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Off the Rack: "Little Indulgences" 

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Listening to Jessica Haddad talk about her handmade accessory line, Cupcake Accessories, it's hard not to think of Diane Keaton in the movie "Baby Boom."

In that story, Keaton inherits a baby from a distant relative, quits her high-powered job in New York and moves to rural Vermont, where she cooks up a highly successful brand of baby food that sells millions of jars.

The same basic ingredients are there for Haddad, except she left Richmond for New Hampshire, and it's belts and handbags instead of baby food.

"Basically, I was just bored and looking for something to do," she says, "so one day I made this little bag." That little bag got a lot of attention. Requests grew until Haddad needed a Web site to keep up with orders.

Haddad started with tote bags and kids' purses, eventually moving into belts, cosmetic cases and key chains — the basics, Haddad says.

"The whole idea behind the business is that's it's like a tasty little treat for your wardrobe," she says, hence the name Cupcake. "My customers are mostly women like me: stay-at-home moms with young kids who don't have a lot of time to shop for themselves or a lot of money for themselves. These are small little indulgences, impulse buys that people don't have to agonize over spending money on."

Before becoming an accessories designer, Haddad covered fashion, art and home decor for Style Weekly and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, work that helped sharpen her eye for design and nose for business. All Cupcake purchases come packaged in a pink bakery box.

"It's definitely been an unexpected career twist," Haddad says. She and her family have relocated to Richmond, but for now the accessories are available only online at www.cupcakeaccessories.com.



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