Sky’s the Limit: Discussing Data-Driven Creative with Jaclyn Tracy of Brand Effect

Hello! It’s finally time for my next edition of Sky’s the Limit, a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring women entrepreneurs who live in Columbus, OH. I’m especially excited to introduce you to today’s lady boss, Jaclyn Tracy! She’s the co-founder of Brand Effect—a digital branding and consulting agency. Jaclyn and I knew of each other in college; we had mutual friends while living in Chicago and both attended DePaul University. After we graduated, Jaclyn landed a job at Leo Burnett—one of the top advertising agencies in the world, while I specialized in public relations at Edelman. Now, we both live in Columbus and have reconnected. Jaclyn is currently helping me modernize my site and branding, and I’ve loved every minute that we’ve been able to work together. It helps that we’re both obsessed with analytics and believe the best marketing and ad campaigns are born from data-driven insights.

Columbus is extremely lucky to have a marketing talent like Jaclyn. She moved to Columbus to be closer to her fiancé, Kevin Bingle. Together, they launched Brand Effect to help e-commerce startups, small businesses and advocacy organizations thrive in a crowded market place. She’s worked with some pretty awesome brands including Pack Life LA and Le Coeur Watch Co. If you’re interested in her work and the services her company provides, click here. I hope Jaclyn’s story inspires you to live fearlessly and pursue your dreams. Enjoy!

You and Kevin launched Brand Effect in December of 2017—can you share why you started it and what services you offer?    

After moving from Chicago to Columbus, I joined Kevin in his own venture as a political digital consultant. After about two weeks of independently working together in the political space, I realized that if we wanted to sustain a business it had to be in the brand world, where quality creative is valued and long-term planning and building is possible.

We love helping our clients with their business development and brand strategies, website design, and their digital advertising and optimization strategy.

Going back to the earlier days, can you tell me about the process of launching Brand Effect from concept to reality?

Ever since I was little I wanted to own my own business. When I worked at a couple large advertising agencies in Chicago, I wanted so badly to be a bigger part of the overarching long-term strategy of the company, redesigning the digital infrastructural road map. But at an over-sized agency, you either put in a decade of late nights, crazy deadlines and stressed out clients OR you jump ship. I chose the latter.

We are in a new era of advertising, and the big ad agencies aren't cutting it because they are too top heavy. With how fast innovation is happening these traditional agencies physically can't be nimble enough. And now that Publicis Groupe and Omnicom own the majority of the ad agencies in the world - all those big decisions are made by a small number of people in France and New York City, and executed worldwide.

So, Brand Effect, in essence, was born out of the frustration of working at a traditional ad agency owned and controlled by a behemoth holding company.  

Brand Effect is similar to a traditional advertising agency in our core structure, but operationally, we are the complete opposite: we have very little overhead. There are only four of us full-time each of whom focuses on one of our core areas: Account, Creative, Strategy and Analytics.

The rest is made up of a large network of freelance or independent contractors. That keeps cost low for our clients and allows us to stay nimble while working with some of the most talented people in the industry. We are always looking to bring on more freelancers - contact us if you’re interested.

What do you want people to know about your brand?

I want people to understand why we named our company, Brand Effect. ‘BRAND’ — is our commitment to quality creative. ‘EFFECT’— is our commitment to data optimization and results.  

What is your specialty/why should people work with you?

Data-driven creative and website design. In our online world, where technology and creative intersect, everything is measurable. Data tells us what customers like and what they don’t like so that we are able to constantly improve our creative work. It's about testing theories, looking for patterns, modifying programs and delivering a product that is statistically more likely to offer a positive outcome.

What’s been the hardest part about owning a small business?

The overwhelming amount of work that it takes just to manage it, from finances, to finding qualified people who can help execute our vision, to inventing workflow processes. We spend a lot of time and energy re-inventing ourselves, our processes and our operational structure.  

Would you consider yourself a creative person or a taskmaster?

Definitely creative. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of checking things off the list, but I love to pave the path forward more than anything else. I honestly have trouble with routine daily tasks because they bore me.

Have you had any “OMG, pinch me” moments as a business owner?

My fiancé has been working for Governor John Kasich for 10 years now. But when Kasich and his family showed up to our launch party, it just made me realize, "We are really doing this thing!” “We are really charting our own path forward!”

For the dreamers, the entrepreneurs or people still looking to start their own business, what advice do you have?

Listen to your instincts and follow them. I truly believe the universe has a way of leading you down the right path. But you have to listen to it, you have to stay in tune with it and you have to trust it. 

You live and work with your fiancé/soon to be husband; how do you maintain a work/life balance?

It’s a work in-progress. But meditation, exercise and Regan Walsh, my Life Coach, are huge helps in our forward progress.

Do you set goals? How often and when do you check yourself?

Of course! I reset my goals whenever I feel like it's time to reset. And I know its time to reset when my emotions tell me it’s time to reset. Right now, it’s often. Kevin and I are currently flushing out a long-term strategic plan and I have been having these deep reflective moments on almost a weekly basis.  When I reset my goals I write down action items for how to achieve them. And those goals stay on my daily to-do lists until I am able to check them off or decide they are no longer worth pursuing.

What are you most proud of?

I’m the most proud of our team. And how we’ve grown together this past year. Our monthly team summits, at which we check in with ourselves and our team, have been enormously helpful. They have helped us to stay nimble and pivot or further define our direction when needed, empowering each of us to move forward.

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What’s been your biggest sacrifice since starting your own business?

My time. I work constantly, which has definitely had an impact on my social life. But I don't have kids right now, and I'm doing what I love, with the partner I love, so I can't really complain!

You can view a list of the agency’s services and client case studies at BrandEffect.co. Also, make sure you follow Brand Effect on Instagram by clicking here.

XOXO,

 

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Sky’s the Limit: What it means to be an ethical brand with Marisa Flacks of RISE Creative

Hi!!! I’m so excited you’re here for my next edition of Sky’s The Limit, a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring women entrepreneurs I admire. My next interview features Marisa Flacks, founder of RISE Creative—a creative marketing agency for ethical fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands.

Believe it or not, Marisa and I met at a networking event and hit it off right away even though I’m considerably older. That’s right, Marisa is only 24 years old and has been running a kick ass AND successful creative marketing agency for two years now. She employs three people and services many brands I love, including: Acacia Creations, UNCVRD Jewelry and Saint La Vie. I’m pretty sure her story will inspire you to chase your dreams and live fearlessly. Enjoy!

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You see a lot of companies and small business state that they're sustainable, eco-friendly, vegan, etc., but what do you believe makes a business ethical?

I believe our responsibility is with people. As long as the brand is treating its people fairly, I consider it ethical. That means no child labor, no sweat shops, and fair wages for all employees. Sustainability and impact on the environment is also important. The more transparent the company is with their production processes, the better.

Why did you decide to create an ethically-focused business?

Fashion has always been a passion of mine. I grew up outside of New York and started working in the fashion industry when I was 12 years old. In college, during an anthropology class, I learned about the negative effects the fashion industry has on people around the world, which really affected me. While working after graduation, I noticed there was a need to help new businesses, non-profits and social enterprises with their marketing and that’s when I decided to start RISE Creative.

