Shopping Small (With Big Heart) – Iowa Planner Girl

image2

 

Sara Knight owner of Iowa Planner Girl

Sara Knight owner of Iowa Planner Girl

Continuing our interview series Shopping Small (With Big Heart), I am eager to be introducing you to Sara Knight owner of Iowa Planner Girl on Etsy.

Studio Elaine ~ What is your background before being your own boss, or do you work both a 9 to 5 and run your own business?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ I am a part time school bus driver. I’ve been doing this for 20 years since our kids were just itty bitty. I liked being able to keep them out of daycare and make a little extra money. I had all the days off they had off when they were in school, including summers. We have 3 kids, which are all in college now. One daughter & twin boys. I still continue to drive a school bus. I love my bus kids.

Studio Elaine ~ What first inspired and motivated you to open your own business?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ Planning is always something I’ve done since I was little, but it wasn’t until the last few years it has become more of an art for me. I scrapbooked for years, but as the kids graduated high school there weren’t as many pictures as before. So this is where the art part of planning lured me in. Also, I have a huge love of floral prints. That is what led me to creating my own stickers. I was able to find many floral stickers but not many that were the bold color floral prints, which is my favorite! So I designed my own & had a lot of girls ask to purchase for themselves & tell me I should sell them, so eventually that’s what I did. I only design sets I would use myself.

Studio Elaine ~ What does a day in the life look like? Walk us a little through the juggling act of balancing your business and home.

Iowa Planner Girl ~ I get up very early to drive school bus. I have to be to work by 6am. My route leaves the bus yard at 6:25. I finish my first route at 8:15am. I then have a break until 10:30am. I usually use this time to process orders, work on projects or do household tasks. I leave again at 10:30am and don’t return home again until 4:30pm. Outside of work, I am active in church. So many evenings I have various activities where I serve there. Also, two nights a week I go to a zumba exercise class. So I don’t always have much free time. I try to work on business items on Tuesday, Thursday and weekends. It varies, but juggling regular life with business life is always a challenge. Planning ahead is always beneficial. I also believe that whatever I do I’m working for the Lord, my Savior. He is in control at all times. So I might have a plan but ultimately the Lord controls all in my life. And I strive to give Him the glory in every aspect of my life.

Studio Elaine ~ How has social media impacted your business and how you conduct business?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ I love art projects. I have always been a planner since as far back as I can remember. Through Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest I came across the art of planning. It was an instant match. It wasn’t long after I started designing my own stickers & the girls on social media asked me to sell. So that’s how I fell into it all. I love the art of designing & I love planning, so it’s a win win.

Studio Elaine ~ Looking back at how you first started as a small business owner, what would you have done differently, knowing what you know now?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ Spent more time organizing the true cost of my design. Also, plan for errors. Some items have cost me much more to make than I ever made on sales. You learn as you go. I think sometimes it takes time to find your niche. For me, it’s vintage florals. I would describe myself as an old soul so this style totally fits me. I especially love vintage floral hankies.

Studio Elaine ~ What made selling on Etsy appealing to you vs. starting your own online ecommerce site?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ I was already very familiar with Etsy from the years of purchasing. It is easy to use and understand. So it was a natural choice for me.

il_570xN.988592705_4sgu

Shabby Chic Floral Box Planner Stickers Designed by Sara

Studio Elaine ~ Obviously I love your shop and items, what are you most proud of in your shop, and where do you find your creativity and inspiration?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ For sure my vintage hanky clips. I originally wanted to design stickers from hanky designs but I didn’t want to run into copyright infringement and couldn’t afford to invest the money into the legal end of it. So I had this huge collection of hankies (close to 100) and wanted to use them in planning somehow. So I decided to make hanky clips. I call my line hello hankies. They are so cute to me. The hardest part is not keeping them all for myself haha! But I love them. I also have hanky charms. And I of course love my floral stickers. I know many people have a variety of patterns but I just wanted all floral patterns. So that’s what I designed.  My favorite are the shabby chic vintage designs. I just can’t get enough of them. I have so many plans for the future. Mainly designing sets that will encourage others in the Word. I love seeing scripture in my planner everyday. So that’s what I want to share with others and encourage them as well.

Studio Elaine ~ You are obviously very creative and talented, besides the items you create for your shop, what are some of your other talents, and what alternate creative outlets do you pursue?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ I spent the last five years pursuing photography. I would take senior pictures for friends and family. I have felt called to serve God through this. So even though I had a business (Sara Knight Photography – saraknightphotography.com) I always felt it was more of a ministry than a business. My photography mission was based on the Bible verse 1 Peter 4:10 – Each of us should use whatever gift we receive to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in it’s various forms. I learned so much about design from photography as well. I am able to use my skills from photoshop to design sticker sets and to edit pictures for instagram. Also, being a former scrapbooker, I feel like decorating my planner is very similar to that. I had been missing scrapbooking when my children graduated high school. So this was a perfect alternative. I am in love with creative planning!

