By Alex Chhith The Daily Globe, Worthington, Minn.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) When starting out, many women in business are forced to do it all! That is certainly the case with Vieng Harvey whose small embroidery business has her designing, printing, marketing...you name it. She is carefully growing her business and hopes to bring on an employee soon. You have to start somewhere! WORTHINGTON
Vieng Harvey operates her entire design business out of a room tucked in the back end of her husband's company.
"My business is growing so much, I hope to expand to an area on Oxford Street," said Harvey, owner and sole employee of Kustom Threadz.
Garments adorn a wall on one end of the tiny room, while papers are amassed on her desk on the other and the phone flashes with new messages from her customers.
"Business has been non-stop and I haven't done any advertising -- it's all done by word of mouth," she added.
The business is located at 259 Kragness Ave. S. inside her husband's sign shop, Harvey's Signs. Inside, Harvey embroiders and designs from screen prints and digital transfers. Some of her garments also include "bling" and glitter.
Harvey started the small company last year and makes all of the prints herself.
From the design to the actual printing to the marketing to the finances, Harvey does it all. She has designed hockey uniforms, wine ware and even pink baseball caps for a groom notorious for always wearing hats.
Before she started her company, Harvey said, not many local places produced custom-made clothing.
"There weren't a lot of options for people in Worthington back then," she said. "I knew my company would serve a great purpose in the community."
Harvey also gives back to the community in other ways.
One of her biggest clients, the Worthington Hockey Association, invited her to sell apparel at a tournament. She gave the profits back to the hockey association, and always gives it a discount on its orders.
"Whenever they need funding, I try to give back to them," Harvey said.
When her company eventually moves out from Harvey's Signs, she hopes to employ more people.
"I had an employee helping me during the holidays and it was really helpful," she explained. "I would like to expand and create more jobs in Worthington because I know there is a need for that.
"When I'm passionate about something, I work my way up to top management roles," she said.
Her work ethic has been valued at many of the companies and organizations she has been part of. When Harvey was 18 years old, before she graduated from high school, she worked as the assistant manager at Vanity, a women's retail store. Later, she became assistant director of a Victoria Secret's beauty line.
However, she started Kustom Threadz because she wanted to be her own boss.
"I thought I was more capable than being someone else's employee," she said. "I wanted to be more than just a number.
"I'm not a brand name person. I'm a unique person. I tell my customers, 'I want you to love it.'"
Her eye for design was first noticed by her art teachers at Worthington High School.
"My art teachers let me explore and be my own person. They still remember me today," she said. Harvey graduated in 2001 and lived in Minneapolis with her husband, Jon, for 10 years. The two moved back to Worthington to raise their two children.
In her spare time, Harvey volunteers at the YMCA and at No Excuse Mom, a community-service based non-profit that focuses on helping mothers live a healthy lifestyle.
There are no minimum or maximum quantities for orders, she said.
For more information, contact Harvey by phone at (612) 961-6464 or email at [email protected]