Think Thread and Ink, a storefront new to the Vermillion community last February, is welcoming students’ return to campus with new student organization collaborations, more USD gear and increased awareness to students.
The store provides screen printing and embroidery, signs and banners, and awards engraving. The store is located at 106 E. Main St. in downtown Vermillion. The business provides services for both individuals and large groups.
DeeDee Wilking, a co-owner a Think Thread and Ink, said the return of students to campus is new for the business.
“(There has been) just a general increase (in business) with all the students coming back to town, and it’s been busy, really good traffic and lots of requests and needs,” Wilking said. “This is our first fall and winter… so this part is new, kind of learning what it’s like to have kids come back on campus and experience that momentum again.”
Online to storefront
Matt Foley, another co-owner of Think Thread and Ink, and Wilking both worked in sales and marketing for the same Nebraska seed company before deciding to start their own business.
“In our spare time when we were home, we both liked to build and design and do a lot of creative work, so that kind of kept our mind going, and we decided maybe we should try doing this at a grander scale,” Wilking said.
From this idea, Wilking and Foley created Maiden605, an online boutique that sold t-shirts and engraved tumblers. Wilking said the pair decided the online store also needed a storefront.
“Then we decided maybe this should actually have a storefront, and a place where people can come and experience and kind of understand our personality and our creative process and what we love to do,” she said.
Wilking and Foley were originally drawn to Vermillion because of Wilking’s alumni status at USD’s law school and because their children also study at the university. Vermillion was also the original location for the business’ team meetings. Wilking said Vermillion is a good location for their business to grow.
“We started very slowly, looking for options in Vermillion, and we had researched Vermillion in terms of do the city and the community need this business and would it work well?” Wilking said. “So we did our homework and decided that this would be a good location.”
With the opening of the storefront, Wilking and Foley created the new name of Think Thread and Ink for their business.
Think Thread and Ink is licensed to create apparel with both the USD Coyotes team and the Vermillion Tanagers.
In addition, Think Thread and Ink has created apparel and poster materials for several student organizations, including the law school, greek life and tailgating groups.
“We’ve worked with quite a few student organizations,” Wilking said. “We love the energy and the creativity of the students and the student groups, and also their mission and what they’re trying to raise money for.”
Foley said they have been able to collaborate with student organizations on creating designs for their products.
“They’ve all come with large projects and they’ve all ended up with pretty good specials, I think, and unique products for sure, because they’ve designed them,” Foley said.
Foley said Think Thread and Ink’s first customer was the university itself, and they were ordering their product before the storefront even opened its doors.
“They declared Vermillion Day tied to the university, and we made an award that they presented at halftime during the basketball game,” Foley said. “Our doors weren’t even open yet, and they were standing here knocking, saying we need this.”
Wilking said they also created merchandise, such as hats, mugs and sunglasses, for Sorority and Fraternity Life.
Laura Anderton, sorority and fraternity Life director, said Think Thread and Ink was easy to work with because of its convenient location downtown and because they were able to give their products a personal touch.
“What we really enjoyed about Think Thread & Ink was that they were so local,” Anderton said. “We have used other national organizations before… but there’s just something about being able to pop downtown and say I don’t know if that looks quite right and seeing if what we were making was working well.”
Think Thread and Ink provide organizations the opportunity to use an online link to collect orders and payments.
“We can set up all of the apparel, we photograph it, we do mock-ups, and then that pre-order system allows groups to make their purchases,” Wilking said. “It doesn’t leave one person responsible for all of that… it makes it a lot easier for those shoppers.
Foley said Think Thread and Ink has promoted its services to USD students through campus leaders.
“We’ve done a promotional piece to all the sorority/fraternity leaders, the business school, all the coaches, all the assistant coaches and all the equipment people, and we’ve done that a couple of times just to make sure that they know we’re here,” he said. “As people come in, then it kind of goes back, and then the next (customer) comes in.”
Foley also said they would be willing to hire students who have an interest and passion for the work Think Thread and Ink does.
“It’s not just a job, we take a lot of pride in detail and getting things perfect,” Foley said. “We’re hiring; we just have to find the right people.”
Wilking said students should drop by to see the new store to see the merchandise and to get an idea of how the products are created.
“Anybody’s welcome to come check it out,” she said. “If you ever want to see how something is made, come on back. We love showing off.”
A local touch
Wilking said because Think Thread and Ink is a local business, it is important to both her and Foley that their products are high quality.
“This isn’t mass production made overseas, Matt and I are creating almost everything that leaves this door… it’s our heart and soul,” she said. “Anybody who’s gotten to know us will figure out pretty quickly that we are extremely passionate; we’re extremely creative and we take great pride in our work.”
Anderton said it is important to her to support local businesses.
“When we shop local, the taxes and the income from that order gets to go directly back into our Vermillion community,” Anderton said. “Besides just having that local touch of being able to talk to DeeDee and her team down there, we also know that the money is staying here.”
She also said Sorority and Fraternity Life plans to continue to use Think Thread and Ink in the future, and she hopes other students and campus organizations are able to as well.
“I think they’re a wonderful asset to the town and a wonderful thing for us to be able to utilize,” Anderton said. “I really hope that student organizations will utilize them.”