Creative Profile: Mary Frances Flowers

We were lucky enough to meet Mary through an online Facebook group when she posted an ad looking for someone to do product photos for her new spring collection. After shooting her spring promo line I was able to tour her in-home studio space and get a closer look into what goes on behind-the-scenes at Mary Frances Flowers Studio. 

mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community

How did you get started? 

I interned for a jewelry designer in college who encouraged me to seek further education at a school up in NYC. So, I moved to New York after college, completed the course in all the basics of jewelry making - solder, wax carving, stone setting, etc. It was amazing, and I'll foreve rbe grateful for my time there. I worked for a super cool jewelry designer in NYC for a little bit before I realized that the South (and love) were calling me home. I moved to Asheville in August of 2014 and decided to give this whole jewelry business a try. There's been a ton of ups and downs but four years later, here we are. I still wake up every day and can't believe I get to do this for a living.

mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community

How did you know you wanted to start this business? 

Well, truthfully, it kind of just happened. I moved to Asheville, and although I interviewed for jobs doing all kinds of things, I just knew making jewelry and starting my own business would make me the happiest. I remember having a conversation with my dad about it, and he said, "What's more important - your happiness and well-being or following conventionality and getting a job just to 'have a job'?" He's an entrepreneur so doing something out of the norm was never foreign to him. I think back to that advice alot, and I always remind myself that my happiness is more important than doing something just because I think that's what I'm "supposed to" be doing.

mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community

What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner? 

There is literally no roadmap to success. You have to make your own - which sounds super exciting (and it is), but it's also kind of terrifying. You can plan and plan and plan, but you have to be willing to change plans at the drop of a hat. You might think you know your customer perfectly but then you bring your product to market, and it resonates with a totally different group of people than you thought it would. So, you've got to adapt and rearrange your strategies to fit who your true customer is. Honestly, it's just all a gamble. We all work our tails off to do what we think is right and what we think will work, but you have to learn to be flexible and believe in yourself in order to keep going and find "success". Also, "Success" is relative; it's different for every person so just because something didn't work out how you imagined, doesn't mean it's a failure. It's just a different kind of success. You succeeded in learning that lesson and now you can move on.

mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community

Tell me a little bit about your design themes! What draws you to the elements and mediums that you use? What inspires you? 

Nature! Obviously, this is the biggest inspirational draw. Take a look at any of my designs and it practically screams at you. But then, there's also nostalgia and sentimentality that inspire me. The stories behind something, like a piece of lace, can really get my brain going. I've also always been drawn to architecture and movement - I love the way certain shapes push and pull at others, creating a kind of dance, and I strive to find ways to incorporate interesting patterns and shapes into my designs.

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mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is. 

I've moved at least once every year since my business started (4 years ago!) so I'm up to about 5 studios total by now. Each one has been a cool learning experience in how to plan a space both aesthetically pleasing to the eye and functional for everyday. My current space in Raleigh is a 5x7' sunroom off my living room. It fits my desk, work bench, and a packing table (and sometimes Porter, my 75lb bernedoodle). It's tight, but everything has it's place so it works. My work bench has been with me since the beginning so it's really special to me. I've treated myself to certain tool upgrades ever year, though, so it just keeps getting better and better with age. Although I have a desk in my studio, I still spend about half of my computer work time in the living room or a coffee shop. I've found that it's really good for my creativity to move my work spaces around and keep things fresh. Also, I'm definitely more productive in the morning, right when I wake up (which, admittedly, is much later than it probably should be at around 7:30/8AM. I'm one of those people who needs a solid 8 hours of sleep or my brain doesn't function properly). If I don't get work started until after lunch because I've been driving back from a show or had an early meeting, my day is kind of shot, and I don't get nearly enough done. I'm learning that it's best to schedule meetings and workouts for later in the day so my brain can jump right into the work as soon as it gets into gear in the morning. 

mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community

What is your favorite piece and why? 

Oh man, it changes daily. The Turtle Necklace is one of the most special to me because it was a total experiment that came out absolutely baller & is now one of my best sellers. If I could pick a whole collection, I'd definitely say the FLORA Collection is my favorite I've ever made. I wear at least one piece from that collection every single day. Every piece is very wearable but also statement-making. Every time I wear any of the rosemary pieces, I always get stopped and asked about it. But, truthfully, my favorite pieces are custom pieces. I'm working on a bunch of custom pieces right now for my upcoming September wedding, and I'm really pumped to get to share those when they're ready. They all hold a story, and those are my favorite kinds of pieces - the ones with history. 

mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community

What are some goals you have for your business? 

This one is ever-changing. When I first got started, I wanted to conquer the world. I wanted my jewelry in every store across America. But now, I'm starting to hone in on who my customers really are and what their needs are. While yes, I'd still love to have my jewelry in a major department store one day and in all the big magazines out there, I also really love the intimate moments of designing a custom piece for a single person. I love hearing the background of the stones I'm repurposing and who's going to wear the new piece. It's really meaningful to me that people allow me to play a small part in the stories of their lives. I don't think I'll ever stop creating full blown jewelry collections for the masses, but I think I'd really love to work with individuals more on custom projects as well. Hopefully, within the next few years, I can gain a team who will help me achieve the goal of producing beautiful, high quality jewelry for many people as well as allow me to work on a select number of custom projects, too. 

Oh, also, I have about a million ideas for a home line and a larger accessories line. It's a double-edged sword when your brain never shuts off. But, I just released a limited number of bridal belts available exclusively at Gilded Bridal in Raleigh! I'm super excited to delve into a new category and see where it takes me. The belts are amazing - they're really just an extension of my jewelry line so if you like what I already have out there - you'll fall in love with these belts. Contact Gilded to learn more.

mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business? 

Everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone starts in the beginning. You can't start a business from the middle. I'm painfully impatient so the whole 'silently working till you're a badass and people say "oh, she's an overnight success" when in reality you've been working hard for years' is super hard for me. I want million dollar sales, a team of 100, a warehouse shipping daily... like, yesterday. But, that's not how business works. I want this company to last - I want people to have my jewelry in their jewelry boxes 20, 30, 40 years from now. And if I want quality and longevity, I have to be patient enough to let it build. Gain my customers's trust, prove my company's worth and value, and gain experience by trying and failing lots and lots of times before I finally start to figure it out. So, here's my advice: Let yourself fail. Try new things. Ask for help (and take notes!). Don't let fear or pride hold you back. You are exactly where you are supposed to be so sit back, soak it in, and enjoy the ride. (Also, fake it till you make it is real. On days when you don't believe in yourself - fake that you do and eventually, you just might again.)

mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community
mary frances flowers - handmade jewelry - north carolina maker - north carolina creative community

What do you use most for marketing? What is your favorite social media platform? 

Instagram & my email list. I get the most views on my site from Instagram far and away more than any other platform. However, I get the most sales from email marketing. Tip: Get to know your customers. Pay attention to what they like and what they purchase. Tailor your emails directly to them rather than sending mass emails blindly. It's better to have a handful of super amazing loyal, repeat customers who can turn into brand ambassadors (and bring in more customers) than a ton of one-off customers who only buy your product once and then forget about you. Invest in who is investing in you.

Where can we buy your products? 

My website! www.maryfrancesflowers.com

Creative Profile: Zen Succulents

When I first stumbled into Megan's store a couple of years ago, I was really excited to finally check out the store friends were telling me about. I was attracted to the cute handmade pottery plant holders and adorable succulents, but after the first purchase I was sold. I didn't just buy into the products--the plants and pottery and the like are all incredible quality--but you can get those things other places as well. I bought into Megan and her vision. Even the day that I went in to take pictures of Zen Succulents for this profile, it was so easy to fall into easy conversation with this boss lady. We talked about plants, the cultural significance of storefronts in cities, and the importance of smart business choices.

As much as I  love plants, I'm sometimes not so great at keeping them thriving or alive. But Megan has answered every question I have ever had about why my plants whether it was dropping her a quick message on Instagram or popping into the shop. She troubleshoots my plant ailments and sends me off with the doctor's orders. I love this shop and I can't wait to see how it grows. 

As some of you might know, Megan is about to open her second store front here in downtown Raleigh, so we thought no better time to give you a tour through her business, and if you keep reading you can get some sneak peaks into the store, opening July 11th!

History of Zen Succulents  

It really started as a terrarium and plant craft business with my mother and I for a passion in planting greenery that started at a very young age. It started as that in 2012 focussing on selling plant crafts, terrariums, focussing on succulents, all over the United States. But then that business really morphed into something else, meaning that we didn't just want to sell plants to our customers, but we also wanted to provide that education, that knowledge, that community as well. And that is what lead to the Zen Succulent to being that terrarium and plant craft business, but leading into a storefront in a workshop space, in a gathering space for likened people who love low maintenance greenery, love community, love caring for something other than themselves. in 2016 became in spot. 

What got you started in plants and plant care? What inspires you?

Honestly my mom. My mom has a passion for greenery and just working with her hands. She's a scientist by day and helps out with the business still.  She is a career scientist working forty years for the government, but over all that time she has always been very crafty. She still is. When I was five years old I remember her going to local craft fairs selling her hand made embroidery t-shirts. I always saw my mom having that 9-5 job along with a side hustle. I learned my plant care from her because she liked having plants in the house and we learned how to take care of them. Instead of our chores just being mowing the lawn and taking out the trash, it also included taking care of the living things around us. Things that inspire. me? My mom, nature, all the delight in color are the things that inspire me. 

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business

What are some things that are unique to being woman of color business owner?

The fact that you're seeing something different than the normal. I don't like to say that my shop has a color. It is a little bit more gender oriented with the lighter pastels that tend to be feminine, but the first thing that people notice is this gorgeous painting painted by Rachel Campbell, a Durham Artist by way of New Zealand, and her name is Melinda. Melinda is a gorgeous Durham African American Woman that is up in age. Ms. Melinda had lived a lot of years, but you can see this woman is inspired and joyful and surrounded by her plants. I love that painting. It is so amazing to have that piece in the shop because it does give a sense of this is a shop created by someone not in the mainstream, but it also brings together the fact that we are able to do a lot as woman business owners. It is very inspiring to be a woman of color because there isn't really a lot of that within the realm that I am in so its nice to show a great representation of my culture as well as a female business owner. 

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What makes your plant shop different? What about your brand stands out?

