Returning recently from the Northeast Greek Leadership Conference, we as vendors have a fresh perspective on what it means to be Inter-fraternal. Regardless of how many years we’ve attended, the same thing jumps out at us each time: there is brotherly and sisterly love amid the diversity of organizations and schools represented. And we get to experience it almost as outsiders looking in. As they shop in our Greek Boutique, and chat, laugh and joke with each other, we get to enjoy watching the bonds grow tighter between members of different organizations from the same campus.
Don’t misunderstand: It’s great for attendees to meet others at the affiliation luncheon who share the same letters, of course. There is something very special when you’ve experienced the same history, symbolism, educational programming and initiation rites, and though you’ve come from different campuses, you are in fact brothers and sisters. But since we get to experience those kinds of developing bonds at national and regional conventions on a regular basis, the most heart warming part for us at NGLA is seeing camaraderie between and across affiliations from the same school. Those who serve together on IFC and Panhellenic councils have another kind of bond all together. It’s the “we’re all Greek together” bond, a community of servant leaders. I hear them discuss the variety in their membership activities and appreciate all those experiences that are different from theirs. I see laughter and jabs and genuine friendship, all brought about by serving the same community together. For us, it’s almost like watching a sit com. We take it all in, and sometimes join in, but mostly we just enjoy the show!
Do you want to be Greek? Or do you want only to be part of one particular group to the exclusion of all others? That’s the question we ask potential new members that are nearing the end of Sorority recruitment. Because it’s a tough decision, and sometimes that question doesn’t pop into a PNM’s head naturally. PNM’s have met hundreds of women in different organizations in a short period, and sometimes it’s all a blur. The “system” does a pretty good job of matching up PNM’s to groups where they’ll find like minded women, but sometimes all that stands out in that blur is the reputation of the groups themselves. And that can be a siren call…..
Truly, the question “do you want to be Greek” should be paramount. Why? Because the overarching theme in Greekdom is positive. It is a solid place to learn leadership skills, to experience philanthropic pursuits, and to understand that diversity within is an asset not a detraction. It’s a place to learn to debate fairly, to take on responsibility, to have others count on you, and to be part of something with roots, history and tradition. It’s both learning to follow and learning to take the lead. All of these things sharpen the individual and enable him or her to draw from the college experience in a way that going it alone never will. It hones some of life’s most marketable skills. And the nugget of gold within, is that whatever organization becomes “yours” is the one you will love and show pride in long after graduation. It’s one you may even stay deeply involved in on a national level into your golden years. And it will be amazing. But ultimately, you have to decide you want to be Greek.
What does this have to do with Sorority apparel? Nothing and everything. You can be Greek and never wear your pin, put a decal on your laptop or sport a t-shirt. BUT. But…..when you wear your letters, you’re telling the world you’re part of something bigger than you. That you earned one of the top GPA’s on campus. That you’re serving others….giving back, not just taking. You’re advertising not just for your group, but for Greek Life as a whole. So when you wear your letters, do it with pride. Make all the Fraternity men and Sorority women that came before you proud. And show the next generation what it looks like to be a leader.
The great thing about fashion is that it’s forever evolving. We love this, it totally energizes us! So what are we seeing as the top 5 fashion trends for fall 2013 so far?
1) USA is hot. And why not? We live in the greatest country ever and showing pride has never been more “in” than it is now.
2) Spirit Jerseys. These started in the resort industry, hit the southern US first, and then spread like wild fire. Strong pastel tones and over sized printing on the shoulders has made snapping pics of the backs of shirts all the rage. And did we mention they’re comfy?
3) Monograms! Hot! On everything from jackets and hats, to water bottles, to pillows, to car windows. What a great, classy way to shine! (Greek and English by the way!)
4) Pockets. Basic pocket tees are great for monograms (see trend 3!) and Greek letters, as well as screen printed logos. No pocket on the tee you like? No problem. We can add a fabric pocket from any of our letter patterns! Letter it, or leave it plain. Anything goes.
5) Bows are still a big deal. It’s the preppy look personified. Add a Greek bow to your wardrobe, or let our artists create artwork for your next event shirt that incorporates a bow tie or ribbon.
These are just a few of the strong trends we’re seeing, but others are out there and more are on the horizon. If you’d like to share your favorite trend with us, post on our Greek Facebook page: or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay fashionable my friends! And Go Greek!
