Meet the Maker: Annelise Manis of Manis Creative Co

Annelise Manis of Manis Creative Co

We love introducing you to artisans via our e the “Meet the Maker” series, and we hope these introductions help illuminate the entrepreneurial journey and help you stay inspired. We’re always especially excited to introduce you to makers who are local to Atlanta (where Lucky Break is headquartered), so it’s a treat to share Annelise Manis of Manis Creative Co with you!

 

Annelise Manis of Manis Creative Co

 

download (1)

 

LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Annelise:  I was working full time at a job I was not passionate about, and I think I just needed a creative outlet so badly that opening a shop seemed like the best option for me.  I painted all the time anyways and thought it would be a great way to earn some extra money for my husband and I. Maybe even a way to eventually ditch the day job and pursue my own business full-time!  One day I just kind of sat down and started painting, and it became my first greeting card design when I opened the shop in 2016!

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

AnneliseIt has definitely evolved over the years. What was once a predominately paper-goods company (greeting cards, art prints, etc), has now grown into the creation of meaningful keepsakes and custom designs, such as watercolor wedding illustrations, house portraits, and custom embroidered bouquets!

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Annelise: Right now you can find them by visiting my shop on Etsy. I also have been involved with a lot of local artists markets in the Atlanta area such as the Indie Craft Experience, so you can also find me there during the holiday markets!

 

download (2)

 

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Annelise: I really wanted my designs to be fun, quirky and playful. I started with such a love of paper goods and wanted to encourage others to slow down and make meaningful connections through stationery!

 

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.

 

Annelise: I actually have a full-time job in addition to my business, so I pretty much never stop working in some capacity! On my days off I will *try* to get started early and make a to-do list of the main things I want to accomplish. Then if I have client work (painting/stitching) I will usually sit down to work on that in front of Netflix. I can sometimes be there for a good 5-6 hours! I’ll be the first to admit I am a terrible boss to myself! I hardly ever give myself breaks or even remember to eat lunch most days- but I am working on that!  I really try to have a cut off time in the evening to spend time with my husband, Ben. If I really have a pressing deadline then after we have some dinner and hang out for a while, it’s back to the office!

 

LBC: through a typical workday. What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

 

Annelise:

1.Ask themselves if they really love what they do, or are they trying to sell something to gain following/fortune? It will be hard to keep up the drive and passion if they are trying to get into the game for unsustainable reasons.

 

2. Keep track of expenses and make plans to price things correctly! Think through how long it will take to complete a product and if it is something they can commit to doing year-round.

 

3. Are they prepared for hard work? There are seasons of harvest but dry spells too.  It takes a LOT of work and a lot of sacrifices to run any business. But ultimately if you love what you do, it can be the most rewarding experience ever!

 

download (4)

 

LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Annelise:  Get off social media! Stop comparing yourself to others. One of the practices I started up a few years ago is making a list of things that I am thankful for (ex. Morning light through the window or a soft, warm bed). Even the tiniest things have the power to shift your perspective.

 

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Annelise: Learning when and how to say “NO”.  When I first started I said “YES” to every single request that came in. Rush order? No problem! Specialty portrait? OK!  I was overwhelmed and even though I worked 80 hour weeks I was making no money.  I’ve learned that not every client is a good fit and not every project can be fit into my calendar with my sanity intact. Sometimes you have to say “NO” to something you really want to do so that you say “YES” to something that is perfect later.

 

LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?

Annelise: Creating a product because you feel obligated to do so, or because it is a trend, not because you are excited about it.  I created boxed sets of cards because I felt they would sell well and be a convenient and affordable product.  I put a lot of care into printing and packaging them, and then it turned out that they hardly sold at all!  I also put hours of work into making semi-custom wedding suites for people to purchase and then add their personal information. It turned out, at least in my case, that clients would rather pay more for a custom illustration!  I am learning to focus on what my clients respond to and not to worry about offering a huge range of products.
download (3)

 

LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Annelise: 

1. Google! But really…when it comes to figuring out taxes and pricing and all that fun business jazz, blogs, and online forums actually helped a lot!

