Hustle Chat with Lu & Ed
LH: Tell us a little about yourself.
CN: Hi! I'm Cody, a monster making, mountain living mom! I reside in the beautiful Smokey Mountains, just minutes from Asheville, NC, with my ten-year-old son and our dog, Pippy the Puppy (she's actually four, so not really a puppy, but she still acts like one!). I've been making eco-friendly, colorful, and fun toy storage solutions and stuffed monsters for kids for seven years now.
LH: Where did the idea for Lu and Ed come from (and the name!)?
CN: It all started when my son and I moved from the East Coast to Kansas City. We were staying in a finished basement that first year there, and to say floor space and storage was tight is a massive understatement. Toy storage solutions for kids are bulky & expensive. One night, I dreamed up a hanging monster that my son could "feed" his toys to. The next day I got some supplies, learned to use a sewing machine and bam! The first ever Mon-stor was born! Once I posted it on social media, within a few weeks I had dozens of requests for them. Within three months, I was able to quit my day job and pursue monster-making full time. It was the best decision I ever made! Once I mastered the art of sourcing materials outside of the traditional fabric store, I was able to begin diverting thousands of pounds of textiles from landfills each year!
As for the biz name, I didn't have a "business" name for a long time. Once things got official and I opened my online shop on storenvy.com, I decided to go with Lu & Ed - a combination of my screen name at the time, and the screen name of the friend who gave me the lead on the opportunity to move to Kansas City - if it hadn't been for that opportunity, I never would have started making monsters!
LH: Where do you get the textile discards?
CN: I use all upcycled materials. A lot of fabrics are donated to me, others I collect through thrifting, visiting yard sales, or from remnant bins that would otherwise be discarded.
LH: Can you walk us through the process of making a Mon-stor, from creation to final sale?
CN: I never start a project with much of a plan, things just seem to go together! I'm a very inspired maker, I don't actually think much about the process while I'm making monsters! It starts with pairing fabrics, cutting out the basic shapes, piecing together the body, and designing a face - which, like I said, I don't think about much! I just zone out and let my hands do the work and sometimes I'm surprised with the end result! I don't start any monster with a plan for how many eyes it will have, what color it's hair will be, it all just flows together during the process. It's a double-edged sword, though, if I'm not feeling inspired the work becomes difficult because I can't force theses characters out of my head, they just sort of flow from my fingertips.
LH: Growing up, did you imagine yourself running a business?
CN: It's funny, I always said that running a creative business that made a difference was my dream, but I never truly considered that it would actually happen! Everyday I am still very excited by and proud of what I have accomplished, how far I've come, and all that I have to look forward to with my creative business!
LH: What has been the most exciting part of running Lu & Ed?
CN: Ah, that's hard to say, it's all really exciting! I think some of the opportunities that have come my way -- being filmed for a series about motherhood, being featured in Parents Magazine and on Buzzfeed, and opportunities like this one right here, being featured in Lady Hustle Mag -- it's extraordinary. Definitely the most exciting part of it is the connections and opportunities that have sprung forth over the years. I'm always going in directions I never, ever considered would even be an option for me! It's just amazing!
LH: What has been the most challenging?
CN: The struggle to find true community, support and friendship along the way. There's a lot of cattiness and meanness in the lady maker community, and it's hard to strike up genuine, authentic friendships along the way. When you find your people, don't let them go! Support them, honor them, respect them. Give out what you hope to get from others, and watch your vibe attract your tribe.
LH: Do you have any advice for someone looking to start a small business?
CN: Keep in mind success isn't something that happens overnight or in a few weeks or months. Sometimes, not even a few years. Launching and operating a small business is a LOT of work. It's difficult, and it's the most rewarding thing you will ever do, but you have to put in the time and effort, dig in and find the resources you need, build your audience and weather through the slow periods. Don't give up, stay positive and remember that it takes time to have a thriving, self-sustainable and profitable business!
LH: What would your perfect day look like?
CN: My sewing machine would become enchanted and make lots and lots of monsters for me. Haha! Just kidding. Nah, a perfect day is really a beautifully inspired day. Wake up, have breakfast, grab a cup of coffee and settle into my sewing chair. Pandora would play only songs I love and my bobbin would never run out of thread. Maybe wrap up the busy day with having my lady friends over to stuff and sew shut some mini monsters over ice cream and bad TV shows! That would be amazing.
LH: What does Lady Hustle mean to you?
CN: For me, Lady Hustle means working hard, staying positive and supporting others along the road on this amazing journey of saving the world, one monster at a time!
LH: Do you have any words of wisdom for your fellow Lady Hustlers?
CN: Surround yourself with people who are happy, positive and uplifting!