The word recruitment conjures up all sorts of emotions for anyone who has ever gone through the process.
For the potential new members, there’s certainly a bit of fear and trepidation. There’s more than a little bit of pressure felt prior to recruitment. Thoughts go racing through their minds such as: “How DO I know if I’m making the right choice?” “What if I get a bid and my roommate doesn’t?” And more importantly….. “Will they like me?” It’s kind of a big deal.
For current members, surprisingly, it’s ALSO a big deal. The PNM might find it astonishing that the sister she’s talking to has a few reservations as well. I mean, as a sister, she really wants to show her organization in the best possible light. She’s an extension of her sorority, and, good or bad, the time spent with a PNM is a reflection on the rest of the chapter. And she knows it all too well. It can be unnerving. Fortunately, as an organization, the sorority has additional opportunities to shine: through skits, songs, and philanthropy demonstrations.
But more importantly, there are plenty of other opportunities to shine as an organization. Those opportunities arise every single day, long before recruitment starts, long after the balloons have deflated and the New Member Educator has started training up the next generation. These opportunities are vitally important to the health of each chapter, as well as the overall well-being of the Greek System as a whole. The key is this: When you’re out on campus, even if you’re not wearing letters, BE YOUR BEST SELF. The other students in your classes will determine how they feel about Greeks by the behavior they observe every day. They’ll form opinions just by paying attention to the Greeks in their classes, those walking across campus, and those they meet (and just notice) out at night. As they take in these experiences, they’re mentally filing away the memories, which will have an impact on how they feel about Greeks in general, and about your organization specifically.
Do your best recruiting by being your best self. Wear your letters proudly to advertise Greek life, and work hard to show the non-Greeks on campus what’s wonderful about being a member of your organization. If all of your members do this, every day of the school year, I assure you, recruitment (when it rolls around) will be much less stressful and much more successful. Your organization will grow stronger, generation after generation, as Greeks everywhere present their best selves to those who share those ideals, and may eventually be called brothers or sisters.
Happy Labor Day! Hope you all are celebrating with family and friends! This weekend is our reality check that summer is over (time to put those white pants and shorts away til next year). And of course, it’s time to get into the swing of things for fall and for some unsolicited suggestions from a sorority alumna…who has learned the hard way!
1. Start thinking about Homecoming shirts WAY before the week of Homecoming… ie. Start NOW!
2. Start planning for your future little(s) in advance! Buy a little bit at a time! Spreading the creativity and expense over 10 months isn’t nearly as stressful as doing it all in one week!
3. If your recruitment is this spring… start planning bid day shirts and gifts in September, October and November of this year! When things get crazy, you’ll have it done and can focus on more immediate concerns.
4. Philanthropies are more than just raising money… they are about raising awareness! Talk about your cause often, and why it is important to you! Share with friends, wear your event tees, live the ideals.
5. Start thinking about formal favors now… you get the best variety and pricing when you order early!
6. If you need help with any of this, never hesitate to call someone who has done it before. (advisers, sisters and of course, us!)
Have a great Labor Day Weekend!
Trends and Traditions
We get really excited around here when it comes to trends. You probably know this if you follow us on Facebook or Twitter http://www.uniqueonline.com https://twitter.com/UniqueDelaware . But this year, as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary at Unique Impressions, and we think about all the great trends that have come and gone…and come back again…we can’t help but think about all the Greek traditions that have endured the test of time. Everything from rituals and mottos, colors and crests, badges and gems, flowers and symbols, have remained pretty much the same since their inception. It’s really amazing to think that the very things we essentially take for granted as members–recruitment etiquette, initiation rites, scholastic ideals–have been around since the formation of the United States. What?!
When this dawned on us, we dug a little deeper to try to wrap our minds around all the major changes that our country has been through as our Greek system developed. Did you know that the first Greek letter organization was founded in 1776, the year the U.S. declared independence? Greek letter “societies” started to multiply while we had only 13 states….and the vast majority of Fraternities in existence today were founded at a time when our country was only half the size it is today. (There was not even a State of Florida, Michigan, Texas or California!) They survived the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy…and our “great-great-great-great-great-great……. grand-bigs” watched as we landed a man on the moon for the first time. And so much more.
