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Mopping up with towel monograms

 

Business Web-based


Many fonts available


CATHERINE PATCH

STAFF REPORTER

 

An innovative entrepreneur and a communications graduate from Seneca College have turned a North York basement room into the headquarters for a Web-based monogrammed towel business.

Rachael Kupfer and Alan Domb founded SignatureTowels.com Corp. last spring to fill what they saw as a gap in the market for interesting monogrammed towels and novelty gift items. The company now sells about 20 products in 14 colours, including bathrobes, hooded baby towels and spa wraps. Each towel item can be personalized by selecting from about 20 different computerized fonts, from classic and elegant to trendy.

About 60 per cent of their business comes from the U.S.

Towel prices range from about $40 for a bath towel to $45 for a bath sheet and $110 for a set of six hand towels. Unisex full-length terry robes are $110, his-and-her 3/4 length kimono robes are $140 for the set and a woman’s spa shower wrap is $43.

“A customer chooses on the Internet the colour of towel they’d like, whether they want a single towel or a set, then the font and colour of thread they want,” says Domb. “There are more than 15 thread colours, so people really are able to personalize their gift.”

"We found that that our customers didn’t just want their names on a towel,” says Kupfer. “They wanted their gifts personalized from A to Z.” Domb demonstrates how an embroidered towel, with a monogram or even a message, is computer-designed and displayed on the screen as it actually will appear. “You design the image on the computer and transfer it either by cable or by disc to the embroidering machine,” says Domb.

Kupfer and Domb spent months researching towels and towel production, going everywhere from department stores to gift shows. ‘We wanted to target gift-givers and to offer them an alternative to the impersonal products that are often all you find on the Web," says Kupfer.

The business partners were surprised at how few Canadian towel manufacturers they were able to find.

“We discovered that all the Canadian manufacturers were pretty much bought out and closed down by American manufacturers — except for one, Cambridge Towels in Cambridge,” says Domb.

Although Cambridge had done almost all its business with department stores and at first was reluctant to deal with a small company, Domb and Kupfer argued that the Internet gave businesses of any size a huge base of potential customers.

Cambridge agreed to supply them with a high-end line of towels and SignatureTowels.com began producing its first monogrammed towels.

“A lot of embroiderers have older machinery and are stuck with three or four archaic fonts,” says Domb. A list of fonts on the wall shows examples of such exotica as KR Flower Power, Curlz and Jokerman, as well as traditional fonts used for special occasions like weddings and anniversaries.

The Web-based nature of the business is ideally flexible for Kupfer whO has a hearing impairment and Domb, who is a new father.

The company’s novelty items, such as hooded baby towels, robes and spa wraps, are manufactured overseas, but Domb and Kupfer plan eventually have the entire line made in Canada. New products include a beach or pool lounge chair cover and towel tote bag. Coming soon are a chef’s apron set, personalized golf towels, terry-cloth shower curtains and a hooded child's terry cape.

For more information and prices www.signaturetowels.com



 

 

Rachel Kupfer waited 10 years to do what she really wanted to do. She was overseas on her first wedding anniversary when her husband presented her with a beautiful gift — two large bath sheets embroidered with her name. “As I am such an entrepreneur,” Kupfer says. “my first reaction was, that is such a great idea for a business — and come to think of it, no one does it in my home town.” Kupfer decided to wait to establish her dream business, because she first wanted to run one where she’d be able to socialize and meet people face to face. To that end she established a retail lingerie business, which is now going into its seventh year. 
By the time her children were in school, and her first business established, Kupfer thought it was time to fulfill her dream. Teaming up with a PR graduate, Alan Domb, she built a Toronto-based website called SignatureTowels.com through which she could sell personalized towels, robes, wraps and other products. custom-embroidered to suit each customer. People can choose from 20 differe nt styles of lettering, from wacky to elegant, as well as the product and thread colour. Because it’s a web-based business, much of the necess ary communication can be done by e-mail or fax. Domb takes care of any necessary phone calls. Technology. Kupfer says, has made all the difference. 
Kupfer’s advice to people with disabilities entering an unconventional business or career path is to “know the Serenity Prayer and act accordingly... know what your capabilities are, know what your pitfalls are, and deal with them — don’t allow them to be your downfall. Believe in yourself and forge ahead!” And indeed, besides a pass ion for their work, all the people described in this artic le have a belief in themselves and their abilities. For some, like physiotherapist Hills and conductor Stubley, that belief has helped them push past the attitudes of others who said, “You can’t.” It’s helped Prince the clown and Ribreau the chef keep going in physic ally demanding careers. And it helped Kupfer keep her dream alive for 10 years while she built a life for hers elf and her family. 
Passion plus faith in themselves equals success for people with disabilities in unconventional jobs. 
Anna Quon is a freelance writer living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.






A hearing impaired entrepreneur and an unemployed Communications graduate have cleverly filled a gap in the gift market by offering an online customized outlet. Rachel Kupfer and Alan Domb are the creative founders of SignatureTowels.com, which has elevated the common towel to a luxury gift item. SignatureTowels.com creates lavish spa wraps, bridal gift sets, bathrobes, and hooded baby towels, any of which can be individually monogrammed. Every detail, down to the monogram font and style wrapping, can be customized for the discerning shopper. With twenty different products in fourteen colors, the combinations are abundant. Perhaps equally impressive is Kupfer herself, who also owns a lingerie retail company. Web-based communication allows her to deal directly with the public despite a hearing disability. Foiling doctors’ predictions when she was a child that she would never hear or talk, Kupfer now lip-reads and speaks enough to run two successful businesses. “Besides typical bridal and baby presents, we also receive a lot of interesting orders,” says Kupfer.”Recently a school in NewYork wanted to buy towels to treat its teachers to an extra-special holiday present.” 






Luxury Found in Terry Cloth

 SignatureTowels.com is a new Toronto-based Internet company devoted to adding a touch of class to the bathroom with embroid ered towels and bathwear products adorned with a monogram or moniker. Rachel Kupfer was inspired by the luxury of embroidering loop terry cloth after receiving a personalized towel from her husband while they were living overseas. Once back in Canada, Kupfer teamed up with communications specialist Alan Domb to offer the largest choice of decorati ng options for towels and such online. In just more than 6 months of operation, SignatureTowels.com is a hit on the Web, with more than 90 per cent of its business coming unsolicite d from the United States. Visitors to SignatureT owels.com’s Web site can select from a number of products such as towels or towel sets that include a bath sheet, bath towel, hand towel and face cloth. Later this year, the comp any will be offering a monogrammed bath ensemble with shower curt ain, bath mat and toilet seat cover. With the products from SignatureTowels.com, you can even match up your decor with a variety of robes, spa wrap kimonos and baby’s towel. Even the family dog can blend in with a signature on its own paw print towel. “What makes our company unique is we offer 14 different terry cloth colours designed on a colour wheel, so that you can mix and match to suit the decor of your bathroom. “After selecting the towel colour, you have a choice of 25 colour threads and 20 font styles that we constantly revise. The combination of the three will determine the theme of the towel — classic, sophisticated, trendy or fun. “Terry cloth is making a comeback in design. There are so many variables that can affect the quality of embroidering on this fabr ic that we consider it a skilled art,” states Domb. 
 
KATHRYN KATES FOR METRO TORONTO