As I mentioned earlier, the Zen Succulent really morphed from being specifically terrarium, plant crafts, and other ways to display plants to being that neighborhood plant shop and gift shop, giving that opportunity that was allowed to myself when starting my business of having maker's independent micro businesses that share a creative theme is outstanding. We not only provide those plants and those great giftable items but we also provide the knowledge to take care of those plants so that they are living past that day and you are building confidence within yourself to continue to maintain them. We're not only providing those great looking, fun plants, but also providing the knowledge so that you gain confidence to take care of them. Our original store in Durham is 400 square feet. It is not large at all. It is baffling that we are able to have so much in that space, but everything that is in there is intentional and has a purpose so that our customers don't feel overwhelmed and its also cozy, and we have what you need.  

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business
Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business

How do you push yourself to learn more about plants and their care and go further with your business?

The big element is the plant care and plant knowledge base. This year we have become very interactive with our Instagram stories this year. Now every Tuesday we provide Plant Tip Tuesday where we select a low maintenance plant in the storefront where we tell you about the history, the care, also how you can style it in your home, and giving you more perspective of a plant that you might only see from a flat picture on the internet. We are trying to take this a step further on our blog which is revamped with out plants tips and knowledge. It's something we can catalogue. Customers would say 'we missed your plant tip Tuesday" so now we catalogue and put it on our Youtube Channel. You're never not learning when it comes to this. We are always picking up the latest books and talking to trusted growers and just finding out different tips we can trickle down to our customers. 

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business

What is the hardest thing about owning this small business in the RDU area?

Really, our business is such a niche market. You have to remember we started our business in 2012 online. We were on the online platform Etsy when it was in the heat of things, but we also took leaps and bounds by being in local shops and taking on local pop ups and putting our products in  local stores like West Elm and Madewell. We were able to move our business and see what people liked as we continued to build capital and build our business. During that whole time from when we opened a shop in 2016, we were trying to build a following. We were immediately able to see what was selling and what was not, so that we could curate our store. We were also able to go into those craft fairs as makers, and then see our friends next door and see what they were selling and build personal relationships with them. When I opened up the store it was so awesome to call on friends for specific items to be in the stores. We were able to utilize the skills of where we were as makers and bring that to the RDU area. That's not the hardest thing of owning a business in the area. It's really just a rewarding thing. 

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

I am an early bird. My fiancé and I have a little puppy named Archer. So Archer and I are waking up at 5:45 and we start our day together by 7. That is my prime time because my brain is up and it is moving. I can shoot off emails and design ideas. I can go into the store front or green house before the traffic gets on the road and do a great deal of work. My workplace is the same cash wrap that our customers in Durham check out at. Its a lovely L shape cash wrap, my height. Its perfect height for me to pull out my laptop and my workbooks. My workspace is the store front where I can be inspired by the things around me. I can see what I need to order and see how the shop is morphing. 

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business
Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business

What is your favorite plant or your favorite project that you’re working on?

I have worked personally on some amazing projects. I have had some stints working with the Home and Garden Television and their Instagram stories, even building a ten foot succulent wall which was an amazing and growing experience. We have also written a book called "Modern Terrarium Studios." All of those have been some exciting projects to work on. I would like to say that my favorite project to work on has also been the most stressful and that is working on opening up the storefront. 

The jade plant has to be, if I had to say, one of my favorites at the moment. It's sturdy and meant to bring good luck. It's party of the succulent plant so its so easy to maintain and it can grow super large. It's a forever plant. Very cool.

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business

What’s the most tedious but necessary task in owning a business? How do you hustle through it?

It comes to delegating. Delegating tasks are a huge bit of growing your business. Delegating tasks allows you to do something you're really passionate about and put the things that are necessary on the plate of someone else that might take away your joy. For me it was hiring an accountant. I love looking at the numbers, but I would rather focus on building a beautiful store front and an online presence than looking at those details and getting all those papers together. As soon as the new year hits you are getting off that high from doing so well during the holiday season to all of a sudden "Oh my gosh tax season is coming." I found an accountant who only focusses on small businesses.

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business

What are some goals you have for your business?

Goals are something I try to have as short term as possible. I don't know everything and I don't know how my business is going to go. I envision my business online at one point and that's what I made happen. I envisioned when the market was right to have a storefront and everything lined up. Really another goal has been to bring a little bit more of that to another area that our customers were coming from that we new if we brought it to them in a different experience, a larger storefront, it would provide more avenues for plants and taking it to that next level (hint hint Raleigh Storefront). I can't wait to share more of those goals soon (as in July 11th!).

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business
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What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business? 

We started ours a little bit different than most. We didn't have a whole bunch of capital to start off with. We didn't max out credit cards. I didn't have one. I started the business when I was 24, shortly after college. Literally, the first order that was sold I used that profit from that to make the second one. Everything was a slow build for us. We only used the money that we had. That made me strap down to figure out exactly where I wanted to put that money so it wasn't frivolously going out the door. That slow and constant build really is something I would encourage a small business to do. I also encourage you to test the waters. We went to those craft fairs and went to those shops. At some of those fairs, even the disappointments, we were able to test it out in different markets. 

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business

What do you use most for marketing? What is your favorite social media platform? 

It has to be Instagram. Our plants are just so visual. Instagram sums it up without even using words that goes across languages and barriers.

Sneak Peak of the new shop coming soon to Raleigh

Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business
Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business
Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business
Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business
Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business
Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business
Zen Succulents - Lifestyle Blog - Small Business - Creatives - Creative Consultants - Product Photography - Raleigh Creative Community - Raleigh Small Business

You can purchase Megan's terrariums, plants, and other gift items in both store fronts, located in Downtown Durham and Downtown Raleigh, as well as online. Be sure to support this creative and small business this coming week for the opening of the Raleigh Storefront. We hope to see you there! 

Durham Location: 125 E Parrish Street, Suite 100 A, Durham, NC 27701

Raleigh Location: 208 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601 

 

Creative Profile: PupVenture

Meet Lauren and Alison 

I was lucky enough to meet Alison through an amazing Reddit Ladies Group (because Yes that is totally a thing) and discovered not only is she fun and amazing but she is a badass lady boss. As someone who is constantly on location for shoots I knew I needed a reliable, fun, and trustworthy person to take care of my pups while I'm away. 

These two are nothing short of amazing. They come to your home, walk your dogs, give them all the love and attention they need, throw ball, and send you photos and updates every time they stop by. If my pup's smiling faces on the screen are any indication of how much they love these two I know your pups will love them just as much! 

Interested in learning more - Read Below or visit their website here. 

raleigh dogwalkers - raleigh dogwalking services - north carolina creative community

 

How did you get started? How did you know you wanted to start this business?

We had known each other when we both worked in the DTR bartending community, and both needed a change. Lauren got work at a doggie daycare and a locally owned natural dog and cat supply store. Alison started walking dogs and doing pet sitting on the side. Over brunch one day we connected on our love of pets and our desire to start a business that treated pets as we would want ours to be treated - like family.

pupventure raleigh - raleigh dogwalking services -

What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner? 

Although it is a very rewarding aspect of owning your own small business, scheduling time off for yourself can be challenging. The thing people don't realize about a dog walking business in Raleigh is how much driving we do! Because we prefer to give a personalized experience to each of our clients and because of how spread out Raleigh is, we spend a lot of time in our cars!

raleigh dogwalkers - raleigh dogwalking services - north carolina creative community

 

What are some of the pros and cons of your business?

Pro: Hanging out with dogs all day

Con: Hanging out with dogs ALL DAY.

raleigh dogwalkers - raleigh dogwalking services - north carolina creative community

 

What is your favorite part about your job?

All the amazing pets we get to develop amazing relationships with and to hopefully enrich the lives of by providing a personalized service.

 

raleigh dogwalkers - raleigh dogwalking services - north carolina creative community
raleigh dogwalkers - raleigh dogwalking services - north carolina creative community

Tell Us about your services.

- Dog Walks - 30 minute walks that focus on good leash manners and exercise

- Drop Ins - 30 minute visits that are our response to pet sitting. We visit the dogs up to 4 times a day for personalized care, attention, exercise, and feeding.

- Overnight Camp - your pet comes to stay at either Lauren or Alison's house! Doggy Camp!

- Wedding Services - want your pet at your wedding or for your engagement photos, but still want to enjoy your day? We're here to help with that!

And all services include picture and updates sent to you!

 

raleigh dogwalking services - raleigh dogwalkers - north carolina creative community
Shark Attack Corgi -  visit his Instagram here. 

Shark Attack Corgi - visit his Instagram here. 

raleigh dogwalking services - raleigh dogwalkers - north carolina creative community
north carolina creative community - raleigh dogwalkers - raleigh dogwalking services

What are some goals you have for your business?

To continue to develop a clientele of pets that become a part of our extended family

 

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

Be sure you love and have a passion for whatever business you start, because getting started is a lot of work so you must truly enjoy and feel fulfilled doing so.
 

north carolina creative community - raleigh dogwalkers - raleigh dogwalking services

What do you use most for marketing? What is your favorite social media platform?

We primarily use word of mouth marketing - networking the community and building trustworthy relationships with our clients who go on to recommend us to their friends, family, and neighbors. Our favorite social media platform is Instagram because it's fun and we get to share all of our incredibly cute furry friends with the world.

 

raleigh dogwalking services - raleigh dogwalkers - north carolina creative community
raleigh dogwalking services - raleigh dogwalkers - north carolina creative community

How can we book your sessions?

The easiest way to get in touch with us is to email us at pupventureraleigh@gmail.com or go contact us through our website at www.pupventureraleigh.com
 

To see more adorable pups check out their Instagram here. 
 

 

Creative Profile: Emily Guyer Design Co

Spending time with Emily is like drinking really good black coffee out of your favorite vintage thrift store mug, and that is quite literally what we did before diving into her photoshoot and talking through her brand. She has a way of making you feel welcomed, seen and heard within seconds of meeting. I have so enjoyed getting to know this lady over the past few years and watching her grow as an artist and business owner. She is fiercely passionate about creating excellent and beautiful content that is tailored to the individual and individual businesses all the while maintaining a commitment to her faith and her family. You can read a little bit more about her personal and business journey below! 

creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners

How did you get started in graphic design? 

I accidentally fell in love twice at the end of my junior year in college– once to my now husband, Michael, who was moving across the country 3 weeks later… and the second was to graphic design.

As an Advertising and Public Relations major, I had to take one introductory design class to satisfy my degree requirements. This intro class was by far the most frustrating and difficult of my college career (and I cried the tears to prove it), but it ended up being the most rewarding and satisfying. This class ignited a new passion and purpose. Faced with blank art boards in Adobe Illustrator and a task to communicate a clear and unique message, an artist emerged inside me.

 

creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners

What inspires you?

A lot of different things inspire me as an artist. I am a Christian, and God is the origin and definition of beauty, order, and peace. He is the supreme creator and artist, and we are all made in His image. I love delighting in and worshipping God while I work, knowing that I am reflecting Him and being who He created me to be. Also, I am a wife and mom and I often am inspired by everyday life at my house. I look for beauty here. I look for opportunities to wonder at the grace found in the four walls of my home. Out of an overflow of this joy and wonder, I create. I also, look at beautiful things to inspire me. If I’m stumped on a design, I’ll often peruse the catalogues of Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Minted, Gracelaced or Magnolia Market and wait for inspiration to strike again. I love researching the New York runway fashion trends and eagerly await Pantone’s release of their color of the upcoming season. My husband laughs at me because often I look at layouts and color choice on billboards and advertisements while I’m around town and consider how I would do it differently. I comment on font pairings and obviously hate Papyrus .  I’ll also wander down aisles of bookstores or libraries and look at book covers for inspiration.  (PS- I totally judge books by their covers and I won’t read a book with an ugly cover). I keep a notebook close by, and I jot down thoughts and layouts for the project I’m working on for whenever inspiration strikes

 

creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners
creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners

What is unique about being a female business owner? 

I started my freelance company out of a desire to use my gifts, help meet financial needs of my family, and also maximize time at home with my daughter.  I suppose one of the greatest tensions I feel is the juggling act of “doing it all.” I want to love my family well, help take care of my home, and be the primary influence in my daughter’s life while also growing a business. The lines often get blurry between home and work (because I work from my home), and I can struggle with feeling the pressures of not doing any of it well. My faith has helped me with this though. I have learned over the past few years to be grateful the grace God gives me each day and accept my limitations.

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creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners
creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners

What makes your designs different? What about your brand stands out?

I am passionate about infusing my love for beauty and commitment to excellence with my client’s brand and vision. As a graphic designer, I am hired to help other organizations accomplish their vision. Honestly, I often say that I am hired to be silent and yet loud. I am hired as their designer to make their company look great, to communicate their message effectively, and help their dreams be accomplished—in that sense, I am silent. I try to study them, listen, and ask good questions to draw them out. I enter the trenches with my clients and perceive the brand that they can’t even articulate and try to capture it in a design. No one should look at my finished product and say “Oh, that’s so Emily Guyer.” Instead, they should say, “Wow, look at that company!” However, while I am to be silent, I am to also be loud. Over my ten years of designing, I have developed a keen eye for modern, fresh design that my clients come to me wanting to infuse into their brand. Wide-set type, lots of white space, powerful photography and neutral colors with subtle pops of watercolor florals or thin-lined geometric elements… these are things dreams are made of for me  These are the things that often work their way into my designs with my clients.

 

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How do you push yourself to learn more about your craft and go further with your designs?

Honestly, I accept new projects designing things I’ve never created before! It’s terrifying, but it’s so rewarding. If I’m nervous about attempting a new type of project, I spend a lot of time researching it online and admiring other creatives’ work online. Then, I put my hand to the plow (or the mouse in my case) and get started. I won’t give up until its something beautiful, compelling, and accomplishes my client’s vision.

 

creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners
creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners

 

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is. 

I have 2 office spaces—one is the dining room of my home that I’ve turned into a studio and the other is some local hipster coffee shop that has pour over Ethiopian coffee (usually Jubala or Black and White Coffee). My home office is my favorite space. My desk is an antique that I scored at  Goodwill with a stroke of good luck, and my walls are covered with artwork that I have designed (PS- I sell my artwork here). I typically work best from 10:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. or 2:30-4:30… because, let’s be honest, my daughter is at preschool or napping during that time. Haha  I have to work efficiently whenever and wherever time comes.

 

What is your favorite thing to design or favorite project that you’re working on?

Asking me to tell you my favorite thing to design is like asking me to tell you my favorite child! I can’t do that—I really love it all. But, here’s a project I’m working on right now. This month I’m designing conference materials for a women’s conference in Oklahoma. I love this project because it’s right up my alley. I’m honored to get to be designing all of the pieces for the conference, and I love getting to ooze all of my femininity out on an event for women only! I am using all of the calligraphy, florals, and rustic farmhouse charm I can.

 

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What’s the most tedious but necessary task in owning a business? How do you hustle through it?

Finances!! I’m the creative and really struggle managing the financial side of the business (which is one of the most important parts). Luckily, my husband is a huge help in this area and often helps me stay on top of it all. I do all of the invoicing and receiving payments from my clients, and he helps me with taxes.

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What are some goals you have for your business?

I’d love to develop a team. Because I am a Christian, I am passionate about helping others grow in their relationship with God and also in the gifts He has given them. I have a dream of one day bringing on interns, designers, and other creatives where I am training them in excellence in design and honing their craft, while also discipling them to love God in all areas of their life. I want to build a team that serves local churches, ministries, and missions agencies with communication and design needs while also freeing up my employees to follow God wherever He is leading them. The beauty of being a designer is that you can work remotely and design from anywhere in the world. 

 

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

Try to find your own gift, voice, and style. Don’t just create what everyone else is creating or doing because it’s popular or may make a little bit of money. Be you and create or work from your unique passions, gifts and styles. Don’t just open an Etsy shop and make replicas of what you see others making. You are undercutting their creativity and yours. Work hard and hone your craft. Create from a unique place of conviction (what do you really love?) and personal expression (what do you have to say?). You don’t have to be perfect or the best. You will develop and grow over time. But… you don’t have to be the same as that person to be successful. 

 

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creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners
creative community - lifestyle blog - small business owners

What do you use most for marketing? What is your favorite social media platform? 

Most of my marketing is from word-of-mouth—clients or others who recommend me to someone needing a graphic designer. I love Instagram and use it often, but usually my posts are about my life. I occasionally post about my work on Instagram… usually scenes from whatever coffee shop I’m camped out at for the day.

How can we buy your products? 

You can view my portfolio or get in touch with me to talk about a design project by visiting my website: emilyguyer.com. If you’d like to purchase the artwork and other products I sell with my best friend, Lauren Weir, at Words Worth Noting visit wordsworthnoting.com.

Creative Profile: Lo & Behold Naturals

Meet Lizzie! She's the Girl Boss over at Lo & Behold Naturals - She has been killing it in her home which basically doubles as a packaging and manufacturing facility. This girl takes no shortcuts and works hard to make sure every product is 100% 

Her natural products have made their ways into stores across the state and soon the country. These 100% natural body products smell amazing, make your skin feel luxurious, and are some of our favorite products! 

Be on the lookout for a fun giveaway coming to our Instagram page and keep reading to learn more about Lizze and her amazing products.  

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

How did you get started in your field? How did you know you wanted to start this business? How did your craft come about?

Growing up running a business was not my dream, but looking back it is clear that Lo & Behold is the ultimate combination of many of my passions. I always loved skincare and was adamant about my routines. I was raised cooking,  literally making dinner for my whole family when I was 5, so experimenting with combinations and ingredients has always been fun and easy for me. As a teenager I worked on a farm and was introduced to herbalism, I spent lots of time learning about plants and their healing properties. I had another job in retail and really liked helping customers, my boss at the time told me I was meant to sell, but I shrugged it off. Around the same time I was introduced to essential oils, and I started using them to help me focus and relax.

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

Flash forward and my work really began right after college when I started making my own products as a hobby. I was living in Baltimore at the time working in the education field, and in reaction to spending years in school myself- I was eager to use my hands and learn how to create all the things I had been buying. I started making my own yogurt, kimchi, bread, and then finally skincare. I was amazed by how effective the products were, and my interest quickly turned into an obsession.

I spent all my free time creating new products and friends and family flooded me with positive feedback, asking for more. I was struggling with not enjoying my job, I really missed my home state of NC, and I just felt lost. One night my best friend Rebekah told me to take a hot bath and moisturize because it always made me feel better. Something just clicked- I realized these products could help other people feel better too, and I knew then that I wanted to move back to NC and turn this obsession into a business.

 

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner?

For me the hardest thing is life/ work balance. Between being completely obsessed with my work and building the business from the ground up, L&B has really taken over. When I started the business I had another full time job and for a few years there I worked 7 days a week. When I was finally able to quit my day job, I felt this tremendous pressure, plus when you do every task for a business the checklist is never finished. 2018 is our fourth year in business and I finally feel like I can step back and breathe. Even with help from employees and awesome interns, I have to remind myself daily to slow down and enjoy life outside of work. I am lucky to do what I love, but boundaries have become very important to maintain balance.

 

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

Tell me a little bit about your design themes! What draws you to the elements and mediums that you use? What inspires you?

I am inspired by the natural ingredients that I use and talented local artists that I know. When I started I had very little vision for the design, I knew I wanted something bright, but I was more concerned with the contents and functionality of each product. As the items started selling more to stores, it hit me that I wanted people to be able to walk down the aisles and immediately see a rose or jasmine flower and know exactly what natural ingredients are in the products.

While this idea was still sinking in, I met Amy Richards, a Raleigh based artist you just featured! I loved her artwork and was thrilled when she agreed to partner with me! For the “rebranding” I also started working with Suzy Porterfield of Davie Paper Co., a Carrboro based designer who creates more art for us and does all the branding work. I am so happy that working with these two local female businesses has done so well. People ask about the labels a lot,  and often if I hired a designer from a big city, or someone international, and it is always satisfying to say, “No, two local women.”

I love that our design isn’t just minimal, but rather the labels  give you a little art and vibrance with each use, and I hope to feature other artists as we grow.

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

My office space is full of artwork (mostly Amy’s!), photos of loved ones, and checklists everywhere. I am constantly rearranging things to be more organized and efficient. My desk is right in front of the window so I can look up at birds and flowers every so often.  My most productive work time is mornings for sure, I love getting up as early as 5 a.m some days. I try to do all my more complicated office work in the mornings, and then switch to making, packing orders, or labeling in the afternoon.

