Local photographer Hilary Brodey literally fell into what has become a nice little business for her.
Not long ago, she was at a wedding and standing on a stool taking pictures, when she decided to jump down to get a better angle.
Unfortunately, she caught the spike of her high-heeled shoes on a rung in the stool and went flying, tearing the ligaments between her thumb and index finger on her right hand.
“I had to cancel all my photo shoots,” she said, “because I have a large camera with a large lens and it was impossible to operate with my injury. So I thought, ‘What else can I do while I wait for it to heal?’”
“There is a website called Zazzle where I had been selling lots of little things using some of my photography, and one day I noticed that they were carrying some leggings. I had the idea to put my photography on the leggings and see if I could sell them through a little online shop,” said Brodey.
And, as it turned out, indeed she could.
Brodey uses all kinds of images from her vast collection, some as simple as a colorful illustration of flowers, others as eclectic as things she has seen and photographed in her travels like street maps, graffiti and old restaurant signs in Europe.
“People liked them,” Brodey said, “so I started making more and more things,” in addition to the leggings such as totes, ties, tank tops, skirts, shoes and even watches.
She also created a small collection dedicated to the Chinese Year of the Rooster.
“I just do it for fun,” Hilary said.
Since she began using Zazzle, Brodey estimated she’s sold around 100 pieces of her wearable art.
Prices for her Zazzle items vary. Shoppers can chose from a baby onesie for $16.75, a pair of leggings for $67, sneakers for $95.40 and a tie $36.90. Discounts, such as 20 percent off leggings, currently apply to some of her products. Every week is a new special, said the artist.
“I am adding more and more items with new pictures all the time.”
Even though her injury is better and she can once again use her camera for her child photography business, “I will still continue the shop because I really enjoy it and people seem to like my things.”
Brodey says her inspiration to get into photography was her daughter, commercial photographer Maren Caruso.
“She got me interested in photography, not the other way around,” she said.
“So I started a little family photography business, doing what I call artful portraiture of kids. That segued into family photos, some corporate stuff and a little bit of real estate photography.”
After that, Brodey got into stock photography and was picked up by Getty Images.
In addition to her photography and online apparel business, Brodey and her husband have a small vineyard on their Atlas Peak property where they grow Syrah grapes that are sold to wineries.
They also have a small publishing business, Capra Press, that Brodey inherited from her father.