I am so thrilled to share this next interview with you all. Laurel Smith is the owner and designer of Laurel Denise, a company specializing in gifts and jewelry that feature custom detailed illustrations and handwriting merged with transparent glass. Laurel and I started a collaboration last year creating a few glass silhouette pendants to be sold exclusively at Le Papier Studio and have since expanded our collaboration to a few more pieces (coming up soon!) Today, Laurel is inviting us in her lovely studio…
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What do you do?
I am the maker and designer behind the jewelry line Laurel Denise. This involves some fun designing and production work, but also a lot of list checking off and organizing and quickbooks-ing (it’s a word in my book) and display making and showing and…
2. Is this something you always wanted to do?
I’m not sure. I don’t think I ever really thought through the whole idea behind the fact that once you’re done having fun in college and learning a little bit about yourself, you actually have to find a real job. It’s kind of mandatory. Because of that (and because a girl’s gotta eat), I tried to find something sort of creative but didn’t really think outside the box. I got a job that was okay enough – good people, good work, and I still got to feel a little creative, but I knew it wasn’t the thing I was put here on earth to do. Me owning my own business was quite a surprise when it actually started happening. I thought only people with multiple business degrees and a few closets full of expensive suits could own businesses, you know? I’d also never ever in my life taken a jewelry class so having the dream (a literal REM sleep stage dream) where I was making jewelry and then waking up and trying to make that dream a reality was kind of a shocker. I was thinking “Really?? Jewelry?? I hardly even wear necklaces…” Now I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
3. What’s a typical work day for you?
Wake up at 7:15ish (my husband is laughing now), make some coffee, answer emails and post my daily blog post – one that was probably written a few days ago when I had the time to write several posts. I usually try to get to the morning yoga class at my gym sometime around 9:00am because it keeps me smiling and friendly and calm enough to take care of business. When I get back, I start on my to do list. It’s color coded and it literally runs my life. Lately my days have been filled getting all of my new products set for the wholesale shows that will start this summer. Getting samples for my sales reps in various parts of the U.S. ready, getting catalogs set to print, deciding on display and travel and marketing and things like that. I’d say that 80% of my day is spent attending to the wholesale side of my business and the other 20% is spent on my website or filling retail orders. I stop work at around 6:00pm because I used to work until all hours of the night and have realized that doing that turns me into quite a grouch!
4. How do you stay inspired while keeping up with all the nitty gritty aspects of running a business?
It’s funny…when I get a creative burst, I really try to roll with it because I’m not sure when it will come around again. Sometimes my new collections are based on sketches I made months and months ago during one of those bursts. Bless those little bursts! But I don’t actually mind the nitty gritty aspects of running a business. I love the organization part, the project management side, and keeping everything going smoothly with the help of my colorful spreadsheets.
5.How do you balance work and family? Any tips you’d like to share with us?
Well, right now it’s just me and my husband, so the balance is pretty easy. When he’s home, I’m hanging with him and not working. It’s pretty much as simple as that. It gets tough during show season because I’m gone for several days in a row on repeat for about two months. That part is hard for me, but it’s just part of the deal. If there were an adorable little baby in the scene that I wanted to spend all of the time with, I think balancing work and family would be a little harder to say the least! Keeping on task with my daily to do list also really helps me keep everything organized and helps me use my time wisely.
6. Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
I think in 5 years my business will be focused even more on the new sterling and leather collections that recently launched. My manufacturing will hopefully be streamlined by then so it’s even faster and more organized. I would also love to have a studio manager by then so that I don’t have to deal directly with a lot of the small production projects. I tend to think year-to-year with my business as far as goals go (against every bit of advice I’ve ever gotten), but when I think too far down the road I kind of can’t breathe. It overwhelms me a tad.
7.What’s your idea of a perfect day?
It would start with a skim latte from the coffee shop across the street. It would definitely be Saturday so that my husband and I could have a lazy morning around the house. We’d probably go to the Farmer’s Market in town and then maybe stroll around town with money burning in our pockets that we could only spend on something adorable and perfect for the house (strict rules). We’d maybe go for a run where the hills didn’t kill me and I never ever run out of breath. I’d then have a catered cookout dinner (no cooking stress for me) for all of my closest friends and family where we’d all gather and watch the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup. You said I could dream, right?
8.What makes you smile?
My husband, my new friends, my old friends, my family…any meal I make that doesn’t burn (miracle).
Thank you Laurel for sharing a bit of your work life with us!
Stay tuned for images of our sweet collaboration coming up!!
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