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Elizabeth Hudy on expanding your online presence, adding income streams, and teaching others what you know

Creative Business
min read
In this article

Elizabeth Hudy, aka The Peach Fuzz, is a loudmouth illustrator and crafty little bitch trying to make socialist business practices and resource sharing the new norm.

In this episode, you'll learn the easiest way and the BEST way to get started selling your products online.

We also dive into why you need to talk about more than just your work on social media, what collaborating can do for your creative business, how teaching others can be the key to growth and so much more. 

Welcome to the show, Elizabeth. I am so excited to talk to you. In the introduction, everybody will have heard a little bit about what you do now and what you are up to, but before we get started I would love to hear a little bit about where you started. So, have you always been creative?

Yeah, I've always been very crafty. I come from a long line of very crafty women, where creativity was always fostered in our home, so I'm very grateful for that. My mom was always like, “Please go to art school!” (which is the total opposite of what a lot of artists experience, where their parents want them to go to med school). 

But I didn’t go to art school. I actually went to college for accounting, because at the time I was like, “Creating is fun and cool, but I want to be able to have nice things and pay the bills.” However, I am really glad that I went to school for accounting because it's given me such a good foundation to understand the business, the causes that I care about, and how messed up the tax system is which I saw proof of when I went to college to do tax accounting for high net worth people.

These people would donate $5 to the pigeon society out of their multi-million dollar income and it was then that I realised that these are not the people who are going to save us at all.

So I started the brand in 2016 after Donald Trump was elected. I graduated from college, had no money, and just knew that Planned Parenthood was going to need us extra.

I did some drawing while I was studying for my CPA exams to balance that out. And I just started uploading it to Redbubble and promoting it. I didn't have any inventory or any risk really. And then, as I made money, I just donated it all to causes that I cared about, and over time, that continued to grow.

In comes the pandemic. I was laid off from my job which was very hurtful, and since then I’ve just kept on hustling. I will say, it was a good excuse to dive head-first into this world. And then about a year afterwards, I was taking this full-time.

Wow, that's incredible! Yeah, I agree, sometimes situations force us to make big leaps, which is sometimes not ideal, but I'm personally so glad that I started my business out of a similar situation. I quit my job because it was toxic and awful, but it forced me to do a similar thing. I knew I had to either figure it out and make it work, or it was going to fail and I would have had to find something else. 

So yeah, it's incredible that you did that, and that after just one year you managed to do that full-time. That's amazing! Is there anything that you think helped you to make it to do it full-time so quickly?

Well, it was technically 4 or 5 years since I started that I had that going for me. I would go to work early when I was at my tax accounting job and fulfill Etsy orders with their envelopes, and I would print things off at the company printer too. 

But I think I really got hit with the perfect storm of things during the pandemic. First of all, people had that panini money where they were spending a little bit extra, and people just cared more about supporting small businesses. I was already making art about things like social causes, social justice stuff, anti-racism, anti-homophobia, and queer rights etc, which at the time was extremely “trendy”, I guess I could say at that time.

I think also the fact that I had done a slow incline was really helpful. I never took out any loans for the business. By the time I quit my second full-time job, The Peach Fuzz was making me the same amount of money as I was making on my W2.

And on a more serious note, I couldn't breathe. I have anxiety-induced asthma. So that was like the point for me where I was like, I can't continue like this, my body is shutting down. So I just took the leap while I was still on my parents' insurance, and the rest is history. 

Truly the perfect storm of things that all fell into place.

You said that you started doing this with Redbubble, which you mentioned has no overheads because you're not storing any stock, which I assume makes things easier. What are your thoughts on using platforms like Redbubble and Society Six etc to get started versus holding your own stock and doing it yourself?

I think platforms like that aren’t as prevalent now as they were back then. Redbubble has had so many people make jokes about how everything on there is ripped off and stuff like that. So they were known for that for a while, which I think tanked their popularity. But, like I said I had no risk.

I only made 10% on each sale, which is not much, but for no work other than marketing it on my behalf, that's pretty sweet! And even now, I've just kept my stuff up there, and without touching it, I get a payment for $200-300 every month, which as artists, is amazing because there's not a whole lot we can do to make passive income, but this is one of them. 

I'm on Redbubble, TeePublic, and Threadless. I like TeePublic the most even though I make the least money there just because the people that work there are super great. They always pay me for my feedback which is very rare in this field, and they always promote me in emails.

I know that some people are very precious about their art which I could relate to in the past because at a certain point, I didn’t want to put everything I had up there because I was worried it would deter them from buying on my website instead. However, what I realised is that the people who are shopping on Redbubble are totally different from people who are going to shop on your independent website so you might as well just put everything up there. You don't know what people are going to want. 

