The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Words By Izzy O: Quarantine Project Turned Small Business

Izzy Olavarria
FANCY FABRIC: Senior Izzy Olavarria custom embroiders items ranging from backpacks to sweatshirts.

During quarantine in April 2020, senior Izzy Olavarria made a list of creative and artsy activities that she wanted to do to pass the time; embroidery was just one activity on that list. Olavarria ordered some embroidery supplies on Amazon, including strings, needles and embroidery hoops and taught herself how to embroider clothing, with the help of a few YouTube videos. After only embroidering three articles of clothing, she decided to start a business: Words by Izzy O.

“The first thing I ever made was a sunflower on the back pocket of some pants,” Olavarria explained. “But after that, I realized that I should probably stick to embroidering words, and that’s how I came up with the name for the business.”

Olavarria made an Instagram account for her business and began following her friends and family, promoting the business on her personal Instagram account.

“My first order was a sweatshirt embroidered with the phrase ‘Summer Better Happen,’ because it was quarantine and I just wanted a normal summer,” Olavarria said.

Most of Olavarria’s clothing features embroidered phrases or words, but she occasionally tries her hand at embroidering small pictures as well. She does most of the embroidery on loungewear, like sweatshirts and sweatpants, but will sometimes embroider other accessories, such as pillowcases, hats and aprons. Occasionally, customers will give Olavarria an article of their own clothing to embroider, but she typically buys the clothing to embroider herself.

“I got most of my original supplies – like needles, strings and the embroidery hoops – from Amazon and they last a really long time, so I still use them,” Olavarria said. “I sometimes get the clothing from a wholesale website.”

Olavarria explained that running the business at school is not too difficult, as embroidery can be done in any location, as long as there is a post office nearby to ship orders from.

“I have had the business for 3.5 years and have had almost 500 orders,” Olavarria said.

While Olavarria primarily sells from Instagram, she has sold some of her clothing at several local markets and has also collaborated with Hami-Down, an online platform for buying second-hand and re-selling goods that started as a Colgate Thought into Action (TIA) project.

Olavarria explained that her friend used to tie-dye some of the clothing for her before she embroidered it, but she does all of the embroidery work and business management on her own.

“I’d say that the coolest thing I have done is when I sold six sweatshirts to the cast of the Netflix show ‘Outer Banks,’” Olavarria said. “Madelyn Cline placed an order like two months after I started the business, so that was really cool.”

Custom orders can be placed by direct messaging @wordsbyizzyo on Instagram.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Amy Grunther
Amy Grunther, Baker's Dozen Editor
Amy Grunther is a senior from North Caldwell, NJ concentrating in political science and minoring in English. She has previously served as a staff writer for the Commentary section. On campus, Amy is involved with the Swinging Gates as both a member and the Publicity Chair.

Comments (1)

All The Colgate Maroon-News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • M

    Marcelo OlavarriaApr 12, 2024 at 11:31 am

    That is my precious and only granddaughter! From the moment she came into this world, we knew she was special. Always original, with a smile and positive attitude. Graduating this May, we hope to be there to share that special moment.