Our First Lady Artisan Networking Meeting

Y'all.  We had such a good time at our first Lady Artisan Networking event on June 27 at Urban Chestnut Brewing!  It was so great to meet so many beautiful, creative women entrepreneurs sharing their gifts and talents with one another over drinks.  

During this event, we met the lovely, knitter of all things awesome, Kate Shields of . Knitology

Inspired by her experience at our event, Kate took the time to craft a blog titled "3 Excuses for Not Starting that Passion Project and Why You Should Do It Anyway"  (Pssst..make sure to read the *WHOLE* thing because she mentions us in the last paragraph).

So pop on over to read her blog about getting yourself into hot action on making your creative dreams and reality.  Then, come back and check out some of the images we captured of the 30+ women that attended our event.

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Getting to Know Beth Styles of Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods

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We are so excited to get in gear for our Spring Pop Up Shop in the Grove Neighborhood on May 5, 2018.  As always, when we find ourselves setting up shop in the Grove neighborhood, we love to hit up Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods as one of our hosts for our pop up shops.  Since this will be our 4th time popping up at Lemon Gem, we wanted to highlight the wisdom of Beth Styles, owner of Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods and Parsimonia on our blog.  Though she definitely has a full schedule owning two successful small businesses, we are so happy that she created some time to answer a few of our questions about her entrepreneurial awesomeness:

 

Read more about her creative entrepreneurial mission, vision and  experience below:

A Little Bit More About Beth

Beth Styles is the founder and co-owner of Parsimonia Vintage on South Grand and found/owner of Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods in The Grove. Born and bred in St. Louis, she lives in the city with her husband, shop dog Sadie and, come mid-May, will welcome a baby girl into the fold. She loves baking as a form of stress relief, plays cribbage when she can and is continuously adding to her shamelessly large collection of brass animals and vintage Vera Neumann textiles.

1. You are a woman of many talents and interests, two of those being creating good food and vintage clothing.  What inspired you to to seek small business as your chosen career path?

 

My journey into the small business world is certainly not something I feel like I purposefully chose. If you went back and pulled me aside at high school graduation and said, "Hey, in 10 years, you're gonna be a business owner," I would have thrown you some serious shade. I definitely feel where I am now is the result of a lot of small decisions, life changes, observations, responding to opportunities and perhaps just having a little bit of that naïveté you need to take some risks in life.

 

For me, this all started in my mid- to late-20s with my choice to move out to Los Angeles right after college, where for five years I pursued a career in magazine journalism. My last job out there, I was the editor for a small trade publication, and I definitely wasn't happy or very inspired in that job. Then the day I got back from my honeymoon, I was laid off, which turned out to be a good thing in that they kind of made the decision for me that I'd been wanting to make for a while as far as leaving, but I didn't know what else I'd do and, like everyone else, needed a paycheck. 

 

So once I was cut loose from that, my husband, who has always been the biggest champion of my dreams, said to me, "If there is one thing you could do the rest of your life and be happy, what would it be?" My immediate answer was "thrifting" (ha!). It was something I was always known for among my friends and family; the source for all my clothes, accessories and housewares; and a part of how I got exposed to vintage at a young age. A bit serendipitously, this was also around the time that selling vintage on Etsy had started to become a thing, so we decided to take a little chunk of money for me to amass some inventory out in L.A. that I could use to start an Etsy store, and that's how Parsimonia started.

 

Six months later, we decided to move back to Missouri (I grew up in St. Louis), and by that time L.A. had already been creating spaces and events for people to try out their small business dreams. Food trucks were at their peak, shows like Renegade Craft Fair were huge and, probably most important for me, these shows were combining handmade vendors with vintage sellers, showing how there was a big overlap in the customer demographic. So when we arrived in St. Louis, I was excited to see the indie craft show scene was growing here, too, but things were still very much geared toward handmade vendors. So I decided to just start applying to shows anyway as a vintage vendor, and after a LOT of no's, Indie Craft Revolution was the first show to let me in. I did really well and people really responded to my setup. After that, little by little, I was able to get into more and more shows and saw that door for vintage in the handmade scene open a little wider. Fast forward a year and I was back at ICR as one of the first mobile retail businesses in St. Louis (the other one being The ReTrailer [now Big Heart Tea]), and we both launched our trailers on the same day at that show. Fast forward a couple years later and I was opening a brick-and-mortar shop on South Grand, where we'll be celebrating 5 years this September.

