Around this time last year, Stephanie R. was working in our Components department in Fort Wayne, IN, dedicated to details such as fusing backing and splitting rolls of trim. “My manager came up to me one day and said, “We want you to work on a little project.” That project was Vera Bradley’s Personalization initiative, which officially launched with the Spring 2013 collection. “They gave me about 8 months to become familiar with the machines.” While Stephanie worked through the execution, Product Development was ironing out the details of the various looks. “We went through hundreds of font designs to get the versions you see today,” Stephanie says.
The current Personalization process is exactly what you’ve come to expect from Vera Bradley. Orders are fulfilled one at a time, and handled with great care. Stephanie’s team worked closely with Product Development to establish guidelines for the ideal placement on each unique style. Her personal favorite is the circular monogram, “And I like my name in script,” she says, “I think almost everyone’s name looks good in that.” The Large Colorblock Tote with the circular monogram is the most popular choice to date, and according to Stephanie, the most time-consuming, each requiring about 8 – 13 minutes to complete.
The impressive machines employed by the team feature a monitor that displays and counts each stitch and how many are needed to complete the job. (For example, “Addison” on a Lovey Bunny is precisely 2,265 stitches.) Order fulfillment is completed and packages are shipped directly from the monogramming area. Having fulfilled as many as 164 orders in one day, the Personalization team will be expanding soon.
The team has had to work with Customer Service on occasion to confirm name requests, but for the most part, it’s been smooth stitching. Other than names and initials, some of the more common requests have been, “Las Vegas,” “Shine on,” “Hawaii,” “Believe,” and Plush Blankets with baby’s birth date. “It’s funny,” Stephanie said, “They always announce the most popular baby name at the end of the year, but we already knew it was ‘Olivia’. We had a lot of orders.”
While she has her own ideas about which styles we should personalize next, Stephanie is waiting excitedly to see what Product Development has in mind. There is plenty to keep her team busy in the meantime. “We’re making people happy! You know as soon as they open the box and see their name they’ll be giddy,” she says. “I put it right on top so it’s the first thing they see when they open the order. We’re making it personal, and I couldn’t be more grateful that they asked me to work on this very special ‘little project’.”