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

What is your favorite product & why?

I love all my products so this is pretty tough, but I would have to say the facial care set is my favorite.  Not only have these products drastically improved my own complexion, but I am so overjoyed with how many women have had the same experience. It has been unbelievably satisfying helping so many folks find a completely natural, non-toxic,  luxurious, and balancing skin care routine. I also love these products because I created them with lots of feedback from my most loyal customers from the Chapel Hill Farmers Market. The Face Toner, Cleansing Grains, and Face Serum are a perfect combination of my vision and awesome guidance from some powerful ladies I trust.

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

What are some goals you have for your business?

My goal is to grow the business big enough to have a really strong team where every employee can focus on their strengths and passions, and together everyone is successful and happy. I want our team to include several students from the Durham non-profit we already work with, Partners for Youth Opportunity. Not only do I love that the students income goes towards college savings, but I am so impressed by the students capabilities. I am very excited that our first PYO intern from a few years ago is coming back this summer to work part time!

Another big goal for me is using more local ingredients. It can be hard to balance scale and growth with sourcing locally. For example, I haven’t been able to find a farmer or beekeeper who can produce enough beeswax for us. Luckily I have a few local partnerships with small farmers that are really working out, as well as some new partnerships that are very promising.  I have some lovely new products planned with shining local ingredients.

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

My office space is full of artwork (mostly Amy’s!), photos of loved ones, and checklists everywhere. I am constantly rearranging things to be more organized and efficient. My desk is right in front of the window so I can look up at birds and flowers every so often.  My most productive work time is mornings for sure, I love getting up as early as 5 a.m some days. I try to do all my more complicated office work in the mornings, and then switch to making, packing orders, or labeling in the afternoon.

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

I would say work hard, trust your gut, and take care of yourself.  There is no one way to run a business,  so do what feels right for you. There is a lot of information out there to learn, and please learn more, read the business books, talk to others. But at the end of the day check in with yourself  and don’t let insecurities or comparing yourself to others get in your way. I also can’t emphasize how far hard work gets you. My dad is a self employed musician and one of the hardest workers I know. Growing up people would say, wow he is so lucky! It always frustrated me because he wasn't just lucky, he worked really hard! This mindset has completely stuck with me with my own business. Sure, some of my success is pure luck, and I am especially lucky to have such a supportive family and community, but a lot of my success has been due to hard work. However, I also neglected a lot of self care when working too hard and am still searching for better balance. I try to remind new businesses to slow it down once and a while, pat yourself on the back, and take a bath or something!

 

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

What are your most effective marketing tools? Business tools? Things that drive your business?

Our marketing is a combination of in person events and social media. We connect with a lot of people at markets, workshops, and demos. Social media has also been very powerful, so many customers and stores have found us on instagram and facebook, it is pretty remarkable. I am sure our marketing will expand as we grow, but for now that combination has been great.

My business tools would be business books, podcasts, and talking to other business owners and friends. The Triangle is not only full of small business owners, but very kind ones. I have received a lot of great advice from other makers and food businesses. I also have what I  consider my “counsel”- a few customers, friends, and family members who help me with decisions. Lately the main person I have been discussing decisions with is my partner Russell, he works with me full time now, and has a very rational approach to things when all I see is the creative fun stuff. It has been incredibly helpful talking through growth plans with him.

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

Where can we buy your products?

Lo & Behold Naturals  is available online through our website, at local markets, and at over 30 independently owned stores. In addition to our own website, several thoughtfully curated online stores offer the products. You can find us 2-3 times a month at the Chapel Hill Farmers Market, a few times a year at the Art Market at Vega Metals in Durham, almost weekly at Duke Farmers Market April- September, and lots of awesome craft shows. These shows include Patchwork Market, Locally Made Market, and now a few out of state shows! We love the stores we work with and always encourage customers to shop with them, most of these  stores are in NC, but we also work with a few out of state as well! We are constantly updating the website with stockists and events, so please visit there for more information.

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

I truly cannot thank everyone enough who has been part of this exciting path. I am still pinching myself daily that I have gotten to build this business and that people love the products. I always want to hear from you, whether the feedback is completely positive or if you don’t love the packaging or want to see something in a new scent! Write to me, message me- whatever, I am here and I want to talk with you. None of these products or the business would exist without you. Thanks to everyone who has believed in me and supported L&B.

lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business
lo & behold naturals - creative community - women in business

Don't forget to check out Lo & Behold Naturals website to find out what pop-up shops she will be  at next and shop her great products!

Creative Profile: Amy Richards Illustration

The moment we stepped into the magical, whimsical office of Amy Richard's Illustration we knew we were in for a treat. When I was working for a local Mexican restaurant I actually stumbled upon her "Taco" illustration and reached out to feature it on their Instagram page. From there I saw her at a few Sola pop-up markets and immediately fell in love with her designs. 

We are so honored to have her as our February creative and if you go to her page and sign up for her newsletter you'll gain access to her monthly desktop calendar backgrounds. 

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How did you know you wanted to start this business? How did your craft come about?

Towards the end of college, while working on my art education degree, I got really into children's book illustration. I knew then that while I planned to teach, ultimately I was an artist first and would find a way to work towards that as my main gig.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner?

For me it is taking breaks. Even the stuff I don't really like doing (i.e. finances, tax stuff) I don't really mind doing, if that makes sense. I think its because its all mine, its my thing that I have worked to build and even if its just entering my monthly info into my finance spreadsheets, I'm still pretty content to do it. I have a hard time putting the work down—it's pretty much always on my mind, especially ideas for what I will create next.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Tell us a little bit about your design themes! What draws you to the elements and mediums that you use? What inspires you?

I started using watercolor about 5 years ago now. I loved the look of it, it wasn't quite as popular as it is now and I didn't really know any other artists in the area that were using it. As soon as I started I was hooked. I love the way that it can be used to create super broad strokes that look light and effortless or the way I can apply it in a more detailed way, as with my pet portraits. My favorite subjects are flora, fauna, & food!

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

My studio space is as whimsical as my art. It is somewhat the aesthetic of the bedroom I always wanted as a kid. The walls are the softest shade of sea foam green and I get incredible lighting from two windows that sandwich my desk. I have lights, colorful garlands, art, greeting cards, photos, notecards, patches, and all kinds of treasures adorning the walls that keep me inspired. One of my favorite things is an old photo of my mom, me at 2 and my godmother who has passed, but was one of my and my mom's fav people ever. There is pretty much always a dog or two or three snoozing under my desk—I don't know how they all fit! I love working from home and do my best work for illustrating first thing in the morning.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What is your favorite piece and why?

I think the pet portraits are my favorite. I am so attached to my 3 pups and I love creating something for customers that is so personal and can be enjoyed for a long time. Recently I have been commissioned to do more and more memorial portraits which is makes me feel pretty humbled. The fact that folks trust me to create something so special is really pretty neat.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What are some goals you have for your business?

One of my main goals for 2018 is to finally finish and self-publish a children's book I started 4 years ago. I have recently come up with some new directions for imagery and being that its a picture book, the illustrations have to be just right. I have completed/ about 50 illustrations so far and am re-working about 70% of them again this year. Some of the illustrations I'll be recreating for the third or fourth time! I am also working hard to find new wholesale partnerships both locally and regionally.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

As a creative, the work load is about 30% creating and about 70% other stuff (marketing, biz things, emails, newsletters, social media, filling orders, etc.) Be prepared to put in the time to learn and make mistakes. Everyone has their own journey- mind definitely looks less like a straight line and more like a tangled ball of yarn! That is where the good stuff lives, in the journey. Also be kind. This community is small and you never know when a connection may come around again in your life.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

What are your most effective marketing tools? What are some Things that drive your business?

Recently, after about a year of dread, I started a monthly newsletter and I am totally loving it! I thought a lot about the kind of content I was willing to subscribe to and am striving to make my connections with people authentic and informative. We can't control the algorithms of social media but we can control things like our own website domains and newsletters. Folks in the maker community that I admire made their newsletters into types of 'clubs' which seemed really fun to me and that is how I came up with the "Sloth Mail Club."

Illustrations for a children's book Amy is working on. 

Illustrations for a children's book Amy is working on. 

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
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Where can we buy your products?

The easiest place to find the widest variety of products would be in my Etsy store. You can currently find some of my products at Relish Cafe, Sola Coffee, Artspace, Bulldega & Ollies.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Is there anything else you'd love for your audience to know about you? 

I'm a big believer in the power of a simple greeting card in someone's mail box to brighten their day. I come from a family of card senders and my Mom taught me the importance of snail mail correspondence, especially in an age where people can be too busy to send a text. I really think card sending and writing notes by hand is a lost art. I am also a believer in the necessity to surround yourself in your space with images that move you and keep you inspired.

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Don't forget to check out Amy Richard's Illustration website, Etsy shop, or follow along on Instagram. 

If you want to get to know Amy a little better why not sign up for her SkillPop class this month on February 13th and take home a floral watercolor painting! 

creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog
creative community - amy richards illustrations - lifestyle blog

Creative Profile: Maragaret Hennessey

We were so excited when we reached out to Margaret Hennessey about being featured on our page and she said Yes! As we were venturing down the local maker rabbit hole we stumbled upon her gorgeous leather bags and her upscale look book and thought "Wow - now this girl has some serious, high-fashion talent" 

It was a snowy day when we stopped her her home and studio in Durham to check out her designs, learn more about her process, and see how it all comes together. Check out her feature below and shop her products at 

http://margarethennessey.co/

handmade leather bags - raleigh maker - lifestyle blog
handmade leather bags - raleigh maker - lifestyle blog
handmade leather bags - raleigh maker - lifestyle blog

How Did You Know You Wanted to Start This Business? 

I have always been happiest when making things with my hands, and have had an entrepreneurial spirit since I was a kid. A friend and I started a polar fleece hat business in sixth grade, and a year or two later my cousin and I started a handmade chapstick business! I have sketchbooks going back to elementary school that outline handmade business schemes, and my family recently discovered a letter I wrote in sixth grade, from the CEO of M.C. Hennessey & Co. (a.k.a. me) to my customers, describing the myriad craftspeople (all me) who created a variety of products to please their customers. We all had a good laugh when we found it, but it's also so clear in reading it that I've had this bug for a very long time. 

