UIW alumnae entrepreneurs are never out of style

When Yvette Shipley ’82 BBA started her own business in 2004, she never dreamt the entrepreneurial spark would also ignite in her daughter someday. Yvette founded Ibettink, a wholesale stationary line with custom-made artwork she designed and produced herself.

“I’ve amassed 1,200 pieces of artwork created for our stationary line. Everything is hand drawn,” she noted. “I have a digital press printer, so when I scan my artwork and print it, each reproduced piece looks hand painted.”
Yvette’s love of everything paper started in high school, when she worked at Olmos Pharmacy and fell in love with stationary.

“I loved all the different patterns and designs. When I started my business, I visited New York City and observed other similar businesses, which gave me the confidence to move forward with my idea. Owning your own business is the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. But it’s also the most rewarding,” she said.

For 10 years, Yvette fulfilled wholesale orders of luggage tags, notecards and bookmarks; basically anything made with paper. She found venues around San Antonio to set up temporary sales kiosks before eventually opening her first brick and mortar store, Ibettink Embroidery, Invitations and Gifts.

“About three years ago, we added embroidering services and are currently obtaining our license to do embroidering work for different departments at UIW. It’s big news for us,” she said. “UIW will be our first collegiate venture and we plan to expand to other universities soon.”

Her daughter, Alexandra Shipley ’14 BA, who studied communication arts at UIW, had a unique business opportunity that came to her while she was working at a local men’s clothing retailer in high school. The idea for Not Your Daddy’s Ties, known as NYDT, was born out of a need for stylish ties geared toward younger men.

UIW alumnae entrepreneurs are never out of style“When boys would come to rent tuxedos, I was constantly asked for other tie options. Unfortunately, there weren’t any. One night, I was talking to my mom about creating a line of ties for young guys and selling them in the shop. It would be another six years before we’d even start NYDT, but sometimes dreams follow you because they’re meant to be,” Alexandra said.

It was a happy coincidence that connected Yvette with business partner Susie Cabrera McKinlay ’10 BA. Both ladies were showcasing their products at a vendor event in San Antonio. Yvette approached McKinlay, to see if she might have any connections for manufacturing men’s bowties.

“Yvette explained her daughter Alexandra had designed some fun bowties and they were now searching for a manufacturer,” McKinlay recalled. “We all met to talk … and eventually I started to get more involved with the designs, as well. One day they invited me into the business. It’s a wonderful feeling to have business partners as friends and to work with people you trust.”

McKinlay, who graduated from UIW with a Chinese minor, is no stranger to forging new ground. She owns two other businesses: HKD Custom, featuring custom made garments for men and Fiesta Feet, colorful handmade huaraches from Mexico.

“I just love entrepreneurship,” she said. “My role with NYD is more behind the scenes, as I’m working with manufacturers. With HKD, I used to live in Hong Kong and built up my business plan there. I worked with a tailor in Hong Kong and began to work with Egyptian fabrics.”

Together the trio all own NYDT. Alexandra created the names for the bow ties, designed the website and continues to oversee the social media accounts for the business. The ties are a hit with customers of all ages, through web sales, as well as in-store sales at Ibettink.

But fate has a way of twisting and turning. The day after the new store in San Antonio opened last year, Alexandra received a call from UIW for a job interview. Now, she works for UIW’s School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM), as an admissions recruiter.

“I travel and recruit for UIWSOM in Texas and surrounding states, give presentations to pre-med and pre-health societies, and attend conferences. I still work for Ibettink on weekends when my mom needs design work done,” Alexandra said.

UIW alumnae entrepreneurs are never out of style

Cabrera’s business Fiesta Feet bring handmade huaraches from Mexico to San Antonio.

Yvette has some words of advice for those hesitant but interested in starting their own business.

“Set realistic expectations for yourself. You would be surprised how many people are happy to help you. I’m the type of person who would help you learn something in 10 minutes, something it took me two years to learn. I believe in helping as many people as possible,” she said.

The future’s looking bright for the tie business. They are currently in the process of negotiating the placement of their ties in a large retailer with locations across Texas.

“An exciting concept is coming for the ties and we’re optimistic about what the future holds for us,” Yvette added.

Alexandra said working alongside her mother is a blessing.

“It truly is a giant blessing to work with someone as beautiful and strong as my mother,” she said. “My mom has taught me so much, not only about how to run and manage a business, but she’s also taught me how to stand up for myself, how to be a strong-willed, graceful, silly, dedicated, driven and compassionate woman, and how to find my passions in life.”

Ibettink Embroidery, Invitations and Gifts is located at 16600 Huebner Road in San Antonio. Visit Not Your Daddy’s Ties at www.notyourdaddysties.com

Story by Rebecca Esparza ’99 BBA ’03 MBA
Photos by Steve Holloway