The ladybug is known as a symbol of good fortune in many cultures. And for Amy Becker, owner of the since 2006 on College Street in Middletown, that luck has held true.
And although the familiar red and black spotted beetle is sprinkled in various incarnations all across her gift shop, Becker says the origins of her business muse actually began 14 years ago.
“When my niece was born, I called her my little ladybug. She was the first grandchild in the family, the first niece, and she started collecting them. So anytime I saw a ladybug, I’d think of her. Now she’s 14.”
Becker is one busy mother of a 10-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, working full-time by herself at the Ladybug, and waitressing two nights a week.
One thing Becker is adamant about is stocking only U.S. made handcrafts, mostly from Connecticut women, many of them moms.
“I’m always on the search,” says the East Hampton resident, for local entrepreneurs. “I didn’t always carry all made in America, but I’ve gotten more passionate about it, so I’m looking for it all the time.”
And there is plenty to choose from in her tiny shop chock-full of candles, jewelry, soaps, cards, wall hangings and other country-style crafts.
“There is pottery from Colchester, cupcake soaps from Manchester, hand-painted wine glasses from Cheshire, Sew Bea It pouches from Seymour, goat milk soap from East Hampton,” Becker says, enumerating only a few of the many purveyors she buys from.
“I’m a big supporter of made in America, shop small, shop local, supporting the little guy. If I buy from a mom, she’s buying groceries with the money she makes. I’m not sticking it in the rich man’s pocket. If I buy from a mother who makes soap from home,” Becker explains, “I think it all comes full circle. It’s better than buying plastic stuff made in China at Wal-Mart.”
Last month, the hosted the first of possibly many cash mobs at the Ladybug, asking customers to bring along $20 in cash to support a local business.
“I’m thrilled with the turnout,” Becker says of the event. “I was really impressed by the Downtown Business District, how much they did to support me, to encourage me.”
Philanthropy is another of Becker’s causes. For the second year, she’s hosting a juvenile diabetes fundraiser at the Ladybug.
“A woman who shops regularly in the store, her son is named Ryan and mine is, too,” Becker says. “One day she came to me last year. She’s a big advocate for juvenile diabetes.” Becker is offering a portion of all online and in-store sales on Aug. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.
Some of the many items that Becker carries includes Yankee Candles, ladybugs assuming every possible household use — salt and pepper shakers, earrings, wine stoppers, books, garden flags, baby socks, you name it; and local artisans, a smattering of which are mentioned below.
- Cupcake Soaps by Poor & Pretty of Woodbury
- Purring Pottery of Colchester
- Everyday Keepsakes of Milldale
- Baby On the Way Cards from a husband and wife, Roxanne and Keith Franklin of Portland
- Sew Bea It reversible fabric bowls of Seymour and Shelton