What's your company’s expertise?

Everything digital marketing, meaning social media, emails, newsletters, blog posts, SEO and paid ads. We're also starting to offer new creative services that will shift our business into more content production such as product photography and styling.

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Who is your ideal client?

I wouldn’t say we have one ideal client. I categorize each client into one of three groups: beginner, developing and established. We help beginners set their brand strategy, and for developing and established brands, we manage and create their content. I love working with brands who have a creative vision and a good mission. We also work with bloggers to help them find brand collaborations, which is one of my favorite things to do.

How can “ethical brands” stand out in a crowded market space?

You will stand out if you strategize from a consumer mindset. Consumers aren’t willing to sacrifice convenience for sustainability or ethically made products. Beyond the production of your products, you need to figure out what your target audience cares about. More often than not, being an “ethical” company is just a bonus.

How can a consumer shop more ethically?

The barriers are always budget and convenience. Intention is a big part of shopping ethically. Do a little bit of research and follow bloggers who live in the ethical space. Social media is a great resource to find ethical brands. Every single account we follow on Instagram is ethical, so be sure to check out @risecreativeco on Instagram.

You also run a podcast—I want to hear about it!

It’s called Mission Driven Marketing and the purpose is to provide brands advice from experts within the marketing industry. Recently, I interviewed Natalie from Sustainably Chic, and we discussed the importance of paying bloggers.

What’s your marketing philosophy?

Although I consider myself a creative person, I strongly believe that your campaign or marketing tactics should be influenced by data analytics. It’s important to know your audience and how they spend their time and money.

With the New Year just around the corner, what are your goals for 2019?

I have my sights set on expanding into Canada and Australia because they both have huge ethical industries.

Wow! How will you do that with three co-workers?

We divide and concur—I foster relationships with new clients and develop the brand strategy. My co-workers will help execute the day-to-day activities. We have a great system.

Name a fear or professional challenge and tell me how you deal with it.

I’ve had a few people say that I’m younger than they expected, and sometimes I suffer from Impostor Syndrome. (Impostor Syndrome is defined as: an individual who doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of feeling like you’re not good enough). I remind myself that my fears and thoughts are internal and that I am an expert in my field. My faith reminds me that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

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What are you most proud of?

I’m able to do what I love every day. That feels like success to me.

What do you think someone should consider before starting their own business?

I think it’s important to identify your niche, especially with all of the new businesses you see. I want people to know starting a business that’s successful is hard work. You have to be persistent and consistent.

What social media tips do you have for business owners?

Don’t buy followers or engagement—I can’t stress this enough! Also, don’t depend on a social media platform you can’t control. Invest in your dollars in your email list and your time in real life conversations. Engage with your followers—ask them questions, respond to their comments and be authentic.

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You can check out everything Marisa and RISE Creative has to offer on her website here: https://www.risecreativeco.com/. Also, make sure you follow RISE Creative on Instagram by clicking here.

XOXO,

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Sky’s the Limit: Daydreaming with Ashley Rector of Harness Magazine

Hi there—today I’m finally bringing you my next edition of Sky’s the Limit, a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring women entrepreneurs from Columbus, OH. I know it’s been a while since I last shared a Q&A sesh with someone who’s inspired me, but today’s badass lady boss will not disappoint.

Ashley Rector is so many things—she’s definitely a magic maker, she’s a lawyer, small business coach and the creator of Harness Magazine, a digital and print publication that features articles, artwork and poetry from women around the world. Her mission is to elevate the voices of women everywhere through Harness. It’s a go-to read of mine because the stories are authentic and raw. The women contributing to Harness Magazine aren’t professional writers; you get to hear from real women who are facing the same challenges you are, and that’s what makes the publication unique. When you read a Harness story, you’re giving someone like you a chance to have their voice heard and you’re telling them their stories and artwork matter. Below is Ashley’s story and advice for young entrepreneurs and wannabe bosses. I hope Ashley’s story inspires you to live fearlessly and pursue your dreams. Enjoy!

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Harness Magazine was founded in 2016—Can you tell me a little bit about it and why you started it?    

I started it out of necessity. I wanted to connect with like-minded people. At the time, I felt the material I was reading in other magazines was superficial; I knew there had to be something more. My friends were navigating heart break, relationship problems and loss, but I wasn’t reading about those experiences. I wanted to know what was going on in the lives of the women around me; so I created a space for those stories!

How would you categorize publications like Thought Catalog or The Lala?

I love how they feature real, organic stories but you have to be a professional writer to contribute to those publications. That’s why I started Harness Magazine—so real women can write real stories, and they don’t have to be perfect.

Did you have a gut feeling that a publication like Harness Magazine would resonate with a lot of people?

I launched Harness Magazine not knowing if anyone would contribute to it, and it has exploded. Now we’ve published over 1,000 articles since inception, AND it’s global. When someone finds us from India, Australia or the UK - I’m blown away. Our mission is so real and it’s obviously connecting with people on a deeper level across the world. We recently launched our second print edition and women from ten different countries are represented. (Get a copy here!)

When writers send you their pieces to get published, what do you look for?

Our requirements are pretty lax, and I’d like to keep it that way. Obviously, no racist material, sexuality explicit material or offensive material will be published.

Tell me about Harness Coaching – what is it, when did it start and why did you start it?

Harness Coaching was a natural progression for me. Since I started this journey, I’ve met so many women who’ve told me their stories of wanting to follow their true passions. So unintentionally, I was coaching women long before I made it official with Harness Coaching. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and a doctorate law degree. Coaching is psychological and I understand how to set up a business. I love talking to people and helping people get their businesses off the ground, so it made sense to formalize my relationships with coaching. I’ve had really amazing experiences with my clients so far.

Who is your ideal customer?

Harness Coaching is for someone who has multiple passions and needs help to narrow in on what they want to get off the ground as a business. Another ideal customer is a small business who knows what their idea is and needs help launching. I can help them formalize their LLC, figure out their media strategy and refine their pitch. I help them work the sales funnel and all the hard stuff you have to do within the first year of starting a business.

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It’s hard to believe Harness Magazine is your side hustle. What do you do full-time?

I’m an attorney at a real estate investment trust. I negotiate contracts for tenants who rent space at malls.

I read that entrepreneurship is in your blood, did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My great grandpa started an auto shop which my grandpa took over. Almost all of my uncles and my dad run their own businesses. I grew up with a mentality that being an entrepreneur was the best path to financial freedom and happiness. So it was logical for me to start my own business! Actually, Harness Magazine wasn’t my first business. I started an organic tote bag company that I ran for a year. It was a humbling experience because owning a retail business is so hard. I started Harness Magazine while I was running my tote bag business and I was a new lawyer, so something had to give. I decided to focus on my law career and Harness Magazine.  

In your opinion, what are the top two things someone should consider before starting a business?

My legal brain says research the name, idea and competition. Make sure your finances are set. The other side of my brain says to make sure your new business venture is something you are passionate about because you are going to be working on your new business every moment of your day for a long time. You want to be working on something that makes you happy or is worthwhile or else what is the point?

What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in running your own business?

