Friday, December 9th, 2022

Embroidery and Print House Gift Shop/Fabric Shoppe Story


Suffolk's Pam Miller creates a successful business from the patchwork of her life

by Cristi Sanchez

Pam Miller

Pam Miller

Life is like a quilt, stitched and sewn together piece by piece from the fabric of our personal experiences.  Pam Miller's life began with a love of sewing that inspired her entrepreneurial venture into business.  With her husband, Marshall, Pam co-owns Suffolk's successful Embroidery and Print House Specialty Gift Shop, along with their brand new store for the avid sewing enthusiast, Fabric Shoppe.

The idea for sewing-related businesses was a natural choice for Pam.  Growing up in the Park Manor community in Portsmouth, Pam and her three sisters were taught sewing at a very young age by their mother.  While sewing eventually lost its appeal for her sisters, it became a passion for Pam. "I've always sewed," Pam recalls. "My mother taught my sisters and me, but I was the only one who really loved it.  I stuck with it all my life."

After graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth, Pam moved to Suffolk for her job at the Suffolk GE plant, where she worked until it closed in 1986.  Years later, after having her children, Pam worked in the Suffolk Public School system for 17 years as both a teacher assistant and a bus driver. "I started in the school system when my kids went into kindergarten and worked until they all graduated," Pam explains. "It was great because it enabled me to be there for them since we were all on the same schedule."

During that time, Pam began thinking of venturing into a sewing-related side business. "As a seamstress, you know what people need," she says. "I knew parents of scouts and students that wanted embroidered items.  This was all happening when the home embroidery machines first came out. I saw them and thought to myself, "Wow, I can do this!' So I bought a little home machine, thinking I was going to start my business, and of course, at first that produced nada," she adds with a hearty laugh. 

With her business idea firmly tacked in place, Pam saved money and purchased her first commercial embroidery machine in 1996. She soon saw that many people who were requesting embroidered clothing also wanted screen-printed t-shirts. Recognizing the two businesses naturally went hand-in-hand, Pam decided to add screen printing services and purchased a commercial manual screen printing machine. "I taught myself how to use it in my garage," she recalls with a wry laugh. "That was fun. It took a little while, but I got the hang of it. It was nice, too, because it was something the kids could help with. They really enjoyed it."

"We focus on producing
a quality product
 and getting things done
when promised...
As a result, we have
a very faithful and loyal clientele."
                                         - Marshall Miller

Pam and Marshall Miller with Jodie Woltering

Pam and Marshall Miller with Jodie Woltering

Pam's life changed pleasantly in 2009 when she met Marshall, who was stationed with the Coast Guard in Suffolk.  They married in 2012, creating a happy blended family with Pam's three children and Marshall's daughter.

When Marshall retired after 35 years with the Coast Guard, they sold Pam's old embroidery business and began the new family endeavor, Embroidery & Print House, which they successfully ran from their garage. The business grew thanks to word-of-mouth, social media, and good old-fashioned leg work.

 "Living out here in Suffolk for as long as I have, I kind of knew everybody, so that helped," Pam chuckles. "Plus, I made a lot of connections through the school system. Marshall also helped by going out into neighborhoods and putting fliers in mailboxes."  

As the business grew, however, it required a change. "We're very conscious of trying to be good, respectful neighbors," Pam explains. "So when the business grew with increased customers coming by, we decided to get a brick and mortar building a mile and a half from home. That way, our customers wouldn't have to drive a great deal farther to get to us. We wanted to keep it convenient for them." In 2018, Pam and Marshall opened their current Bennett's Pasture Road location.

Embroidery and Print House Specialty Gift Shop provides quality products and services to large and small businesses alike, monogramming items like shirts, towels, bags, and company hats and screen printing t-shirts for groups and events.  Its regular clients include the Coast Guard, Suffolk Public Schools, local funeral homes, and scout troops. Marshall credits the business's success to their dedication to providing high-quality merchandise and meeting deadlines. "We focus on producing a quality product and getting things done when promised," he emphasizes. "We're very focused on high customer satisfaction, and as a result, we have a very faithful and loyal clientele and consistently good reviews on Facebook."   

"Although Suffolk has grown out here where we live, it's a small, tight-knit community.  We have a very supportive group out here," Pam adds warmly.

In addition to the embroidery and print services, the store also boasts a specialty gift shop that sells unique all-occasion gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations, along with a large inventory of seasonal and holiday gifts. They added the gift shop shortly after they married to ensure they could survive the basic ups and downs of business.

Pam and Marshall recently expanded the business again in July 2021. Knocking down the wall of an adjacent vacant business, they opened Fabric Shoppe, a fabric and notion shop catering to avid seamstresses and quilters. With Pam's own passion for sewing, she knows just what to stock.  In keeping with their reputation for providing quality products, Pam and Marshall stock Fabric Shoppe with premium fabrics typically not found in retail chains. "People want quality fabrics for their projects, so we carry 100-percent cotton fabrics, Minkys, high-quality flannel, and Imperial Batisse, a very soft fabric excellent for smocking," Pam elaborates. In addition to fabrics, Fabric Shoppe also stocks sewing notions, quilting and craft supplies, patterns, and a wide variety of sewing machine accessories - everything needed for sewing projects under one roof. "Now people don't have to drive 45 minutes or more to get the sewing supplies that they need," Pam adds.  Fabric Shoppe will additionally be offering sewing and quilting classes beginning in September.     

With a dream in her heart and husband Marshall by her side, Suffolk's Pam Miller has taken business, family, and community and pieced them together to create a beautiful patchwork of success.

Embroidery and Print House LLC

5501 Bennetts Pasture Road, Suite H
Suffolk, VA 23435