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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 6:57 pm

First lady gets OK for home business

Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The State Ethics Commission cleared the way Thursday for first lady Karen Pence to run a small charm business out of the private living quarters of the governor’s residence.

The charms are similar to those used to differentiate wine glasses but are aimed at bath and beach towels.

Pence, an artist, sought an amendment to the personal use policy for the governor’s office and residence so that she could use a desk in her private quarters to assemble the charms.

They will be sold online, and her company will use a private post office box instead of the governor’s residence address.

"There’s nothing wrong with it," Ethics Commission member Peter Nugent said. "They have to live in the residence. And she can’t do it in the Statehouse. We can’t force her to rent space."

Mark Ahearn, general counsel for Gov. Mike Pence, said if the business would grow significantly, it will be moved off-site. He said no state computers or employees will be used.

The vote in support was unanimous.

Karen Pence formed the corporation That’s My Towel Charm Inc. in June, and a business website will launch in the coming days.

Spokeswoman Kara Brooks said the name is trademarked and the first lady has a utility patent pending. The product is 100 percent American-made.

An excerpt from the website provided by Brooks explained the product’s need.

"I have had so many times where I was swimming at a friend’s beach house, pool, or lake house, using their matching beautiful beach towels. Lo and behold, I would go in the water for a dip or up to the house for a beverage, and when I came back to my towel, it was gone! Someone else had grabbed my towel unknowingly … because all of the towels looked the same," Karen Pence wrote.

So she came up with the idea of a towel charm. She designed the charm holder that goes through the towel, and the company sells the charm holder and choice of charm.

"You can attach the charm holder to your bath or beach towel and identify it as your own. The goal is to eliminate having to wash towels every day because no one knows which towel is theirs," she wrote. "It saves time and money and helps get the bathroom organized. And they are adorable!"