In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought an end to nearly every aspect of Laura Floyd’s life. Now a graduate of the University of Georgia, her income from part-time work in concert halls while studying in Athens was interrupted. Revisiting a passion for embroidery she discovered in high school, Floyd used her free time to sew embroidered clothing for friends, revamping her brand, Dirty South Stitches.
Over the past year, with the help of the Atlanta Braves winning the World Series, UGA winning the national championship, as well as securing stands in various markets in Athens and Atlanta, the Floyd’s small business has exploded and continues to gain popularity in the hearts of the Athens community.
In 2017, Floyd had his mind set on college. After deciding to attend UGA, Floyd began saving the money she earned as a babysitter for an embroidery machine.
“I was like, ‘Okay, I need a hustle, I need a job at UGA and I’m going to UGA where the Greek life is the most prevalent thing in all the time.’ What do girls like? Monograms,” Floyd said, so she started sewing Greek letters onto sweatshirts.
This plan helped Floyd discover his passion for embroidery. She also focused on making money and honing her desire to create her own music-based merchandise.
After debating the name of his new embroidery business, Floyd and a friend decided on the name Dirty South Stitches.
“It kind of takes that Atlanta swagger, the southern swagger. Because I think when people think of embroidery, they think of cute little grandma flowers. I feel like people don’t think it’s that kind of cool stuff,” Floyd said. “No, it’s not your grandmother’s embroidery.”
Although Floyd bought his first embroidery machine in 2017, Dirty South Stitches’ early days pale in comparison to his current business operations. At first, Floyd occasionally sold her clothes on Depop and made sweatshirts for her friends, but she didn’t depend on it to make money until early 2020.
After designing a simple UGA-themed sweatshirt, she sent it to a group chat of her all-girl music fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota, and found that several people were interested in buying some. a.
“One of Laura’s biggest values for Dirty South is that it’s affordable for students. She packs it, hand-delivers it. She’s really hands-on,” said third-year student Liv Paniagua at UGA and Dirty South Stitches intern.
Thinking of his clientele, Floyd credits UGA’s Redcoat Marching Band with a tremendous helping hand in promotion.
For Yara Manasrah, second-year sousaphone player in the Redcoat Band, wearing Dirty South Stitches means more than just a sweatshirt. “I’m a first-generation college student, I’m a first-generation American. I like being able to represent the brand. I love being able to represent UGA,” Manasrah said.
In late October 2021, as Georgia State celebrated and anxiously watched the Atlanta Braves’ World Series appearance against the Houston Astros, Floyd turned on his embroidery machine and began creating commemorative sweatshirts.
“With the Atlanta sweatshirt, I didn’t want to do something like ‘Braves win the 2021 national championship’, I wanted something subtle that you could wear in Atlanta, another place, a Braves game where people go, “Oh, that’s cool merch! said Floyd of the inspiration behind his World Series sweatshirt.
After 41 years, UGA clinched a National Championship title in early 2022, and in addition to celebrating UGA’s historic win over one of its toughest rivals, the hunt for championship merchandise and memorabilia national started. Once again, Floyd found himself at his embroidery machine, crafting party goods for his beloved alma mater.
“I had something ready for when we won the national championship,” Floyd said.
Floyd’s inspiration behind Dirty South’s “Natty” crewneck was a play on UGA quarterback Stetson Bennett’s “The Mailman” moniker and his vintage-style approach to national championship merchandising touched an agreement with Dirty South customers.
Asked about the impact of winning the UGA National Championship on the Dirty South brand, Floyd said, “By far my biggest selling week was ‘Natty’ week. The night the ‘Natty’ crewnecks went on sale, they went up at midnight and I woke up to $1,500 worth of Natty merch sales.
Dirty South has collaborated with several bars and breweries in Athens to host pop-up shops where certain wares are sold while customers can sip and shop.
In addition to Dirty South’s collaborations with local businesses, Floyd has taken his small businesses outside of Athens. In February 2022, she traveled to Atlanta for the Atlanta Crafters Market, selling Dirty South sweatshirts and other clothing to customers other than her typical Athens buyers.
For the future of Dirty South, Floyd wants to expand his market and customer base by making products for schools other than UGA. “I want to build Dirty South until it’s ready to fly,” Floyd said.