Florida Woman Known Around World For Her Ugly Christmas Sweaters

WESLEY CHAPEL, FL — Deb Rottum’s mantra is “The tackier, the better.” Throughout the year, she’s on the lookout for gaudy baubles, tacky trimmings and gimmicky appliques to incorporate into the ugly Christmas sweaters that she now sells around the world.

Deb’s Handmade Ugly Tacky Christmas Sweaters was launched six years ago when the Wesley Chapel, Florida, woman decided to sell three tacky Christmas sweaters that had been languishing in her closet.

“I had them for over 13 years and would wear them every Christmas,” said Rottum. “But I got tired of them and decided to sell them on eBay.”

To her surprise, the sweaters, priced at $25 each, were quickly snatched up. Obviously, there was a market for ugly sweaters so Rottum began designing and making her own hideously festive creations.

Her ugly sweaters, which she sells on the Internet shopping site, Etsy, have garnered her international attention. The over-the-top creations have been featured in Great Britain’s Mirror, Southern Living magazine, on “The Meredith Vieira Show” and on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“I’ve always been a crafty kind of person and I have a lot of fun making the sweaters,” she said. “But it’s also fun to hear people’s reactions to them.”

Her home work space overflows with every kind of garish trim, accessory and decoration she can forage at thrift stores. yard sales and discount bins.

Surrounded by these tacky inspirations, Rottum lets her imagination go wild.

“I usually select a theme and then decorate the sweaters with everything from feather boas, ribbons, tinsel, hand-cut letters and beads to stuffed animals,” she said.

Whenever possible, she tries to include an annoying feature such as bells, lights and talking characters.

Her biggest seller is her Grinch sweaters.

“People love anything that has the Grinch on it,” she said. “I can’t make enough of them.”

Rottum designs sweaters for all ages, sizes and genders. She’s even added dresses, hats, shoes and purses to her offerings for the people who want to show their ugly holiday spirit from the feet to the top of the head.

Occasionally, she’s asked to make a custom sweater.

“One customers asked me if I’d design a sweater with a Pokémon theme for her son,” said the mother of three. “I didn’t have any Pokémon characters so I bought one off my 9-year-old son to use.”

Rottum has no idea why her sweaters are such a hit but her business has grown every year.

“Ugly Christmas sweaters are really hot,” she said. “Families have their portraits taken wearing them. People host ugly sweater parties and give out awards for the ugliest.”

She said she hopes it’s a fad that never goes away.

“I’m a single parent so I really rely on the income from my sweater,” she said. “I’m a one-girl show. I source the sweaters, make them, model them and ship them.”

One photo of her modeling a “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” sweater caught the attention of the song’s author, Randy Brooks.

“He contacted me to tell me that he wrote the song and how much he enjoyed the sweater,” said Rottum. “So I made one for him.”

Rottum also offers an array of ugly Hanukkah sweaters. Her sweaters range in price from $33.99 to $99.99 and can be purchased on her Etsy site.

Images via Deb Rottum

(For more local news from Florida, click here to sign up for real-time news alerts and newsletters from Patch. If you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app; download the free Patch Android app here.)

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *