Words and photos provided by Olivia Bauso
When we align with a specific brand, it’s typically because of the people behind it. As humans, we appreciate the vision, but are more drawn in by the story. Lucinda Snyder’s story is straightforward, yet impactful, much like her designs. Both are clear, simple, and emotionally charged.
Lucinda is the founder and creative force behind Lucends.
Formal education doesn’t always shape the course of our careers, as we’ve seen time and time again. Lucinda’s journey has been no different. “I have degrees in Political Science and Higher Education Administration-- I’m using neither one of them,” she laughs. After working as an adjunct professor of comparative politics and women in politics at Rochester area colleges, Lucinda began a second career in student affairs. She says it was a “logical decision.” Working as an adjunct was difficult, and higher ed just made sense to her.
After a few years in a contractual position at RIT, Lucinda got offers to join Residential Life staffs at some other colleges. Knowing that wasn’t the direction she wanted her career to go, she dropped it all and opened a yarn shop-- naturally. Lucinda explains, “I taught myself how to knit, and I liked it. I had always been intrigued by color, and it was a hot thing at the time.” So she figured, why not?
She and an associate at RIT opened their storefront in the South Wedge, and kept the shop open for about four years. “I’ve had a lot of careers. I think I’m settling into the right one,” she affirms. After meeting and marrying her husband, Lucinda intended on being a stay at home mom. However, after the passing of her first son, Cooper, she needed an outlet to express herself through-- to distract her from her own thoughts.
It all began with a quilt. “I could knit with my eyes closed and my mind could still go. I needed something to keep me occupied.” So, Lucinda taught herself to sew as a way to “not obsess” over starting a family. She continued the newfound hobby through her grieving and beyond the birth of their second son, Chace.
At that point, her home was filled with products, and she had to do something with them. “I could either sell them, give them away, or leave Chace with hundreds of bags to deal with when I die,” she laughs. So she decided to sell them, and thus, Lucends was born.
“It all unravelled very organically,” Lucinda tells me. Her first craft show, about six months after she first began sewing, at the Rochester Museum and Science Center-- an ambitious venue for someone just starting out. Lucinda knows she wasn’t as prepared as she could’ve been, “I just laugh because-- not that my products were bad, but it was this hodge-podge of bags and stuff. It wasn’t cohesive, but people bought it, so I kept going.” She feels very strongly that Cooper has guided the whole process.
After selling at several shows, Lucinda started to see many designers using the same fabrics. Being the smart, unique person that she is, Lucinda decided to venture out and begin her own fabric line. With the help of Heather Dutton, a surface designer from Spoonflower, Lucinda was able to bring her visions to life. “I have a lot of people that make me look really good,” she laughs wildly.
Though Dutton lives in Maine and they’ve never met, the two have never had a moment of miscommunication. “She understands the brand, and she knows what I’m about,” Lucinda explains. “I have it in my head and I’m able to tell it to her, then she puts it together.” Everything is done through email, phone calls and Pinterest boards- a process that seems to be working for the duo based to the success of their product.
Lucends’ best selling pieces are those with quotes on them. Lucinda tells me she decided to move forward with quote pillows on a whim. “I’ve always liked words and quotes,” she tells me, “I’m more drawn to the actual lyrics of a song than the music behind them.” For her, quotes elicit some sort of emotion, and she wants her customers to feel something through her products.
This emotional appeal caught the eye of a wholesale company in South Carolina, who contacted Lucinda and asked her to join their rep group. They launched her products in August 2015, and since then she’s been put in 50+ stores across the country, and featured on Buzzfeed and Etsy. Why is something as simple as a quote bag such a hot seller? Lucinda has a few ideas: “It’s handmade, it means something, it reminds somebody of someone or something, and they can still put other things in it!” But Lucinda doesn’t want to stop until her products are in Anthropologie, “then I’ll know I made it,” she tells me.
Lucinda is grateful to the many people who have inspired and helped her along the way- a second sewer who’s “keeping her above water,” and someone she’s hired for social media. As a working mom, it helps to have a team behind her business, so she is able to fulfill both jobs. In January she will open a studio in Rochester (115 State St.) with open hours for retail and special events, which she anticipates will help further that separation between “church and state,” as she calls it.
Beyond the expansion of her space and designs, Lucinda aims to focus more of her time on her charitable line-- Cooper’s Flock pieces whose profits are donated to Mended Little Hearts-- and one day hopes the line can become it’s own foundation. In February she will be teaming up with the Amerks, Rochester's local American Hockey League team, to spread awareness of congenital heart defects in Cooper’s honor. “I feel like that’s the next piece,” she says. “I was always protective of my story because I didn’t want to exploit it; I didn’t want people to buy my product because of it. But, I’ve learned that by talking it out, the story is the brand. I see this business as a gift, and it can be used for the greater good.”
For this weekend’s Brainery Bazaar, Lucinda will bring whatever she has on hand, which in an ideal world would include one piece of every quote. She also uses craft shows to test new designs- something she hopes to spend more time developing next year in her new studio space. Whatever Lucinda comes up with, you can bet it will be simple, yet impactful- since she steers away from anything over “complicated and fussy.” Life is complicated enough, she doesn’t need her designs to be, too.
Lucends will be at our Brainery Holiday Saturday presented by Yelp Rochester on December 10th from 10am-5pm, along with other 20+ vendors. See our complete list of vendors that will be joining us on Saturday and Sunday here.