Give more than gifts this season with customized presents

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published December 4, 2019

 A bit of embroidery can turn an everyday item like a button-up shirt into a  personalized gift.

A bit of embroidery can turn an everyday item like a button-up shirt into a personalized gift.

Photo provided by Perfect Fit Tailoring

METRO DETROIT — Hey, gift cards are great.

But sometimes, a holiday gift needs to have a more distinctive touch. A personalized item can sometimes say what plastic can’t: You’re unlike anyone else.

Having a piece of jewelry engraved has always been a great way to personalize a gift, and Michel Massoud, of Massoud Jewelers in Troy, has been carving sentiments into silver, gold and platinum for decades. Just like everything else, though, times have changed and technology has improved upon old-fashioned engraving. These days, Massoud said, customers want “photograving.”

“We can imprint someone’s face right onto a pendant,” he explained. “You give us a photo and we can have it ready in a couple days.”

Think of photograving as a modern take on the traditional locket, which allows the wearer to keep a photo of a loved one near their heart on a piece of jewelry, or a set of cufflinks, a keychain or other keepsake.

“It’s huge,” Massoud said. “We did one just recently where this family had two losses, one right after the other. Mom had passed away, and brother was a military guy and he had died. So they gave me a photo of mom and brother, and I photograved it onto a necklace. It’s a really close family, and it just meant the world to them.”

Photograved pieces can be engraved on the back too.

Why stop at just personalizing jewelry when you can gift an entire ensemble created just for someone special? Nasser Dabaja, at Perfect Fit Tailors in Birmingham, gets requests year-round from customers who want to have their shirts, suits and jackets designed and crafted to their exact measurements. Simply adding an embroidered monogram to apparel can take the look up a notch.

“We do a few orders for Christmas for custom shirts with initials on the cuffs, monogrammed handkerchiefs, jackets,” Dabaja said. “It shows that it’s not off the rack; it’s made for that person.”

Sometimes, the personalization isn’t in the monogram, but rather in the mission. Wayne State University police officer Margie Springer partnered with Detective Brad Rougeau, of the Ann Arbor Police Department, to create Blue Line Custom Shirts, a selection of made-to-order clothing and accessories with Detroit-centric designs supporting police, fire and military personnel.

“Mainly, the apparel we make is for the spouses, children and parents of police officers. They’re mainly trying to show their support, and we can add last names and things like that, but people mostly come to us because our merchandise is unique to Detroit,” Springer said.

Blue Line Customs isn’t just about encouraging local first responders with cool hats and T-shirts featuring the Old English D with a blue line through it. Springer said the company was founded as a way to raise money for an officer who was killed in the line of duty.

That’s still the goal for bluelinecustomshirts.com.

“We created a shirt so we could donate all the proceeds to the family of Detroit police officer Glenn Doss, and now we work a great deal with the Collin Rose Memorial Fund, which was created for fallen Wayne State police officer Collin Rose,” she said, adding that the proceeds from holiday sales will go to benefit the family of Detroit police officer Rasheen McClain, who was killed in a shootout while responding to a domestic violence complaint.

“Being a police officer is a brotherhood (and) sisterhood, so there’s a lot of camaraderie out there. We look out for each other and each other’s families,” Springer explained. “Once we realized that people were really into our clothes, we wanted to expand our initial merchandise so it appealed to all ages. It’s a means for fundraising, but also to bring awareness to the dangerous reality of being a police officer.”