Even though I've always been in the business of making things and figuring out how to sell them, I didn't start working in leather and canvas until about two years ago. I was working full time and had a long commute, and I realized that I needed a regular creative outlet in order to feel more like myself. So I started developing simple designs for bags, and pretty quickly I realized I wanted to make it a business. I jumped right in, had some false starts, and about a year ago started working in earnest on building an all-leather handbag brand.

handmade leather bags - raleigh maker - lifestyle blog
handmade leather bags - raleigh maker - lifestyle blog
handmade leather bags - raleigh maker - lifestyle blog

What is the Hardest Thing about Being a Small Business Owner?

So many things are hard, but I think all of them can be summed up by the idea that no one is telling you want to do. Of course, that's also the best thing about being your own boss! Still, motivation is hard. There's no one telling you that you have to start working at a certain time, or how to prioritize the many demands on your limited resources, or what direction to head in long term. It's hard to stay motivated even when I'm not seeing success, and often I spend a lot of time working on something that doesn't pan out the way I'd hoped. But I try to give myself a break and look back at how far I've come as a result of many tiny breakthroughs that came from a whole lot of effort.

 

Tell us a little bit about your design themes! What draws you to the elements and mediums that you use? What inspires you?

I love working in high-quality leather because it lasts forever and gets more beautiful with time. Since I'm designing investment pieces that people will carry for years, I aim for silhouettes that are classic and refined, while still feeling fresh. I love minimalism in sculpture and painting, and want to design pieces that are just right, with nothing extra. I'm excited to be moving into some new colors for the spring and releasing a new piece, the Mini Crema, which is inspired by the Crema shoulder bag from my fall collection, but pared down to just hold the essentials.

handmade leather bags - raleigh maker - lifestyle blog
handmade leather bags - raleigh maker - lifestyle blog
handmade leather bags - raleigh maker - lifestyle blog

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

I do a lot of my computer-based work at my dining table, which is a nine-foot long farmhouse table that my brother Tom and I made out of salvaged wood. My dog Mabel and my cat Jeremy are always nearby keeping me company! I tend to do most of the logistical/business/marketing work in the morning before heading out to my workshop a couple hours later. I renovated a large workshop in my backyard a year and a half ago, and that's where all the bag-making happens. I have two industrial sewing machines, a rivet press, and some big work tables for cutting leather and finishing the pieces. Having the workshop has made this whole thing possible, and just having a space like that for projects is my childhood dream come true! I love it.

maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog
maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog

What is your favorite piece and why?

I was slow to get on the fanny pack train, but now the Cashew is the bag I carry every day. I love its curved lines and the fact that it carries just what you need. From a design perspective, I think I'm most proud of the Crema shoulder bag. The curved zipper is really striking and unusual, but the bag still looks classic. Several people have told me it looks and feels like a vintage Coach bag, which I love to hear of course.

 

What are some goals you have for your business?

Right now I have one person working with me on making some components of the bags, but I'm still the primary production person. I would like to get to the point where I have a small team so that I'm overseeing the day-to-day production of the bags. That would give me more time to experiment with new designs, do some custom work, and continue developing the business side of things. I have a few more pieces of equipment I'd like to invest in to help with production, but I always want to keep things small so I can monitor quality very closely.

maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog
maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog
maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog
maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

Keep going, and don't look too far in front of you too often. Growing a business is all about taking a small step every day. You have to keep the big picture in mind of course, but on a practical level, you only need the big picture to help inform the small daily decisions you have to make. It can get overwhelming and discouraging to compare where you are currently to some grand vision of where you want to get. Instead, just do at least one small thing to move you forward every day.

maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog
maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog
maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog

What do you use most for marketing? What is your favorite social media platform?

Instagram is the best place for me to share, because it's so visual and generally positive. I work really hard on keeping my website current and polished, with help from my partner Robert Oliver, who did the photography, and Sarah and Erica at Tandem Collaborative, who have helped me develop my brand and strategize next steps. I have a goal for the spring to continue to build my email list and be more intentional about sending newsletters regularly, because that's how I reach my most dedicated customers. Since I have a product that most would see as an investment piece, marketing for me is really about developing relationships over time. Someone might find me through Facebook or Instagram, engage in conversation with me via comments, visit my website a few times, eventually get on my email list, and then, if the moment is right, they will buy a bag. So, I view Instagram and Facebook as a way to find a larger audience, but that's just the first stage in what's often a fairly long process to an actual sale.

maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog

Where can we buy your products?

Right now, my website is the place to go. I am exploring some wholesale opportunities as well, but that's a bit down the road. I did several craft markets around the holidays, and may do more in the future. But right now, I'm focusing on growing my online presence and directing potential customers to my website, which I keep up to date with all the offerings.

maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog
maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog
maragaret hennessey - handmade - bag designer - lifestyle blog

Creative Profile: Tierra Sol Studio

We couldn't believe when Seana and Yair of Tierra Sol Studio reached out to us to take product photos. These are BIG LEAGUE makers who we have been loving on for quite some time now. One brisk fall morning I go to venture out and take some photos for their feature in the LA Times gift guide (How cool right!?) and check out their in-home studio, and learn all about how these are the best plants for plant killers. 

 

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

How Did You Get Started in Succulents: 

We started Tierra Sol Studio in January of 2014 because we couldn't keep plants alive. I wanted plants in my writing space while in grad school since I spent all my time researching and writing at home. Our apartment had little light and we had little experience with plants. I started experimenting with plants to see which could survive lower light and my long trips out of the country for field work. We found the many succulents did not do well indoors even though people are told succulents are hard to kill, many of them were easy to kill. We began researching plants, their natural environments, and how to best replicate those natural environments inside a home. 

Our goal is to provide forever plants. We grow the hardiest plants possible in a greenhouse we build to adapt plants to indoor light, we make our planters to replicate desert environment, and experimented to find the perfect way to create hand mixed cactus and succulent soil. 

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

What is the Hardest Thing About Being A Small Business Owner? 

The hardest thing about being a business owner is that once it goes from hobby to business most people end up spending more time on their business than they can on the creating. But the great part is that once a business takes off, it is possible to hire people to do that busy business work more and more. 

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

Tell us about your Design Themes? What Inspires You in Your Work? 

Our planters tend to be very minimal because we want the plant to be showcased. Each plant takes years to grow and we want to respect it and show it off. We started by designing our dream look in our home and then pulled our designs and colors from our personal style. Sometimes we create planters to go with specific plants we have grown but we use a combination of drawing and direct on clay design experiments. 

 

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

Describe Your Office Space & Your Most Productive Time To Work: 

We have a clay studio, plant packing area, shipping area, and greenhouse at our home. Having the different spaces makes us really productive because we can move around, not feel crowded when our assistant is here, and nothing ever feels repetitive. It also gives us space to hang out with our toddler. Our most productive time is on the days when our son goes to his grandmothers or after he is in bed, but we love being about to work during nap and bed time and have extra time to hangout with him during the week. 

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

What Are Some Goals You Have For Your Business?

Our goal is to move into a workspace out of our home once our baby starts kindergarten and we want to increase our production so we are able to take on more wholesale. 

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

What is your Favorite Piece and Why? 

Right now my favorite piece is our Lucette Cactus in a cylinder planter with blush pink and rich blue. (Shop it here) When I made this design I instantly knew it was one of my top favorites. 

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Just Starting Out In Their Small Business? 

Finding out what makes you different as a person so that you can build a business that is unique to you. Our business is not like any other because we thought about our lifestyle and goals and how to design products that people can only find with us because they are personal. I would recommend trying to get to a point where people see a new piece of your work and they know it comes from you. 

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

What Are Your Most Effective Marketing Tools? 

Our most effective marketing tool has been Instagram. We can get weird on Instagram and really connect with our followers. That is where we name and post about the needs, names, and personalities of our plants. 

Check out their Instagram here - 

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade
Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

To learn more about Tierra Sol Studio or to shop their products go to their website at 

www.tierrasolstudio.com

Tierra Sol : Creative Community : Handmade

Small Business Saturday: Why to Shop Small Everyday

All year we wait for the rush of the corporate holiday: Black Friday. It's not that we ourselves haven't taken part in the long lines and deals, but we want to suggest an alternative avenue for your holiday shopping -Small Business Saturday. Started by American Express in 2010, #smallbusinesssaturday has become a day to not only support local business but find new local artisans and business owners within the community. 

This is the day where the world takes notice of our talents, hard work, and expertise. Part of our mission is supporting these local creatives and we want to help you support them too. 

 

Ditch Black Friday: 
 

We are really pleased to see Black Friday dropping off. The idea that family and friends cannot take part in Thanksgiving meals because they have to work a graveyard shift in preparation for this dark day is crazy. Starting with sales happening on Thanksgiving day and going into Friday the variety and mass appeal has been diminished by web retailers, cyber monday deals, and an aversion to large corporations.

We want to encourage you to direct your money to the less threatening, closer to hearth and home, neighborhood businesses and buy your friends and family something unique for the holidays that they can't find at any ole store. 

American Express even created a map to help you find locally run, small business in your community. (Find your map here) 
 

#ShopSmall

Did you know that when you support small business, 48% of the money you spend ends up getting funneled back into the community. 

Personally, I love receiving gifts that are sourced from small business owners. I know that I will not only have a unique item, but also be putting money back into the local economy that directly feeds and pays the bills of families of the community. 

If you can't make it out on the Saturday after Thanksgiving - you can always support local artisans by shopping at pop-up shops, craft fairs, and holiday markets, and business's websites. 

 

Stellar Customer Service

Shopping small not only makes you feel better about your purchase (supporting your community), but it also gives you a better customer experience. Unless you're shopping at a store that combines multiple products - usually you'll be meeting and interacting with the maker of those products when you purchase. This means you'll get to see the face behind the brand. This personalized experience is unattainable at larger shopping conglomerates. 

 

Copper Creatives was created for movements such as this. We want to hear from you! What local businesses do you shop for the holidays? Have any gift ideas from your favorite local artisans? Leave us a comment! 

Creative Profile: Redden Goods

On a bright Tuesday morning we ventured out to Durham, NC to catch up with textile extraordinaire Redden Goods. When it comes to textile and fiber art this girl does it all, from weaving, sewing, dying, embroidery, knitting, and more. 