2. Make friends with other makers!  At craft shows and festivals, I was lucky enough to meet some of the nicest people at the advice and tips they shared with me about their own experiences were invaluable.

3. My husband, Ben. Without him, nothing I do would be possible. Some of my client products take upwards of 30 hours to create, and he will pick up my slack in my personal life (ex. cleaning the house/grocery shopping) so that I can work! He is also my counselor and hype man, and sacrifices for me to pursue my dream again and again. I can’t do without him 🙂

 

LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Annelise:  Manis Creative Co. will honestly probably be an embroidery based company that offers a wide array of embroidery kids, embroidered clothing, and art! It is my passion and is slowly taking over the business. It has grown my little company faster than any other product I offer and my love for it is what fuels my creativity- the possibilities are endless!

 

 

download

 

LBC:  Your musical playlist is full of…

Annelise: My musical taste is crazy. I like what I like when I like it.  Sometimes in the same playlist, I will have The Beatles, Enya, The Backstreet Boys, and Drake.  When I paint, I usually listen to the La La Land soundtrack. When I stitch it’s usually a playlist of pop-punk bands like Blink 182, Fallout Boy, and Fountains of Wayne.  Sometimes I throw some Shania Twain in there. I’m weird.

 

 

LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?

Annelise: I LOVE food. But if I had to eat only one thing for the rest of my life…it would probably be a molten chocolate lava cake (right?)

 

LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Annelise: One of my guilty pleasures is green olives.  My husband literally can’t stand them, but i could just eat them right out of the jar! I don’t know why I am so obsessed, but they are the best.

 

Thank you, Annelise, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with Manis Creative Co, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!

 

 

Meet the Maker: Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

If you’re a fan of minimalism, clean beauty, and gorgeous design, then you’re going to love Klei Beauty.  Founder Valerie Smith recently sat down with us to discuss why setting yourself apart is essential, and how she learned the hard lesson that not every opportunity is an ideal fit.  Welcome, Valerie!

 

Valerie Smith of Klei Beauty

download (3)

 

LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Valerie: I was working in the fashion industry, feeling stuck and uninspired. I’ve always had a passion for DIY self-care projects, so I started to create Klei while working full-time. A year and a half later, it’s my full-time job and I couldn’t be happier.

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Valerie: Klei is a line of self-care products, designed to be fun and customizable. The line currently includes a few clay masks and cleansers, bath soaks, floral facial steams, and facial oils.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Valerie: I’m currently carried in 50+ boutiques nationwide, and sell products on my website.

 

download (1)

 

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Valerie: I first thought that every product needed to be made and packed by me. I’m now learning just how much that hinders growth, so I will partner with a factory in Michigan to mix and pack all of my clay products.

 

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday

Valerie: I like to start my day by making some coffee and sitting at my desk to review emails and create a task list for the day. As a small business, it’s important that I constantly work to reprioritize tasks, as every day is different. After answering emails, I’ll get started on packing orders and restocking inventory as needed. I’ll then work through my to-do list, with a few breaks to take my pup Billie outside, until it’s time to go home.

 

LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

1. Start small, and don’t be discouraged by not having what you think is enough money to fund your business. Not having much to put into Klei is what really forced me to plan ahead and think about what was worth investing in, and what wasn’t.

 

2. Trust your vision and process, but be open to change. The beauty of having a small business is being able to constantly improve and change how you do things, in order to keep up with what you’re learning about your industry.

 

3. Don’t be afraid to say no to proposed opportunities. Not every opportunity is worth your time or money, no matter how much someone tries to sell it to you.

 

 

 

 

downloadLBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Valerie: Starting your own business is really scary, but in the most exciting way. When I start to doubt myself, I think of how far I’ve come in less than 2 years, and that I’m fully self-employed because of my own choices and decisions.

 

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Valerie: Investing in new branding. Setting yourself apart in the beauty industry is hard, and I’m really excited to launch a new look for Klei soon.

 

LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?

Valerie: I tend to say no to opportunities that I believe aren’t worth financial investment, but I don’t think the same about my time. After one recent disaster of an in-store experience, I’m learning to value my time as much as I do my finances.