 

 

2. What inspired you to open Lemon Gem? 

 

Well, the answer to that comes from a couple different directions. On one hand, my husband and I both come from families that really enjoy cooking, so we both grew up having learned those skills. Once we were married, we were always trying out new recipes in our own kitchen or recreating recipes from favorites restaurants. I am also a vegetarian — and had been for several years by the time we moved back to Missouri — and was really into learning new techniques and ways to prepare meatless dishes that would appeal to me and his meat-loving, Texas-bred self. So while this was being nurtured at home, and Parsimonia was being grown in the show scene, I decided to apply for some freelance writing and editing positions I'd seen pop up at some local publications. Eventually I was hired to do a combination of both for Sauce Magazine, where I started out writing some features and eventually became one of two writers who contributed to a newly monthly segment called "Vegetize It." Fast forward a couple years and, once Parsimonia's brick-and-mortar shop opened, I eventually stopped working freelance, but now was really into the local food and restaurant scene, which was quickly booming. Fast forward a couple more years and my husband and I buy our first house. I decided I want to stress-bake amid all the unpacking but can't find my tart pan. So I go to the closest local option to get a new one, and by the time I make the drive and deal with traffic and get home, the baking winds have gone out of my sails, and I'm frustrated that there isn't a closer local option for such an errand. The idea of starting a kitchen shop in the city, stays stuck in the back of my mind for another couple years and I float the idea around casually to friends I'd made in the small business scene to see what they thought. I check out similar shops in other cities as we travel here and there, and eventually I just can't shake the feeling that this might be my next adventure. Then the right space opens up, funding falls into place and I kind of ran out of excuses to not give it a go!

 

 

3. What was your style inspiration for the store?


I am far and away a "balancer," and I love Lemon Gem's aesthetic because it's a good representation of my taste: I love the beauty and character of things that are old, but also the clean lines and brightness of modern design. So I just tried to blend to two as best I could. The building itself was already gorgeously and lovingly rehabbed by the Rise Coffee team, and once I settled on a name, I could immediately envision what the branding could look like and how that could carry through the shop. The logo was inspired by lettering from the mid-1800s, and then I liked contrasting that with the modern kitchen-tools pattern. The walls are a beautiful old brick and wood floors dark, so I wanted to balance that with bright white shelves and a section of black-and-white hex tile to keep the space from feeling too tiny. And then I liked the feel of adding in new, unfinished pine as something to bring the two together.

 

 

4. As a creative female small business owner, what words of encouragement can you offer a woman looking to set out to start her own creative business?

 

I'd say a difficult thing for creatives is to be able to pursue what inspires you and what you're passionate about, but to also be able to look at it with a business-y eye. We're in a tricky time in our culture where starting a business has become more accessible with regard to having an online store, etc., and it's become something that seems pretty romantic. So it's easy to have an idea and then just start going for it, and I think it's important to have a bit of that go-getter attitude. But I think a lot of people don't ask the non-creative questions before they do, and those are the ones that help set up your expectations and how you determine down the line if you're business is "successful" or not, because that definition is about more than numbers.

 

So, I'd say you need to be able to answer the question of "Why?" first. What is the purpose of starting the business? What do you want to get out of it (i.e. Is it something that you want to have as a creative outlet but not your main source of income? Or do you want it to be the only job you have)? What does your business being "successful" look like to you? Is it something that fills a hole in the local business scene? If not, how will what you're doing be different from what's already being done? Where will the startup costs come from?

