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“Be kind” is such a simple sentiment—nonpartisan, non-denominational, non-controversial. It’s sad that we might have to be reminded to “be kind,” but in these difficult times, it seems to have become more and more necessary.
One young Lebanon woman’s equally simple project—putting that sentiment on tablets and t-shirts in her own distinctive handwriting—has struck a resounding chord with area residents.
“Here’s an adult with Down syndrome that is so pure of heart and she’s spreading this message of positivity and people are embracing it,” Judy Leggat, mom and caregiver of 22-year-old Greer Leggat, said in a phone interview. “It gives her purpose.”
Leggat and husband Dave have two other adult children, Addy and Frances DiFabio. She spoke about Greer’s artistic bent.
“Greer started (painting) coasters and ornaments, because she’s a little crafty,” Leggat said. “And then, I was like, ‘Hey, why don’t we put her handwriting on tablets?’ So we contacted Cedar Crest High School and the teacher who does that printed out these tablets, and Greer went in and cut them.”
The tablets and other items are sold at Carriage House Style in Quentin, where Greer has worked since last spring.
“She introduces herself, she greets the customers, she shows them around the store,” Leggat said. “She sits at the register and tells people to look at her magnets and her shirts. It’s an unpaid position, but she gets to sell her items there.”
Jane Yorty has owned Carriage House Style since 2018 and has known Judy Leggat since high school; her two daughters went to school with Greer. She spoke about having Greer work there in a phone interview.
“She’ll help me with arrangements, she helps me with her stock, but for the most part, she’s there just putting on a bright face for people,” Yorty said.
“I’m really lucky to have her with me—she blesses me more than I probably bless her. I’m honored by her friendship. I think it makes me a better person. Having Greer around brings the best out of people.”
Yorty said many Carriage House Style customers make it a point to stop by when Greer is working.
“It comes from such a pure place, and people feel that when they come in and see her and meet her,” Yorty said.
“It’s fun and I enjoy myself,” Greer said about working at the store. “I get to greet the customers—it’s really been great!”
First, it was the tablets that took off, Yorty said.
“People were buying tablets (which are $4.95) at Christmastime, like 10 at a time, five at a time, 20 at a time—they were giving them as office gifts or stocking-stuffers,” she said. “They just liked the message and the fact that it came from Greer.”
Leggat then came up with the t-shirt idea. She had initially ordered 12, which she and her niece made by hand using a craft plotter to cut out Greer’s handwritten message and print it on the shirts.
“They were gone before they got [to the store],” she said. There was just this influx of orders.”
After Yorty put pictures of the shirts on social media, the demand really increased.
“I did over a hundred shirts right before Christmas—hand-did ironing with the Cricut vinyl—and I was ordering shirts from Amazon,” Leggat said. “I couldn’t keep up.”
After the New Year, Leggat started having the shirts made by Major League Screen Printing and Embroidery in Lebanon. An initial order of 100 was down to five in a week’s time; about 35 were used to satisfy backorders, she said. Over 200 have been sold to date, with another 109 in the works—half of which have already been sold.
“Yesterday, my first five customers were like, ‘Where’s Greer’s shirts?’” Yorty said. “I knew some of them knew her, but these shirts have started a movement—there’s people who have seen the posts and have seen part of her story and want to be a part of this.”
Not just people who know Greer, but total strangers, too.
“I have people coming in who have never met her—someone said they saw someone on Facebook with the shirt on,” Yorty said. “People are showing their shirts and posting them.”
Those social media posts also caught the attention of a large multinational corporation.
Last summer, Jenn Thompson, human resources manager for Vanity Fair Corporation (VF), saw pictures of the shirts on the store’s Facebook page and came by the store to meet Greer.
VF hopes to make up 10 percent of its workforce with adults with disabilities through a “Universal Design and Inclusion Program” at its distribution center in Jonestown, Leggat said. VF has partnered with another company, Viability, which teaches people with disabilities to work for VF.
On Jan. 7, Greer and her shirts became the face of the program.
“They were like, ‘We really want to use her ‘Be Kind’ [design], we want to get shirts for all our employees,’” Leggat said. “So we gave her the authority to use ‘Be Kind’ on a shirt, and they put the Vanity Fair logo and ‘Magic by Greer’ on the back.”
“Magic by Greer” is Greer’s Instagram account, created by her sister Frances.
VF then made a donation to Developmental and Disability Services of Lebanon Valley for using Greer’s message on their shirts, Leggat said.
Yorty said Greer’s work at her store echoes the stated goal of VF’s program. Working at Carriage House, Greer has had exposure to “all different people” who stop by the store.
“She has composure,” Yorty said. “All this comes so effortlessly now, it’s just right there for her.”
The social media shares led to even more inquiries. Both Lebanon County Special Olympics and Pennsylvania Special Olympics shared Carriage House’s postings. People from all over the state have ordered shirts, Leggat said, including friends from Allentown and Pittsburgh. Other friends will be wearing them in California, Maryland, and Virginia, and her daughters wear them in New York City and Miami, Fla.
“In the past week and a half, we were at the Bluebird and somebody approached us and was like, ‘How do I get a shirt?’” Leggat said. “We were at the Quentin Tavern and [another person] was like, ‘OK, I need to come get one.’ I don’t even know who that person is, it’s just been an outpouring of love.”
Yorty said the store has received ‘Be Kind’ inquiries from teachers at Union Canal and Henry Hauck elementary schools.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts growing as far as school representation,” she said.
The raglan baseball-style shirts are $27. A portion of the sales from each shirt goes to Lebanon County Special Olympics and to Developmental and Disability Services, where Leggat is a board member.
Aside from the shirts, Leggat has put the message on a few canvas tote bags and has discussed trying baseball hats and kids’ clothes (though some pieces have been done by request, such as onesies for friends’ infant children).
“We may expand on sayings,” Leggat said. “When I was doing them, we were doing ‘Be Awesome,’ ‘Be Happy,’ ‘Live Happy’—those may be in our future.”
The family is meeting with an attorney to figure out how to handle the growing demand for the shirts. The family needs to be mindful of how the venture impacts Greer, Leggat said.
With that in mind, the Leggats have also submitted an application to talk show host Ellen DeGeneres’ grant program for women entrepreneurs.
Apart from her artistic endeavors, Greer has a busy schedule.
She volunteers at Henry Hauck Elementary School once a week. She is going to be in a video presentation for Lebanon County’s Department of Mental Health Intellectual Disabilities observance of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March at Lebanon Council of the Arts.
She does bocce, bowling, and swimming with Special Olympics, and takes three classes at DDS: hip-hop dance, art, and nutrition and wellness.
How does she feel when she sees someone wearing one of her shirts?
“Very happy,” she said. “It makes me happy and full of joy!”
“She loves to see people in her shirts. She’s like, ‘You love my shirt, you’re wearing my shirt!’’” Leggat said. “She just thinks it’s great that everybody’s wearing her shirts. She doesn’t think beyond that because she’s just so pure of heart.”
As far as the future, Leggat said there are no expectations.
“We’re surprised already at how people have embraced this,” she said. “But we love it because she loves it so much.”
Do you have a message for Greer or want to be notified when the shirts are available again? Leave your message and contact info below, and we will share with the Magic by Greer team!
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