Art Director | P&M Apparel | Polk City, Iowa
Age: 34 | Years in the Industry: 6 full time
Philanthropic Work: Helped develop PM Impact, P&M’s give-back venture; started a community garden in her backyard that donates fresh produce to refugee organizations, homeless shelters, and food banks; has served as a licensed foster parent for three years, developing a foster care ministry and supply-lending closet at her church and creating an annual father-daughter dance fundraiser.
As a third-generation member of a family-owned business, Megan Griffith has been surrounded by ink, squeegees, and T-shirts for as long as she can remember. Griffith studied graphic design and graphic journalism at Grand View University and has worked as a designer for going on 12 years. Six years ago, Griffith joined the family business, P&M Apparel, as a full-time art director, encouraging everyone at the shop to think outside of the box and experimenting with specialty inks and processes. Her love of specialty printing is rivaled only by her passion for community building; Griffith was named 2017 Businessperson of the Year by the Polk City Chamber of Commerce in recognition of her efforts to promote local business and community.
What drew you to joining the family business?
My grandparents started P&M Apparel 32 years ago and my mother took over ownership seven years ago. While I have screen printed here off and on since I was 16 – I’ve been slinging ink, counting shirts, or hooping for embroidery machines as needed for the family business since I was a kid – I didn’t have a lot of interest in joining the family business until about six years ago when several things fell in to place. I love coming in to work every day with opportunities to stretch as a creator and find new ways to help clients deliver their message.
You’re always pushing the boundaries at your shop by seeking out new art directions, techniques, and processes. What are some examples of recent trailblazing applications? Is there a specific project or style that you’d consider your favorite?
One of my favorite experiments has been developing a beer-infused plastisol with our production czar after considering ways we could take branding to the next level with our craft beer clients. It took a lot of experimenting and researching, using chemistry we hadn’t tapped into since high school. We can now take a specific beer from a specific brewery and develop an ink with it. Branding doesn’t get more detailed than that. I’m always watching fashion and retail trends to see how we can push our design and methods to do things you can’t find anywhere else.
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
I’m part of a phenomenal team that has doubled annual sales for P&M Apparel since I started six years ago, just by being passionate about what we do and having a strong desire to help our clients. Because of this growth, we’ve been able to develop PM Impact, a give-back venture of P&M Apparel that helps our community. I think it’s really important to use success to give back, and I like that we focus on doing it on a local level so you know the people and see directly where the giving goes. PM Impact started as a way to streamline T-shirt fundraising, but has evolved into an opportunity for us to dig deep in our community and make some amazing relationships – without looking for a profit.
Every year we host a Monster Dash, where we raise money for families in Polk City affected by cancer through a 5K costume fun run. We donate 100 percent of proceeds to two families each year and have been able to hand over several big checks to families that could use the support. We donated a custom-built bike to a little boy so he could experience a normal childhood despite his medical complications. We gave back to several organizations that came in looking to do a T-shirt fundraiser and walked away with way more than they expected. We surprise teachers with school supplies, jump in to help local events when we can, and constantly look for opportunities to help other people. I love being able to take something as small as making T-shirts and turning it into a part of something much bigger, and I love that everyone on the team has the drive to volunteer their time, resources, and attention to doing it.
Tell us more about your philanthropic work.
I would say I tend to drive people close to me crazy with my big ideas. Usually those ideas come from when I see a need and have to do something about it. I started a community garden in my backyard four or five years ago with the idea that the harvests could be donated to refugee organizations, homeless shelters, and food banks after realizing these groups don’t typically see a lot of healthy and fresh produce, which in turn causes a lot more medical issues down the road. Our first year, the garden was over 1200 square feet, and it has grown every year. Last year, my husband and I moved to a small acreage with the intent of using the larger amount of space to expand the garden even further. It’s been very therapeutic to dig in the dirt after a long day and so rewarding to watch my kids learn how to grow food and then help other people with that food. Friends and family come help as they can and I usually send them away with arms full of food as a thank you.
Our new house also helps us as foster parents because it’s got so much more space for future placements. My husband and I are going into our third year as licensed foster parents after a brief break to have our daughter. In typical Megan fashion, I have to go big, so I’ve helped develop a foster care ministry and lending closet at my church, and developed an annual daddy-daughter dance that brings in at least 500 daddy and daughter couples. The dance not only encourages that relationship, but also raises money for my church’s adoption fund.
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