 

I'd also seek out current business owners that you naturally click with and ask them questions. Find out what it's like to be that business owner (the good and the bad), see what they think of your idea, ask what resources they found helpful (or not) when starting their business.

 

 

5. Having a small business is about learning to flow amidst the peaks and valleys. What motivates you to keep going in your entrepreneurial endeavors when your businesses are experiencing challenges? 

 

Well, I own two retail shops amid the fervor of Amazon and online shopping, so I can definitely relate to this question. I've even had people come into the shops and tell me my job will be obsolete down the road. And maybe that's true ... maybe not. My hope is that people don't completely lose their desire for human-to-human interaction; that seeing something in person before buying it is helpful and meaningful; that we regain an appreciation for quality over how cheaply we can get something; that we desire to support our local communities through supporting local businesses, because the owners of these smaller establishments are more in touch with what's going on than the big-box stores, and much more likely to give back to the people immediately around them. So when my shops have bad days and all these hopes are seeming hopeless, I usually ask myself, "Is there something else you'd rather be doing?" And the answer is pretty much always, "Nope."

 

 

6. Self-care is a central part of staying successful as small business owner. What self-care practices do you have for yourself that keep your grounded and energized?

 

I try very hard to protect my time on my days off and the time after work when my husband and I are at home together. Most things can wait a little bit for a response, and I think there is something to be somewhat unavailable these days when everyone expects you to be glued to your devices at all time. Just don't become SO unavailable that you're missing potential business. So some of the things I do are try to not schedule meetings during those times, or make sure it's relegated to things that can be done by computer. I also let myself take a 15-minute breaks if I feel my workday is starting to leave me feeling burned out. I'll surf social media, or watch half an episode of a show or do some stretching or go get a sweet treat. Then once that break is over, I'm refocused and can jump back into it. I'll be honest, though: There is a LOT of room for improvement in this area of my life.

That was really useful information, insight and advice from Beth Styles on her experiences from running two small businesses.  As always please go check out the beautiful way she brings her love for vintage wear and quality+stylish kitchen goods to life at Parsimonia and Lemon Gem Kitchen Goods.

 

Bearded Frida

Bearded Frida will be popping up with us at our Galentine's Day event on February 10 from 5:00-10:00pm on Cherokee Street.  The brainchild Bearded Frida, Emily Eufinger, is on our blog today with the story and vision behind the innovative idea of Bearded Frida's homemade grooming products for both ladies and gentlemen.  Homemade products include: bearded oils, mustache wax, lotion soaps and more.

Once upon a time, I was able to walk into any store, grab any random skincare product off the shelf, and put it on with no negative repercussions whatsoever.  Then one day, out of the blue, that was no longer the case.  My old tried-and-trues suddenly caused bad breakouts, and allergic reactions.  After a lot of money spent trying one after another store-bought "sensitive skin" products, I decided that if I just made my own, I would know what's in it, and be able to gauge what worked for me and what didn't. 

 

So I started researching, and learning, and making.  Some of the things I made, I gave away as presents to friends.  People liked my things.  They told me that my things were good, and I should consider selling them. 

 

 

One day I was asked to volunteer at a charity event that just happened to be a facial hair competition.  This competition had a category for ladies to enter into, with fake beards and mustaches.  The only thing I love more than charity, is costuming.  Here was an opportunity to combine both.  The contrast of feminine costumes combined with masculine facial hair absolutely fascinated me.  So began my life as a Whiskerina. 

 

In 2016, I traveled to Austin for their competition--Come & Shave it 10.  I dressed up as Frida Kahlo with a beard.  And I won.  I also had my tin type taken by a great group of artists called Project Barbatype.  The image they captured is the one I use for all of my labels.  Without them, there would be no Bearded Frida. 

 

So now I had a market for my products.  I figured, if I'm going to be traveling around to different competitions anyways, I might as well make the most of it!  I filed for my LLC in September of 2016, and Bearded Frida was born.  She's kind of grown into her own person since then--she counts as an extra person on all road trips because her stuff takes up so much space.  She might be high maintenance, but she's very organized! 