Additionally, I love having my stuff up there because if someone wants something outside the box I can tell them no, but they can go buy it from this other platform and I don't have to do anything for it because, sorry, I'm not ever gonna stock v-necks in the shop.

That's a really smart approach, especially as you said, to have some kind of passive income. Although there's the upfront work and getting it all set up, once that’s done, it’s relatively easy. Then you’re just periodically adding your new stuff on there…

Yes, and marketing it!

Using platforms like Redbubble is also really good when you’re just starting out because you can gauge what is popular. 

That's actually how I figured out the first ten stickers that I wanted to carry in my own Etsy shop, it was the ones that were the top sellers on Redbubble. So again, I wasn't just stuck with a bunch of inventory. And honestly, it's all about inventory management. 

With this business, I flourished first when I was in a one-bedroom SF apartment, and now I take up the entire ground floor of our house. So we've exploded a bit! But yeah, those platforms are great for the interim!

That's really smart to use it to figure out what's gonna work. I love that. 

So, nowadays you’ve expanded a lot and are doing a lot of different products. You have stickers, and you've got your amazing claw clips too. But I’m curious, when you're creating something like that from scratch, what does the process look like? Because with a sticker, for example, you can just Google “How do I make a sticker?” But with something new like a claw clip, you’re creating something brand new that is quite rare or that nobody's ever done before, so can you tell me about that?

The good thing with hair claws is I don't have to have a CAD for them. If you were asking me how would you make a 3D sample of something that's never been made before, I have no idea. I don't even know where to start. With my hair claws, I simply reached out to people who were already making some and started simple. I began with just the rhinestone letter that said ‘Bimbo’ on it and then expanded from there. Illustration work translates really well to hair claws as long as you can simplify the design and find acetate colours that match it. 

In terms of my overall process, I have a page in my Notion called “Idea Dump” and I have it broken down by jumping off points like necklace ideas, revamps of current products I already have, hair claws etc. And so I go off of that list just based on whatever I feel most excited about.

And it’s crazy to think about now but I actually didn't even order samples when I did my first hair claws. I just assumed it be fine, and thank God they were. But there are many that I've gotten samples of since then that I’m grateful they didn’t let me do a full run of that because what was in my brain is not what it looked like on paper. 

Yeah, it's such an interesting process. And I love that you share the process as well, like when you share the sample and show what’s different, what you’re going to change etc. That is such a cool thing for your audience to see and to be able to be a part of the process from start to finish.

I’m also interested to know about your approach to social media in general because you have built quite a large audience. What has worked for you and was has been your approach to socials in general?

My approach is definitely showing up as authentically as I can. That was a real problem for me when I worked in the corporate world. There's no work Elizabeth and home Elizabeth. I don't know how to turn things on and off. I am just like the same person all the time. I'm an oversharer. 

I had always been taught that being an oversharer was a bad thing and I didn't understand that because those moments of vulnerability are when I felt the most connected to people in my life, whether they be best friends or strangers.

I remember testing the waters on my Instagram with things, like “I identify as a queer pansexual woman, but I am married to a man”. And that comes with a whole lot of, I don't know if you can say imposter syndrome, or just a lot of gaslighting yourself, and talking about that instead of hiding that.

Talking about it and connecting with other people that are at whatever point in that journey for themselves, whether they’re just figuring out that they're queer but they've only dated men before and are like, what does that mean for me? Or if they've moved past their own internalized homophobia and have words of wisdom that they can impart to me, it's been so healing and fostered such a strong, supportive community that, I don't think I would ever stop doing that.

I’ve had different approaches to social media over time. Before, I used to do rage baiting. Since I was so political, I would tag Trump 2020 and things like that in my captions to get all the crazies to see it and fight with each other, and sure that's tons of engagement, but it’s also so bad for your mental health. 

But since I made that statement, I've switched from talking about why we disagree to talking about things that nobody's talking about like money, and how much I’m actually making as an artist. And if you ask me, that is the best move I ever made financially for my business - sharing trade secrets. I have so many people who on one end will download my free templates and tip me $3, all the way to people who buy every gift for all of their best friends and are putting together bridesmaid proposal boxes with things exclusively from my store because I helped their business. So it really does come back around for you. 

I think one of the things that I think a lot of artists worry about is thinking they can only talk about their art. But I think you're a great example of the opposite of that. You talk about the money you make and who you are as a person. After all, that’s what helps you connect with other people, right? 

Yes, they care about your art and love it, but they also care about you as a person which ultimately is what makes them want to buy from you and support you over everyone else.

So it’s worth being more than just a faceless brand, more than just your product. 

Yes! I do coaching now and that is the number one thing I tell people; People want to follow a founder account. They don't want to follow a brand account.

