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Seek the Unique at The Local Loft
by Cody Moore, photography by Kayla Broadway

For Jonesboro native Leigh Ann Faught Ford, jewelry and handbags are more than just a simple addition to an outfit. Born from her love of accessories, Ford’s business, The Local Loft, gives fashion lovers the opportunity to purchase unique accessories in a showroom setting.

Ford, who graduated from Arkansas State University with a master of science in education, currently co-owns Diversified Construction Group (DCG) and Simply Green Lawn Care with her husband, Eric.

Before her current endeavors, Ford owned her own preschool, Apple of Your Eye, followed by working as a kindergarten teacher at Jonesboro Kindergarten Center. After her second son was born, Ford quit her former jobs to be a stay-at-home mom.
Fast forward to today; Ford’s three sons, Dylan, 23, Colin, 20, and Gavin, 15, are more independent and require less assistance from her.

“After my boys grew up, started going off to college and not needing me as much, I started trying to figure out what I wanted to do at this point in my life,” said Ford.

Being an avid jewelry and accessory lover, Ford often found herself wondering what it would be like to run her own accessory business.
“Accessories have always been a passion of mine,” said Ford. “It may sound silly, but it doesn’t matter what size I am or how old I get, I always feel better when I have on all my accessories. It’s a great way to express yourself and show your own style.”

After taking it upon herself to visit a retail market in Dallas in January 2018, Ford began to explore the possibility of owning and operating her own accessory business.

“After much thought, I decided that I would start selling accessories online and test the waters,” she said. “This almost felt like a challenge, because I knew very little about computers and hadn’t been on social media in years.

“I started doing research and reading as much info as I could find and eventually found someone to set up my website. Then, I started buying small amounts of inventory, such as purses and jewelry, and took all of the photos and got some of my friend’s daughters to model for me.”

Before she knew it, Ford’s online business venture had officially begun. The Local Loft’s website was up and running in August 2018, and the rest is history.

“The Local Loft’s website quickly began making sales outside of Jonesboro, but the people in town started coming to my house to pick up and check out what I had in person,” said Ford. “So, I turned my tiny home office into a mini showroom to display what I had.”

As her confidence in her online business continued to grow, Ford began looking for a small space where The Local Loft could potentially grow into something bigger. She eventually found a space and opened The Local Loft’s official showroom in April of last year.

“My tagline at The Local Loft is ‘Seek the Unique Boutique,’” said Ford. “This meaning that my goal is to find a wide range of styles in the accessories that I carry. I go to as many different markets as I can, because I love the hunt for my inventory and I want to make sure I have something for everyone.”

Upon walking into The Local Loft, guests will be kindly greeted by either Ford or by Madison Hogue, Ford’s only employee. When opening The Local Loft’s showroom, one of Ford’s main goals was to make sure it was a space that felt comforting to anyone who walked in.
“I am modeling The Local Loft after my dad’s flower shop, Faught’s Flowers, a business he started and ran for 48 years,” said Ford. “It wasn’t just a place of business, it was a place for people to come by, talk and hang out.

“My showroom has a super laid-back, fun atmosphere. Guests often say that they feel like they are playing in their mother’s closest when they visit.”

Gracing the walls of The Local Loft is an abundance of jewelry, handbags, totes, umbrellas, makeup bags, belts and more. Ford currently represents more than 100 independent, hand-crafted and locally sourced brands in her showroom.

“I can’t really say what my most popular brand is because I carry so many good companies,” said Ford. “That’s the cool part; it just depends on your own personal taste. I do have lots of exclusive companies that I am proud to say The Local Loft carries.”

Among Ford’s best-selling items are an exclusive line of leather backpacks and purses that seem to fly off of the shelves. Ford also sells a lot of mixed metal accessories, including jewelry that consist of different coins.

“I do think an item that everyone will want for the new year is an open-lock necklace to layer with other pieces,” said Ford. “Also, bags that convert from purses to backpacks are really popular. You also can’t ever go wrong with a stack of bracelets. In my opinion, you can never have too many.”

Ford has plans to bring additional brands into The Local Loft throughout the new year.

“Guests will constantly see new brands in my store since that’s what I am constantly looking for,” said Ford. “I also try to ask as many people who walk into the showroom for suggestions on inventory and brands. I have books of ideas that I have gotten from others, and I plan to do as many of those as I can.”

As The Local Loft continues to thrive, Ford can’t help but credit much of the showroom’s success to the women who have helped her along the way.

“The people I have met are the best part of owning my store,” said Ford. “My friends supported this vision I had, and women that I didn’t even know very well were going out of their way to try and help spread the word. The only reason my showroom has been successful is because of all the encouragement I have received.

“Also, my walls are decorated with my ‘local ladies,’ painted by my friend and local artist Andrea Alpe. It’s a little reminder how we all as women need to build each other up and support one another.”

Due to the growth of her showroom, Ford recently made a decision that will allow The Local Loft to continue to expand.

“I can officially announce that we have bought a new building for The Local Loft,” said Ford. “For anyone that has been in the current showroom, they know why we made this decision. It’s been a challenge to display everything I have in a 600-square-foot space.”

Ford will be making a grand opening announcement on The Local Loft’s social media pages in February.

Because of the constant support from family, friends and the Jonesboro community, Ford has high hopes for the future of her growing accessory business.

“The Jonesboro community has been awesome,” said Ford. “I have had so many people be supportive and go out of their way to help promote my little business. … I have made so many new friends and have gotten to reconnect with some old friends.

“The timing in opening The Local Loft was just right. For the past 23 years, I have had three boys to raise, so it’s so nice to do something girly and something that I am passionate about.”

The Local Loft, currently located at 1817 Woodsprings Road, is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The new location will be located at 2609 Southwest Square in Jonesboro. To keep up with all updates and announcements, find The Local Loft on Facebook and Instagram or visit thelocalloft.com.