What drew us to her was not only her amazing talent but her visually rich Instagram account (her preferred method of marketing) seriously you have to check out how gorgeous and intriguing this thing is. 

Keep reading to learn more about Katie, her unique dying techniques, her business practices, and take a look into her amazing studio. 

For more information visit her website here

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

How did you get started? How did you know you wanted to start this business?

Redden Goods was born out of a deep desire to create goods with purpose and meaning. Since getting my BFA in Textile Design from East Carolina University-- where my fiber obsession began-- I have wanted to make responsibly made textile goods to share with the world. Once I finished college, I taught myself how to naturally dye and over the months experimenting and playing with fibers and plant dyes, I just knew that this was the path that I needed to take.

 

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers
Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

What makes Redden stand out from other textile makers? 

The driving force behind my brand is making sure that at the end of the day all of my goods are responsibly made. This means that I make it my goal to source my supplies well and create/produce my goods in ethical ways, both for humans and for the earth. Over the past few years, I have become very aware of how much of our American life is produced outside of our country, most of the time at the expense of human life and our planet. I wanted to be a part of the movement that is reviving textile production in the US and bringing business back to well-made, ethically produced goods at the local level. All of my supplies at the moment are domestically sourced, even the tags I use for my products, ha!

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

How did you come up with your business name?

Redden is the Old Dutch word for "to save," "to rescue," or "to redeem." I have familial ties to a Dutch heritage and I love some of the fun words that come from their language. I give a portion of my profits to an organization called Not For Sale. They protect people and communities around the world from human trafficking and modern-day slavery. It seemed only fitting to name my business after the concept of rescue and redemption.

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

How do you identify weaknesses in your craft and business? How do you keep perspective?

 Spending time at markets and listening to feedback from folks passing by my booth is one way I keep tabs on what's working and maybe what's not. A lesson that I have to keep learning over and over again is to remember that my business is my own and unlike most others around me. It's easy to think that you may be failing when you're at a market and your neighbors are killing it, but that may not mean that your craft or business has a weakness-- you may just be at the wrong market...

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers
Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

What is the hardest thing about being owning this small business in the RDU area?

I'm not sure I've discovered anything particularly hard about having a small business in this area. Our community is so creative and collaborative, I feel that has made things easier if anything, ha!

 

What drew you to working with textiles? What inspires you?

You know, I don't quite know the short answer to that, ha! I could give you a laundry list of rational reasons of why I love fibers and textiles-- it's a 3-dimensional medium, it helps me feel more connected to the earth, everyone uses them, etc.-- but really the connection is something that is sometimes a mystery to me. I feel my love for fibers likens to one's love for a soulmate-- when you know, you just know. I originally went to school for graphic design, but once I held fiber in my hands and made something with it, I knew I could never do anything else that would make me feel that way.

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Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

 One of our guest bedrooms serves as my studio. We call it the "loom room" since my floor loom takes up most of it, ha! When I'm knee-deep in a project, the space can get pretty cramped and slightly chaotic as I spread out all over the place. When the weather is nice, I do my dyeing outside on our back porch. I am a morning person through and through! The morning is my most productive time. I have breakfast and a bit of quiet time and then get to work on weaving or dyeing or whatever is on the docket for the day.

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

What is your favorite piece that you have made or are currently selling?

 I think the Weven pillows are my favorite. I love all of my pieces, but the ikat pillow fronts on those beauties be-still my heart every time.

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers
Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

What’s the most tedious but necessary task in owning a business? How do you hustle through it?

 Emails. It's one of the primary lifelines for communicating and needs to be utilized well to make way for new opportunities and what not, but I usually don't want to do it. I also have the terrible habit of reading an email, replying in my head, and not replying in real life (sorry to those who that has happened to...). I usually reply to emails during a lunch or food break. Food always helps me get things done, ha!

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

What are some goals you have for your business?

 This year my goal for Redden Goods is to be more deeply involved in our local community. I would love to teach more and introduce others out there to the joys of natural dyes and weaving! Collaborative projects are also coming down the pipeline this year. A long term goal I have for this business is that it will be sustainable enough to become my full-time hustle. I work a full-time job at the moment and do Redden Goods as my side gig.

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers
Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

 Just keep going! Don't give up! It's really easy to play the comparison game, but it's just not worth it. It will make you crazy. Be collaborative, not competitive. And do what you love.

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

 

Where can we buy your products?

 You can find Redden Goods' wares on my site at www.reddengoods.com and on three other sites-- www.enkledesigns.com, www.themakersmercantile.com, and www.48andsea.com.

You can also find my goods at the beautiful Kleur shop in Winston-Salem, NC.

Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers
Redden Goods - Creative Makers - North Carolina Makers

Creative Profile: Lauren Sumner Pottery

When I headed over to Lauren's house, the first plants to greet me on her porch was her Philodendrons and Monstera plants. Lauren is known for her leaf dishes modeled after these plants, so it was so cool to see that she keeps these guys around for daily inspiration. We made our way up to her in-home studio. It was filled with natural light and shelf covered walls stacked with colorful dishes, mugs, bowls and the like. The room smelled of fresh clay, and she went to work, swiftly and gracefully. It was a delight to just watch and listen to how this whole thing got started. 

 

How did you get started? How did you know you wanted to start this business?

I’ve been an artist all my life and have taken pottery classes on and off. I went back to school part-time to get my teaching licensure in art education, and needed a few pottery classes to fulfill a credit. I loved working with my hands and being creative, something that was missing in my graphic design job (that felt more like a boring desk job). When I had a few months where I was making more at my side pottery job than my full time job, I knew it was time to go full time.

What makes your pottery different? What about you guys stand out?

I think a combination of my original designs, bright colors, and unique texures and patterns make my pieces stand out.

What’s your favorite part of the pottery process? The Kiln? The Wheel? The paint?

I love experimenting and making new items, trying out new glaze combos. Carving designs into leather hard clay is also one of my favorite parts.

How did you make your first sales?

I started on Etsy in 2010, when Etsy was still relatively new and not many people had heard of it. I had no idea what I was doing, but I took a few (bad) photos of my pottery, made a listing for $.20 and somehow got some sales!

What is the hardest thing about being owning this small business in the RDU area?

The hardest thing is doing it all – marketing, photography, shipping, customer service, applying for shows – and still finding time to make products.

What drew you to your current designs? What inspires you?

My newest designs are my wall air plant holders and leaf necklaces. I wanted to make some objects that hang on the wall – to keep the breakable objects away from kids and pets, and I love combining it with easy-to-care-for air plants. My leaf bowls have been so popular, that I decided to make some mini ones that can be worn. I love the idea of people wearing my pottery around town.

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

I work in two community studios, where I take advantage of their pottery wheels, kilns, and large sections of glazes. I also have an office and small studio space for handbuilding in my house. I’m a night owl, and I get a lot of work done at night, after my son is in bed, it’s dark out, and I can concentrate on making pottery. Sometimes I get my best ideas when I’m in bed, and I’ll sketch them out in a little notebook so I don’t forget.

What is your favorite piece that you have made or are currently selling?

My favorite piece is always my newest piece. I love exploring new ideas and designs. My little Monstera leaf necklaces are so fun, because it’s something I can wear out and show off my work outside of the house.

What is your favorite part of working for yourself? What is your least favorite part?

My favorite part of working for myself is making my own schedule, and doing what works best for me that day. Working for myself also pushes me to work hard and learn new things. I can’t afford to be lazy when my business is new. (I also love that I can wear yoga pants to work!) My least favorite part is the stress involved, because it’s all riding on me. Most people don’t understand how hard I work and the late nights involved. I’m not just playing in clay all day.

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What are some goals you have for your business?

Continue to increase awareness of my pottery brand and grow my ceramic jewelry line.

 What piece of advice would you give to small entrepreneurs who are working a day job and a side creative business?

I did it for years! Just find some time to set aside a few nights a week or on weekends to work on your business. Find some other business friends to get and share advice with. And also take some time for yourself so you don’t get burned out.

What do you use most for marketing? What is your favorite social media platform?

Instagram is my favorite social media platform and my best source of traffic to my website. It’s so easy to post a photo and write a short text description, I post there multiple times a week.

To check out more of her products and scoop of one of these beautiful plates or necklaces, you can visit her website, her Etsy, or check out her Instagram at @laurensumnerpottery for special give aways and deals! You can also shop her inventory at some local events if you check her events page.

Creative Profile: Up a Tree Cup a Tea Co.

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker

Meet Johanna - She's the seamstress behind Up a Tree Cup a Tea Co. Her handmade leather goods are repurposed from vintage materials and incorporate fun historical elements such as flour sacks, military tents, location pendants, and more. 

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker


How did you get started? How did you know you wanted to make Up a Tree Cup a Tea Co. a business?

I grew up going to flea markets, auctions, and diving in the occasional dumpster with my dad. Hunting down treasures is in my blood. Not much makes me happier than getting up early and hitting up a bunch of estate sales! I learned to sew in elementary school from my mom, a neighbor, and through a sewing club at our local church in Pensacola, Florida. I started using old clothes and bed sheets to make dolls and made many “unique” outfits in middle school on our family sewing machine. J This is where Up a Tree Cup a Tea was born, mixing my love of picking and sewing.

I didn’t think about turning it into a business until 2010. I started making flower brooches using vintage fabric and yarn in my college dorm and a friend said I should start selling them - so I did! I started with vending at arts markets and eventually opened an Etsy shop. I made hair accessories, scarves, painted signs…I did it all! I started making bags in 2015 and after trying just about everything I’ve finally found something I really love. 

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker

What makes you different or stand out?

Each and every one of my bags and flags has a story. The materials used to make bags are everything from Vietnam era military tents to 1920s flour sacks from a tiny rural town. Pennants range in age from the 1930s to 1970s and are sourced from everywhere…auctions, barns, and I even got some from a bar that was shutting down. I love creating bags that tell a story through each material.

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker

What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner?

Balance. Because my business is all me I could work endless hours. This year I’m being more focused and purposeful in my business. I’ve hired people to help with certain tasks so I can focus more on the parts of the business I love.

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker

Tell me a little bit about your design themes! What draws you to the materials and the mediums that you use? What inspires you?

