by Lou Mancinelli
Inside Threadwell, the quaint classic and custom monogramming shop that opened this June on Germantown Avenue across the street from the Chestnut Hill newsstand and the former Borders building, blue lacquer walls and chrome finishes conjure a lush atmosphere of luxury.
The hum of a sewing machine embroidering cloth fills the air of the shop, located at 8617 Germantown Ave. Inside it feels as if one has stepped into a cozy world free from Avenue traffic.
Owners Molly Ellis and Kate Newport designed the interior of their 400-square-foot shop to be reminiscent of the inside of a jewelry box. There is a modern feel that is at once classic and cool, like a chic city boutique.
Threadwell offers monogramming embroidery for the home, bath and classic gifts for women, babies, children and men. In addition to carrying their own line of sweaters, baby hats, beach bags, cosmetic accessories, napkins, towels and more that can all be monogrammed to accent the item with a personal touch, Ellis and Newport encourage customers to bring in outside items to be monogrammed.
Perhaps a relative has an infant to whom you want to give a personally embroidered pillow. Or perhaps you want to give your child a set of monogrammed bed sheets and a comforter for a wedding or graduation. Or maybe your friend is a senior citizen, and you want to commemorate his/her age with an amusing saying on a sweatshirt.
At Threadwell, Ellis and Newport work with each customer to develop custom designs. Or customers can choose from their permanent library with over 50 monograms and more than 120 colors.
Before she began monogramming, Ellis, 47, a Wyndmoor mother of two sons, studied international relations and German in the early 1980s as an undergraduate at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.
In the early ‘90s she moved to New York City, where she took courses at Parsons The New School For Design. She worked in Manhattan for designer Eileen Fisher, who now owns more than 50 stores nationwide.
When she moved to Philadelphia in the mid-nineties, got married and had a family, she “found a great creative outlet in monogramming.” In 2004, she opened BE Monograms at 8127 Germantown Ave., next to Laurel Hill Gardens, before BE closed in 2009 and toy boutique Oxford Circus opened in that location.
“Molly and I first connected after I decided that I wanted to open a store on the Hill,” said Newport, a four-year Chestnut Hill resident. “I wanted it to be exactly like the one that she used to own. I loved the experience of walking into her former store and gushing over the merchandise, all of it. Molly has a great eye and knows what her customers value. In the beginning, I just wanted to pick her brain about her experiences in the area, and the partnership just evolved from that.”
“Threadwell is a 100 percent new store,” said Ellis. “It’s a newer version. It’s a new look. It’s like a greatest hits version of BE.”
While some of the products may look familiar from the old store, Ellis and Newport have created Threadwell with a new vision. Instead of 50 different women’s accessories, there are 10. Instead of 50 different baby spreads, there are 10.
Ellis’ old store was more than four times the size of the current location, where customers can walk in to find fresh fruit on a marble table atop a modern carpet that looks likes tiles of various tones of blue. The bright colors of the stores merchandise are a vibrant contrast to its dark walls.
Inside the store, there are alcove-like cutouts designed to titillate a customer’s design side. In the back, a room like a cubby in a drawer illuminates the aesthetic element of embroidered monogramming. The room is dark, and the colors reflect off the walls like a sunglass lens.
“It’s great to be back,” said Ellis.
Threadwell is also doing its part to contribute to the local economy. “We worked out a deal with other retailers on the Hill,” said Ellis. “If you buy something from, say, Robertson’s or Artisans, we will monogram it for you at a discounted price.” That service begins at $15. In all, prices range from $24 to monogram a baby mat to a blanket for $130. They can embroider any size cloth item, but the largest size a monogram can be is 12 inches by 12 inches.
“We want our customers to know that if they can imagine it, we can embroider it,” said Newport.
For more information, visit the Threadwell Monograms Facebook page, call 215-384-7631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They are open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.