We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Hudy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeth, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started my business right after I graduated from college while I was studying for my CPA exams. Donald Trump had just been inaugurated and I knew that Planned Parenthood would be in need of extra support but I had the disposable income of, well, a recent college grad. I decided to use my artistic abilities to make outspoken designs that I would sell to raise money for the cause. I never thought it would grow to being my full-time job, but four years and several miserable tax seasons later, I have raised over $15,000 for various charities, gotten my products in over 140 stores across the country, and successfully avoided a lifetime of zoom meetings and horrible bosses.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
These past two years have been CRAZY! I went from “CPA with a side hustle” to “successfully self-employed artist (who’s still a CPA)”. I have perhaps the least-traditional origin story in that my mother always wanted me to go to art school and I refused, going with something that was more practical – accounting – and relegated my art to being just a “side hustle”. When the world shut down and I lost my job as a tax accountant, I finally, for the first time, had all of the time in the world to dedicate to my art and what was now my “main hustle”. The pandemic really radicalized me, as it did for many, and I quickly realized that my propensity for using clever visuals to explain complex topics was actually pretty effective at both demystifying these causes, and more importantly, raising a decent amount of money for bail funds and mutual aide orgs. Toni Cade Bambara once said “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible” and I felt that was what I could contribute to these causes I cared so much about. I am tremendously privileged to be only a spectator to many of our nation’s injustices, but that is exactly why I feel so passionate about utilizing this privilege to at least do SOMETHING. I take social justice seriously, not myself, and the tongue-in-cheek imagery and clever wordplay in my work definitely reflects that. As I have expanded to other topics like self care, reproductive justice, and income inequality, my goal has always been to make activism and expressing your beliefs accessible and fun. I know there is very little “fun” about actually being in the trenches organizing efforts to combat police brutality or the 100 companies responsible for over 70% of global emissions, but if having a sticker on your water bottle sparks a conversation with a family member about why being anti-fascist is actually a good thing, maybe we can make the job of those community organizers a little easier. And if I can get those stickers in over 160 stores across 39 states, maybe the idea that you should care about what happens to other people isn’t as radical as politicians and the media want you to believe.
In the past two years I have raised $20,000 for various charities, quit my 9-to-5, made both political and personal art that people feel a connection to, been sought out by shops and events that I only ever dreamed of working with, and for certain have aided at least one person’s grandma in understanding what “defunding the police” actually means. I am a huge advocate of resource sharing and putting community building ahead of any competitive edge, so I am really excited to finally have more of the successes and related knowledge to share with other small business owners and artists so that they can hopefully avoid some of the challenges I have faced and join me in making the change (and the art) we want to see in the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have since relocated to San Francisco, so although I have not personally been to many of these places, Black Hound Gallery, Changing Hands Bookstore, El Be Goods, and Creative Kind are all shops I would highly recommend. Sure, I may be biased as these are all of the stores in Arizona that stock my products, but I’m certain I’m in good company on their shelves. Separately, the Brass Armadillo is absolutely always on my list of places to go when I’m in town.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My best friend, Alaura, deserves SO much credit for where I am. Her radical belief in what I could achieve pushed me until I believed it myself, and she has been by my side at every leap of faith and major milestone (she even flew across the country to help me at my first craft show). She is my go-to when brainstorming design ideas or directions to take the business, the only person I can actually take feedback from, and is the official unofficial VP of The Peach Fuzz (and now the very official email newsletter creator!) I work hard so that I can make her proud, and fingers-crossed, on payroll full-time some day.