The rural south really inspires me. Old buildings, barns, wide-open fields…I love it all!

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

My workspace is a room in our 1910 farmhouse. It’s home to three sewing machines and has amazing natural light. My most productive time is either early in the morning or late in the evening. I have been known to get on a roll and work through the night from time to time. My husband says I’m a mix between a night owl and early bird. I’m sure he doesn’t appreciate the sound of my machines in the night though! 

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker
Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker

What is your favorite product and why?

I really love the new Travel Totes. They’re fun to make and I I’m excited about all the vintage textiles and pennants I’ll be using in future collections.

 What are some goals you have for Up a Tree Cup a Tea Co.?

I want to continue to grow and participate in some larger markets in the south. 

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker
Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker
Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

Be confident! Creatives have a tendency to catch the “imposter syndrome.” Be confident in your work and show it to others. You are great – let everyone see it!

What do you use most for marketing? What is your favorite social media platform?
 

Instagram is my favorite, but I use Facebook as well. This year I’m trying out some new marketing strategies – including snail mail! We’ll see how it goes!

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker
Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker

Where can we buy your products?

Bags – in person at events or online at upatreecupateaco.etsy.com

Flags – in person at events or monthly on Instagram - @shop_upatreecupateaco

Up A Tree Cup of Tea - Bag Maker - Creative community - North Carolina Maker

Creative Profile: Linda Creative

I met Linda  a little over a year ago when I sat across from her drinking coffee and discussing photography packages. I had the honor of photographing her and her husband's wedding last June, and it has been one of those client relationships that has come full circle. I noticed at her wedding that all her favors and invitations were made by hand and she had some beautiful art pieces to display as well, and I realized that Linda was an amazing artist. Ever since the wedding we have kept up with each other's creative happenings, so I am beyond thrilled to be featuring her today. 

If you have spent at least five minutes with her, you will quickly learn she has a kind and encouraging soul. Her care for people is directly reflected in each piece that she paints for people. When I got to her house this Saturday morning, she had coffee ready and we talked for about a half an hour before even taking out the camera. Not only does this girl have great taste in Netflix shows and herbal teas, but her taste in colors and art is absolutely stunning. Meet Linda everyone.

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How Did You Know You Wanted to Start This Particular Business? 

As a beginning teacher, I felt that I was struggling to find my identity. I felt like I was constantly treading water trying to learn and teach. Although I love teaching science, I felt that I needed something that allowed me space to be creative. Painting and drawing allowed me to lean into a practice that calming, and that helped me reflect on places, people and memories. When I painted a church for a friend’s wedding, I knew that I only wanted to help people reflect on happy memories as often as possible.

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What Makes You Stand Out Among Other Businesses? 

My watercolor paintings are a reflection of a memory; I love using bright, warm colors and impressionistic brush strokes to help my clients remember that special place or memory. It is not quite realistic or stylized because I feel that memories are also somewhere in between. Because I love nature, I love to focus on trees, landscapes and skies, and am constantly challenging myself to experiment and find new combinations of brushstrokes and colors.

How Do You Identify Weaknesses in Your Craft and Business? What Do You Do To Lean Into Your Weaknesses and Challenge Yourself? 

I still practice basic skills in a sketchbook I have, such as value and color mixing, but to truly challenge myself, I try to paint a fish or work on my National Parks series. Fish are incredibly challenging to paint because their colors are nearly iridescent and seem to change with the slightest change in light. The National Parks series I am working on tests my attention to detail and timing, and I love painting in a small space.

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What Is Your Busiest Season? How Do You Balance It All? 

I reflect often on how many paintings I am able to undertake and if it is overwhelming or not. Because I work full-time as a high school science teacher, I have to manage my time well, especially around the busy holiday or wedding seasons. From October to late November, I typically take 2-3 times as many orders as I normally would during that same two month time period. I put myself on a schedule and then put on some music to focus on days that I paint after school.

What is Your Favorite Project or Piece That You Have Made or Currently Selling? 

I am in love with my National Parks series, which is not currently for sale. They let me venture into small worlds they hold. Recently, I have loved the Timeline Portraits - they are similar to the National Parks in structure (a small circle watercolor painting), but I love how they showcase a relationship and its special moments in a very different way.

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Describe Your Office Space and what Your Most Productive Time to Work.

My office space is my dining table because I have the best morning light and view. My backyard is mostly grass and trees, and I can hear birds singing through the windows. It is incredibly peaceful in the morning. Saturday mornings from 5am or 6am to about 10am is when I am usually the most focused and productive.

What's the Most Tedious but Necessary Task in Owning Your Business? 

To be honest, I would have to say social media marketing. I was late to the smartphone and devices game because I’m old fashioned and still love books and waiting in line at the post office. I also hate being on my phone. I try to compress my time and take several pictures for Instagram and save the posts as drafts, or schedule posts on Facebook. My primary and favorite way of marketing is Instagram, because it is so visual and real-time.

What Drew You To Working with Water Colors? What Inspires Your Creations? 

Watercolors are not as forgiving as other mediums, such as acrylic or oil. I loved the softness of the images created by watercolors, and how I had to learn to lose a little control when working with them. You really have to work with the water and pigments, and learn how to marry both without using too much of one. I am truly inspired by nature and how it interacts with us - shadows falling on a lawn, the reflection of trees in a window - you’ll see a lot of green, blues and yellows in most of my work.

What Goals Do You Have for Your Business? 

I have a set number of commissions per month (between 4-6) that I try to reach. This allows me to meet my costs and continue purchase of materials for new projects. Beyond that, I try to meet my personal project goals, such as the National Parks series. I would love to complete an acrylic series this year also.

What Piece of Advice Would You Give to Someone Just Starting Their Small Business? 

I would say your small business should be a reflection of you. I feel that every painting or piece of writing I complete for clients has a little bit of my heart in it and is an authentic representation of my style and my personality. It is very difficult if you are trying to emulate or imitate something that isn’t you.

In honor of Mother's Day, Linda is offering 15% off all water color orders. The promo code is COPPERBOOM. And the first three people who can guess where the code is from will get 25% off. Comment below! 

Creative Profile: Event Espresso

How did you get started? How did you know you wanted to start this business?

Event Espresso’s owner, Casey Marburger, was working at a coffee shop in St. Louis when a customer called and asked if there was a way she could cater their wedding. She said “of course not!” But after thinking on it, she purchased her own espresso machine and called them back to say she’d make it work! Having an art degree, Casey always knew she didn’t want an office job and wanted the creative freedom to do different things everyday and meet new people.

What makes you guys different? What about your coffee and company stands out?

It’s very simple to work with us...we literally bring the coffee shop to you, all we need is an outlet. Our baristas are friendly and productive-we bring a palpable, positive vibe to our events. We also give back to the community and use coffee that benefits the livelihood of others.

 

What is the hardest thing about working for a coffee catering company in Raleigh?

Since we are a catering company, we don’t have a set location or agenda. We travel all over for events and have tight schedules-sometimes the mornings are very early and the days are very long! 
 

What drew you to the coffee business? What inspires you?

Our team truly loves the art and taste of coffee. When you work at a coffee shop or with coffee in general, clients become an extension of your family-you start to learn more about people as a whole. You really learn who you are by communicating with others.

How do you find creativity in your coffee business?

Creativity comes in all forms. Each of our events are unique and some customers want something custom or different, so we are constantly being creative and exploring new ideas with clients.

Describe your office space and when your most productive time to work is.

Our “home base” is our sister shop, Grounds Cafe in Wendell, NC. Our team meets here for meetings and to catch up as a group with the shop guests. While we’re here, we make ourselves lots of lattes so our most productive time to work is anytime the caffeine hits :)

What are some goals you have for your business?

We’d love to continue expanding throughout the country. We have on-call baristas in nine U.S. cities and would love to keep building our team! We would like to continue to streamline our process and keep advancing with modern technology to keep things easy for our baristas and clients. We also want to be able to share our wealth and give back to the community as much as possible.

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

Be patient. Say “yes” to everything. Be passionate. Hire good/loyal employees. Treat your employees well, even if you think you can’t afford it.

What do you use most for marketing? What is your favorite social media platform?

We love Instagram! (@eventespressocatering) We serve vastly different events and visit many interesting places, so it’s great to have a virtual scrapbook of our venues. We’ve served in private jet hangars, high-end resorts, whiskey barns, outdoor bonfires, you name it!

Where can we get your coffee / How can we book you?

Our coffee is hand roasted by The Raleigh Coffee Company. We are directly partnered with Dos Ninas Importers, a family owned coffee farm in Santa Rosa, Guatemala. Shoot us an email through our website www.wecatercofffee.com or contact our Business Development Manager, Ela, directly with some details about your event. We’ll get back to you with a personalized package as soon as possible!

Anything else you want to add?

Keeping up with growth has always been the biggest struggle. Stay on top of it and stay focused, but know when to relax. Keeping your mental health is how you stay successful!

Be sure to check these guys out for any of your catering needs, and they are running a special for all of our Copper readers! Mention Copper Creatives when purchasing your catering packages, and you will receive the Iced Drink menu add-on for FREE! 

 

Creative Profile: Windblown

I stumbled into Rachel at a pop-up shop outside of Sola's coffee shop one Saturday morning and bought her now retired honey comb necklace (you can still get the honey comb ring!) on a whim. We quickly found that we had more than freckles and red hair in common; it turns out both our husbands attend the same seminary, and we are both creatives figuring it all out.  When we started CC,  I knew I wanted to feature her,  and when I awkwardly emailed her about the possibility she actually remembered me, from that pop-up shop and was on board. That's the thing about this wild-haired, joy-filled creative soul. She's extremely personal and sincerely genuine. 

I walked into Rachel and her husband's vintage-eclectic home at 8:30 AM, Rachel with a toothbrush in one hand and a french press in the other. She poured us some coffee, hers in her go-to party cat cup (that I couldn't help feature), and we got started...and enough of me talking. I'll leave the rest to Rachel.

 How did you get started? How did you know you wanted to make Wind Blown a business? 

