Made in the South Awards Winner Reflects
* June 2014 Update – Lichty Guitars celebrates 5 years in business this November as Garden and Gun celebrates 5 years of stellar Made in the South Awards! *
We honestly had no idea just how much of an impact being the Made in the South Awards 2010 winner would have on our business and on our lives. While reading the latest issue of the magazine at the breakfast table we noticed an announcement for the 2011 awards entry deadline. That lead to us reflecting back on the day we submitted our story, a little over a year ago, and to marvel at the comparison of Lichty Guitars a year ago and Lichty Guitars today.
A year ago Lichty Guitars was a step beyond a labor of love and a step short of a thriving custom handmade acoustic guitar & ukulele business. We were in that place of full-tilt commitment with orders coming in and a good grass-roots buzz building and yet it was “the early days” and a heap of faith was still a bold-print part of our business plan. It was with that faith (and fingers crossed) that we filled out the Made in the South awards application. As true fans of Garden & Gun magazine, we knew the awards program would draw the attention of incredibly talented people and innovative businesses and we looked forward to learning about the winners, with little expectation that our name would be on the list.
Fast forward to a phone call Jay received in the late fall informing us that Lichty Guitars was the overall Made in the South winner, with five additional winners in five categories. To say we were honored is truly an understatement. When the Dec/Jan issue came out and we read about all the other winners we found ourselves tucked in with the best of the best and what a thrill!
The impact of this award on our business has been tremendous. We’ve had the good fortune of meeting many new folks who have come to our shop with “I read about you in Garden & Gun” on the tip of their tongues. Some of these now play and praise their Lichty guitar or ukulele, as these introductions have led to many custom orders. In fact, a visit to our little NC luthier shop by a New York couple just the other day resulted in the sale of a special guitar right off the bench, before it was even finished. When we asked them how they had heard about us, you bet – Garden & Gun was the reply. Due to recognition from other media about the awards, Lichty Guitars has since been featured on TV, in regional magazines such as Spartanburg Magazine and Mountain Traditions and on some of the highest traffic guitar-related websites, such as Guitar.com.
There is a magic moment for most successful small businesses when they shift from hoping to make a go of it to knowing they are happily in it for the long haul. It is accurate to say that winning the 2010 Made in the South Awards was the catalyst that led to that moment for Lichty Guitars. For Jay, who discovered his passion and developed his skill as a luthier when (thankfully) his livelihood as a home contractor dried up with the housing market, the honor and recognition by Garden & Gun as the overall winner of the Made in the South 2010 awards will always be a high-point in his career.