 

My mission is for Bearded Frida to live up to what Frida Kahlo herself stood for.  Frida was a rebel:  she could've painted herself anyway she wanted to (see today's Instagram filters), but she didn't.  She painted herself exactly as she was, which wasn't exactly society's traditional definition of "beautiful."  She didn't change herself or her paintings to fit in anyone's mold. 

 

 

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Rudy's Flower Truck

We are thrilled to have Brittany Sarhage, owner and creator of Rudy's Flower Truck on the blog today.  She shares her story below about how the vision for Rudy's Flower Truck began.  Make sure to check out the beautiful photos of her flowers and vintage truck below. Photo Credits: Ashley Pieper Photography

The story of how Rudy came to be is quite unsexy if you ask me. I was on maternity leave this past spring and looking for something to re-energize my life. I’ve been working and living in the land of refugees and immigrants for the past 3 years. While a rewarding field, I was still itching to add some creativity and ownership to my work life. No job seemed to fit he bill. By chance I ran across an article on Entrepreneur. The article was about mobile business ideas. I’d heard about food trucks at that point, a regular Food Truck Friday attendee right here, but didn’t have the slightest idea of mobile businesses outside of that. A mobile florist was the first in a slide show of ten. It was a full-service florist that runs from a traditional step or box truck. “Cute idea but not my style”, I thought. Swipe along. Two nights later a friend and I were chatting when the idea of becoming a florist was brought up. After that I was determined to somehow work with flowers. After countless searches for local floral positions with no luck I decided to take my job hunt into my own hands and open a business. I went back to the mobile florist model and ran.
I knew this business needed to be unique and add some character to the city of St. Louis. That’s why I picked Rudy. Rudy evolved from the idea of being ran out of horse trailer, then a mail truck, to finally a 1958 Jeep FC 170 truck. Rudy is among only about 30,000 of these trucks that were made back in the day. She is such a beauty, imperfections and all.

Starting in March, Rudy will be out on a weekly basis slinging bouquets from the back of her truck bed. We will offer a variety of stems and greenery available for purchase. All items are sold individually allowing each customer to walk away with a bouquet that truly fits their individual taste and personality. Rudy has been out and about in St. Louis a couple times in the past few months. Seeing the smiles and joy that she and flowers have brought to customers has been inspiring. I can’t to continue that this spring.

 

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4 Quick Tips On Using Instagram with Purpose

The internet is not absent of about 500,000 blogs and chats on how to best optimize Instagram for small business development.  However, in my 5+ years of using this social media platform for creative business development and educational blogging, I have learned a few tips on how to optimize this space for any type of creative business.  

 

 

 

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1. The Name on Your Profile

. If the name of your company is already in your Instagram handle, consider writing the type of business you have in the "Name" portion of your profile instead of restating the name of the business.  This puts it out there to new users what you are all about without even going through your entire profile. 

Here is how it looks on my new photography profile:

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In the area that says "Name" you can write a couple of items instead of your name:  

1. What you post about your Instagram.  For example on my Instagram, I create posts mostly about photography and textiles. So in the at space I wrote "Photography and Textiles."

2. You could write the type of company you own if its not evident the title of your business.  If your business is called "Red Elephant Designs" and you designed and crafted leather bags or jewelry, you might consider writing  "Handcrafted Leather Goods" in that part of your profile.

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Tell a story your followers can relate to that promotes  the humanity behind your business and ask followers to share their experiences in response

Instagram followers are extremely loyal.  They love to be able to relate to whose content they are reading on a human level.  If you can find a way to weave a personal story in your post that relates back to your product or business, it helps engage your audience in an authentic  an meaningful way.

For example,  this is my personal business and finance expert that I refer to for all things money and business, Kate Northrup. Kate notoriously attracts women small business owners to her work since she wrote a ground breaking book about our beliefs around money called Money A Love Story.  In this post, she tells her audience that they are having a baby girl and mentions the changes she is feeling in her life and business with these upcoming life changes. This engages her core audience, which happens to be entrepreneurial mothers of child bearing age.

