Three years in, Charleston designer Libby Ganong gets a store and eyes more growth

Image by Katie Kozar/TheDigitel

Libby Ganong says she "never thought of being an artist or a crafter as a feasible means to make a living," but after launching her fashion design business in the fall of 2007 she now thrives off of her own two hands.

Add Libb Designs is Ganong's line of delightful clutches made of fine leathers and unique fabrics. Each purse is individual or custom made, often with a signature antique brooch or pin as an accent.

She recently opened up shop at 47 Spring Street downtown at Audella Studios, a shared space with Nicholas Lane Jewelry and Rua Design.

Ganong was working at an architectural firm and working for a bike taxi service in Charleston on the weekends and decided to apply to the Charleston Farmers Market. She recalls the experience, "'If I get in, I am quitting everything!' I DID."

With that Add Libb Designs became a full time operation for Ganong.

But her interest in sewing and crafts began at a young age. "I bought a vintage white sewing machine at a garage sale when I was about 11 or 12 years old and I started sewing" says Ganong, "I was, however, a bit of a jack of all crafts, master of none when I was younger, so my focus went from stained glass, to weaving, to photography, to sewing, back to stained glass, back to knitting, back and forth, back and forth. But I always did a little sewing on the side."

"No one taught me how to make anything, but somehow I was always ale to make a dress that draped and fit me perfectly without a pattern" she explains.  


It was with a trial and error process that Ganong created her handbag designs "It took me probably over 100 bags before I really started understanding how the fabric and leathers worked, moved and sewed.  It goes without saying then that my initial bags were experiments that lead to future set patterns that were popular and functional at the time."

Ganong finds more than just a pleasing material out of her fabrics, it is within her materials that she finds her inspirations. "I have always been hugely inspired by the texture and feel of leather ... I am inspired by the artists who create unique prints and washes on the leather, and I love nothing better than a great chenille upholstery fabric with a classy with a touch of funk pattern."

Like many business owners, Ganong has big plans, hoping to extend her wholesale business reach beyond the Southeast. She will be featuring her work at retail and craft shows in Florida and Virginia in March, and hopefully at a few buyer's markets up North in February.

You can find Add Libb Designs online at at Audella Studios, or at other retailers such as Sally Bettes on King St., Havens Gallery in Mt. Pleasant, and Island Gallery on Sullivans Island.  You can also purchase Add Libb Designs at the Charleston Farmers Market every Saturday in Marion Square April through December.