Since she was a child, Litter Critters ™ founder Diane Smith has seen opportunity where others see trash. Growing up in Washington, D.C., at the end of a dirt road seemed a world away from the city. Her mother grew up during that Great Depression and as a result making more out of less was a way of life. Nothing ever went to waste and almost anything that needed to be fixed was rigged perfectly by finding just the right thing somewhere in the house or outside.
Playing outdoors with her brother and cousins and always “pretending” meant needing to find objects that intuitively led her to search the trash pile where the family dumped to burn later. Diane never failed to find something useful to serve the purpose.
When she became a mother she kept a big box to accumulate many of the same things (and more) including some masking tape and markers to inspire her son for his own creations and innovations. He loved the box that lasted for many years, and he made her very proud with of all the fun and interesting things he made. He would use every piece in the box.
Her entrepreneurial spirit led her from making “lady di’s pies” in D.C. for a restaurant where she worked as a server to years later in 1986, a courier company that has now grown into a warehousing trucking and logistics company. The company run by Diane and her husband, Thor Smith, now serves the eastern region and is still growing.
Today, Diane is also the proprietor of a restaurant, antique store, and a radio station in Hancock, Maryland. A visit to Buddy Lou’s is an experience, and it’s the centerpiece of this small rural community where locals and travelers gather, and friendships are made. You can get a sense of Diane’s creativity that started in her childhood backyard from the repurposed décor, including curtains and chair covers made from upcycled plaid shirts.
Her latest venture, Litter Critters ™, is inspired by the natural beauty in the state of West Virginia that has always reminded her of where she grew up. In fact, Diane affectionally refers to West Virginia when describing her D.C. childhood home.
While building a log home in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, she sadly discovered and loaded literally a truck full of debris from the river. She saw that the railroad tracks were littered for miles.
Diane feels very lucky to experience the effects and lessons learned during the Great Depression, but wonders how can we teach privileged children now how to be resourceful without suffering? She’s not sure it’s possible. We live and learn, and our core strength comes from experiences good and bad. Diane believes that we need to give our children less, step aside and let them struggle sometimes to find their own way. As they say necessity is the mother of invention…