Fancy Bits & Buttons to Lennon Harper Designs
The Journey From Fancy Bits & Buttons to Lennon Harper Designs
Lennon Harper Designs was formerly Fancy Bits & Buttons. Here’s a pic of my first logo.
It all started about 10 years ago when I was home on maternity leave with my youngest daughter, Harper Grace. She was a great napper and all the advice people gave me about “sleep when the baby sleeps” just didn’t work for me. I had (ahem, have) tons of energy and didn’t really love to sit still. Or, maybe I would have loved it if it came more naturally to me but it didn’t, so I decided not to fight it. During nap time, I started cleaning out my jewelry/accessory boxes and found fun old buttons I’d had forever. Not just plain black or cream buttons, but a few really fun, funky, and kind of bling-y buttons. Having no real idea where they came from, I started thinking about what I could do with them instead of throwing them out. It’s weird … most people DO NOT throw buttons away. Instead, they collect them and imagine a day when that exact button will replace one that falls off a sweater or a jacket. The best thing is that our parents and their parents DEFINITELY didn’t throw buttons away, which means most of us have access to the gems and jewels they held onto for years.
With all of these gorgeous little buttons in hand, I went to the craft store and bought some jewelry wire and small pliers, and came home and made a pretty ring. I would wear it and people would admire it and ask where it was from. When I’d tell folks, “oh, thanks it’s a button,” they were amazed. Rings turned into necklaces pretty quickly, the button obsession continued (more stories for later), and before I knew it, I was wearing handcrafted necklaces made from vintage buttons, bits of broken or repurposed jewelry (mostly stuff I would have otherwise thrown away or donated), and was constantly asked, “where’d you get that?” by folks.
They’re very unique. I started making necklaces and rings for friends and family … always as gifts, free of charge, until I realized while that was nice, it was killing my bank account. At an auction for my daughter’s preschool I saw a web designer offering up their services. In my mind, this was the answer to all my dreams. If I could get my jewelry out there on the “World Wide Web”, surely it would be noticed, I’d sell a ton, and eventually be in all of the fashion/style magazines — because Sarah Jessica Parker would wear and love a custom designed necklace — and voila, that would be it. Well, not so much. I DID win the auction item and I DID work with the designer to create a Squarespace site where my necklaces and rings could be purchased. What I DIDN’T do was create a true brand. I called myself Fancy Bits & Buttons, which in hindsight was not a great name.
That’s how FB&B started … the only problem? I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t have a business plan, a strategy, or the right people helping me. That “village” we all speak about … I didn’t have it! So it didn’t work.
What I did have was: two little teensy kids, a very busy and often traveling husband, and a professional career in non-profit I not only cared about but also felt committed to. So as my career picked up in a big way, I spent the next several years focusing on that, my daughters, life on the Upper West Side of Manhattan — you get it. Over the years, I full-heartedly focused on building my career, raising two beautiful girls, and owning our new (but really old) 1780 farmhouse in Westchester County, NY. While they have been incredible, I always felt I was missing something. It wasn’t until recently that I truly realized what it was — my love of designing really unique and special, sometimes sentimental, but always “statement” jewelry.
I finally put an end to that and brought everything back out of the attic — where it had been since the day we moved in — set up a studio in our Port Chester (Rye) farmhouse and got started. This time, I knew what I wouldn’t do. That’s not to say I had a plan to fully accomplish my dream, but I definitely knew where I’d start. I hired a graphic/web design freelancer, Stephanie Schuyler of Calyer Designs and worked on creating an Etsy site, my brand, a logo, the marketing materials, etc., and of course, got busy on social media. I also knew there was a ton I didn’t know about public relations, especially in 2019, so I turned to another expert, Sabina Hitchen. After a few short months, I had a new outlook on my business, the future, and the eternal possibilities of LHD.
How to engage with social media as a 43-year-old will be a separate blog altogether, but what I’ll say right now is it’s not easy. I really had to think about it differently and see myself as someone who had something valid to say and talk about. A work in progress for sure but I’m very happy to be here!