Studio Elaine ~ Why do you feel shopping small is important?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ There are so many talented people creating so many different things. I love that we are each unique. It is so fun to me to mix all these items from such talented people into my planner to create my own style. Love it!! So it’s super awesome having these one of a kind unique items made by others that you will not find everywhere. And whatever that persons mission is you can support them. It’s so much more personal than buying commercial and I love that!

Studio Elaine ~ How do you feel the role of women as small business owners has impacted you, and what do you think the major challenge as a woman in business has been for you?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ I love supporting other women in business. I especially love women that are trying to make a little extra money to be able to stay home with their kids. Every situation is different but in my life I wanted to help contribute, but also wanted to be there for our kids so it has been a win win for us.

Studio Elaine ~ What do you want our readers to specifically know about you and your shop?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ First and foremost, I love the Lord and it’s my desire to live for Him and bring glory to His name. Also, I love to create items that are cheery & make others happy. My goal this year is to incorporate Christ into my designs. I would love to encourage others in Him as well.

Studio Elaine ~ What advice would you give to anyone out there, who thinks they might want to open their own small business?

Iowa Planner Girl ~ I would say to have an organizational plan and a financial plan. Keep track of all records so you know exactly what items cost you in the end. It’s actually much easier to lose money on items than you think. You have to factor it all in. Question if the profit is worth your time. As awesome as your product is, if it doesn’t make you money, is it worth it?

Studio Elaine ~ I would like to thank Sara for taking time out of her schedule to participate in our interview series. The items she creates for her shop or retro, charming and bring a smile to my heart every time I see them. Her vintage florals are simply darling, as is her sharing spirit. If you get the opportunity please visit her Instagram feed and Etsy shop by using the links below. She’s currently working on a new batch of  “Hello Hankie” clips, so be on the lookout for those coming soon!

IG

image2

Shopping Small (With Big Heart) – Lavish Paper Company

iusb_760x100.17960477_3izb

Continuing our interview series Shopping Small (With Big Heart), I am thrilled to be introducing you to Rebekah Norman owner of Lavish Paper Co. on Etsy.

Studio Elaine ~ What is your background before being your own boss, or do you work both a 9 to 5 and run your own business?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ I work from home for an online women’s magazine, formatting articles. It’s fun, creative and I work with an amazing team. I’ve been in this business for 4 years now and it helped lead up to me opening my own Etsy shop and helping empower other female small business owners.

Studio Elaine ~ What first inspired and motivated you to open your own business?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ My mother. I kept telling her I wish I could find a job that paid me enough and allowed me to create fun things for other people. We had talked about and began to prepare to open a small family business together before she passed away. After she passed away, I continued on with our plans but on a smaller scale.

Studio Elaine ~ What does a day in the life look like? Walk us a little through the juggling act of balancing your business and home.

Lavish Paper Co. ~ My kids are up at 6am, breakfast and lunches are made. I drop them off at school by 8 and I come home to start my day. I juggle my job duties and the Etsy shop during the day. So far they’ve balanced each other out nicely.

Studio Elaine ~ How has social media impacted your business and how you conduct business?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ It’s helped a lot by bringing in new traffic and allowing potential customers to see my products in use by other customers. I also enjoy sharing behind the scenes work that goes into making the product. I feel like social media allows me to connect with customers on a more personal level and that’s the feel I want for my shop.

Studio Elaine ~ Looking back at how you first started as a small business owner, what would you have done differently, knowing what you know now?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ Honestly? Not a thing. Growing a business is a learning experience and it takes those experiences to get exactly where you are now. I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what not to do.

Studio Elaine ~ What made selling on Etsy appealing to you vs. starting your own online ecommerce site?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ Etsy helps promote your business. It’s easy, safe and secure. It was a breeze to set up and they have great tutorials!

Inspirational Note Cards Available in the Lavish Paper Co. shop.

Inspirational Note Cards Available at Lavish Paper Co.

Studio Elaine ~ Obviously I love your shop and items, what are you most proud of in your shop, and where do you find your creativity and inspiration?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ My inspiration comes from my own needs as a planner. I think I’m most proud of the digital items I drew and designed myself vs. clip art I purchased. It took a big effort to make some of those designs!

 

Studio Elaine ~  You are obviously very creative and talented, besides the items you create for your shop, what are some of your other talents, and what alternate creative outlets do you pursue?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ I sew and can hand stamp jewelry! It’s actually what the shop was prior to being a sticker shop! Digital graphics and design are my favorite though and why I picked this as my “forever” business plan.

