Working for a Living for Nov. 15, 2012

For Weekly SurgeNovember 13, 2012 

Jessica Hoffman:

The Bow-Dacious Life

To say that Jessica Hoffman has a thing for bows might be a colossal understatement. One day her mother-in-law called with some distressing news, letting her know that she was about to retire and wouldn’t be buying her granddaughter Paige (3) bows every week. “I had so many that my husband threatened that if I bought another one that he was going to kick me out onto the street,” she says.

It was either succumb to a bow intervention or come up with a paradigm shift.

“But he didn’t say I couldn’t make any – so I got the materials and made a few for my daughter. One thing led to another and all of a sudden I am making bows like 24-hours-a-day.”

This was the birth of Hoffman’s business, Princess & Pup Bows, or P&P Bows [ www.Facebook.com/princesspupbows], which from these humble beginnings in May 2011 has continued to gain steam. Friends noticed first, and then word-of-mouth spread to churches and other groups, culminating in a large order from a group of Navy Moms. “I started using bottle caps so that you could add images to bows,” she says. “I put things like ‘USS Enterprise Mom,’ ‘Navy Mom,’ ‘Navy Grandma’ on these bottle caps.”

Her specialty is handmade hair accessories. “It could be bows or flowers. I dabble with tutus, but they are time consuming, so I only make them on request. But everything is handmade, homemade and custom – girly things.”

Hoffman, originally from North Carolina, is a graduate of East Carolina University. She worked as a teacher in West Palm Beach, Fla. for a couple of years before moving to Surfside Beach. “We actually moved here to look after my granddad. He has been here for over 30 years,” she says, adding that she visited constantly while she was growing up.

She no longer teaches, saying that she retired to be mom to the aforementioned daughter Paige and to her five-year-old son, Dylan. But she lives across the street from Hudson’s Surfside Flea Market, where she started selling her wares once a week at a rented table. Things were going so well for her that she moved into a 10-by-10 booth in December 2011. “I outgrew that space within three months,” she says. “When you get two or three people into that space, you suffer from claustrophobia, especially because I do custom work right there. And there are bows on every inch of the walls.” Her husband, Tony Hoffman, is in the process of constructing a new, larger space at Hudson’s that should be open by the second week of December. “Tony is the man behind the scenes – setting up grids at festivals, pulling around tables – occasionally I talk him into breaking out the hot glue gun and helping me do this or that.”

A retail Web site will also be up and running in the next six weeks – www.princessandpupbows.com. Hoffman has done many festivals, including one at Springmaid Resort last year, and most recently at the Dickens Christmas Show at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. “For Dickens you had to have full costume from the [Victorian] era, so I had my big southern belle dress – covered in bows and the whole nine yards.”

Three months after she started making bows, Hoffman noticed that a Minnie Mouse cartoon came out on the Disney Channel. “Minnie Mouse owns a Bow-Tique, and she has all of these bows that she made. There’s always a crisis, and she always fixes it with a bow. My daughter said, ‘Mom – we have a Bow-Tique.’ She and I love that show.” She feels like the timing was perfect. “I feel like there is a bow craze, or maybe there always has been and I just didn’t notice.” Weekly Surge asked her if she is riding the crest of this wave. “Absolutely. And I hope it’s not just a wave – I hope it’s an ocean.”

It would appear that for Hoffman, work is play. “I truly love it, she says. “I get excited like it’s Christmastime every time a box comes in the mail with new ribbon or rhinestones. I do a lot with bling. The bigger the bow, the better the mom. That’s my motto.”

Despite the booming business, Hoffman says her children are her first priority. “I spend time with my kids – of course the teacher comes out in me – a lot of reading going to [Ripley’s] Aquarium – you know, the Myrtle Beach kind of thing. But I incorporate bows in everything. While we play Lego, a lot of times I am making bows.”

But will the Hoffmans remain on the Grand Strand, which is a transient area?

“Forever,” says Hoffman. “This is home. We are planting roots for sure.”

Know of a local with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 A Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at rgyale@gmail.com

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