Nuts & Bolls Clothing. Find it at www.nutsandbollsclothing.com. You may need to do a double-take, no bolts about it. A tribute to farm life, the name describes a logo of a peanut, an ampersand and a cotton boll appearing on T-shirts, caps and other items.
Meagan Williams launched her home-based business on the Internet less than two months ago and has already gained a toehold in some brick-and-mortar stores. Nuts & Bolls is also an example of a business committed to a purpose beyond just making money for its owner. A 23-year-old with a master's in accounting from Georgia Southern University - and before that a BBA from Georgia Southern and an associate's degree in business from East Georgia College - lives in Swainsboro near the farm where she grew up.
"I just feel like God gives everybody a passion, and I feel like what he makes you passionate about is your job on earth," Williams said. "Obviously I'm passionate about agriculture. Agriculture is important to me. I realize that farming is the backbone of our nation, and a lot of people don't realize that."
She chose peanuts and cotton as emblems of an agricultural heritage movement she wants to foster. They are the main crops grown by her father, Darrell Williams, and her brother, Josh.
She and her mother, Tracy, make most of the items Nuts & Bolls sells. They screen print the T-shirts, including the regular ones in solid colors with the Nuts & Bolls logo, as well as a "Gone Huntin'" variation in camouflage and a kids wear collection. They also cut and sew the bowties, which sport cotton and peanut icons but no ampersands. Williams custom ordered that pattern from a fabric supplier.
They even make the Nuts & Bolls koozies - in other words, can cozies - and tote bags. The caps and dog collars are outsourced.
Williams has pledged 10 percent of her profits to the Georgia FFA Foundation, also based in Swainsboro. What was once known as the Future Farmers of America is now the National FFA Organization, but still promotes agricultural education and leadership development through chapters in schools. Williams was an FFA member at Swainsboro High.
"I chose the Georgia FFA Foundation because I just feel like agricultural education is vital," she said. "Agriculture is the backbone of our nation, and we need to expose students at a young age to agriculture. ... But it's not all about agriculture. It's about leadership. It's about values. It's just a good organization that teaches a lot of life skills. It's just important to instill morals and values, leadership, hard work."
Katrina Jones, executive director of the Georgia FFA Foundation, confirmed that Williams recently sent in Nuts & Bolls' first monthly pledge check.
The Georgia FFA Foundation provides cash awards for FFA students statewide and also funds state winners' trips to national competitions. Awards in 130 different programs total almost $500,000 a year, Jones said. Some larger, long-established businesses, such as Georgia's Electric Membership Corporations, are also regular contributors.
Internet sales during Nuts & Bolls first six weeks have exceeded Williams' expectations, she said. She has filled some orders from outside Georgia, although most have been in-state. She has also moved products through two retailers - Roche Farm & Garden in Dublin and Bella's Boutique in Bainbridge - and is adding Lasseter Implement Co. in Lyons this week.
Bella's Boutique contacted her. But Williams is reaching out to agricultural retailers such as Roche and Lasseter. She wants to expand her sales in this way. But she also has a full-time accounting job with an established business, and plans to keep her day job.
So how did she get started with an Internet business?
Williams cleared her domain name through Domain.com and built her own website through the web hosting service Go Daddy.
Using a company Go Daddy recommended, she set up a merchant account so that Nuts & Bolls can accept credit and debit card payments online, without the need of working through PayPal.
A Facebook page, available free to businesses, has been one of her main ways of getting Nuts & Bolls Clothing noticed. The other has been by word of mouth. Friends and relatives have gotten noticed, and noticed other customers, wearing her caps and T-shirts at places such as the Georgia National Fair in Perry.
Many things seem to have fallen into place, but not without plenty of determination, and long hours, such as those spent on the phone with Go Daddy tech support.
"I could have got frustrated and said ‘I give up' and quit, but you don't need to do that," Williams said. "You need to push on. You need to get the answers. You need to keep doing everything within your power to bring your mission to life."