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!
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.