Kathryn Loboda

Former Panther crafts her way to success


Courtesy of Kathryn Loboda

Panther graduate Kathyrn and her husband Chris hold the documents making their business, Cambridge Avenue Design, official. Loboda started exploring the idea of opening her own company in 2015 after realizing she could make a living out of her hobby and fondness of crafting.

Over the years many determined graduates have walked out of Starr’s Mills’ doors with abundant plans for the future, ready to achieve success. Twelve years ago, when Panther alumna Kathryn (Hicks) Loboda crossed the stage and accepted her diploma she didn’t have her future quite so set in stone.

“When I graduated from [Starr’s Mill], I had no idea what I wanted to study in college,” Loboda said. “It was always so stressful to me because it seemed like everyone knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives and I didn’t have a clue.”

I think it’s important to realize when you don’t get what you want, there is usually something so much better waiting for you on the other side.”

— Kathryn Lobada

After being denied from Florida State University, her dream school, what plans Loboda did have were all but vanished. Though initially devastated by her rejection, Loboda discovered an alternative school where she felt she really belonged.

“I hadn’t really thought of a backup option because I just knew I’d be going to FSU,” Loboda said.  “However, I ended up going to Auburn and looking back I can’t imagine going anywhere else. I fell in love with everything about Auburn and realized I was exactly where I was meant to be. I think it’s important to realize when you don’t get what you want, there is usually something so much better waiting for you on the other side.”

Once Loboda found Auburn as an opportunity for her to reach her full potential, she still struggled to find a major to fulfill the future she pictured for herself. Going into college with an undecided major, Loboda eventually chose apparel merchandising with a minor in business, a decision she says has helped her succeed to this day.

Loboda’s passion for crafting was always something she kept to the side. She never imagined finding success or a career in something she just simply loved to do in her free time until her coworkers inspired her to open an online shop on Etsy in 2015.

Courtesy of Kathryn Loboda
Former Starr’s Mill student Kathyrn (Hicks) Loboda found her passion in starting her own business, Cambridge Avenue Design. Loboda first started her company as an Esty shop in 2015 and has become her full time job.

“A couple of the girls I worked with at the time had Etsy shops and were encouraging me to open my own since I was always crafting and making things,” Lobado said. “I had no idea what I was going to sell, but the thought of earning a little extra money by selling things I was already making sounded exciting.”

Courtesy of Kathryn Loboda
Loboda graduated from the Mill in 2006 not sure about what she wanted to do with her future. Twelve years later, Loboda has discovered the marketability of her crafty skills and has successfully founded her own business.

With humble beginnings, Loboda’s success in her online business skyrocketed when she began to specialize in wedding-related merchandise with her husband Chris. Their online company Cambridge Avenue Design, named after a street the couple lived on, has grown to be more than a side hobby, but a full-time career for both Loboda and her husband.

“In the two and a half years since we started, we have had over 8,000 sales, which I never dreamed would happen,” Loboda said. “My husband and I were able to quit our day jobs and pursue our business full time within six months which is just crazy! We also just hired our first employee which is very exciting. Being able to make a living by doing what you love is the best part of it all. I would have never dreamed this would happen in a million years.”

For Loboda, finding a career was always about uncovering a future where she could enjoy making a living. While Loboda questioned what that profession would be as she grew up and even into college, she got where she is today by putting her happiness.

“I never knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” Loboda said. “I just wanted to be happy. I didn’t want to be one of those people that worked their life away at a job they hated. I wanted to find something that lit me up and felt more like a hobby than a job. Being able to start my own business and run it exactly how I want is better than anything I could have ever imagined in high school. I wish I could go back and tell my high school self not to worry so much about the future. Everything always works out exactly as it is supposed to.”

In the society we live in, it is all too common for high school students to be expected to know exactly how they want to live their lives before college and they often feel pressured to hastily make decisions that could affect the outcome of their life. As Loboda stated, sometimes it is better to let things work themselves out and to find your true meaning in life as you evolve to be the person you want to become.

I wish I could go back and tell my high school self not to worry so much about the future. Everything always works out exactly as it is supposed to.”

— Kathryn Loboda

“I never really intended for this to be my career path,” Loboda said. “Partly because I didn’t know it was an option. However, once I realized I could make a living from it, I was determined to make it work. After so many unfulfilling jobs and stress around wondering what my career path would be, I was finally able to say, this is exactly what I am meant to do.”

It was very important for Loboda to achieve not just a day job, but a career built on the aspects of life that make her happiest. Loboda’s story represents how ideas seemly out of reach can become reality. Running a business can be a daunting task, but as Loboda followed her passion it became readily achievable especially with the online resources available in this day and age.

“My advice to current high schoolers that want to start their own business would be to embrace what makes you different,” Loboda said. “Don’t be afraid to do things differently and do what nobody else is doing. You and your business will never stand out by following the crowd.”

For more information about Loboda’s success and to see the products she has available for sale, visit Cambridge Avenue Design’s site. Cambridge Avenue Design can also be followed on Facebook at Cambridge Avenue Design or on Instagram and Pinterest @cambridgeavenue.