Side Note:  Each person has a different level of comfort they are willing to share on Instagram.  We each have to find our own personal boundaries on what we are willing to share with our audience when using this marketing tip.

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One other strategy that  Kate uses in her Instagram posts that is visually appeasing to the eye is  separate the long texts of her stories into two or three lines to make it easier for consumers to visually take in at a time.  

Finally at the end of her story she asks her followers to respond about their experiences that relate back to her story. 

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Use hashtags with only 5,000-500,000 posts

I used to believe that the most popular hashtags were the ones I needed to use.  However, it came to my attention in a business and marketing workshop I was in that I might actually consider using the lesser known hashtags that had been used in 5,000-500,000 posts since the most popular hashtags were often overly saturated.  The smaller but still widely used hashtags gave the content that I created a much higher chance of being seen by a new audience.

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Show Content for the Followers You Already Have

One of my personal favorite female business entrepreneurs, Danielle Laporte stated recently in an interview, "Show up for those who are at the table." 

In a fast paced, competitive business world, we at times forget about the people who already support us and are loyal to our brand, business or vision.  While getting more followers should be part of a marketing business plan, it shouldn't the business plan. Creating content that make people want to keep coming back to you day after day is truly the heart of using this platform in an authentic and meaningful way.

Black Ink Prints

 

Brittney Carr, owner of Black Ink Prints was in our earliest days of St. Louis Womens Pop Up Shops.  We absolutely love her design!  Please read more about Black Ink Prints below and the brands she has created:

Black Ink Prints is a hand-made small batch, design + print craft. I hand-make stencils using an old fashioned method carving images with a razor blade and filling the blank space with ink.  My designs and method were inspired by the bold creations of graffiti and stencil artists, using block colors and negative space to create an eye catching image that is balanced and integrative of its surrounds.  My stencils originated with a love of the playfulness of street art, and evolved into creating my own images of hip-hop artists, musical icons, and Chicago sports heros. My most recent Circle of Life Collection features flowers, antlers, and skulls (oh my!).  The combination of bones and antlers paired with a delicate flower gives a balance to 'strong' and 'fragile', heavy and light. It celebrates bringing the outside in, by adding a touch of rugged and soft to your home! These stencils are printed onto all occasion cards, shirts, or pillows which I adorn with a little gold or rusty red stitching for a pop of color.  Whether I am printing on a card, a t-shirt, a pillow, or the occasional community wall that needs beautifying, I always enjoy finding the light and dark shapes that piece together to create a whole image. 

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A Collective Creative Process

Author Christina Weaver from Route

 I do not consider myself a creative person, and certainly not artistic in anyway.  I DESPERATELY need the help of photographers, writers and designers to help create our brand.  Each individual person has their own personal creative process.  Some sit in a quiet room, some play loud music, others prefer to be outside.  It’s usually a space, sometimes a time of day and may or may not include caffeine or certain foods.  The creative process seems to require this lovely combination of physical, mental and emotional details to really flow.

Until recently I’ve learned about this only second hand.  We started doing model photo shoots a few years ago, it is so much fun to find beautiful places in our city and reveal an entire clothing line to the photographer and models in beautiful spaces.  Model shoots are the first time I have experienced diving into the creative process.  What I love most about our shoots, is that it’s the creative process happening in community.  A communal creativity.  When it works, it is easily the most inspiring and energizing experience I have ever had.

We spent the morning laughing, exploring, talking, creating and making beautiful photography.  Through the process we felt connected, uplifted and in general walked away saying over and over again “that was so much fun”.  

How do you create?  When and where and with whom?

Route is about not just purchasing consciously, but living consciously.  Being aware and watching for those precious moments of connection with other humans, enjoying and valuing and sharing life with them.  I LOVE that the route of connection today for us was a communal creativity.  SO FUN.

Happy creating.

Much love,

Christina

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