Turning an activity one loves into a successful business venture is a dream most people never achieve. Margie Fleming, owner of Five Star Embroidery, is one of the lucky few for whom that goal has become a reality.
"I'm getting to do something that is my passion for my job," Fleming said, noting that she has sewed and been a quilter for decades. "I feel really privileged, blessed to be able to do that."
Just a bit more than a year ago, Fleming launched a business that specializes in commercial embroidery and silk screen printing heat transfers. It was a success almost from the day it opened.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Framed by a sample piece done for the Vincent Fire Department, Margie Fleming, owner of Five Star Embroidery, holds up a shirt with her company logo on it recently. Five Star is at 1100 Central Ave.
"I wasn't sure how busy I would be when I first started," she said. "I was amazed that right off the bat it was busy."
So busy in fact, that it quickly outgrew its original location at 924 Central Ave. On Sept. 1, Five Star Embroidery moved to more spacious accommodations at 1100 Central Ave. - the corner of Central Avenue and 11th Street.
"I can do logos, hats, sweatshirts, T-shirts," Fleming said, "I can use a client's logo or I can help them design a logo. ... If somebody brought in their business card and it has their logo on it, I can scan it and I send it to a place on the Internet and I can get it back in 24 hours in a stitch form, so I am ready to stitch it. It's a one-time fee. We send it in and have it digitized and then I can stitch it on anything - hats, shirts."
Fleming emphasized that items other than clothing are also appropriate candidates for the service she provides.
"It's mostly apparel, but I can embroider on fabric," she said. "It's limitless basically, if I can get it in a hoop, I can stitch it. I can do specialized items."
A project currently in the works is a good example.
"I'm working on a tablecloth for a woman for her business when she sets up at Market on Central," Fleming said. "We're doing her name and logo on the front so it can drape over a table."
If a customer needs help deciding on a design, Five Star Embroidery has extensive resources that can mobilized.
"I've got a couple different sources of things that are already digitized," Fleming explained. "One catalog has 20,000 things in it that are all in a digitized form. All I have to do is download it and add their name. ... I also use an online site that boasts that they have 600,000 designs."
In addition to affixing artwork to various items, Five Star offers a huge selection of apparel either on-site or available for a quick special order. The selection includes dress shirts, sports shirts, pullovers, hoodies, sweatshirts, assorted outerwear, boots, gloves and much, much more.
A sampling of the garments available can be viewed on the store's website - www.fivestarcustomembroidery.com.
"We've got several different catalogs," Fleming said. "I can get the products in one to two days. That's mostly how it works."
Increasingly, however, the goal is to have apparel on hand in the store.
"I am hoping to be able to fill the whole building, get a lot more apparel in here," Fleming said.
While commercial and organizational clients are at the heart of Fleming's business, she is quick to stress that any size order is welcome. There are many individuals who make use of her service for one-of-a-kind or small-volume customizations.
"I do from individual to thousands," she said. "I do a lot of larger orders of shirts and sweatshirts and T-shirts for companies, but I also do personal stuff for people."
Whatever the size of the order, Fleming said she is a stickler for both quality and attentive service.
"I pay special attention to detail," she said. "I want them to be proud of it and I want them to know that I would be proud to wear it, too."
Meeting deadlines is a priority.
"If I tell somebody it's going to be done on a specific date, I really strive to have it done, Fleming said. "That's really important."
She said customer satisfaction with the completed product is a source of much enjoyment for her.
"I like to see somebody when they come in after I've done something for them and see how excited they are about it," she said. "That makes it all worth it."
Downtown is on the move
Fleming said she is bullish about the future of downtown Fort Dodge and is committed to working cooperatively with other merchants to help that venue prosper.
"In the last few months, the downtown businesses have been getting together once a month trying to promote each of our businesses down here and to draw more people downtown," she said. "We're starting to see more people coming downtown. People are really excited about promoting downtown and the image of Fort Dodge. It's exciting to be a part of that."
The city's economic prospects give her confidence that small businesses such as hers can thrive.
"Fort Dodge is just going to keep growing with all the businesses coming in," Fleming said.
Five Star Embroidery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to noon.
The store shares the building with Five Star Small Engine Sales & Service, a business owned and operated by Margie Fleming's husband, Joe Fleming.