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Selling starfish: How Amy Hudson built her business

I’m in the starfish-tree business, which proves that with inspiration, faith, vision, passion and perseverance, anyone can build a business around just about anything.

Before I ventured into my retail, wholesale and online business of today, starfish always found a place in my home and former retail store, Flair Gifts in Bay St. Louis, which I closed in 2018 after a neck injury left me unable to work and benched me as a business owner. I swore I would never build another business to lose it again.

God had other plans for me. In 2020, Flair Gifts 2.0 was founded almost by happenstance when I began making starfish trees for family and friends in the garage using leftover starfish from a project.

While working in our garage that faces a well-trafficked street, I noticed ongoing wide eyes and drive-bys. People stopped to ask, “What are those? I’ve never seen one. Can I buy one?” The unbelievable interest led to artist Cissy Quinn and me hosting a 2020 Covid-friendly, pop-up art show in our front yard filled with starfish tree buyers. I then realized how inspirational the trees were to people, largely because of their symbolism of love and renewal. If a starfish arm is broken, it grows back new and whole again — a fitting metaphor for Flair’s rebirth.

You can turn a hobby into a business, but you can’t turn a business into a hobby. Perks like flexibility certainly are advantageous, but the time clock never really stops as a business owner. You must love what you do and dig in with blood, sweat and tears for years.

Business ownership is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’ll get. But it’s also much like gumbo, with different ingredients that must meld together to be good: planning, budgeting, financing, marketing, foresight, problem-solving, strong partnerships, patience, mentors, committed employees and a very supportive spouse who accepts you working at 9 p.m. during his nail-biting football game.

There will be failure and many risks, hopefully calculated — like buying 10,000 starfish to ensure readily available materials throughout the global pandemic. Thankfully, that was a good call.

Although I’m no Steve Jobs, who built Apple’s empire, we share the commonalities of a garage business and a dream. I’m testament to the fact that you can do it if you dream it, even if it takes a couple of tries.

Amy Hudson is owner of Flair Gifts, a retail, wholesale and online starfish business featuring hand-crafted items. She may be reached at or (228) 617-0498.

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