Balance is hard for me. My husband I have to set aside time to go on dates. It would be nice to come home on a Friday and not worry about doing work on the weekends, but my weekends are so perfectly planned I don’t have a lot of free time to relax. I’d like to have no guilt sometimes.

What does success look like to you?

It’s always changing. Ultimately, I hope to see Harness Magazine on newsstands and when you think of a magazine where you read good authentic stories, you will think of Harness Magazine.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Having self-doubt can be a big challenge for entrepreneurs—you are your biggest challenge. You have to be easy on yourself. You’re going to fail 100 times. Fail and get up. Don’t be afraid to use the resources you have.

You have built a following of 15K Instagram followers, do you have any tips for business owners looking to grow their following?

If you are growing your following, you need to think about your end game. For example, for Harness it’s to get more readers and get women to contribute to the publication. You have to be very purposeful about what you’re posting and you have to interact with people organically. Look up hashtags that are purposeful to your brand, find like-minded people and start interacting with them by liking and commenting on their photos. Photography is also key. Think about why you started following some of your favorite accounts? Often they have a unique voice or tone. Find yours.

What do you think our Columbus community needs more of?

We’re just starting to thrive as a small business community. I think there needs to be a central place for all small business owners to connect in a thoughtful way to push each other forward.

I could have chatted with Ashley for hours because she’s the type of person you love to be around. On top of that, she’s offers great business advice so if you’re interested in her coaching services, click here. Also, check out Harness Magazine and support the Ashley and the contributors by purchasing the second print issue here. You can follow the publication on Instagram here as well as Ashley’s personal account @magicinfluencer.

                                                      

                                                         XOXO,

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After - Living Room Refresh with Spicy Salty Sweet Home

Last month I shared that I was working with Jan Verhoff of Spicy Salty Sweet Home to help style my living room. My room didn’t need a ton of work and we had all of our main pieces, but I wanted help making the room feel complete. Check out the ‘before’ blog post to see how my living room looked a couple of weeks ago.

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I wanted help finding pillows that brought out the different colors in our new Heriz Serapi rug such as olive, blue, and black. Jan sourced pillow options and created a mood board so we could see the different options against our main furniture pieces. This was beyond helpful with the decision-making process.

One of the biggest transformations was the styling of our bookshelves. Jan did all of the shopping at TJ Maxx and HomeGoods to find a couple of affordable accessories that meshed well with our current décor. She told me she found each new décor item on different trips to the store, which I think is important to share. I believe you should love every single item in your house. Don’t feel like you need to go to the store and fill your house with things just to fill space. If your décor takes a little longer to curate, that’s okay. In the long run, your house will be filled with meaningful items that won’t end up in the garbage because you get sick of looking at them.

Finally, the biggest complaint about our living room was that we didn’t have a good lighting source to turn on at night while we were hanging out in the room while watching TV. We told Jan about our issue and she found a great option from West Elm. Our space was limited, so where it sits, behind our tiny side table, is perfect.  

In conclusion, working with Jan was incredibly easy. She is also a fun person that you just want to be around, which is also extremely important when you are looking for interior stylist. She did all the shopping and styled everything, and the best part was that she shopped my house so I didn’t have to spend a ton of money finishing the space. I could not be happier with the final result. If you're curious about what Jan can do for you, contact her here!

                                                                        XOXO,

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Before - Living Room Refresh with Spicy Salty Sweet Home

Hey there, if you follow me on Instagram you may have already seen I'm working with Jan Verhoff, interior stylist and blogger of Spicy Salty Sweet Home, to help me style my living room. I met Jan through Instagram—follow her here! She purchased one of the very first rugs I sold and we've kept in touch ever since. Jan offers a wide variety of services including interior design and styling. Before we do a big reveal, I wanted to share where we are in the design process (because we are about halfway!) as well as 'before' pictures, so you can get a feel for what my living room looked like before I started working with Jan. 

I approached Jan to help with my living room because my husband and I had recently made some decor changes for the first time since moving into our home two years ago. We inherited a couch from a family member and I had just found the perfect antique Persian Heriz Serapi rug that I wanted to keep and not sell on Sky Trading Co. See below for pictures of how our living room looks today. 

From the photos, you'll notice we already have our key pieces of furniture, including: our light fixture, couch, chairs and side table in our small sitting area, coffee tables, TV and bookshelf. I also love our wall decor, which includes vases from STUMP, a mirror that was gifted to us and custom artwork we collected while traveling.

Although a lot of the design elements were already chosen by me and my husband, there were a few things we didn't like about the room:

  1. The lighting. We have one drum-style light fixture that hangs from the ceiling. We love it, but when we watch TV at night we'd like to have another light source so we don't have to keep that one on.

  2. The bookcase looks unkept. Currently, our one shelving unit in the room has a lot of books, records and random trinkets we never touch. It's messy and cluttered!

  3. It's missing final design elements. I wanted help styling my current decor with new pillows and accessories to pull the entire room together.

Once I established what I did and didn't like about my living room, I invited Jan over to see it for herself. She came prepared with a Q&A document to get to know my style and what I wanted to change about the room. I let her know that I didn't want to spend more than $500 on decor, and she recommended we start with pillow combinations. I also let her know that we had gift cards to West Elm, CB2 and Crate and Barrel left over from wedding gifts. I was hopeful this would keep the budget within reason, and Jan reassured me that my budget was more than enough to accomplish what I wanted. She also took pictures, and the whole process took about 30 minutes. One or two days later, Jan sent me a proposal with a description of items she would be looking for and total number of hours she estimated it would take to complete my project. In total, she estimated six hours to shop for and style my living room, which translated to $360 ($60/hour) for her design fee. 

Within a week of Jan leaving my house, she sent four mood boards with pillow combinations. The way she created the mood boards against the decor in our house made it extremely easy to give her feedback on the design. See the original design concepts below.

We loved that she gave us so many options! She also sent direct links to each of the pillows online where we could get a better view of each one and check out the price before we made any decisions. We ended up telling Jan that we weren't crazy about the mustard pillows, so she sent us two additional concepts.

You'll have to wait until the reveal to see which pillow combination we picked, but now that we've chosen and ordered the new pillows for the living room Jan is working on the remaining items for our room. Stay tuned for the big reveal! In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! If you're curious about what Jan can do for you, contact her here!

                                                                   XOXO, 

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Sky’s the Limit: Talking Biz with Meredith Diamond of Auburn and Ivory

Hey there—It’s Kate, owner of Sky Trading Co. with my next edition of Sky’s the Limit, a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring women entrepreneurs from Columbus, OH. Each boss lady I get to meet inspires me to live fearlessly and I’m hopeful their stories will inspire you to pursue your dreams. Enjoy!

My next interview features Meredith Diamond of Auburn and Ivory, an editorial and event styling business. I met Meredith by chance when I was interviewing Alaina Cherup, owner of Cheer Up Letterpress, and the stars must have been aligned because we connected instantly. Meredith radiates creativity and has the bubbly personality to match. She creates magical wedding scenes so swoon-worthy that part of me wishes I could get married all over again just so she could create a beautiful experience for my friends and family. If you don’t believe me, creep her Instagram profile by clicking here.  Below is Meredith’s story and advice for young entrepreneurs and wannabe bosses…

Describe what Auburn and Ivory is and what services you offer.

