Elizabeth Mattingly was a self-proclaimed “bow head” in the 1980s.
The bright colors of hair bows always have attracted her.
In high school, she was a package bow maker for a retail store, and years ago, she started making hair bows for her nieces.
Mrs. Mattingly, 41, began selling them on Facebook under the name Hair Bow Auction, and now has about 4,500 followers. She said she has loyal clients and has shipped her custom hair bows all across the U.S. and as far as Canada.
She also sells the bows on Etsy and has had a booth at First Monday Trade Days in Canton for more than three years. In July, she added a second booth.
The vision for Silly Bugz, a children’s clothing store she opened in Gresham on Dec. 14, grew from that, she said.
Mrs. Mattingly said she’s like most moms who don’t want to buy the really expensive custom bows, so she tries to offer them at affordable prices. Most of them range from $8 to $12.
Mrs. Mattingly said she has about 200 different color ribbons and can make just about any kind of bow. Mothers often send her photos of a children’s outfit, and she matches it.
Silly Bugz offers seasonal clothes, as well as smocking dresses, appliqu￩ clothing and a line of pillow case dresses made by a woman in Malakoff. Their clothing for boys and girls ranges in size from newborns to 6X. They also offer shoes, hats and other accessories.
Mrs. Mattingly, 41, grew up in Waco and was an art history major at Wesleyan College in Georgia. She worked in retail during high school and college and always dreamed of opening her own store. But for 10 years, she worked as a real estate agent in Dallas, while her husband was an accountant.
Garry Mattingly, 48, grew up in Kentucky, and met his wife in Dallas. They have been married for three years and have a 2-year-old daughter, Frances. Mattingly said they traveled to several cities to look for a smaller town to raise their daughter and fell in love with Tyler.
“We took the plunge,” Mrs. Mattingly said of opening the business.
She said they always have called their daughter “Silly Bug,” and it seemed like a natural name for the business.
While eating at a nearby restaurant, they saw the vacant storefront in Gresham Village shopping center. Mattingly said after getting to know Tyler, they saw the city was growing out Old Jacksonville Highway.
“We thought we could get in on the growth before it hits full scale,” he said.
The couple runs the store together. Mrs. Mattingly is the creative one, focusing on buying and selling merchandise, while Mattingly runs the back office, doing accounting and keeping everything in order. She said they make a great team.
Because they are parents too, she said they try to keep their items in the $20 to $30 range. When they go to market, she looks for affordable stuff while her husband, “the money guy,” keeps her in line, she said.
Mrs. Mattingly said they want to grow the store also to offer cribs, as well as bigger clothing to become a full children’s store.
“Right now, we’re just listening to the customers and what they need,” she said. “They are the greatest feedback.”
She said they will have events at the store, and are planning to bring in the Easter Bunny and a photographer for Easter.
They also are working on their website, www.sillybugz.com , where customers will be able to order clothing online or create and buy for gift registries.
She said they have new merchandise coming in nearly every week.
“We’re not outrageously priced,” she said. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”