Letter Love

Debbie McCarthy Whyte embroiders blankets, clothes—you name it—at her Chevy Chase store

After running Whyte House Monograms out of her basement, Debbie McCarthy Whyte opened a shop for her business about a year ago.

It all started with sports equipment. In 1996, Silver Spring native Debbie McCarthy Whyte had three kids playing sports—and they could not stop losing their gear.

“It made me crazy,” Whyte says. “I thought if I could get their names on their bags, the bags might come back home again.”

And so the idea that led to Whyte House Monograms was born. Now, using state-of-the-art embroidery machines, Whyte adds personalized designs—from simple block serif initials to elaborate family crests—to blankets, cosmetics cases, baby clothes and more. (She also has a machine to emboss acrylic pieces such as soap dishes; an outside partner etches her glass decanters and champagne flutes.) Until recently, she monogrammed anywhere from 15 to 50 pieces a day in the basement of her home in the Kenwood neighborhood of Chevy Chase. When the opportunity arose in May 2017 to “pop up” for a month in the former Christian Dior boutique space in The Collection at Chevy Chase, she went for it. One year later, she has a permanent lease for her inviting bright-white storefront on Wisconsin Avenue’s poshest retail corridor. She and eight part-time employees help customers choose from a variety of gifts in the store or add a personalization to their own items.

Whyte’s love for all things initials began long before she turned it into a full-time job. “I don’t know if it was the era I grew up in, but everyone had [monogrammed items],” she says. “But I was one of nine [siblings], so I didn’t.” When it came time for her own children, Whyte knew the opposite would be true. She picked her daughter’s name—Morgan McCarthy Whyte—precisely for the monogram. Done in script in traditional monogram style, “MWM” is considered one of the most elaborate—and thereby most beautiful—initial sets.

Whyte, 60, began her business by doing monogramming jobs for friends on a standard Sears sewing machine before buying a commercial monogramming machine. She grew her customer base by participating in as many as 40 charity shows per year at local schools. Eventually, the other White House came calling: Whyte has monogrammed pillows for the residence, the robe Vice President Joe Biden gave to Ellen DeGeneres for her 57th birthday in 2015, and, most recently, the FLOTUS cap Melania Trump wore to visit Hurricane Harvey victims.


(The Cool Way to Monogram)

When it comes to positioning, “anywhere but the left chest is cool now,” Whyte says. These days, clients mostly ask for monograms on the tails and upper arms of shirts, and along the back bottom of athletic shorts. They’re not always asking for initials. Inspired by U.S. Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin’s Super Bowl commercial, the acronym A.B.F.T.T.B.—always be faster than the boys—is one of Whyte’s most popular requests for girls sports equipment.

5471-E Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, 301-657-5073, whytehousemonograms.com



Treat Yourself

The latest in noninvasive beauty and wellness treatments from Bethesda-area spas and salons.

Getty Images.



Erwin Gomez has done makeup for Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Nancy Pelosi and Rosario Dawson. Some of the most well-heeled women in Washington, D.C., call on him for meticulously sculpted eyebrows. Now, along with longtime business partner Sab Shad, he offers his services in Montgomery County at a second location of his Karma by Erwin Gomez salon, which opened in April at Park Potomac (Gomez will split his time between the Potomac and D.C. salons). With a new location comes a new service: the cranberry smoothing treatment. Using two fan brushes for a dual massage, an aesthetician applies a gel made from organic cranberries (a natural source of vitamin C) and fruit enzymes under a steady flow of steam to boost moisture retention and help smooth and brighten skin. Add the 15-minute treatment to a facial for $50 (face) or $70 (face and décolletage).

12430 Park Potomac Ave., R13, Potomac, 301-720-0320, karmaerwingomez.com



Earlier this year, Nava Health & Vitality Center in Chevy Chase introduced a microneedling session with hyaluronic acid. After applying a topical numbing treatment, an aesthetician uses a roller or pen to make dozens of tiny needle pricks in the skin. These microscopic controlled “injuries” to the skin stimulate a natural healing response. New collagen forms to plump the skin, thereby minimizing fine lines and improving the look of acne scars and pigmentation. Hyaluronic acid, a moisture-binding compound that occurs naturally in the human body but diminishes with age, is administered before the needling process to boost the plumping effect. The one-hour sessions are $495 ($350 for members).
5 Wisconsin Circle, Chevy Chase, 301-795-0800, navacenter.com



Facial rejuvenation acupuncture will be available starting in May at newly expanded Ohana Wellness in Bethesda. (The business recently doubled its square footage and added two acupuncturists, three massage therapists and three treatment rooms.) After an initial appointment that will focus on health history, the 45-minute sessions will include a combination of facial acupuncture needles (10 to 20 are typically applied per treatment), miniature 1- to 2-centimeter versions of the suction cups used in cupping therapy, and a jade gua sha massage tool to stimulate blood flow to and circulation in the face. The results will be subtler than those from surgery or fillers, but Armeta Dastyar, who will be administering the sessions, says benefits include brighter, plumper skin, wrinkle prevention and reduced sagging around the eyes. $215 for first session, $125 per subsequent session; six to eight sessions are recommended to see full results.
4815 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda, 301-215-6388, ohanawellnessbethesda.com



The much-buzzed-about beauty treatment called dermaplaning was introduced at Ninotch in April. Using a sterile surgical blade held at a 45-degree angle, aestheticians gently scrape the top layer of dead skin off the face. (For this reason, dermaplaning is typically offered as a 20- to 30-minute pretreatment add-on to facials and peels, as a fresh layer of skin allows for increased penetration of the active ingredients in the peels.) For women in their 20s and 30s, dermaplaning helps with smoother makeup applications. For women 40 and above (the age group Ninotch owner Tatiana Tchamouroff most recommends it for), dermaplaning also serves as a less painful alternative to laser hair removal when it comes to getting rid of peach fuzz. $50 per treatment.
8301 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 301-913-0345, ninotch.com



When used outside of a medical setting, IV therapy gets a bad rap (perhaps unfairly). Yes, it first gained national attention as a quick hangover cure for hard partiers in Vegas, but it’s also been used since March at Bethesda’s Rejuvenate MedSpa to rehydrate overworked athletes and boost immunity during flu season. At Rejuvenate, clients get comfortable with pillows and blankets before being hooked up intravenously to a saline solution mixed with various vitamins and minerals. The saline drip hydrates on a cellular level, with the intent of leaving exhausted and energy-depleted marathon runners and business travelers feeling as refreshed as they would after a full night’s sleep—or several liters of water. According to chief practitioner Margaret Rajnic, an added jolt of vitamin C works to bump up the immune system, while vitamin B and dextrose
give an extra burst of energy. $250 per
45-minute session.
7201 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 450, Bethesda, 301-241-0030, rejuvenatemaryland.com



If your skin is still showing the effects of harsh cold-weather winds, try the seasonal detox facial at Red Bloom Wellness Spa in Bethesda. The 75-minute treatment incorporates burdock root, red clover, green tea and dandelion to help repair and refresh dull, dry skin. A final layer of hyaluronic acid is applied to help lock in moisture. The whole thing winds down with a calming facial and upper body massage while healing crystals are placed on the body’s seven chakras, or energy centers—an added bonus if you believe in the powers of crystals. $140 per treatment.
7215 Arlington Road, Suite 201, Bethesda, 301-907-9001, theredbloom.com