Using charming vintage images, Linda Hughes offers handmade items with a retro twist. She talks about overcoming hardship, and offering value to her customers.
ABI: Tell us how you got started, and what you offer in your collection.
LH: I use to have an online store called Monkey Bizness from 2007- 2011 (I made sock monkey dolls & baby items). I had to close my shop in 2011 due to my going blind. Then I re-opened my store in 2013.
Nowadays, I offer wristlet purses and notecards. I combine my interests in purses (one can never enough of them, can we?) vintage and retro images, graphic design and sewing to create my artfully handmade items. The products I create are truly a passion of mine and a labor of love.
ABI: You faced significant challenges as an artist. How did you overcome them?
LH: I was blind for almost two years. I am incredibly grateful to my family and friends who kept my spirits up, and to my longtime boyfriend who supported me while I was unable to work. In 2013, I had corrective eye surgery in both eyes and thankfully my vision was restored and only need reading glasses. Getting a second chance at sight, I was so ecstatic to getting back to work! I decided to set out on a new path, change my product line and recently changed my business name as well.
ABI: What strategies are you using to encourage more sales?
LH: Besides word of mouth, I use my notecards as thank you cards when mailing out orders to customers. Cards contain all my info on the back, so they provide a great way of spreading the news about my business and they see right away what I do!
I offer free gift wrapping on all my items. They are wrapped in pretty vintage style tissue paper, closed with a jeweled paper clip (which I make) and thank you note added. When it arrives, I want it to create a thrill and excitement by letting the customer open a beautifully wrapped item.
Other strategies I use:
- Giveaways- Usually give away 1 or 2 products from my product line at a time, or promo T-shirts with my business logo on them.
- Do commission work for wristlet purses and do graphic designs for banners, Facebook covers etc.
- I do farmers markets mostly all summer, indoor shows in the fall.
- Donate to charity on a regular basis. I am a firm believer in helping others and enjoy giving back.
- Thinking outside the box, I’ve been gradually listing my designs on Spoonflower.com. They will be available to purchase this fall in wallpaper, gift wrap or fabric.