So how is it that the members of organizations steeped in centuries old traditions, are always on the cutting edge of trends? Because from the inception of fraternal societies, the founders and members have been campus leaders. They’ve been individuals willing to distinguish themselves from the crowd, and to join something whose sum is greater than its parts. Individuals who are eager to celebrate their own uniqueness while giving back to others. To walk a path a bit less traveled. And to have fun doing it! And that, we’re certain, will never go out of style.
How was your summer? What did you do?
Those are the questions you get asked every fall semester, and so do we! So here is our answer!
Our list of things to do this summer was long, and somehow, three months was pretty short! I think this is because, at Unique Impressions, summer means regrouping, reassessing, and reorganizing. It means a welcomed, slightly slower change of pace in our retail store which is infused with a drive to accomplish more than is humanly possible. Summertime gives us a chance to look back on the school year, and make changes that take us into the next school year stronger and more enthusiastically than ever. This summer we revamped our Greek catalog, added tons of great apparel and gift products to our newly launched (Nov. 2011) web site, refreshed the look of the retail store, and attended Greek and apparel trade shows to find the latest and greatest in products and designs for our customers. We worked our marketing calendar, brain-stormed, and designed our store windows for the year. We brought in new “letter shirt” fabrics, as well as trendy shirt styles and product lines, including Lilly Pullitzer. We even changed our merchandise tags.
But one of the things we’ve come to love most about summer doesn’t really have anything to do with those things on our “to do” list. It’s that we get to take the show on the road! We travel to sorority conventions…..to places like Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Virginia. We intentionally limit the number of Greek events we go to, in part, so we can provide a more comprehensive and personalized shopping experience for our convention customers. We ship in (and sometimes haul in) Greek gifts, jewelry and lavalieres, lettered shirts, as well as blank shirts, lettering and a heat press. We readily admit, it’s not that we love packing and unpacking a “mini store” as much as we truly love interacting with sorority women from across the country.
These women come together because they are committed to their organizations. They’ve invested themselves in the well-being and development of their sisterhood because they have seen first-hand how positive the sorority experience can be. In going to a National Convention, these women gain a greater understanding of what sisterhood means–and that it is for life. They have a broader base of knowledge to draw from and they see sisterhood lived out in women who are their contemporaries, as well as those who are twice or three times their age. They learn more about leadership, and take away memories they will never forget.
And us? We soak it all in. We see the enthusiasm. We see the diversity of the chapters and their members. We see the styles they’re wearing on campus, and we see trends emerge before our eyes as we help these women place custom orders for things such as neon tanks with the brightest, “blingiest” letters we can provide. Or Lilly Pullitzer sewn letter shirts in tropical hues. Or neon trucker hats. Or acrylic tumblers with letters. We get to see the excitement in their eyes when they realize they’re the only ones on their campus who will be wearing such unique items this fall. And we develop relationships with many of these women that last beyond their undergraduate experience.
We bring home from this experience is a sharper eye for trends, a better feel for what Greek members want from their suppliers, and we gain the reassurance that what we do matters in the life of sorority women. We help them advertise the organization they love in a way that allows them to showcase their own personal style. They have such a strong affinity for their sorority… and we have an equally strong affinity for the members who wear their letters proudly. We’re honored to be a part, and to encourage each of you to go to regional and national events whenever possible. We guarantee, you’ll get more out of it than you put in! Go Greek!
I have friends that just LIVE to shop Black Friday. It’s their favorite day of the whole year, surpassing Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even their own Birthday. Something about the hype, the novelty of standing out in the cold with other like-minded people while the rest of the world sleeps…. and ultimately, seeing how many bargains can be scored before the specials are snapped up, someone catches an elbow in the eye, or the coffee wears off…whichever comes first. I understand the people watching is out of this world. And I believe it. But I’ll just have to live vicariously through these brave souls because I always miss the hoopla in favor of surfing the bargains–from the comfort of my couch.
Which is where Unique Impressions comes into this story. We have traditionally remained closed on Black Friday so the malls can have their day. And that was true this year as well, however with one fantastic twist: we launched a gorgeous new web site so that bargains can be had at your favorite small store as well!
So now that you’ve dabbled in the big box shopping shenanigans, shopped Small Business Saturday, and rested up on Sunday, curl up with your new favorite web site, and check out our Cyber Monday deal! Be sure to order all the students on your list a gift that signifies the pride they have in the Greek organization they’ve joined for life. At a discount, and with free shipping no less! Happy shopping and happy holidays!