It’s an art and styling business. I do editorial styling, prop styling, and wedding planning and styling. Basically, my business is a giant excuse to be creative in a way I feel like being. I went to school for art, and my degree is in history of art. I taught myself calligraphy, I am a water color artist, and I like graphic design. I do all of these things under the umbrella of my business, Auburn and Ivory.

How did you discover your passion for event and editorial styling?

I’ve always loved weddings—I bought my first wedding magazine in 7th grade, and I loved everything about reading it. I started planning weddings when I was working full-time and the first wedding I styled got published on Style Me Pretty. Two days after that wedding was published, my company eliminated my position and I was laid off. It felt like fate—I left on good terms, took a severance and started my business.

When working with clients, what is the process?

If I’m working with a bride and they are looking for full service wedding planning and styling, I have them fill out a survey to make sure we will be a good fit for each other. Then we meet. I ask a lot of questions to get into the bride’s head. It’s up to me to figure out what’s going to make a bride cry tears of joy on their wedding day.

Why do you think brides should hire you?

If you hire me, no one will have a wedding like you. I spend hours researching, going through craft stores and looking at the latest materials to go beyond what brides are seeing on Pinterest. I love to collaborate and try new things. I want to love my couples and I want them to feel served, and that’s what my business is all about.

What advice do you have for couples who are newly engaged?

Enjoy it, but get your wedding venue! That’s practical advice. Also, make a list of your priorities, think about the story you want your wedding to tell and the experience you want yourself and your guests to have on your day. There are a lot of decisions to be made and they’re easier when you ground yourself in the experience you want your guests to have.

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What was the first step you took when you decided to start your own business.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to do. I had a mortgage and a son, so I started selling my art at craft shows to give me time to meet potential brides. I also made things to post on my Instagram to show people that I was a creative force. I slowly built my business by meeting people and making connections.

How did you learn the ins and outs of running a business such as pricing products, writing contracts, creating a website and finding clients?

I’m still learning a lot. I research—I stay up late at night watching workshops online. I read a lot and I have a lot of conversations with other business owners.

Did you have any fears when you first started out?

I’m not afraid of failure. I fail all the time on a small scale and I always learn from it. I don’t want to let people down—that’s my biggest fear.

You’re a very creative person. How did you learn to be creative—was it something you were born with?

I think everyone’s creative—some people just have a more natural tendency to embrace creativity as a lifestyle. I think creativity begets creativity. It’s amazing how you try an idea and it opens your mind to other ideas. It feeds on itself. I think I’ve always embraced my creative side.

How do you promote your business?

For me, social media works so well because it allows me to put myself out there without putting myself out there. I can post photos of my work without posting photos of myself. Relationships are huge. Connecting with people is so important and referrals have been a big part of my business. I am not very good at saying ‘I’m Meredith and I have a business called Auburn and Ivory, or I’m a painter or a stylist,’ but I think I’m good at loving people. If nothing else, I think being good at loving people can warrant another conversation.

Do you have any social media tips?

Don’t let it define you or freak you out. Put out what you want your brand to be and don’t be afraid to curate it carefully. I try to make my Instagram a mix of the creative things I’ve done and the people I’ve loved.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part of owning your own business?

For all the insecurities I feel about owning my own business, I feel very secure that I should own my business. I love the life it has given me. But business is personal especially when you are the only person in your business. You have to walk that fine line of not letting things get to you while learning to take criticism to make yourself better. It’s hard to put yourself out there, but often the hardest things are the most rewarding.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t where you want to be right now. Work hard and trust where you are in the process. Life experience is good and will make you a better business owner.

If you want to get in touch with Meredith, click here and don't forget to follow her on Instagram here

Let me know if there is anything you are curious about or think I should ask during my next interview in the comments below! 

                                                                    XOXO,

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Sky's the Limit: Talking Biz with Katya Philmore of Splendor Revival

Hey there—It’s Kate, owner of Sky Trading Co. with my next edition of Sky’s the Limit, a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring women entrepreneurs from Columbus, OH. I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve been taking time to readjust to a full-time job while running my side hustle. Both have been amazing and rewarding, and I cannot wait for you to see what’s in store for this year! I’m also hopeful that this next blog post will inspire you to live fearlessly. Enjoy!

I couldn’t be happier to introduce you to Katya Philmore of Splendor Revival! Katya is a girl after my own heart, collecting and curating magical handmade and vintage goods. Splendor Revival is a lifestyle brand that encourages women to savor ordinary moments while feeling magnificent. Katya believes that those ordinary moments seem a bit easier to find when you look and feel like a queen. Follow Splendor Revival on Instagram, and be sure to visit Katya’s adorable studio space at 400 West Rich Street. You can shop her pieces by private appointment or during Franklinton Fridays, a community wide event showcasing local art and science that take place every second Friday of the month. Below is Katya’s story and advice for young entrepreneurs and wannabe bosses…

Can you describe Splendor Revival?

It’s a lifestyle brand and shop that carries vintage and handmade caftans, maxi dresses and other unique items, including home goods, accessories and purses. My mission is to carry items that inspires color and delight in people’s lives. My business is a true love letter to women. I want to help women indulge without feeling guilty.

What or who sparked your interest in fashion?

My mom is my original fashion icon—when she was my age she was put together, graceful and unaware of how beautiful she was. I've always been a tactile person and I love to create things. In middle school I taught myself how to sew by making up-cycled handbags out of jeans for my friends.

How would you describe your customer?

My customer is someone who’s not afraid to be a little daring. They don’t feel like they need permission to put on something that’s a little bit unconventional.

When did you decide that you were going to start your own business?

I started working on Splendor Revival when I was doing corporate social media marketing for a major footwear retailer in Columbus, OH. Splendor Revival was my creative outlet. The day I decided I was going to start my business was Valentine’s Day. I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw an inspirational quote that said ‘create the things you wish existed,’ and it clicked for me. 

Going back to the early days, can you tell me about the process of launching Splendor Revival from concept to reality?

It wasn’t methodical. The process was organic, and I kept what I was doing a secret for a long time. I slowly collected things, and it was created through a lot of small moments in-time. I had a cocktails and caftans-themed birthday party where I told my friends what I was going to do, and they loved it. I hosted a shopping party at a historic house in German Village and it was very successful. Then, I vended at Community Festival and I was hugely successful. That's when I realized Splendor Revival wasn’t just a hobby, and it’s been a year since I opened my space at 400 West Rich.

Did you have any fears before you launched?

I feared that people wouldn’t respond to what I was doing. You don’t see a ton of people in the Midwest or in central Ohio wearing caftans, so it was a big gamble for me. 

For the dreamers looking to start their own business, what advice do you have for them?

Feel the fear, push through your doubts and do it anyway. You don’t have anything to lose—there’s a lesson in everything.

How did you fund your business when you were first starting out?

Everything has been bootstrapped by me. In the beginning I invested my paychecks in inventory. When I make money now, I always invest back in my business.

What is your favorite social media platform and do you have any tips?

Definitely Instagram. I don’t think people utilize the rule of thirds enough. Composition is everything. When you take a picture, look at what’s filling up the frame and make sure you have something interesting in each third of the picture. Be intentional with how you are composing your photos. Natural light is key.