 

download (2)

 

LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Valerie: 1. Instagram – Has led to so many amazing opportunities 2. Canva – Amazing for creating professional design templates 3. Shopify – This is the best e-comm platform, with the most amazing customer service.

 

LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Valerie: This is hard for me to answer, truthfully. I have a plan for 2019 (new branding, being carried by a large national retailer), but beyond that, it’s hard to say.

 

LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.

Valerie: Any of the Real Housewives shows.

 

LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?

Valerie: “Don’t yuck my yum” – Mary Murphy, my mom. Can be applied to my love for the Real Housewives franchise.

 

Thank you, Valerie, for sharing your talent with us. We’re looking forward to seeing your new look and all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!

 

 

Meet the Maker: Kristen Cella of Siamese Social Club

Siamese Social Club

If you’ve walked the aisles of your local pet store lately and felt uninspired, then you need to meet Kristen Cella of Siamese Social Club. She creates a carefully curated line of cat toys and beds that marry elegant functionality with a modern, minimalist aesthetic. She sat down with us to discuss her vision of being “the JCrew of cat products,” a misstep she made when designing products for wholesale, how she balances entrepreneurship with motherhood. Welcome, Kristen!

 

Kristen Cella of Siamese Social Club

 

download

 

LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Kristen: I have been surrounded by entrepreneurs my whole life—my mom ran her own transcription business, my grandma sold her pottery at the local Potter’s Guild and my husband successfully started a sign company—so I always knew I wanted to start my own business, too, it just took a long time to figure out what I wanted that business to be.

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Kristen: I make minimalist home goods for cats—beds, toys, ceramics and furniture—which are all designed to blend seamlessly in the modern home.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Kristen: Right now you can find them on my website, Etsy, and few local pet shops in San Francisco.

 

download (3)

 

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Kristen: In my mind, I wanted my business to be the JCrew of cat products—a timeless palette of neutrals, high-quality, natural materials and overall good-looking things to incorporate into my tiny home. I was so tired of the boring (and hideous) pet furniture out there, or ones that were specifically designed for dogs, that I was aiming to fill a niche for simple, modern products for cats.

 

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.

Kristen: I wake up around 7 and do a bit of cleaning and organize my day before my 2 year old daughter wakes up. The morning is spent taking her to the playground or the library or visiting friends. After we eat lunch she takes a nap and that is when I get most of my work done. Fortunately, she is a good sleeper, so I squeeze as much as possible into that three-hour time slot. Once she wakes up we drop off packages at the post office or go grocery shopping and make dinner. I finish up any work and catch up on Instagram after she goes to bed.

 

LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

Kristen: 1) Figure out how you are going to fund the first few years of your business. I started my business when I had a full time job, so I essentially funded myself, but was completely unprepared for the second and third year when I still wasn’t making a profit and left my full time job to stay at home with my daughter.

2) Who your target audience really is. This one took me several years to figure out, because I couldn’t get past imagining that I was my own target audience. Selling in person really helped me figure out who was actually interested and buying my products.

3) If you plan on wholesaling as part of your income, make sure your products are designed and priced for wholesale from the start. I am working backwards, because while I priced my original products for wholesale, they are too labor-intensive to actually be wholesaled in quantities that make financial sense, so I’m currently working on creating simpler products that are specifically designed for wholesaling to retailers.

 

Siamese Social Club

 

LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Kristen: Spending a day with my husband and daughter and reminding myself what my real priorities are. Or, if my daughter is the one who is overwhelming me, I ask my husband to taker her on an adventure while I stay at home and spend some quality time doing absolutely nothing.

 

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Kristen: Hiring a designer to create my logo and branding before launching my business. It was a big investment, but well worth it.

 

LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?

Kristen: I got talked into paid advertising in a print magazine before I was ready. I didn’t have any specific goals set out or a solid marketing strategy, so it turned out to be a complete waste of money.

 

LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Kristen: Shipstation (I didn’t use it much at first, but I can’t imagine shipping without it!), Evernote (this was instrumental even before I started my business, organizing notes while brainstorming ideas, and now keeping notes on my material sources, informative articles and all other business info) and Instagram (I know everyone says this, but it is essential for inspiration, understanding my audience and promoting my products).

