order online and you don’t have to worry about sending your child to school with a check that might get lost,” Figler said. “I’ve enlisted many local companies to supply me, so some of my local goods are made in America.”

For information on GetawayWear or FigWear, visit online at figwear.net or getawaywear.com or call 677-1365. A new site, bedfordwear.com, is coming soon from Figler and will feature an array of apparel, totes, hats, can kozies and other items bearing the Bedford name.

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