(NECN: Jack Thurston, Killington, VT) - Call Anne Marie Blackman's creations the most garish you've ever seen, and she'll know she did her job well.
"There is no science to this," she chuckled.
Blackman is the Killington, Vermont crafter behind "My Ugly Christmas Sweater." She adorns sweaters from her home and recently had to expand into a storage space and mailing center.
"You really can't make a mistake when you're decorating an ugly Christmas sweater," she explained. "You can never have too many bells on a sweater or too much fringe."
The company outfits a strange but wildly popular trend: folks wearing the tackiest clothes imaginable to their Christmas parties. Blackman looks all over for gently-used sweaters. Some, she re-sells as they are. She embellishes others to add extra gaudiness. It's silly stuff, but a serious business. Blackman ships thousands of sweaters worldwide for about $35 to $80 for more intricate designs.
"I was an at-home mom for 15 or 16 years," Blackman recalled. "I started this a couple years ago when my kids were getting ready to go to college, and it's been great."
The craft aspect is the businesswoman's favorite part of her job. She also likes learning new ways to market online, including the use of social media to reach new buyers.
"The bookkeeping part is the part I least enjoy!" she laughed.
My Ugly Chrismas Sweaters certainly aren't for shy people. If you're bold enough, the businesswoman bets you'll have a good shot at taking home your party's door prize. We took a light-up sweater to Sugar & Spice, a popular breakfast and lunch restaurant in Mendon, Vermont to ask customers there what they thought of it.
"I like it," one employee said. "I wouldn't wear it, but I like it!"
"That's good!" a customer laughed. "Why not wear that for the holiday season?"
Based on their reactions, it appeared to be a win for Anne Marie Blackman and her My Ugly Christmas Sweater brand. "It adds fun to the party!" she beamed.
Blackman predicts continued sales growth as the trend continues to pick up party hosts.
Click here to visit the company's website.