Farmington Woman Specializes In Making Ugly Sweaters

By Erny Zah The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M.

FARMINGTON

Ugly sweaters have become synonymous with the holiday season in recent years. Now a local entrepreneur is looking to cash in on the ugly holiday sweater business.

"They are really more garish because they're really not ugly anymore," said Joanna Klepac, who makes the sweaters.

She said she got the idea to capitalize on the ugly sweater market when she owned a consignment store a few years ago. She displayed some older sweaters, and people came and bought them for holiday parties.

Since then, she has had ambitions to make unique sweaters specifically for ugly sweater parties.

"My whole idea was to go into business," she said.

She has hundreds of sweaters she has purchased in the past few years since her consignment store closed. She'll be making a comeback this year with her creations.

She has about 60 sweaters for sale at three stores in Farmington, including Poppin Tags, a consignment store downtown.

"I love her sweaters," Poppin Tags owner Lisa Giovannini said.

She has about a dozen of Klepac's sweaters hanging in her store window.

"We have sold a lot of them already," Giovannini said.

Klepac adds Christmas decorations to most of her sweaters.

During an interview Wednesday, she wore a red sweater with gold buttons and gold plastic beads that she glued on herself.

Klepac said the sweater was an older creation from when her store was still open.

"Times have changed," she said about creating ugly sweaters.

The more popular sweaters are three-dimensional versions that can feature everything from Christmas trees and presents to moving, mechanical, singing toys.

She said sweaters take at least one day to make, but sometimes longer.

"It takes longer than it should," Klepac said.

She said when she's working on a sweater, she often envisions small additions she can make. That means some sweaters take as many as five days to complete.

"I'm always adding stuff," she said.

Klepac's creations often have invoked laughter, Giovannini said.

Prices for the sweaters range from $22 to $52, depending on the amount of decor a piece might have.

Some custom ugly Christmas sweaters have sold for as much as $100 in locations across the country, she said.

Despite their comic value, Klepac said her sweaters aren't meant to take away from the more traditional spirit of Christmas of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

"Its intent is to be a parody of what the materialism has done to Christmas," she said. "It's just a parody. It doesn't take away from what Christmas is."

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