Ten months ago, sisters Alex and Sophie Eubanks had one embroidery machine, a gift from their parents that they used to make monogrammed accessories for themselves and a few friends.
Now they have four machines whirring away in the basement of their North Raleigh home, and they stay busy making shirts, scarves and lots of other monogrammed goods for fans far and wide via a business they named The Pinky Girl.
“We started monogramming some of our own things and then we wore them to school, and then our friends kind of wanted us to make it for them, and then it just kind of went on from there,” said Alex, 16.
The girls, who attend St. Mary’s School in Raleigh, started showcasing their creations on Instagram, following and being followed by their friends. Word spread, as it does on the Internet, and by mid-December The Pinky Girl (@thepinkygirlmonograms on Instagram) had 15,500 followers, just a shade less than @Santa (17,000) but many more than Crabtree Valley Mall (244).
The success has kept them busy and turned their hobby into a full-fledged business – but only when schoolwork and other obligations allow.
“Usually, I do it right after school,” Alex said of fulfilling orders for The Pinky Girl. After a while, she shifts to homework, taking a few mental breaks here and there to make a few more orders. But unlike most business owners, Alex and Sophie don’t take the weekends off.
“Especially on the weekends” is when the orders fly out the door, said Sophie, 14. “It’s fun.”
Aside from a few fun purchases (shoes for Sophie, a cute purse for Alex), the girls are saving most of their profits for college. Some of the money, however, goes to an even bigger cause.
In October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – the girls gave a portion of their profits from the month’s sales to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which amounted to a donation of $1,000.
Aligning The Pinky Girl with Komen’s pink-ribbon cause just made sense, Sophie said, and besides: “Every 1 in 9 people are affected by breast cancer, so it was a way for us to give back.”
They’re planning more donations through The Pinky Girl, including another $500 for Komen as part of the #GivingTuesday online movement this month. And in March, a group Alex started called Pinky Girl Empowers will host a girls self-defense class at Karate International of Raleigh, where the girls have taken karate for six years and earned their black belts.
Word of mouth has been the engine of The Pinky Girl’s success, and it doesn’t hurt that monograms are hugely popular among young people these days.
“I think it’s because it’s personalized, people can know it’s your own,” said Alex, wearing a monogrammed T-shirt during an interview last week. (Sophie wore a monogrammed sweatshirt, one of their biggest sellers as the temperatures have turned colder, and their little sister Piper, 4, had her own monogrammed outfit on and, as “Preppy Piper,” is sort of The Pinky Girl’s mascot and toddler apparel model).
As the business has blossomed, the girls have learned about staying organized, managing their time and keeping customers happy, they said.
“I like meeting new people and seeing new people wear our stuff,” Sophie said. The girls stay on top of their Instagram and other social media accounts and are quick to “like” images their fans and customers post and to add encouraging comments to the mix.
“We try to promote in social networks in a positive way,” Alex said. “We try to boost everyone’s confidence.”