By Holly Tarson
Photos: Jim Smith Photography
Lilac Hill Designs, Connie Snyder’s studio, is fittingly nestled on a sloping hillside in New Paltz, surrounded by lilacs and lavender. Here, Connie creates gifts and treats for garden and home. She has always been a maker-entrepreneur. In junior high, she started by baking and selling cream puffs to a local restaurant. She’s been designing and selling ever since.
Connie had had her own marketing and design business for 35 years when new inspiration struck. For fun, she made some birdseed wreaths as holiday gifts, and on a lark, she threw them up on Etsy. They were a hit. They are packaged like a box of pastries—mini-bundt cakes—almost an homage to her early cream-puff days. The wreath-feeders evolved as demand grew; Connie even makes them in heart shapes as sustainable wedding favors. Mohonk Mountain House sells them in their gift shop. (How’s that for a partnership?)
Those wreath-feeders reignited her “maker self,” and she hasn’t looked back. Her love of gardening, and her tendency to lose her tools in the garden, inspired her to create a wearable cross-body gardening bag made of colorful canvas and just the right size for a trowel, clippers and a few seed packs. “When you garden, you put it behind you so it doesn’t get in your way. It’s nice and compact,” Connie says. At craft fairs, people told her they’d use it as a purse, if only it had a zipper. So she now makes a version in cute fabrics with a zipper on top. And her latest creation is something extra special. Connie sources men’s suits from resale shops and repurposes them into clutches, purses and totes that are unique, stylish and sustainable to boot. Connie envisions doing this for families when a loved one passes away. “This is a great way to remember somebody. You’ll have them with you forever.”
A myriad of other products is available on her website. There are hand salves and lip balms scented with essential oils to soothe the skin of gardeners and nongardeners alike. The Fisherman’s Hand Scrub and Chef’s Hand Scrub are made with citrus to combat stinky odors. The sugar scrubs have a coconut-oil base that leaves hard-working hands tenderly soft. One of the most unusual, but no-brainer, items is the lettuce bag. It’s made of terry cloth, which Connie says keeps your greens twice as long as other storage containers. After gently washing the lettuce (or collards, or kale…whatever your green of choice might be), place it in the slightly dampened bag in the fridge. That’s it. No more slimy salad mix!
A one-woman powerhouse, Connie designs, sews, makes, packages and ships everything herself. Each item has her special attention to detail. With the holidays around the corner, check out the gift baskets on her website, www.lilachilldesigns.com, for some gift-giving inspiration. And maybe pick up a lettuce bag for yourself while you are there. █