 

download (4)

 

LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Kristen: This may seen completely far-fetched at the moment, but I see myself with a retail storefront full of my products (and a few other curated pet products) with a space in the back for a production studio and shipping station.

 

LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?

Kristen: They have really helped me develop an overall understanding of wholesaling, and I have learned how to determine whether products are actually wholesale-able. I also get a better sense of retailers’ perspective, which makes it easier to strike up a conversation with them.

 

LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?

Kristen: More connections, more opportunities to collaborate and more support. I took a lot of online classes when I was first starting out, and not only did I learn more than I could have from just reading books, I met many other makers who were in my exact same position and supported and encouraged me to keep going.

 

Siamese Social Club

 

LBC: Have you ever held an odd job or one you weren’t particularly fond of?

Kristen: After I graduated college, I landed a position as a research assistant studying a species of endangered snail and would frequently hike out into the remote forests of West Virginia searching for snails.

 

LBC: What are a few of the places on your travel bucket list?

Kristen: Hiking through the Scottish Highlands, eating my way through Japan and dog sledding in Banff, Alberta.

 

LBC:  If you were given a million dollars, but you weren’t allowed to keep a single penny for yourself, friends or family, how would you give it away?

Kristen: I would donate it to local animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers.

 

Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your talent with us!

 

 

5 Productivity Tricks for Entrepreneurs

Lucky Break Angie showing us her 5 productivity tricks for entreprenuers

 

Running a small business means being a professional juggler. Only you’re not juggling balls you’re juggling bowling pins, and they’re conveniently on fire.  I’m here to share 5 productivity tips for entrepreneurs because when you’re a small business owner, you’re not just creating a product. You’re also a salesperson and a finance person. You’re the admin. You’re even a web developer/IT person. Layer that on top of additional obligations that you have at home. Perhaps you’re a parent or have another full-time job to make ends meet.

 

Whatever it is, there are what feels like a never-ending number of hurdles and roadblocks to prevent you from getting through your day and achieving your goals.  But for me, productivity is less about managing time, and more about managing energy and anxiety.

 

5 Productivity Tricks for Entrepreneurs

Lucky Break Angie showing us her 5 productivity tricks for entreprenuers

 

I’m Angie and I’m a member of Team Lucky Break. I also run my own product-based business called bobo design studio where I create a line of lifestyle products for travelers and wanderlust seekers. In addition to my product-based business, I also have a service-based business where I create hand lettering and illustrations for brands and for licensing. Oh, and I also live and struggle with ADHD. Needless to say, I have a lot of experience in working against the odds to get things done.

 

When I speak of ADHD, I’m not speaking of it as a descriptor for how I get distracted. I am an actual, clinically diagnosed, working with medical professionals ADHD sufferer. Lela and I often joke that ADHD is an epidemic among entrepreneurs, and I’m not betraying her trust by sharing that she struggles with the ADHD beast, too.  Attention disorders can be challenging no matter what career path you choose.

 

In terms of productivity, I’m far from having it all dialed in and figured out. My biggest struggle with regards to the ADHD is sticking to any one system long-term.  The way my brain builds habits is different than most. Consider my list of 5 productivity tricks, tools, and hacks a suggestion of where to start. Iterate on a system that’s going to be beneficial for you, even if that means frequently evolving to stay motivated and engaged in your productivity habits.

 

(more…)

Meet the Maker: Ellen Schaeffer of Persistent Sisters

Ellen of Persistent Sisters

The U.S. has been in a frenzy lately, with women’s issues at the forefront of our minds (and on the tips of our tongues). We couldn’t think of a more fitting time to introduce you to Ellen Schaeffer of Persistent Sisters, a line of women’s history trading cards and gifts that celebrate trailblazing women and provide inspiration, motivation and education for girls of all ages. Now that sounds like something we can all agree on. Take it away, Ellen!

 

download

 

Ellen Schaeffer of Persistent Sisters

 

LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?

Ellen: My background is in non-profit community arts development. I wasn’t really thinking in terms of entrepreneurship, but instead about how to develop a network of sharing around the topic of women’s history.

