As a way to encourage economic growth and job creation, the city of Ashland, Kentucky awarded Trophy House of Ashland a $25,000 grant at the end of January. Owner Jessica Leighty will be taking on another employee and plans to purchase a laser engraver and a digital transfer printer.
“I’m grateful to the city for the opportunity from this grant,” Leighty states. “As a single mother, it probably would have taken me years just to have the capital built up to purchase an engraver.”
The Trophy Shop first opened its doors about 32 years ago in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. When the original owners, Anne and Jim Lobby retired, their son took over. After a couple years, he sold the shop to Leighty’s parents, who owned it for 16 years. While her parents were running it, the owners of a competing store, Westwood Trophy Shop, decided to retire. Leighty bought that shop and combined it with Trophy House. The shop moved from Westwood to Ashland on August 4, 2018, due to the previous location being too small.
Now located in Ashland, Leighty is the sole employee of the shop and has been an owner for the last six years.
When county commissioner Larry Brown was shopping in Leighty’s store one day for an embroidered shirt, Leighty inquired with him about what grants are available for businesses. “I had seen in the local papers where several businesses had received grants from the city,” Leighty explains.
Brown informed her of the Economic Development Women Owned or Ethnic Minority Business Grant Program, which offers capital and fixed asset loans to women-owned and minority businesses located within the city of Ashland. This program is administered by the city of Ashland but funded by Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
Although she could have applied for a grant up to $100,000, Leighty chose to go with $25,000 to have enough capital to purchase a laser engraver and a digital transfer printer. Prior to the grant, Trophy House operated with a Wizard engraver, embroidery machine, vinyl cutters, a sublimation printer, and a Vision rotary engraver that is about 30 years old, according to Leighty.
Leighty aims for the business to move into more of the gift market, although this equipment will work with trophies, T-shirts, and plaques. “What I’m looking to get more into is the ceramics, mugs, travel cups, and being able to engrave glass and crystal,” she adds. Trophy House will also now have the ability to work with rounded objects and engrave directly onto wood and leather, which it couldn’t do before.