Studio Elaine ~ Why do you feel shopping small is important?

Lavish Paper Co. ~As a small shop owner I know how much work, time, blood, sweat and tears goes into small businesses. I happily support other small shop owners (and bigger Etsy shops, too) because I know that they wouldn’t do what they’re doing if they didn’t love it and put a lot of work into it. There’s just something rewarding about buying an item I know has a lot of handmade love behind it!

Studio Elaine ~ How do you feel the role of women as small business owners has impacted you, and what do you think the major challenge as a woman in business has been for you?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ Being a small business owner has taught me a lot about owning and running a business. In the financial aspect of it, it’s helped me learn how to be financially more responsible. The major challenge I find as a female in any business is getting people to take me seriously. Women can and are just as motivated as our male counterparts. We can be just as business savvy, too!

Studio Elaine ~  What do you want our readers to specifically know about you and your shop?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ I started small and I’ve worked really, really hard to get where I am. I’m no where near as big as some other shops in my line of business, but I am really proud to have come as far as I have. I strive for out of this world customer service and the very best product I can make for you. Each and every single product that leaves my shop is designed, made and packaged by me with a lot of love and thankfulness.

Studio Elaine ~  What advice would you give to anyone out there, who thinks they might want to open their own small business?

Lavish Paper Co. ~ You can achieve anything you want to achieve. If you fall down, get back up. Don’t ever give up. If your first shop idea doesn’t work, find one that does work for you! I love sewing but it did not work for me in a business setting. Find something you absolutely love making for other people and then run wild with it!

Studio Elaine ~ I’d like to thank Rebekah for her time and participation in our interview series. If you haven’t done so already please visit the Lavish Paper Co. shop on Etsy and follow her on Instagram. She is a spectacular woman with an encouraging spirit and heart, and I know you will all love her as much as I do.

Click on the links below to connect with her shop and social media. One of my favorite items from her shop are the Insirational Note Cards, linked above. They are so delicate and feminine, they remind me of spring. Who wouldn’t want something so precious gracing their desk?

 

iusb_760x100.17960477_3izb

th (1) th (2) th (3) th

IG

Shopping Small (With Big Heart) -belleslumieres

 

Lindsey with her husband Brandon

Lindsey with her husband Brandon

It is my pleasure to kick-off our Shopping Small (With Big Heart) series by introducing you to Lindsey Schwenn owner of belleslumieres on Etsy.

Studio Elaine ~ What is your background before being your own boss, or do you work both a 9 to 5 and run your own business?

belleslumieres ~ I actually went to college at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville and studied Criminal Justice. I currently still work a 9 to 5 but would eventually love to pursue my creative passion full time. I run my Etsy business on nights and weekends!

Studio Elaine ~ What first inspired and motivated you to open your own business?

belleslumieres ~ I’ve been creative ever since I can remember. I knew I was going to design and make everything from scratch for our wedding, and that I did! After hearing everyone’s compliments about how amazing everything turned out, I gained the confidence I needed to start our shop.

It started out with just marquee lights (hence our name, belleslumieres which stands for beautiful lights in French). My passion for lettering stemmed from making my own “darling, I love you canvas set” for our bedroom. Instagram viewers loved them so much I decided to list them on Etsy and they are my #1 seller!

Darling I love You Canvas Set

The “Darling I Love You” Canvas Set from belleslumieres

Studio Elaine ~ What does a day in the life look like? Walk us a little through the juggling act of balancing your business and home.

belleslumieres ~ Well, a weekday looks something like this. Wake up, scroll through Instagram (haha), make my morning post, get ready for work, DRINK COFFEE (x3), work until 4:30 and then come home. My husband and I don’t have any kids but we do have 2 furry daughters. Luna, a miniature dachshund (4) and Harper, a bull terrier (3). I like to spend time at night with my Pens ( Tombows are my favorite). I also have a slight obsession with making my home beautiful, so you can find me online shopping or redecorating often also!

 

Studio Elaine ~ How has social media impacted your business and how you conduct business?

belleslumieres ~ To be honest, it has had its ups and downs. It took me 4-5 months to really get my Instagram going. But I don’t think they directly correlate. I do a lot of freestyle lettering on Insta and don’t brand my shop as much as I should. I will throw in a few plugs here and there!

And Insta is all I have right now. I’ve never been a fan of Facebook and I don’t use my Twitter for our business. I think I would probably have a similar amount of sales without my Insta account. Etsy is so big right now, I get most of my exposure from the search engine.

Studio Elaine ~ Looking back at how you first started as a small business owner, what would you have done differently, knowing what you know now?

belleslumieres ~ I would have waited to choose our name. At first, I thought it was brilliant. Beautiful Lights for people who make marquee lights?!? So smart, right? Wrong. Because now I am more focused on my lettering. I know I could change our name, but that confuses buyers and it’s still a pretty name.

