“I’ve been doing it now for 30 years. It’s a passion. It’s a love. This is like my child — I love it to death. I love working with the people, and I love making people happy.”
That’s Davida Lampkin Tydings, owner of Davida Aprons, a maker of specialty textile products from aprons to toilet seat covers to clothing. She is also the creative force behind a stream of clever and funny products, like a Ladies Cow G-String.
“People always say ‘Where do you come up with these ideas?’ And I just have things that click in my mind,” she says.
One of her most successful products is a matzah-bread-pattern fabric toilet seat cover, decorated with the words “Let my people go.” The product has gotten a lot of exposure, says Lampkin Tydings. “Jay Leno had it on for last minute Christmas gifts, and he says, ‘We can’t forget the Jewish people at Christmas.’ ”
The product was popular because it had some humorous shock value without being odious. People go by, look at the product, and they start to be offended, according to Davida. “Then they come back and they say, ‘I have to get this! I have to get this for my Uncle Irving or my rabbi.’ Shock always works.”
Another popular product is a animated doll dressed in matzah-print clothes that dances and sings. “We’re famous for our matzah man doll,” Lampkin Tydings says. “That’s a very favorite thing of ours. My mother’s voice is in the doll. And we’ve sold 80,000 of those.”
Davida stresses that she makes products for every holiday, but the Jewish holidays are a particular strength. “They call me the Queen of Judaica. Now I do everything. We do Hanukkah, we do Christmas, but nobody does Hanukkah like we do,” she says. “We try to do every holiday. But we do all the Jewish holidays and really play them up.”
The company is proud that it is based in the United States. “All of our soft goods and textile merchandise are made here in the United States. We make it ourselves. We design it, we print it, we cut it, we sew it, we sell it, we schlep it,” Lampkin Tydings says.
One of the company’s challenges is cheap copycatting from companies who source overseas. “There’s lots of competition. But we’re the trendsetters. People knock us off. That’s the highest form of flattery — well that kind of flattery I don’t need. Because they knock us off, and of course they do it overseas. I try to keep my prices down, but you do have to pay for quality.”
According to Davida Lampkin Tydings, she has stayed successful by being creative and innovative. “You have to keep having new ideas. People do knock us off, so we do always have to be a step ahead.”
That inventiveness and energy shows in the company’s eagerness to create custom products for customers, says Lampkin Tydings. “People come up to me and say to me, ‘I do penguins, or I do frogs, I do cows.’ I talked with this one lady who has a penguin Web site. And she tells me she has a monkey site. So I say ‘Well why don’t you buy monkey stuff from us?’ And she says, ‘Well, I didn’t know you had them.’ And I say, ‘I don’t, but I’ll make them.’ ”
She “definitely” works with flea market vendors. A flea market customer told her, “I only do musical notes,” Davida says, “so I made musical mitts and potholders. Anything out of fabric I can make.”
One flea market vendor has been a loyal Davida Aprons customer for years. “Her products sell very well and are good quality,” says Harlee Steinberg, “She is excellent on service.” Steinberg is the owner of Romancing the Home, a longtime gift and home accessories vendor at the indoor Festival Flea Market Mall in Pompano Beach, Fla. “I’ve been buying from Davida for 12 or 13 years,” says Steinberg, “Judaic items for kids, home accessories for the holidays.”