Two Dunwoody sisters have turned their love of their hometown into a profitable business. Their business, Dunwoody Outfitters, launched shortly before Christmas with one product – a long-sleeved t-shirt in one color, imprinted front and back with a slogan and images that have become the unofficial symbols of Dunwoody.
They are obviously onto something because so many people ordered their shirts they quickly sold out of their first run and had to order more to meet the unexpected demand.
The sisters, Laura Lawson Duncan, a dual-magnet eleventh-grade student in the math/science and performing arts/dance magnet programs at North Springs Charter High School, and Dabney Duncan, a ninth-grader at Dunwoody High School, are aided in the business by their mother, Sarah. Laura Lawson is currently vice-president of distribution, and Dabney is vice-president of marketing.
“We’re still in negotiations about my title,” said Sarah.
Regardless of their titles, the two teens run the company, which was inspired by a project Laura Lawson worked on for her middle-school Girl Scout Silver Badge. That was a short-sleeved t-shirt printed on the front with the slogan “It’s all good in the ‘Wood’” along with a map of Georgia and a star marking Dunwoody. The profits went to a local charity.
“We were very successful with that shirt,” said Laura Lawson, “and quickly realized there is a big demand for Dunwoody apparel. We love our hometown, and apparently a lot of other people do too.”
In fact, the shirt was so popular that people in the intervening years often asked Laura Lawson if they ever planned to make any more of them. So, she and Dabney decided to start a company based loosely on the same idea. The front of their navy-blue shirt is printed simply with the words “Dunwoody” and “Est. 2008.”
On the back are line-art drawings of two familiar Dunwoody symbols: a “five-four-and-a-door” two-story house and the Cheek-Spruill House, best known as “the Dunwoody Farm House.”
Beneath the drawings sits one line of copy all in caps: WHERE EVERYTHING WILL BE OK – the girls’ version of the sign that has graced the side of the old seed house behind the Spruill Art Gallery on Ashford-Dunwoody Road since 2009.
They started their company without a website or a brick-and-mortar location, doing business with only an Instagram account and an email address. They spread the word through social media and had a button on their Instagram account that allowed people to purchase using an iTunes money app called Venmo. When necessary, they would take a check and hand-deliver a shirt.
To jumpstart their business, they sent an email announcement to Dunwoody Councilor John Heneghan, who had been an enthusiastic supporter of the Girl Scout project. He immediately bought three of their new shirts and posted a photo of him and his wife modeling the front and back on his Instagram account and blog with Dunwoody Outfitters’ email and Instagram addresses.
“Mr. Heneghan was our first customer,” said Laura Lawson. “Thanks to his post, we sold all 30 of our first run in three days.”
At press time, half their larger second shipment has already sold out. Sales are a lot easier for them now because of their new website that allows online payment through Pay Pal - an arrangement that frees them from their initial time-consuming manual process.
And saving time means a lot for both the sisters and their mother – whose schedules would be heavy even without running a business. In addition to schoolwork, Laura Lawson dances with the North Springs Dance Company, is on the swim team, volunteers with the National Charity League and still belongs to the Girl Scouts. If all of that isn’t enough, she maintains a GPA high enough to be a member of National Honor Society.
Younger sister, Dabney, is equally busy as a Dunwoody High School cheerleader who also plays lacrosse and is a member of student government, the Girls Scouts and the National Charity League.
While the girls are time-managing their many activities, their mother is doing the same, working full time at Wells Fargo and volunteering with her girls with the National Charity League.
Dunwoody Outfitters is a true hometown family business. The girls’ father, Bo, an attorney, is their legal advisor. Their grandfather, Bob Ramsay, was their website “guinea pig” and their first website customer. And the shirts were designed and produced by Paige Ackaway, a family friend and owner of RJ Ackaway and Associates of Dunwoody.
“My daughter and Laura Lawson have been in the same Girl Scout troop, led by Laura Lawson’s mom since kindergarten,” said Ackaway. “I also helped with their successful All Good in the ‘Wood’ t-shirt project a few years ago.”
Despite all of their activities, the girls plan to use the time they gained by having their website do the selling to expand their business by adding more colors and a short-sleeved version of their shirt, plus other Dunwoody-themed items as time allows.
The girls were pleased and surprised by their early success, but even more so by the people of Dunwoody.
“I was really surprised at how excited people were that we came back with more shirts and how much support we’ve gotten from the community,” said Laura Lawson. “People keep asking to post their picture on our Instagram account wearing our shirt.”
“I was most surprised to see how much people love Dunwoody and how dedicated they are to showing how they love this town,” said Dabney.
Shirts are available for purchase at dunwoodyoutfitters. com.