Jim Marrier: A basement business springs to life

Jim and Vicki Marrier, the “JV” of JV Embroidery provide custom screenprinting and embroidery from their home in Charlotte.
Jim and Vicki Marrier, the “JV” of JV Embroidery provide custom screenprinting and embroidery from their home in Charlotte.

Jim Marrier admits he and his wife Vicki aren’t getting rich off their business JV Embroidery. “We call it ‘surviving, not thriving’,” he said. Nevertheless, the couple thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to work from their Charlotte home, providing custom-made products to a variety of corporate accounts, individuals, and sports teams.

From 2000 to 2004, Marrier managed the embroidery and screen printing at Mills and Greer. He and his wife wanted to purchase an existing trophy business in Essex and add an embroidery component, but when that fell through, they purchased an embroidery machine for their home. In 2010 they added a screen-printing machine and formally opened for business, and in April of 2015, Marrier made the company his full-time job. He is in charge of the screen printing, while Vicki does the accounting and embroidery.
“I couldn’t do this job with anyone but her,” Marrier said of his wife. “The amount of detail and behind-the-scenes work she does is a lifesaver. We’ve grown our clientele because of that.”

Over the years, the Marriers have gotten busier and busier thanks to word of mouth. They have an internet presence and traded T-shirts for some radio ads, but most people learn about them from other customers. Marrier noted that some people feel a little bit uncomfortable when they learn that the business is based in their basement, so the couple is thinking of putting up a separate building for their company. They have a delivery service and are more than willing to visit their clients to bring samples of prospective work. The Marriers now own three embroidery machines and also have the capability to make promotional mugs.

Vicki grew up in Charlotte and in 2008, Jim joined her on the last two acres of what had been her grandfather’s 280-acre farm. “I came from Winooski,” he said, “and I love the fact that it’s so quiet here. Everyone is really respectful.”

Although official business hours are 8am to 5pm, Marrier enjoys the flexibility of working from home, which allows the couple to take time off for important events like bringing home a new puppy earlier this month. Working from home also lets them to see the firsts in the lives of their two young boys, aged three-and-a-half and almost two.

“We’re getting new customers all the time,” Marrier said, “and we’re also getting to see our kids grow.”

JV Embroidery started out with some corporate accounts, but lately, they have been doing more work for sports teams including Burlington High School, CVU, and the new pro arena football team, the Vermont Bucks. Marrier said the work is roughly half screening and half embroidery. Although being self-employed is stressful, the Marriers continue to enjoy having their own company.

“When things get slow, you worry about where the next order is coming from,” Marrier said, “but every time that happens, something good comes along.” Marrier doesn’t want to ever take his clients for granted. “We want to make sure the words ‘thank you’ go out to every customer we work with,” he said. “We really appreciate the people who keep their business local.”