I began making and selling jewelry when I was in middle school. I had learned to make jewelry from a sweet lady in a tiny bead shop up the road, and began selling jewelry because I was raising money to go on a trip to Italy. I had my brother design me a logo and place it on top of a pink and purple color palette. I put my $8 earrings on small business cards that said “Earrings by Rachel” HA! I was so bold, selling wherever I went. I even sat outside our local grocery store on a Sunday and made hundreds of dollars selling my earrings for my trip! I walked into little boutiques with confidence and walked out having sold inventory to store owners, with cash in hand! (I often try to tap back into that middle school mentality. Fear of people is foreign to little ones!) 

Fast forward to college aged Rachel. I continued to make jewelry all those years and got a job at a boutique in Wrightsville Beach called Hallelu. I began selling my work in the store and the response was extremely positive. I created a website and termed my business Wind Blown. This was 2012. I moved, graduated college, and got married and continued Wind Blown, all the while attending pop up markets when I could. It was just something I could never get away from. My hands LOVED creating new designs, organizing displays for my markets, and the response was always encouraging. Wind Blown was always my dream job and being able to pursue it full time was the goal. 2017 is the year that goal was realized and I was able to focus solely on Wind Blown. I spent the last year and a half desperately trying to find a “big girl job” that would pay the bills and have benefits. I channelled all my frustration into working on Wind Blown, trying to grow it and get it to the point where it could meet our families needs. I am thrilled to say that as of 2017 Wind Blown is my FULL TIME JOB! It doesn’t even make sense that I get to do this for a living, but I am incredibly grateful. Also my husband is a CHAMP for supporting me all of these years and helping make this dream a reality. I could NOT have done it without him. #WilliamRocks

Windblown Jewelry - Creative Profile - Creative Community

 What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner?

Focus! There are so many hats to wear and your to-do list is always a mile long. It is essential to prioritize and be very flexible when running your own business. I am the owner, technician, web designer, marketer, sales rep, model, administrative assistant, and janitor…I could keep going. HA! 

Ironically this is one of the elements that is also so exhilarating about running my own business! I love the fast paced environment that I have to keep up with. I am always having to learn and adjust, which I much prefer to doing one task over and over. 

Tell me a little bit about your design themes! What draws you to the elements and mediums that you use? What inspires you?

Brass and gold have my heart! It could be because they look good with my coloring (holler back redheads!), or because they are just the most beautiful :) . I have stopped even trying to make things with silver because it just doesn’t speak to me the way brass and gold do. All of my designs are built around simplicity. I love how easily a few lines or curves can become a beautiful piece of jewelry!

Windblown Jewelry - Creative Profile - Creative Community

What is your favorite piece and why?

This is a tough question! I love all of my pieces and that is why they came into existence. All of my jewelry is designed in such a way that it adds effortless style to your look. Which is one major reason I enjoy wearing my jewelry. The line goes with everything, so it creates this easy throw it on in the morning situation which is good for me because I don’t have much time or thought to spare in the morning! 

If I had to focus on one piece, I would say the warrior necklace. The horizon was my literal everyday necklace last year and this year I have switched to the warrior. Something about it makes me feel bolder, like a go getter, slightly ferocious even, which is necessary when building a small business. It makes a statement without being obnoxious and I feel like a boss when I put it on. 

The Warrior Necklace

The Warrior Necklace

The Horizon Necklace

The Horizon Necklace

Describe your office space and what your most productive time to work is.

I do most of my work out of our studio space in our home. It is nothing fancy but is all I need to escape and delve into the creative realm! I occasionally work out of the craft center at NC State or Pullen Arts Center-both have metals studios. I am a big fan of going to coffee shops to work when I am doing administrative work so I don’t get distracted by the laundry that needs to be done or that dust bunny in the corner. I also love people, so being out and about feeds my soul. MORNING is my most productive time. I haven’t always been this way, but the older I get the more of a morning person I have become. I separate my tasks out so that the most mind intensive tasks like emailing, ordering, scheduling, outreach, etc happen in the morning and then save making product for later in the day when I need a mental break. 

Windblown Jewelry - Creative Profile - Creative Community

What are some goals you have for Wind Blown?

If you asked 7 year old Rachel what she wanted to do when she grew up you would have heard an emphatic, “run a cash register!” One of my favorite pretend games was store and there was nothing I loved more than hosting each guest in my room, stocking various items and checking them out. A dream/goal for Wind Blown would be to have a retail space where I could sell Windblown product along with other talented local makers! Perhaps a studio space where I could host workshops and give private lessons!

Windblown Jewelry - Creative Profile - Creative Community
Windblown Jewelry - Creative Profile - Creative Community

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their small business?

Do not compare yourself or your business with others! It steals joy SO quickly! Instead, focus on your business and how much you enjoy what you do. It is good to remember that success is easily seen, but the hard work and long hours that it took to get there are often masked. I make it a practice to thank God for every single sale and new opportunity which helps me remain grateful and at peace with where my business is! 

Windblown Jewelry - Creative Profile - Creative Community

What do you use most for marketing? What is your favorite social media platform? 

Instagram, Instagram, Instagram! I LOVE Instagram. There is something so fun about the visual emphasis that Instagram allows and promotes. Every time I post I feel like I release a tiny little art project. Instagram also allows me to keep in contact with my customers and followers in a really organic way, which is great! 

DSC_2335.jpg

Where can we buy your products? 

Other than my website, my main shops in the triangle area are The Makery in Durham, and Ramble Supply Co. in Raleigh. Ramble is a beautifully curated minimalist store front in downtown Raleigh. The Makery is very “Durham”: more vibrant, community oriented etc. You can also find my work through Covet Atelier, an online shop based in Charlotte and Kleur in Winston Salem. 

I also participate in many pop up markets locally. I can be found in Raleigh/Durham almost every weekend! To keep up with where I will be next just follow me on Instagram or check out my website events page. 

Windblown Jewelry - Creative Profile - Creative Community
Shop Windblown - Creative Community - creative Profile
Shop Windblown - Creative Community - creative Profile
Shop Windblown - Creative Community - creative Profile

If you love these amazing pieces as much as we do, you can shop Wind Blown and with any purchase you get a gold slim ring absolutely free with our promo code COPPERCREATIVE until the end of March!

Make sure you when stop by her shop and pick up one of these gorgeous pieces and your free ring to post a picture of you sporting your Wind Blown original and hashtag it #coppercreativestyle to be featured here!  Our favorite item? The warrior necklace. 

Stay tuned in the coming weeks to get an exclusive behind the scenes home tour! You're not going to want to miss Rachel's thrifty vintage and ecclectic decor. 

Creative Profile: Swallow Hearts

For our April - Artist Feature I wanted to spotlight a talented jewelry designed named Meg also known as Swallows Heart.  Born and raised in NC - her minimalistic, nature inspired designs resonated with me as both and artist and a stylist. Her pieces work so well with everything and are reasonably priced - a statement piece for any budget. 

When I first reached out to Meg about answering a few questions for us - I was thrilled when she responded yes and even more thrilled with the packages I received after I placed an order to feature her work on Three Region. 

I received this lovely note from her along with a few pieces I couldn't wait to wear! But I wanted to show you more than just her jewelry but to really discuss her as a person, her brand, and what inspires her to continue her entrepreneur journey. 

How Did You Come Up With The Name Swallow's Heart? 

 

The swallow is a symbol of always returning home safely to a lifelong love. Before technology, sailors would know they were almost home when they would see the welcome sight of flocks of swallows flying ahead- birds that never flew too far from land, their home. The word “home” has changed a lot for me over the past five years, as I’ve lived in North Carolina, Georgia, Alaska, Arizona, and now New York. I’ve learned, though, that home is always who you’re with, not where you are. That is unchanging, that is constant, and that is my heart.

About the Brand: 

 "Swallow’s Heart is a collection of whimsical, nature-inspired, affordable handcrafted jewelry designs. My goal is to create jewelry that encourages girls to get out and explore! Whether it’s a farmers market, a favorite local coffee shop, a flight to a new destination, a festival, a downtown scene, anything! I want girls to feel free-spirited and adventurous and alive when they put on a handcrafted Swallow’s Heart necklace."
Swallow Hearts Jewelry - creatives in the Community

What Inspires Your Work? 

My primary inspirations are nature and adventure. The mountains are my happy place, which is why they are incorporated in my logo. I feel alive and inspired when I’m in the mountains! When designing jewelry, I definitely gravitate toward natural pieces, like gemstones and arrowheads and leather. I love working with those materials.

How Did You Get Started In Jewelry Making? 

I actually started jewelry-making as a hobby in college, so I am self-taught. It was a creative outlet for me. I would create jewelry for myself (I’ve always been a DIYer) and family/friends. After being nudged several times by my close friends, I finally opened an Etsy shop, and so it began! I participated in my first handmade market in Boone, just as we were preparing to move to Georgia. I had so much fun meeting and interacting with customers face-to-face, and my friends and family were oh so supportive! That market really set my focus for continuing to participate in local markets in western GA and eventually Alaska.
Swallow Hearts Jewelry - creatives in the Community

How did North Carolina inspire you and your designs? Do you feel like every time you move you take parts of that environment into your design process?

Although I no longer live there, North Carolina is in my blood. I first began designing jewelry in the mountains of North Carolina, and really, is there anywhere more beautiful and inspiring than the Blue Ridge? The artsy, thriving, small, mountain life of Boone was the perfect place for Swallow’s Heart to take flight.

What Is Your Favorite Piece You've Ever Made? 

I think my favorite piece would be a recent necklace- the black obsidian arrowhead necklace! I am a sucker for arrowhead pieces.

I actually purchased this piece and I absolutely love it as well! It was a must have! Buy it here! 

Swallow Hearts Jewelry - creatives in the Community


How Do You Distinguish Yourself From Other Jewelry Makers?

I like to keep my jewelry designs unique and affordable. I believe in being budget-conscious, so I always try to keep that in mind when designing new pieces. I also gravitate toward a minimalist approach- less is more in my book.

How Do You Spend Your Time When You're Not Working on your Business or Creating New Designs?

My husband Sam and I love to be outside and travel with our 3 huskies, Luna, Kaia, and Sioux (pronounced “Sue” - he’s a boy named Sioux, named after Johnny Cash’s song). We found our passion in dog mushing while living in Alaska, so when there’s snow, we really enjoy taking the dogs out on the sled in winter months… and during the rest of the year, we hike and camp as much as we can. I also love thrifting and exploring local farmers and flea markets and new small towns. Basically, any kind of exploring and adventuring is the best!