What has been difficult about owning your own business? What has been rewarding?

Self-discipline and procrastination. Being your own boss is great, but you have to know how to manage your time. Clothes are such an emotional thing because it changes the way you feel, so the most rewarding times are when someone falls in love with a piece.

What do you want people to know about what’s next?

Splendor Revival is a lifestyle brand, so there will be a lot more workshops and other interactive events that encourage positivity and growth. I’m also working on a self-care handbook that I can’t wait to share.

What does self-care mean to you?

I want to encourage women to take time to make space and find out what makes them feel good, and learn to prioritize those things without guilt. I’m all about shedding shame, indulging and taking care of yourself.

If you want to schedule a shopping appointment with Katya, click here and don't forget to follow her on Instagram here

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Let me know if there is anything you are curious about or think I should ask during my next interview in the comments below! 

                                                                    XOXO,

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Sky's the Limit: Talking Biz with Alaina Cherup of Cheer Up Letterpress

Hey there—It’s Kate, owner of Sky Trading Co. with my next edition of Sky’s the Limit: a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring women entrepreneurs from Columbus, OH. I’m hopeful that their stories will inspire you to live fearlessly. Enjoy!

I’m so excited for you all to meet Alaina Cherup, designer and owner of Cheer Up Letterpress, a boutique wedding invitation and fine letterpress printing studio. I met Alaina through Etsy about two years ago when I was planning my wedding and looking for someone local to do my wedding invitations. I immediately fell in love with her and her work. At the time, she was designing paper goods out of her home and today she has the most amazing studio located in the Franklinton Arts District in downtown Columbus, Ohio. She offers a full range of products and services including consultation, design, printing, calligraphy and assembly – she’s even designing the most beautiful business cards for me right now. Below is Alaina’s story and advice for young entrepreneurs and wannabe bosses…

Cheer Up Letterpress

For those that don’t know, can you describe what Cheer Up LetterPress is and what services you offer?

Cheer Up Letterpress is a wedding invitation design and printing business. My specialty is letterpress printing, which is an antique form of printing that dates back several centuries, but has made a resurgence on wedding invitations and artisan-type products.

How did you discover your passion for paper goods, design and illustration?

I studied graphic design in college, and I’ve always enjoyed art and creating things. I knew after I graduated from college that paper was the direction I wanted to take. At the time, my dream job was working for Hallmark, but I worked for Kroger setting copy for their advertisements right out of college. During my downtime, I did design work and started an Etsy shop.

What is your design process?

It’s changed a little bit over the past couple of years. I used to have an Etsy shop, but I was able to close it because I work with more local brides and all my orders are custom. Typically, I will invite people to my studio, we’ll talk about their wedding inspiration and what they want. Then, I’ll send a quote and start designing once the quote is approved. I’ll create a few different design concepts and my client will provide feedback. It’s a very hands on, involved process. Working with my clients on their design is a very rewarding part of the process, and I want to make sure my clients love what I’ve created for them. Once the mock up is finalized, we print. Printing usually takes two weeks to a month depending on how we print (digitally or via letterpress).

What do you think makes Cheer Up Letterpress unique?

I have the letterpress and not a lot of people can say they letterpress print in-house. I’m in-between a boutique wedding shop and a print shop. I like to say I am a print shop and I am a designer—it’s a unique and special experience for my clients.

Cheer Up Letter Press - Photo by Kismet Visuals

What advice do you have for brides who are just starting to think about designing their invitation suite?

It’s important to be yourself and do what you like versus what’s trendy. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the trends, but I think you should think about what you will like in five, ten and 15 years. Are you going to look back at your invitations and regret them or are you going to see something timeless? Trust your taste, but keep in mind what you will like in the future.

How did you learn the ins and outs of running a business such as pricing products, writing contracts, creating a website and finding clients?

I’ve become successful through trial and error, and figuring out what works best for me because I’ve done it. I think people want to be handed the information and that’s not how it works. The best way to figure something out is to try it and learn what’s best for you.

How did you fund your business when you were first starting out?

I didn’t need upfront money. When someone bought something, I would buy the supplies to complete the project, and paper is cheap. I’ve always used what I have and I have very little overhead costs.

How do you promote your business?

I don’t really promote it. Whenever I’ve tried to pay for advertising, it’s never really worked for me. Now that I work with local brides, a lot of my business comes from word of mouth. I have friends who are vendors and they recommend me. Also, a lot of my business comes through Instagram.

What were your biggest fears when you first started your business? How did you combat those fears?

When I first started out, I had a lot of fear that my clients wouldn’t be happy with the product I was producing. It used to keep me up at night. It wasn’t because the quality of my work because my quality of work is amazing, but when you own your own business, it’s an extension of yourself. It’s a lot of pressure and it’s hard to separate yourself from your business. I talk to the people close to me about my fears and frustrations and that helps.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part about owning your own business?

The freedom to be independent. I can pick up my daughter or take a day off when I want. However, the ability to be independent also comes along with not having co-workers. I’m by myself all the time, which can be hard. Owning your own business can be a lot of pressure because if something goes wrong it’s on you and only you.

Running a business is never easy, what keeps you motivated?

I do what I love, so it’s easy. When I’m feeling burnt out, it’s nice to find a creative outlet that doesn’t revolve around my business. For example, every once and a while I’ll paint, I like to garden, and I try to find other creative outlets that I can separate from my business.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to follow their dreams and start their own company?

Just do it, and there’s no such thing as failure because you’ve learned something. There’s always a lesson.

What has been your biggest success to-date?

There’s been a mixture of a lot of things, not one event, that have made me feel like I’ve made it this past year. Being able to transition into a letterpress printer has made me feel more successful. Moving into my studio space has also made me feel more legitimate and more respected by my clients. I’ve landed a lot of clients because they see I have a physical space. It feels so good to be able to compete with some of the best paper goods businesses in Columbus.

If someone wants to work with you to design their paper goods, what’s the best way to get in touch?

Email is the best way >>> hello@cheeruppress.com. There’s also a questionnaire on my website that couples can fill out to contact me and start the design process.

Be sure to check out Alaina’s site here and follow her on Instagram here

Also, let me know if there is anything you are curious about or think I should ask during my next interview in the comments below! 

      XOXO,

Kate Manofsky Anderson
 
 

Sky's the Limit: Talking Biz with Fiber Artist Sarah Harste

Hi there—It’s Kate, owner of Sky Trading Co. with my next edition of Sky’s the Limit: a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring the shakers, makers and mostly badass women around Columbus, OH. Hopefully, their stories will inspire you to live fearlessly. Enjoy!

This week I spoke with fiber artist Sarah Harste of Sarah Harste Weavings. I felt instantly connected to Sarah when I first sat down with her. She’s extremely kind, creative, smart and inspiring for so many reasons. Not only is she an amazing fiber artist, she teaches macramé and weaving workshops throughout the Midwest (sign up here!) and just wrapped her first season of Scrap Paper, a podcast of real conversations she records with a friend about being creative small business owners. Below is her story and advice for young entrepreneurs and wannabe bosses…

Sarah Harste Weavings

For those that don’t know, can you describe what you do at Sarah Harste Weavings?

