KILLINGTON, VT (RNN) - The goal for most clothing designers is clear - to help customers channel their inner runway model, leaving them feeling chic, trendy and all around stylish.
Annemarie Blackman has a different goal in mind. Words you might use to describe her creations? Tacky, gaudy, garish.
Don't worry, you won't hurt her feeling by saying so. Blackman is the owner of My Ugly Christmas Sweater.
The name of the company is pretty self explanatory. She collects, repurposes and sells ugly … really ugly … holiday sweaters, cardigans, even dresses.
A jingle bell here, some fringe there. There's no sweater she can't make a little more outlandish, no ugly she can't improve upon.
"There's actually a sweater I didn't sell because I love how ugly it is. It's a 1980s padded shoulder with children's toys, a giant Raggedy Ann, a toy box. To me it's like a scary clown. I was going to wear it to a party but I want to add lights to it," she said.
What started as a small home-based business has grown into a fringe-and-light-and-whatever-else-you-can-think-of filled warehouse. Blackman ships out thousands of over-the-top sweaters via her website, myuglychristmassweater.com.
So how do you go from stay at home mom to ugly sweater peddling entrepreneur?
"A few years ago, my kids were finishing up high school, getting ready to go to college. So I was looking for something to sell during the holiday season," she said.
Hoping to pick up some extra cash, she hopped on Google and stumbled upon the Ugly Christmas Sweater party.
"I had never heard of those parties," she said. "But I thought I could make sweaters uglier than those on the market."
So she got to work and put a handful of repurposed creations up on eBay.
"They all sold quickly. I knew I was onto something," Blackman said.
She's since created a one-stop-shop for all your ugly Christmas sweater needs. And if you buy one, you might come away with your party's prize.
"I try not to use the word 'guarantee,' but I think you're always a contender," she said. "Not everyone wants to be the center of attention. But if you're going to one of those parties, you should be."
"I do get feedback from people who say, ' I won.' One guy said, 'I won the cheese wheel.' It's actually worth spending more for a good prize."
They also make great gifts for your fashionable friends, your enemies or your frenemies.
"People primarily buy them for themselves. Some buy them for their boss for work."
So the next time you see a really tacky Christmas sweater at your local mall or holiday party, remember, a lot of thought, care, and love probably went into making it look that way.
"There are some really, really ugly fringes that I can get off old fabrics. I buy the scraps that real quilters don't want," Blackman said.
"It's like trash to treasure. I can use that trash to make another treasure."
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