Studio Elaine ~ What made selling on Etsy appealing to you vs. starting your own online ecommerce site?

belleslumieres ~ I am a HUGE fan of Etsy. Plain and simple. And you can literally find ANYTHING on there. Sometimes it surprises me how talented some people are and what they can make. And I feel as though it’s a really good place to start out. I didn’t want to put all that time into making my own website and then have my shop fail. Plus, exposure is big on Etsy. The search engine helps BIG time.

Studio Elaine ~ Obviously I love your shop and items, what are you most proud of in your shop, and where do you find your creativity and inspiration?

belleslumieres ~ Well thank you! Hmmm, most proud of….I honestly think our marquee lights are way awesome. They take the most work and the longest amount of time, but they always turn out amazing and it’s the one thing in our shop that my husband contributes to. It’s a team effort with those bad boys. But I am also really proud of my custom canvases. It makes customers so happy when you produce something physical and bring their thoughts to life.

Studio Elaine ~ You are obviously very creative and talented, besides the items you create for your shop, what are some of your other talents, and what alternate creative outlets do you pursue?

belleslumieres ~ Thank you again!  I’ve never been very good at sports. I’ve always taken the more creative route in life. When I was younger I played piano, played clarinet, took voice lessons, danced ballet, was a cheerleader, etc. I’m a decent singer (I can carry a tune). And I am a pretty talented drawer. My favorite things are lettering and drawing. They make my heart sing.

Studio Elaine ~ Why do you feel shopping small is important?

belleslumieres ~ Because you’re supporting not only someone’s passion but their way of life. It comes from the heart. They don’t just do it to make money. They do it because it makes them happy when their customers are happy.

Studio Elaine ~ How do you feel the role of women as small business owners has impacted you, and what do you think the major challenge as a woman in business has been for you?

belleslumieres ~ One thing I have come to learn is that on Instagram, we all stick together. We all make each other better and support each other. You would think, all these women are running similar lettering businesses, they are competition! But no, it’s not like that at all.

I honestly haven’t come across any challenges. It’s sometimes hard to find a balance between work and belleslumieres and family time, but it all works out in the end.

Studio Elaine ~ What do you want our readers to specifically know about you and your shop?

belleslumieres ~I am just a normal 27 year old woman who is just doing what she loves to make herself and others happy. I’m no celebrity and I’m not scary. You shouldn’t find me intimidating.

I am a pretty friendly person. If you have some crazy custom request for an item, send me a message on Etsy. I’d love to try to make it for you. If you are an aspiring letterer just starting out, let me know. I’d love to offer you suggestions on how to become better!

And about my shop….I guess I would say, I’m sorry if my pictures aren’t as glamorous as other shops on Etsy (haha)! I don’t know how some people make their pictures look so fantastic. I even have a nice fancy Nikon and I still can’t get them right!

Studio Elaine ~ What advice would you give to anyone out there, who thinks they might want to open their own small business?

belleslumieres ~ What are you waiting for??? Do it!

But in all seriousness, be patient. It doesn’t happen over night. I opened my shop in November and I’ve only had 9 sales. And don’t expect everyone to leave you a review. Most people don’t do it (unfortunately).

Studio Elaine ~ I’d like to thank Lindsey so much for her time and participation in our new series. If you haven’t done so already please check out the  belleslumieres  shop on Etsy and follow her on Instagram. She is an amazing woman with a big heart, and I know you will all love her as much as I do.

Click on the belleslumieres Logo below to connect with her shop and the Instagram icon to follow her there. Also, please checkout her #1 Best Seller, the “Darling I Love You” canvas set, linked above. It is beyond beautiful and would look so wonderful in any home.

isla_500x500.17224903_mfffsbl6IG

 

Shopping Small (With Big Heart) – Women Small Business Owners

I am a big believer in supporting small businesses, especially small woman owned enterprises. As a wife and mother, I understand the importance of providing for one’s family, while still supporting the family in ways far greater than that monetary.

Whether a single woman, married woman, single mother, mother working solely outside the home, or mother working from home, we are all fundamentally women just trying to do the best we can. No matter our employment situation, a woman’s “job” is never simply 9 to 5 but an around the clock 24/7.

Over the next several months, I am proud to feature interviews, with some of the female small business owners I have come to respect, admire and look to for inspiration. All of these women are not only hard working like so many others, they have also found a way to pursue avenues that they are passionate about.

We’ll get to ask them, how they do it, why they do it, and delve into what they find inspirational.

So beginning this Wednesday, April 6th, join me on this journey into the world of Etsy and small woman owned businesses, it promises to be an artistically entertaining trip.

Until Wednesday,

Elaine