Meet Debi Allison. Owner, artist and founder of Deb & Co. Deb gives you a brief history of how she got started making her handmade polymer clay ornaments. Deb has been making her personalized ornaments for 32 years.
Debi Allison began her interest in arts and crafts as a young girl. She loved to draw and would spend most of her free time drawing or doing some sort of craft with her mother. Her favorite time of year was Christmas, when she and her mother would spend time making beaded stockings or Christmas ornaments. By the time Debi was in Junior High her interest had shifted to watercolors and oil paintings.
She participated in a few local art shows and quickly came to know the meaning of “Starving Artist”. It was then that she realized that if she wanted to make money she may need to change her focus to something more functional rather than decorative. She decided that she would try jewelry. She did very well with her jewelry until the gold craze hit in the late 70’s which caused her to change her craft once again.
Using a recipe found on a box of Morton Salt, she created baskets, plaques, figurines and Christmas ornaments from bread dough to sell at her shows. It had always been a dream of hers to have a shop in Gatlinburg, TN, so in 1983 she took the leap and moved to Tennessee where she set up shop at the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort.
Although Debi enjoyed making all of the different products, it was her ornaments that she enjoyed the most. She decided to participate in the Gatlinburg Craft Fair that year with just ornaments to test how well they might sell on their own. It proved to be a smart move: The first day, Debi sold more than she normally would during the course of a whole show.
While at that show, the manager from Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, GA approached Debi about setting up a cart in the mall at Christmas. Debi and her husband, Glenn decided to try it. Glenn worked in Atlanta while Debi stayed in Tennessee making the ornaments. Glenn would drive home once a week to pick up the ornaments and return the same night to Atlanta. Her first cart, Debi made enough money for a down payment on their first home. They continued to work carts at Christmas for the next fifteen years.
In 1989, Debi was feeling “burnt” out with her ornaments and decided to go to school for interior decorating. She bought a Decorating Den Franchise and began her decorating business in Sevierville, TN. During the 10 year course of her decorating career, her work was featured in more than 20 national publications and on the cover of multiple magazines such as “Victorian Home”, “Victorian Lifestyle” and “Windows & Walls” just to name a few. Even though she enjoyed what she was doing,, dealing with the workrooms in the decorating industry was not worth the stress.
After 10 years of decorating, Debi and Glenn decided to move out of the Gatlinburg area to the quiet little town of Buena Vista, VA. Debi went back to her ornaments full time in 2003. Since then, Debi has licensed her products to several different companies and is currently licensing to “Rudolph & Me”. Debi’s ornaments and figurines have been featured in more than 100 trade publications. Her style and flare for design are evident in every piece she creates and can be found all over the world.