By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
There are a host of reasons why people decide to accept the many challenges of opening their own business, but typically “for fun” is not their top priority! Therefore, this is an exceptionally unique entrepreneurship.
Three Dames Dreamin’ LLC is the name given to this family enterprise, and it is the creative talents of three sisters (the dames!) who are having a ball developing it! Being completely honest, they admit there was a second very influential reason for this start-up – providing them with the finances to treat themselves to an annual weeklong sisters’ reunion! You see, there are about 700 miles separating them.
Before their marriages, they were the Huskey sisters, and there were four of them. After losing their oldest sister Georgia to cancer several years ago, Mona Hayes became the eldest of the three remaining sisters and they coined her the “matriarch” of the family. It was her idea to have this yearly get-together to celebrate their amazing relationship as sisters, and it would be just the three of them – without spouses, without children, without laptops, without responsibilities – just to reconnect among themselves.
And so their journey began. Each year a new destination was chosen and they rented a cabin or a condo and enjoyed one another’s company. After four years, some guilt interceded. How could they continue to justify the expense, leaving their families behind? The answer was to come up with a small business plan that would bring in enough cash to support their one-week private vacations. They tossed around several ideas – including professional scrapbooking, but nothing seemed quite unique enough to gain customer attention.
During one annual visit in Kentucky, the sisters sat brainstorming on the porch of a rented lakeside house when one of them joked … “So here we sit, just three dames dreamin’!” With still no idea of what their business might be, they did opt that “Three Dames Dreamin’” would be their business name! After much research, they determined that vinyl designs might be an avenue to pursue because it is so versatile. And thus ends the beginning of their venture.
Three Dames Dreamin’ got its start in 2011 with all three sisters contributing their own style of designs. Mona Hayes, the “matriarch”, now makes her home in Farmington, WV. A retired corrections officer in a maximum security prison, the business gives her an opportunity to utilize her creativity. She does all the cutting of the vinyl designs and a lot of the designing.
“My studio workshop at home encompasses both my computers, commercial cutters, and special tables – all in one room of my house,” she stated. “I’m often in there at 8:30 a.m. and sometimes stay until late at night – during our busy season.”
Also involved in the designing process are her younger sisters Ursual Kthiri and Vanessa Ultsch – both of whom live in the family’s home state of Missouri.
“We’re all very different and each of us has her own style, some more simplistic than others,” Mona explained. “Designs are e-mailed to and from West Virginia and Missouri; they’re cut and mailed back and forth as well. The vinyl is affixed to everything from plates to platters to old windows … slate … ceramic … granite … coasters … crocks … canisters … you name it. They can also be put on walls and customers can apply them themselves. It truly looks like it has been painted on the wall and will not damage the wall nor the paint. Wall vinyls can be removed, but they are not reappliable after removal.”
For creations exposed to the elements, they also carry outdoor vinyl and have done special car decals, many business storefront windows, horse trailers, semi-trucks and delivery vans. And there is even more variety – more than 70 vinyl colors to choose from … and several thousand fonts!
“We love doing customization and specially personalized items,” Mona added. “There is really no end to the versatility of our vinyl products. We will do anything – as long as it is not vulgar. We can even superimpose a design image onto a photograph to show you what the finished product will look like! This gives our customers a ‘visual’ as a proof.”
Mona says that the business has flourished far beyond their expectations and they feel abundantly blessed by its success. Their products are carried at Sacred Heart Christian Book & Gift Shoppe in Shinnston, Tom Davis Garden Center in Bridgeport, and at a store called Elizabeth’s in New Haven, Missouri, a historic, tourism town where many of their personalized items have been sold and shipped to as far away as many countries in Europe! The “three dames” have also established an Etsy shop. Log onto threedamesdreamin’.com and it will take you directly to the site. Many of their customizations can also be viewed on Pinterest.
A design measuring 20 feet in length was also customized for an entrance wall at a Missouri hospital. Now, other hospitals have contacted them for personalized work as well.
“Seeing our work and word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied customers has gotten us where we are now – just three years later – so it’s worked out well for us,” Mona commented.
The sisters’ annual reunion weeks continue; however, now they set aside at least one day for training and to explore new ideas and techniques.
Three Dames Dreamin’ LLC will have their work exhibited at three upcoming fall shows: the first Saturday in November at Lincoln High School for a Band Boosters fundraiser; on November 15th at Trinity Assembly of God in Fairmont; and a show at Grafton Hospital the first Friday in December. GREAT holiday gift-giving ideas! Place your orders early!!!