Today’s discount code is: CYBER10FREESHIP
We were in on the world wide web at its infancy. It’s true. While our parents were still apprehensive about plugging credit card info into an anonymous black hole in cyberspace, Unique Impressions built a complicated web site featuring thousands of Greek gifts for sale that could be ordered at 2 am, and delivered right to your door. UPS was happy, customers were happy, we were happy. And then the world wide web rocketed to fame, and we were left in the cyberdust. Kind of. Turns out, as we enjoyed our complicated, old school web site, which worked reasonably well for us, the internet as we knew it morphed from caterpillar to butterfly. Newer sites moved faster, had intricate visual appeal, and did things our “tried and true” site could never do, like take custom shirt orders and entertain at the same time. Thank you, YouTube.
So what’s a really cool, cutting edge Greek store to do when the cyberworld leaps ahead of its early pioneering efforts? Hire one of the best web companies around to save our site and **whoosh** catapult us to the new century. STAY TUNED!!!
Decades ago, when a trend came around, it STAYED around. Good or bad, ugly or adorable, it was with us for a looooong time. Girls had big hair, often up in a scrunchie, and at Unique Impressions, we stocked oversized Champion sweatshirts up to the rafters because they were hard to come by, and when the shipment came, it literally took over what was then a pretty small store. Every sorority girl had a closet full of thick lettered sweatshirts (crew necks mind you) in colors like Tea Rose, Jade and Butter. All we could do was await the next shipment, hope the new colors would be in those giant boxes, and focus on finding great fabrics to match up with these Champion hues. We didn’t know any different, but after a decade of making scrunchies to match lettered Champion sweatshirts, we in the biz were ready for a change.
And oh yes, the times, they have surely changed. Thanks to the internet, reality TV, and a global economy, trends come and go in the blink of an eye. As soon as we see one roll in, here comes another, as polar opposite as it can be. And because there’s so much overlap in trends, styles evolve rapidly, and just about everything is acceptable. How cool is that? If you’re preppy, fantastic. Lilly, Vera, popped collars, flats and flower prints are all the rage. Classic? Coach, riding boots, houndstooth, and argyle are probably for you. Are you a wild child (animal prints and heels) or a flower child (tie dye and peace signs)? Sparkly, goth, sporty or neon? Yep, that’s fun too. Heck, you can dress based on your personality, or just your mood. That same American Apparel v-neck tee with a little vinyl lettering design can go from class to gym. Wash it (please), throw on a scarf and blazer, and out for the night you go. It’s hard to go wrong….and we love it. Way to be Unique …..Happy shopping!
It’s amazing what advertising will do. Think about it: plenty of football fans (and non-fans, actually) are as excited about Super Bowl commercials as they are about the big game. Companies like McDonald’s and Pepsi are recognized the world over just by a glimpse of their logo. The big guys know a little something about getting the word out. But it doesn’t need to be complicated, and it’s not just for business. It works for organizations too.
So how do you get the word out about your organization?
- Be sure to post and tweet your events on social media….not just on your official page, but members should be getting in on the act as well on their personal pages
- Encourage members to volunteer in the community and wear letters while out there doing good
- Join in a cause you believe in, and bring along your brothers or sisters
- Donate! Give of your time, your resources, your canned goods, your used clothing, whatever you can in order to help those less fortunate.
- Share the good news. Post the positive happenings of your members or organization anywhere you can, be it scholastic, athletic or philanthropic
- Hang banners, post flyers and shout from the rooftops when your organization has a philanthropy event
- And by all means, WEAR YOUR LETTERS!
One real life example? When Unique Impressions opened its doors in 1988, more than a decade before web sites were born, the ONLY place to get Greek merchandise was the local or regional Greek store, followed by phone/catalog orders to those stores. It’s still the best place of course But since UD had no store, not nearly as many letter shirts were walking around campus. Once we opened our doors, and UD students had ready access to purchasing letters, the Greek population increased by 50% within 5 years. Of course, we’d love to say it was OUR letter shirts that made the difference, but the truth is, ANY letters worn on campus increases awareness about Fraternity and Sorority life. Show the administration, the community and campus what Greek life is really all about…..leadership, philanthropy, and community. Wear your letters proudly…in other words, advertise… and those around you will notice!