It’s two parts—it’s a product-based and an education-based business. I sell weavings, macramé, and weaving tools. I teach workshops in the Midwest, including cities around Ohio, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. I try to get people excited about working with fiber.

What got you into weaving?

I began to see fiber art on Instagram about three years ago and I was immediately drawn to it. I needed to know more about it and learn how to weave. I bought a loom online, and on a snowy February day I sat in my bed for six hours and I taught myself to weave. It was magical and I felt like time was slipping away. I became obsessed. 

What was the first step you took when you decided you wanted to start selling your art?

My first step was setting up an Etsy shop combined with getting comfortable sharing my work on Instagram. The first thing you have to learn is how to become a self-promoter and that can be really hard especially if you’re not used to putting yourself out there and promoting your own work. 

In the beginning How did you fund your business?

It was a little bit at a time. I funded it from my own personal money I was making from my job.  The first time I taught a workshop was the first time I had a big chunk of money come in all at once, which is the first time I realized I was going to start investing in my business. I bought a lot of wood and power tools to start making looms. I opened up a bank account and got my logistics in order and started treating it as a business instead of a hobby.

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Did you ever have any doubt that this wasn’t what you were supposed to do? What did you do to keep those thoughts at bay?

Like, every single day! To doubt yourself is a very natural thought process. I think that it’s hard to wake up every day and feel completely committed to what you are doing and feel like you are on the right path. I talk to my support system including my fiancé and friends. When you can voice your doubts out loud, it makes them less scary, gives them less power and makes it feel more like a passing thought versus reality. It’s hard to believe in the power of what you can do, but that’s one of the coolest things about running your own business—you put faith in yourself.

How do you promote your business?

Mostly Instagram and word of mouth. I’m extremely fortunate because the people who take my workshops tell their friends about it. There’s power in giving people a great experience.

Sarah Harste Weavings

What’s your favorite social media platform and why? Do you have any social media tips?

Definitely Instagram. Think of Instagram as a platform for connection versus a platform for promotion. Try to engage others – you may even make friends with other people. I love posting my friend’s work to give them some love and I think people connect with that. 

What were your biggest fears when starting your business? How did you keep those fears at bay?

When I was first starting, I was scared people wouldn’t respond to my work. When I started doing workshops, I was scared people would have a bad experience. When I went full-time, I wondered if I would fail or be able to pay my bills. I also wondered how it would feel if I had to go back to work. Putting yourself in a vulnerable state is scary. To combat those fears, I tell myself I can only do the best I can. I think…if I did fail and have to go back to work, would that really be the worst thing in the world? Of course, not. I’d still have my fiancé, my family, my friends.

What’s your favorite part about owning your own business? 

However hard I work, I get to see the results. There’s no middle man or bureaucracy of getting approvals. Whatever experiment I want to try, I can do it. It’s always my call.

And your least favorite?

It’s hard to separate what’s personal and your business. I have my own insecurities that can bleed into my business and that can be hard to untangle. 

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to follow their dreams and start their own company?

Take your business seriously and not seriously, meaning your business can turn into something full-time, it can be successful and it can become a huge part of your life, but don’t take it so seriously that making big decisions is so crippling that it hinders your ability to get started. You are going to fail a million times which is part of starting your own business. The quicker you get comfortable with the idea of failure, the quicker you’ll probably get to success.  

Speaking of success, what do you think has been your biggest success to-date?

It was really cool to be featured in 614 Magazine this year. 934 Gallery also asked me to be a part of a fiber art show, which was a great moment because I have a hard time considering myself an artist versus a crafter, and it changed the way I thought about myself and my work. I felt like it was permission to take myself seriously and see myself as an artist.

Let’s talk about your Podcast! When did it start andWhat is it? Why did you start it?

It started this past summer. I do it with my friend Emily Mullen of Written Paper Goods and it’s called Scrap Paper. It’s a real conversation about the experiments we do in business. Our approach isn’t to give people advice; rather people get to listen in on a conversation where we figure out different topics in business together. 

Who are your listeners?

I think our listeners are in the beginning stages of business. I think they want a dose of real talk. It’s unpolished and acknowledges that starting a business is hard and you don’t always know what to do—you have to try things and it’s a feeling of camaraderie that we’re with them. Our listeners can learn from our mistakes and from things that have worked for us. It’s nice because people can get advice from the podcast and feel like they are a part of a community, like we’re friends having a chat.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start podcasting?

Just start and you’ll figure it out. Unless you hire a sound engineer it’s impossible that your first podcast will sound perfect. Set your ideals and do the work where your podcast sounds like a branded experience. For example, have a theme song that plays at the beginning of each episode. 

What do you want people to know about next?

The holiday season is coming up and I’m so excited about releasing macramé kits (coming November 15). I’m excited about doing a lot of markets in November and December, sharing my work and meeting new people. Also, we just wrapped up the first season of my podcast, and I’m really proud of that!

Be sure to check out Sarah’s store here, listen to her podcast here and follow her on Instagram here

Also, let me know if there is anything you are curious about or think I should ask during my next interview in the comments below! 

      XOXO,

Kate signature
 
 

Sky’s the Limit: Talking Biz with Liz Haislip of Pebby Forevee

Hi there—It’s Kate, owner of Sky Trading Co. with my second edition of Sky’s the Limit: a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring the shakers, makers and mostly badass women around Columbus, OH. If it’s your first time visiting (welcome!), this is a space where I’ll feature someone who’s making bold moves in their life. Hopefully, their stories will inspire you to live fearlessly. Enjoy!

On this journey, I got to sit down with Liz Haislip, designer and owner of Pebby Forevee, an online boutique with accessories, home goods and customizable clothing. Not only is Liz one of the kindest humans I’ve ever met, she’s a total boss. She’s on a mission to make Pebby Forevee a powerhouse and is well on her way. She’s outfitted celebs such as Jennifer Garner and Chelsea Houska from “Teen Mom,” has over 17.3K Instagram followers, is opening her own shop in Columbus, OH and will start offering social media classes at the end of the month. Below is her story and advice for young entrepreneurs and wannabe bosses…

 

For those that don’t know, can you describe what Pebby Forevee is?

It’s a clothing outlet for women to be able to express themselves without sacrificing comfort and style. It’s customizable—customers can choose any graphic they want and put it on a piece of clothing that fits their body type. I think women like to have options and I want to give them options.

Comfortable, customizable and confident is your brand mantra – what do those words mean to you?

I want you to feel comfortable. If you find a certain style that fits your body type, I also want it to look like something you would actually wear. For instance, I don’t like my arms so it’s rare that I wear a tank top. When I’m shopping, I often find shirts that have a design I like but I won’t buy it because of the shape of the garment, which is why I offer multiple styles for each design. I want people to feel like they can express themselves confidently and feel comfortable at the same time.

Where does your design inspiration come from for your clothing?

A lot of it is seasonal. I just designed five or six football shirts that reflect the Pebby Forevee style. We definitely have a look. We like block bold letters, and I’m obsessed with Cooper Black font. Inspiration comes from what our look is now, and now, we are using a lot of block and bold lettering.  

What are two of your favorite items for sale right now on the site?