You need to allow people the opportunity to fall in love with you because they will if you show them your authentic self. If you can get over your fears about it, it's refreshing and people will love you for it.

I guess I'm just lucky that I never really had that fear of “What will people think?” I'm just like, “Fuck it. This is me. Let's do it!

Something you just mentioned is that you’ve started teaching people and sharing the resources that you use so that others can use them too. When did you start doing that and how did you know that it was the right time to do it?

I don't remember when I started in the business, but I do know that I remember all the way back to high school, I would be making study guides and sharing them with my friends. Even in my tax accounting job, I would make different Excel templates that I could share with other people in the office to just make life easier for everyone.

I'm very like, how can we make this more efficient? And how can we say, fuck it, to the way things have always been?

I think I’ve also combated that deeply ingrained capitalist mindset of “I have to hold on to my portion of the pie and if anybody else is successful, that's gonna take away from me.” I have enough confidence. Plus this also determines that if my stuff is already going to be unique and special and serve a purpose that like, someone else could make something similar, if they make another sticker that's high quality, it's not going to keep people from buying my stickers because I still have my art and I'm not worried about somebody taking that from me. 

I don’t gatekeep. These people are my community, not my competition and I'm going to share with them and just trust that the universe will bring these positive things back to me, which it clearly has.

Yeah, definitely. Everything you’re doing is helping all of these artists, and you’re still getting sales, so it’s very clearly working. 

So now that you have added this stuff into your business, how do you balance that side of things with still creating your own work and your own products? 

I definitely have to keep things in perspective.

Something that I've done that's really helped me is I made a little bio of my ideal customer. My ideal customer cares about shopping small, even if they don’t have a small business, they care about it. So pivoting that way and also listening to my community and asking them what they want to see more of has helped too. 

The other day I also uploaded a lead time tracker because I found a new one for myself which has been a game changer, and so I was like “Listen up. Everybody needs to be on this ship right now!!” So I was happy to take all my numbers out and share that for people to use so that it hopefully changes their lives, and then we have fewer people reordering things that they already ordered, plus less waste.

I know people waste a lot of supplies trying to find the perfect sticker manufacturer, the perfect clay producer, or whatever. And I don't want shitty samples out in the world just as a whole. Not personally, but if we can have everybody's stuff be high quality, nice, and long-lasting, then that's better for everybody and the environment, ideally.

Yeah, exactly. And so how's the lead time tracker going? 

Good. It’s been rough though because in February all of the manufacturers shut down for the entire month for Chinese New Year. So my lead time tracker is a little wrecked right now because things that normally took 20 days are now taking 80 days. Hopefully, it levels back out after that, but it's been nice especially when wholesale accounts come to me and say, “Hey, I know you're out of stock of this, like any idea when it's going to come back?” And I can at least give them a vague idea of it now.

That's a great idea. And I think that in terms of balancing that and talking to your audience and making sure that you're still staying in touch with them is so important.

And, as I'm a brand strategist, I'm all about knowing your audience. Have you done any other work on your brand in terms of your vision, values and mission throughout the years? How much branding work have you done? 

I haven't done a whole lot because that's not where my expertise is at all. I have three or four different versions of my logo because I don't know how to make a logo and this one works sometimes I guess, I don’t know. 

Vision-wise, I started the company because I wanted to raise money for nonprofits. Anything that had abortion on it would be donated to abortion funds. But then I found that as the business was growing, the donations were not also growing because those products maybe just weren’t as popular as the other things that I was putting out, for whatever reason that may be.

I also couldn't figure out how to do a hair claw that made sense to be a charitable thing. I did a drag boot one that went to the ACLU Drag Defense Fund, but it's also super annoying to have to keep track of and do that calculation to figure out how much of this sold and how much I spent on it etc. So this year I'm still doing 100% of those products that are relevant to charities are going to be donated, but also an additional percent or additional amount that brings me up to 10% of sales is what I'm donating. And that has felt really good because we've donated $13,000 this year, which is nuts, after only 3-4 months this year.

I think I also fell out of doing more political art for a while. And then I had a couple of people respond to pro-Palestinian art that I put up saying “Oh, I followed this account, but I don't like that you're getting into politics.” And I'm like, mama… This account has always been political, but I am clearly not being loud enough about it. So I'm trying to lean into that a little bit further. 

But other than that, I'm just leaning more into niche items and working on trusting my own opinion of what is cool, funny, or worth making, because things that I thought were cool and worth making 3 years ago that flopped, if I remade now with 100,000 followers, would probably not be flopping. 

So it's about revisiting those things that the algorithm or the sales at the time told me were bad ideas and now retrying it because people love it when you speak their very specific niche language. And I love delivering that for them.

