She’s making up for it now with her thriving jewelry-design business. The career change came after a move from the city to Ithaca, N.Y. “I took it as an opportunity to do something I always wanted to do,” she says.
In 2001, Lerch got her feet wet by designing the fancy hats worn by ladies at the Kentucky Derby. “I love wearing hats,” says Lerch, who grew up in Maryland and now lives with her husband and kids in West Conshohocken. “They were really fun to create.”
Several shop owners on the East Coast loved her creations. “When you start something like this, you hope that it could turn into a business, but you never know how people will respond,” Lerch says. “I was thrilled that people wanted to buy what I was making.”
Lerch then moved on to jewelry, which has a more universal appeal. “The hats took a back seat,” she says. “But I plan on reintroducing them to my line at some point.”
The response to her bold, colorful pieces has been as positive as the reception her hats received. The collection is sold primarily online, at local fundraisers like the Episcopal Academy House Tour and St. Katherine’s Mom’s Night Out, and at private trunk shows.
While many businesses have been hurting lately, Lerch’s sales remain solid. “It’s been busier than ever,” she says. “It seems that women are investing in statement jewelry like mine to change up the staples in their wardrobe.”
Lerch is now working on getting her spring line into various boutiques along the East Coast. “First and foremost, I’m a mom,” she says. “My goal was to get my kids into school, then take the business to the next level. So here we are.” Visit lisilerch.com.
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