The headbands will always and forever be my favorite. They’re so versatile, they hide my acne and they help with my mom hair. They make me feel cool whenever I don’t feel cool, and I feel like they make my outfit feel a little more edgy. Right now, I also love our Plaid Rebel Jackets.

When you decided to start your own business what was your first step?

Realizing that I could actually do it even though I had no business background. Once I realized that, with a little bit of hard work and a lot of research, I was able to figure out how to upload my items on Etsy. Then, I would view other shops on Etsy that I admired and I would mirror what they did. I didn’t have a computer until I was 25 so I used my phone to take and upload pictures. I used myself as the model, I used whatever I could with whatever funds or means that I had. People don’t realize you don’t need $5,000 and a five-year business plan to start a business, you can just start and see where it goes.

Speaking of money, how did you fund your business when you were first starting out?

I don’t have any debt. Everything I do, I pay in cash and I pay for everything upfront. My first purchase was a $40 screen printing kit I found at Michaels. I took it home and ruined it but I was so curious that I went back out a couple hours after to get another one. After I realized what that was I did a bunch of research online and ordered my first real kit for $150. I still use it!

Did you have an “ah ha” moment of this is what I’m going to do or did it come on gradually?

When my first screen burned correctly I think I screamed. I was so excited and that was it. I had so many ideas going through my head and I never thought about anything else. I became obsessed with it in the best way possible.

You have a personal website and an Etsy site—what did you launch first?

I launched my Etsy site first. It’s a fantastic platform to learn how to market your products, how to take pictures and how to use tags. The commercials make it seem like starting your own website is easy and it’s really not, so I would recommend starting on Etsy.  

What were your biggest fears when starting your business?

I was scared when I quit my job. I was able to quit my job after a couple of months because my business took off on Etsy, so I think that was the scariest thing.

How did you deal with those fears?

I hushed them up. I wasn’t leaving a job that I loved. I was scared because I didn’t know anyone else that was doing what I was doing, so I didn’t have any examples. I didn’t have anyone to ask questions, but I just shut my fears up and went for it.

Can you tell me about your journey of learning the necessary design skills for your clothing?

This is what’s crazy. I have a clothing business and I don’t know how to sell. I do all of my editing and I have no idea how to use Photoshop. I learned by googling. I watched hours of YouTube videos. I read a lot of blogs. I spent a lot of time on the computer. I’m self-taught.

 How do you promote your business?

I’ve used an advertising agency a couple of times and those have always been hit or miss for me, and they’ve never been successful enough for me to stay with it. Instagram is my number one way to get customers and it promotes a lot of engagement. It helps my customers feel like they got something from Pebby when they purchase something, which is how I want them to feel. Also, I do a lot on Pinterest. Most of the things I do is free because social media is free.

What’s your favorite social media platform and why?

Instagram hands down. I love how it’s visual. I also love Instagram stories because my followers can see that I have a personality, how I have acne and that I struggle with the balance of being a working mom. It’s added a much-needed personal level to Instagram.

Do you have any social media tips?

I have a ton of tips! I’m starting a social media class at the end of October. It’s going to be about teaching people how to use Instagram to boost their business, engage with customers and how to turn engagement into sales. The class will be here in my shop. I’m going to travel to Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh to teach as well.

How do you balance motherhood and owning your own business?

Whenever I’m with my daughter I focus on her unless she’s doing something funny and I want to tape it. When I’m with her, I’m not on Instagram, I’m not on Pinterest, I’m not on my phone. I put it away and I play. That’s how I balance. The same thing goes for weekends. I try not to have my phone and I try not to do work over the weekends.

Have you had any “OMG, pinch me” moments since starting your own company?

Jen Garner and Ben Affleck ordered shirts from me a couple of years ago, but the biggest ‘OMG’ moment was when Chelsea Houska wore my clothes during a “Teen Mom” episode on MTV. I love her and she has been my fashion icon for years.

Let’s talk about opening your own brick and mortar store – what has that process been like?

The process has evolved because the space was originally supposed to be only a factory. Then, I thought people could do local pickups, but I found out people want to come in and shop and I wasn’t expecting that. I’m nervous for the opening because I’m scared that the shop won’t live up to people’s expectation. I don’t really know what that means for us yet. I don’t know if people aren’t going to show up and we’ll be disappointed or if a lot of people are going to show up and they’ll be disappointed when they realize it’s not a typical store.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to follow their dreams and start their own company?

My favorite quote is ‘Don’t think about what can happen in a month, don’t think about what can happen in a year, just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be,’ and that’s exactly how I got started. I had $80 in the bank that I spent on screen printing kits and I obsessed over it. I was tedious and careful, and I learned. Do what you can with what you have. Start somewhere and keep going.

What do you want people to know about next?

The opening of my store is October 20th. It’s located at 140 W Borland St. Suite 500, Pickerington, OH 43147. I’ll be offering social media classes and I’m always coming up with new designs, so there will be more. More stores and more ways to connect, so expect to expect more.

Pebby Forevee

Be sure to check out Liz's store here and follow her on Instagram here

Also, let me know if there is anything you are curious about or think I should ask during my next interview in the comments below! 

        XOXO,

XOXO Kate
 
 

Sky’s the Limit: Talking Biz with Kaleigh Shrigley and Claire Lowe of ONE SIX FIVE

Hi there—It’s Kate, owner and curator of Sky Trading Co., and I couldn’t be happier to bring you my very first post on Sky’s the Limit: a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring the shakers, makers and mostly badass women around Columbus, OH. This is a space where I’ll feature someone who’s making bold moves in their life. Hopefully, their stories will inspire you to live fearlessly. Enjoy!

Last week I met two inspiring ladies and jewelry designers, Kaleigh Shrigley and Claire Lowe of ONE SIX FIVE. Both are Ohio natives who became fast-friends while working together at a local boutique in the Short North Arts district of Columbus, OH. In 2014, they started designing out of Kaleigh’s attic and today they’re running a successful business from their bright pink lifestyle shop and studio in Clintonville. Major online retailer, Shopbop carries their line and they have an editorial feature in Harper's Bazaar hitting the stands soon. Slow and steady is their motto, yet in the last three years Kaleigh and Claire have grown ONE SIX FIVE from a small collection of rings to a complete catalog of high quality, accessible jewelry. Below is their story and advice for young entrepreneurs and wannabe bosses…

In three words describe each other…

Kaleigh on Claire: Claire is funny, an animal lover to a fault sometimes, if that’s possible, and creative because she’s great at creative problem solving.
Claire on Kaleigh: Kaleigh is a creative force, super fashionable and a great friend.

Where did you two meet and what inspired you to partner up and start One Six Five?

Kaleigh: We met working at a clothing store (Rowe in the Short North). Claire was working part time as a manager, and I was in school at CCAD studying jewelry design. I was selling jewelry at Rowe and working there part time on the weekends, and Claire always had an interest in jewelry design. Once I graduated I wanted to take the leap to design and sell jewelry full time, so I asked Claire if she would do it and she was crazy enough to say yes. We both quit shortly after and started doing odd jobs to make ends meet.
Claire: We still do odd jobs now and then!

How would you describe ONE SIX FIVE’s Style?

