Funk keeps it in the family

Debby Funk is carrying on her mother’s 30-year enterprise as the new owner of Embroidery Boutique by Designs For You in Kroger Marketplace, 141 Brooklawn St., in Farragut.

“I’m excited to be able to carry on what my mom started so many years ago — like a second generation,” Funk said. “The funny thing is, out of all four of my siblings my parents always laughed that they would never expected me to be the one to do this.

“So, it’s funny how it all worked out,” she added. “This is actually 30 years in business this year.”

Funk bought the business from her mother, Laurae Hathaway, Jan. 1. After being closed since March 16 because of COVID-19, Funk re-opened the family-run business Friday, May 1.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “And I am such a people person, so it makes me happy to see my customers.

“I was very blessed my employees were super excited to come back,” Funk added. “As soon as I called them back, they were here the next day.”

Also, “I feel like everyone is super excited to be shopping and out and about,” she said. “Everyone is excited to get back to some sort of normalcy.”

“We basically do monogramming, embroidery, laser etching, company logos, corporate gifts,” Funk added, also noting Embroidery Boutique is a gift shop. Shoppers can come in and find gifts for anyone, from child to woman or man, and have it monogrammed or embroidered.

However, Funk said customers also could bring in items to be embroidered or monogrammed.

Laurae Hathaway started the business in August 1989, when the family was living in Boca Raton, Florida.

“My mom started the business in our house,” Funk said. “It was very exciting watching how far my mom was able to take this from our loft in our house to a business of 30 years and then for me to be able to carry that on.”

She remembered, as a 13-year-old, her mother retiring as a postal carrier and buying her first machine with her retirement money.

“That’s how she started the business,” Funk said. “My parents worked hard for so many years.

“The amazing thing is we still have some of the same customers we had from then,” she added.

The Hathaways moved the business from Florida to Tellico Village in 2005.

“(Laurae) had a successful business in South Florida, and we also sew nationwide for some companies, so they would ask us to move to a more central location in the United States,” Funk said. “That’s how we got to Knoxville.”

Funk came to Tennessee in 2006 at the urging of her parents.

“I kind of had a different life before,” she said. “I worked a little bit in the entertainment industry — I did hair and make up.

“My parents were setting themselves up for retirement, and asked all my siblings and I if anyone was interested in taking this over,” Funk added.

She made the jump to managing the family business with the plan for her to take over when her parents retired.

The family moved the business to Kroger Marketplace in Farragut in 2014.

“I wasn’t sure how people would support it,” Funk said. “Farragut’s been great, the support they’ve given us since the beginning.”

After her stepfather, Gary Hathaway, unexpectedly died Jan. 1, 2018, her mother came back into the business — but then decided she wanted to retire permanently and turned over the business to Funk.

In retrospect, “(The business) just evolved over the years,” Funk said. “It’s an exciting business. People don’t realize the work that goes into it.

“We try really hard to stick with a quick turn-around time, customer service is important to us, and our customers — we like to say they — enter as strangers and leave as friends,” she added. “So our customers have become our friends.

“Farragut’s been a great place to have a business.”