Yeah, for sure. My partner and I go to a lot of markets around where we live, and we went to one where this particular artist had a sticker that was about a very specific meme that only my partner understood. He spent five minutes explaining it to me, and he loved it. It was so niche, so specific, and he loved it. 

Do you have any tips or advice for if you are trying to trust your instincts or the things that you love or you said you're trying to do that a bit more? How are you trying to do that? 

Yes. I think just having like blind aggressive delusion is a very important part of the business.

I get asked a lot, “How did you have the confidence in your work to go after it?” And I can't remember a time where I didn't think oh this, what I made right here, this is fucking funny. Even when I was socially insecure, I still thought that these things were good ideas and it wasn't a matter of if they gained popularity, but when?

I knew that all it took was one influencer or one brand to pick it up and share it with their millions of followers for me to take off, but I was not going to wait around for that luck to fall upon me and stop creating in the meantime.

It wasn’t about if it could happen, it was a matter of when.

Talking about influencers and getting in front of the right eyeballs, I noticed you recently did a collab with The Shitty Craft Club. Are you doing lots of things like that? Trying to collaborate with other crafty people or other influencers to get in front of more people?

Yeah, so in the past, something that I did that I think really targeted my correct market was sending things to the P. O. box of Hasan Piker, who is a pretty prevalent political Twitch streamer. Somebody else had sent him my Abolish Ice shirt in his P. O. box. And I got a ton of orders on Etsy for it that day from men, when 87% of my demographic is women, so I was wondering where they came from. 

So I just asked them, “Where are you guys coming from?” And they pointed me to Hasan. So then I sent him $70 worth of product and made $3,000 in a weekend all because he has 30,000 concurrent viewers at any given time, and viewers that I know have the same politics as me. Pretty cool.

And then with Sam of Shitty Craft Club; we've been friends for a while. I had this idea for a charm necklace and I knew it would be a great opportunity to work together because I knew that our audiences would probably mesh very well. 

I’ve shied away from doing more giveaways because I just find that the pay-out for me is not great. I did one with Kim Chi Cosmetics, and although Chi has a million and a half followers, I think I only gained 80 followers from that.

But with Sam, on the other hand, I gained 800 followers the first day because our audiences were different enough, but we have so much crossover that it brought new people versus oh, I already follow all three of you that are doing this giveaway or whatever. So now I’m trying to find people in that similar space where we share similar values, but I don't think that there's crossover in our audiences.

I also just recommend collaborations to people because you're splitting inventory quantities, which means you automatically have a lower per-unit cost because you're splitting the marketing work, the artwork, etc, so it just makes sense to do.

Yeah, I’m the same. People always get stuck with social media and their growth, and they're just waiting for people to come to them or hoping that the algorithm is going to do the work for them. But when you collaborate with someone else, you’re accessing this whole other audience which is why I think collaborations are such a smart marketing tool. 

Totally. For pride this year I was supposed to have a bunch of stuff in a big box store and they pulled basically everything. So I was like, okay corporate pride is letting us down yet again.

But to counter that and make it feel better for myself, I'm going to collaborate with other queer brands and artists that I know and love so that I can still have this wide reach, but have that money stay in the community instead of to a bunch of fucking bigoted CEOs.

Yes, I love that! That's a great idea and a great way to take that power back. I love it!

Okay, so my last question for you as we wrap up here is the question that I ask everybody, and it is… what lesson have you learned that you want to share, or what piece of advice do you have for other creatives or about branding your passion?

So either what lesson have you learned about branding your passion or what piece of advice do you want to share with other artists who want to brand their passion? 

The only way you will fail is if you stop.

That is the one that I give most often because it's true. Eventually, statistically speaking, you will take off. Growth is supposed to be exponential. 

The more people that know about you, the more people that can tell their friends about you, and then on and on.

The only way that doesn't happen is if you quit chasing it. That's my big thing. You have to keep going. You have to know that it will get better. 

Absolutely. I 100% agree. No matter what happens, as long as you keep going, then you are still in the race, and you are still gonna get one more client, one more customer, then 10 more. And then, it's going to keep going. But that's only going to happen if you keep going.

So I think that's incredible advice, and I love it. 

Thank you so much for sharing and telling us all about your story and everything that you have. I'm sure everybody listening has learned so much from everything you've shared with us. Do you want to tell everybody what you have going on and where they can find you?

Yes, I am on all social media My website is and the next big thing that I have going on is my Pride launch in June 2024. There's a lot of really good stuff coming with it and I'm trying to get my hot little hands on the things that were pulled from this big box store to sell myself, so hopefully that can happen!

Okay, so everybody go and follow so that you will be the first to know when all of those things are ready to buy. Thank you Elizabeth and thank you everybody for listening!

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April 24, 2024

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