Kaleigh: It’s everyday jewelry, but with a twist and an offbeat characteristic that makes it different and unique. It can pull together an entire outfit because it’s simple enough that it doesn’t always steal the show, but it is unique enough that you notice it.

Going back to the early days, can you tell me about the process of launching One Six Five from concept to reality?

Kaleigh: First we got our LLC in place, a vendor’s license and other legal mumbo jumbo. We started working out of my attic, which was less than great. It wasn’t temperature controlled so it was either really cold or really hot. It was also very dark with no natural light. We started sending out massive amounts of cold emails to independent stores asking them if they want to look at our jewelry. Only about 2% of people responded, but that’s all you really need! We then launched a website shortly after. We launched on Squarespace because it was easy and free. We have since switched to Shopify, which is super easy and user-friendly. We also hired a PR agent. She was an important first step. When we updated our space, we had to stop using her for PR because it was our budget trade off.
Claire: Our PR agent got us into some great magazines and helped with our credibility because people were able to recognize that we were in Lucky magazine, for example.

Did you have any fears before you launched?

Kaleigh:  Yes, definitely, but looking back I feel like I should have been more afraid. To me, it was more like this is what I have to do, this is what I’m doing, it wasn’t an option. I guess I was afraid of money but I’ve never let money decide what I’m going to do. I think if you are passionate enough about something the money will come.
Claire: I had fears, but I was ready to not be working at the boutique any more. It was a welcome change and working for yourself is awesome.

How did you fund your business when you were first starting out?

Kaleigh: We still don’t have any debt. We didn’t take out any loans. We are on the slow and steady path. If we can’t afford it, we can’t do it. In the beginning, we started with $2,000 which is what we had in savings. That got our legal stuff done. We were working out of my attic and we just bought enough materials to get us going. 
Claire: We always wonder how small business go from nothing to huge. They must have investors. The slow incline is better because there is less risk of failure.
Kaleigh: We could close our doors tomorrow and not have a dime of debt personally, which is a good feeling, but it also prevents us from having that overnight growth because we don’t have money to invest in that sort of thing.

How would you describe your customer?

Kaleigh: Our customer is a conscious minded consumer who cares where her stuff comes from. Obviously, she’s fashion minded, she wants to look cool and she wants to be up on the trends, but it’s definitely not the fast-fashion customer. Our customer respects a well-made piece and understands an investment piece, and even though our pieces aren’t that expensive, it’s something that you can have for years.
Claire: I feel like our customers value gold filled jewelry, which is what we sell, versus gold plated jewelry. Gold plated jewelry is a thin layer of gold over brass that tends to turn your finger green, so we try to educate people on our process and I think they appreciate it.

Boss lady alert! Meet jewelry designers, Kaleigh Shrigley and Claire Lowe of ONE SIX FIVE. Read their inspiring journey at skytradingco.com/blog

Have you had any recent “OMG, pinch me” moments as a business owner?

Claire: When we landed Shopbop – that was the craziest moment. We’ve also talked to Urban Outfitters. We try not to get too excited because you never know if they are going to order anything, so when Shopbop made an order we were floored.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Kaleigh: A man I used to nanny for told me that owning a business isn’t that hard, just don’t do anything stupid. It sounds like that means nothing, like it’s just a sarcastic comment, but it applies to so much. When we are making decisions, I try to think of how this could go wrong.

For the dreamers, the young entrepreneurs and the people looking to start their own business, what advice do you have?

Claire: Just do it! Start small, don’t feel like you have to take out loans, don’t feel like you have to have this insanely beautiful state-of-the-art website or space. You can just work out of your home, have a tiny website with non-perfect photography, but you just have to start.
Kaleigh: There’s never going to be a perfect time. There’s always going to be something. You are never going to miraculously have all this money to do it, you just have to do it. Like I said, when we first started, we started with $2000 and that’s all I had. Don’t do anything stupid and baby steps is the method we take.
Claire: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We always ask people for help. We have no shame in that. I’m sure you know someone who is good at something and you can trade with them. Trade is great.

When you say trade, what do you mean by that?

Claire: Trade your services. Trade jewelry for photography or trade jewelry for graphic design.
Kaleigh: I think a lot of people are afraid to ask because anytime you are talking about money people get uncomfortable or weird about it but I think most people are willing to trade.

How do you promote your business?

Kaleigh: The biggest thing we do is free, which is social media. We try to be super ‘up and up’ on social media, especially Instagram, but I just link everything together so one post goes to twitter and other social sites at the same time. We try to post every day or most days and give our followers insight to what goes on behind the scenes.
Claire: Doing events, like the Columbus Flea, helps a lot too. We get to meet so many people that know of us or have never heard of us and they come back later. This is the same with doing the New York trade shows. We get to meet so many people just from that. That’s obviously not free but it’s a huge marketing thing we do.

Do you have any social media tips?

Kaleigh: We always talk about authenticity especially with Instagram. It’s so frustrating to see so many people try to have this perfect life…people try so hard to over edit. I think people can relate more to you if they feel like you are a real person, not just a faceless beautiful page. We also strive to have a beautiful page, but we want a beautiful page with personality.
Claire: We’ve found that people like to see who is making the jewelry. There have been times when I’m looking at a store or jewelry shop and I cannot find a single picture of the person who owns the shop, which I think is weird. It’s a small business and I think it should have a face. We try to give people insight on how our jewelry is made and how we live our lives.

What has been most rewarding about owning your own business?

Kaleigh: Mondays don’t suck!
Claire: We actually don’t work on Monday’s.
Kaleigh: Well…I mean Tuesday’s don’t suck. I never dread coming to work. There are certainly days where I feel tired or there may be a task that needs done that day that I don’t feel like dealing with, or whatever, but for the most part I look forward to coming into work. 
Claire: I agree, I like to be able to make every decision. Even if we fail at that decision, we got to make it.

Congrats on launching your new fall line! I want everything! What are two of your favorite items for sale right now in the shop?

Kaleigh: My two favorites are the Sunshine Hoops and the Question? + Answer! Earrings.
Claire: I love the Triple Hoops Earrings. The middle line is gold and I love mixed medal stuff. I’m usually not a huge ring person but I love the Chunky Mixed Medal Ring and the Chunky Stacking Ring. I love these because they are more impactful than the thin bands but still simple.

Are you a part of any networking groups in Columbus?

Kaleigh: Creative Babes – it’s so fun. It’s really nice to have a community that is similar to you. A lot of the people are business owners and creatives that are out there flailing and trying to figure it out, so it’s nice to be able to talk to like-minded people. It’s a super open community with zero competition, which is nice. Everyone wants to support each other.

In terms of other entrepreneurs, who do you look up to and why? Is there anyone local that inspires you?

Kaleigh: Yes, in Columbus – Tina De Broux from Under Aurora.
Claire: There are a lot. Most of the people we carry in our shop, we look up to. I feel like, if you’re from Columbus and a woman, you have to look up to Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams because she’s obviously killing it.

Be sure to check out Kaleigh and Claire's store here and follow ONE SIX FIVE on Instagram here

Also, let me know if there is anything you are curious about or think I should ask during my next interview in the comments below! 

                           XOXO,

XOXO Kate