Spurred on by a need for storage and upcycling, Lu & Ed was founded in 2009 by Punky Mom Family member, Cody. With help from her rock n’ roll kid she keeps the business going from their home in Asheville, North Carolina. This mama is passionate about being zero waste by using discarded textiles. Cody’s quirky monsters are just what you need to get organized. Don’t forget to grab one to cuddle too.
When was your company founded and where are you based?
I started making monsters in 2009 in Kansas City – now we live in a tiny house in Asheville, NC & I create monsters in a small workspace in the corner of my bedroom.
How many are involved in your small business?
Just me! I am the monster making mama behind Lu & Ed, but my 11 year old son Gauge helps out quite a bit sometimes! It’s awesome, this all started because of him & he still plays a role in it almost 8 years later. He helps with things like turning & stuffing monster bits, packing orders, post office runs & a few other things, but his favorite helper task is helping me source materials from textile discards.
What inspired you to start your own company?
I had always dreamed of owning a handmade business, but never thought it would really happen. It all started with these Mon-stors I made for my son when he was three. We were living in a tiny one bedroom basement apartment in Kansas City, and we had very little storage space and minimal floor space for storage solutions. One night, around 2am (when all the best ideas strike, of course) I had this crazy idea to make my son, who was just 3 years old then, some hanging toy storage solutions – in the shape of monsters that he could feed, so he would actually use them! The next day I set to work drafting a pattern & creating a prototype on a borrow sewing machine. They turned out great (my son still uses them to this day!) and after I posted them online, I immediately started getting requests for them. Each time I posted one I made for someone, more and more requests rolled in. I kept filling orders & within a few months was able to quit my day job. I eventually launched a blog, then a few months later, a shop. It all started by making my son some toy storage solutions, and it evolved into this totally zero waste, ecological handmade toy business with me sewing hundreds of monsters each year over the next few years. I never really thought “I should start a business” – it just sort of unfolded into this beautiful, sustainable business that has grown organically over the years.
Did you have a background in business prior to starting your company?
No, not exactly. I had worked in retail & customer service for about 7 years prior to making my first monster. My experiences in the retail industry did help shape the business Lu & Ed would grow to be. Being sustainable has always been very important to me, and working in retail I knew first hand how much environmental harm was caused by mainstream retail. My desire to be sustainable and make as little of an impact on the environment as possible after my experiences working in retail naturally carried over as Lu & Ed developed into an actual business – each monster I make is handcrafted from textile discards (table cloths, blankets, pajamas, sheets, clothing, robes, curtains or fabric that would otherwise end up in a landfill) that are locally sourced from textile distribution facilities, thrift stores & donations. I save all the fabric from cutting out my big Mon-stors and make stuffed monsters, and all the scraps from them I dice up & blend with polyfil for stuffing, so there’s no waste from the production of Mon-stors going into landfills. All of this just sort of grew into every day practices for me – I never wrote a formal business plan or “mission statement”, had never worked in a sustainable business before. It just felt like it was the right direction to go in.
Did you run into any problems or resistance while launching?
No real problems or resistance… Hmmm. Learning to navigate the craft show circuit was probably my biggest hurdle starting out. There are so many moving parts to doing events. They are much more overwhelming and it took me probably a year of doing several subpar shows before I found my groove and started selling well at shows. Once I perfected my displays & really learned to communicate with show-goers, I fell in love with the craft show circuit & started doing big name events!
How do you get the most out of your day?
As a stay at home, homeschooling mama with a tween & a young baby, it isn’t always easy, but almost 8 years into this, I have a few tricks. Staying hydrated, well rested and meditating on positive & empowering thoughts are my self care go-to’s for staying inspired and motivated, which makes it a lot easier to stay on top of things as a mama, maker & small business owner! Since Zoey is most content in the early mornings right after waking up, I set up my computer by her & tackle the online parts of my business before Gauge wakes up. Once he’s up & settled into his lessons, I put Zoey in a baby carrier and get to work in my studio space & sew as the day allows.
Some days I achieve a lot more than others, but each day is a prize because I’m so lucky to be able to stay home, doing what I love, and spending each day doing my most important work – raising two outstanding, kind and caring kids!
How is your family a part of your business choices?
I’m a workaholic, so it’s easy for me to get caught up in the busyness of running my little shop
What music inspires you?
My favorite Pandora station to jam to while I sew is The Gaslight Anthem. A blend of indie rock, Johnny Cash and the likes, and a little dash of punk and pop.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
I love to be outside – gardening, hiking, playing at the river, gathering with friends and loved ones around a bon fire…
Those are all some of my most favorite ways to spend my time!
What do you see in the future for your shop?
I am hoping to add a part-time assistant eventually to help with things like stuffing monster bits & sewing stuffed monsters shut, that would be amazing and allow me to almost double my production! I also want to get back into the show circuit (I’ve been out for a few years) and travel and do some of the bigger shows up the East Coast & in the Midwest.