After the 2016 election I had a strong desire for my then 11 year old daughter to have a deeper understanding of how long and hard women have been fighting for equality in all fields, including the political. My son collected baseball cards and consequently developed an impressive knowledge of athletes, and a network of similarly interested friends around the country.

Trading cards seemed like the perfect medium to spread the word about trailblazing women throughout history. But I had never developed a product before. After creating the initial set of cards, I had so many women saying to me, “We need this!” I decided to go all in, and launched a Kickstarter campaign in the fall of 2017. I then found myself knee-deep in packaging, pricing, shipping and, of course, hours and hours of research. I drew a lot of energy from the enthusiasm of the Kickstarter backers that took the leap with me.

 

LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Ellen: Persistent Sisters is an ever-expanding line of women’s history trading cards so that girls can see who they can be.

 

LBC: Where can we find your products?

Ellen: Online at www.persistentsisters.com, on Amazon, and in many fantastic museum stores and several boutiques around the county.

 

artist_deck_only_1_1000x

 

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Ellen: Simply as a needed and accessible resource to empower and inspire both women and older girls, and something to be collected and shared between mothers (aunts, grandmothers, etc.) and daughters. Pocket-sized sheroes!

 

LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.

Ellen: Recently I went back to work full time in the non-profit world, and my typical workday with Persistent Sisters is now very early mornings and late evenings and the weekends. It can be a challenge to find balance.

I have some fantastic graphic designers that I work with, and have brought in other illustrators for a few sets of cards. However, the day-to-day is just me. You might find me researching, running numbers, checking inventory, packaging, illustrating…all the things. Sadly there are many days when I feel like I am so enmeshed in the minutia that I lose sight of the big picture, and don’t take enough time to spread the word about Persistent Sisters. I’m always striving to find ways to manage my time more effectively.

 

LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

Ellen: Everything BUT the creative. Learn what the tax implications are for an inventory based business. Choose and be very familiar with your accounting system (or find someone to do it for you). And find a way to absolutely love spreadsheets! Literally every penny counts. My life would have been a lot easier if I had taken the time to develop some systems before I was elbow deep in product development.

 

kick18_folders

 

LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Ellen: I try to think about why I started the business. I pick up a few Persistent Sisters trading cards and reflect on women that have helped changed the world, often facing tremendous obstacles, without support, and on their own. A couple weeks ago, my daughter and two of her friends each submitted papers for National History Day about women’s history, inspired by the Persistent cards. This is what keeps me going on the hardest days, reflecting on the impact the cards can have on young women. The future is female!

 

LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.

Ellen: I joined the Museum Store Association early on, and found an amazingly supportive group of both vendors and store buyers that were willing to answer my many questions along the way. For anyone with a product that fits in the museum store market, the Museum Store Association is a small investment with big returns. (side note from Lela: I whole-heartedly agree!)

 

LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?

Ellen: Oh, so many to choose from! In my first Kickstarter campaign, I wasn’t careful enough when I calculated shipping and went way over budget. I made it work, and am careful not to repeat the same mistake.

 

website_header_alt_1

 

LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Ellen: Microsoft OneNote keeps me organized. And the library! I try to include lesser-known women, and sometimes that takes a little digging. Lastly, I would say my daughter and her access to other middle-school aged girls. They’re my ad hoc focus group and their feedback has been invaluable.

 

LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?

Ellen: My dream has always been for the Persistent Sisters trading cards to spark a little network of girls sharing their own dreams and visions for their future. Recently I started including blank make-it-yourself trading cards, encouraging people to share those on social media and maybe trading them with each other. There are so many more trading cards to make, but I’d also love to find ways to build and engage a community.

 

LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?

Ellen: Lucky Break provided me with some invaluable resources. I learned so much, from product descriptions to pricing strategies to line sheets. And I know there’s a lot more that I haven’t tapped into.

 

LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?

Ellen: There has only been an upside. Finding resources for all of the aspects of the business where I lack knowledge allows me to stay focused in the areas that I feel more comfortable. Additionally, objective feedback is so important. Because I am primarily a one-woman show, I have sought out workshops and other learning events that allow me the opportunity to hear what others think.”

 

about_photo_large

 

Thank you, Ellen, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with Persistent Sisters, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!