Lia Griffith was one of my earliest unofficial mentors when I began my journey as an online creative entrepreneur. Everything from her designs, to projects, to tutorials, photography and even the site design, have a flawless quality, and somewhere in my naive brain, I thought that meant “effortless.”
As I grew as a business owner, I came to understand that successful businesses don’t just come to be with the wave of a wand. There is inevitably a great deal of grit, hard work, obstacles to overcome and periods of self doubt before reaching a pinnacle of achievement, and Lia’s story is no different.
Lia continues to be a source of inspiration for me and I know that after reading this interview (and seeing her incredible work), that she will be for you as well.
What is your background in art + design? Are you formally educated or self-taught?
I have a Bachelors degree in graphic design at Boise State University and that has informed a lot of my career. But as a maker, I am predominantly self-taught. Ive taken workshops and online classes to grow my skills in everything from photography to watercolor. I grew up in a home full of makers and so DIY is definitely part of my soul!
What made you want to want to start your own business?
I just had this nagging feeling that something was missing in my life. An opportunity presented itself and I chose to take the leap. I’d seen success with my paper flower designs on a blog I had created during my employment with a wedding stationery company. It was there that I saw a glimmer of something special, something exciting.
My former employer allowed me to announce to our readers that I was heading out on my own and I spent the following year consistently creating and sharing DIY projects every single day for my own site. Perseverance and a sheer dedication to succeed allowed me to gain a pretty substantial following in that first year.
Did you have any hesitations or setbacks after your business launched? How did you find solutions and overcome them?
Yes there were setbacks – I had bills to pay and no regular income and that, at times, was really scary. But it drove me to get up in the morning and keep going! I think at times like that you can chose to run and hide, to give in OR you can chose to get up and make it better, to keep moving forward until you find some success. I had to be brave and at times that was hard.
I also had to do everything on my own. I was committed to sharing at least one DIY project per day, so that meant I had A LOT to do. From creating the project to prototyping to making to photographing to writing the post, sharing the post on social, responding to community engagement and emails – it was a lot to do every single day!
Can you identify a moment on your journey that felt like a turning point in your business? How did it come to be?
The turning point was when I realised I could afford to hire someone to work with me! Being able to bring in someone to help me design and make projects, and someone else to help me run the business side of things, meant that we could share more projects and start to create partnerships with like-minded brands and individuals. From that point we have just continued to grow!
Doing it all, and then some
You are a true artist with many talents. When you were working as a solo business owner, how did you choose which types of creative projects to share, when there were so many directions you could have gone in?
Much of what I shared in that first year were projects that I really wanted to make for either myself, my home or my friends and family. If I was having a family brunch, I would share the recipe, design and share printable place settings and make a cute paper flower display for the center of my table. The blog was a natural extension of my handcrafted life and so choosing what to make was never an issue!
What is your secret to stellar photo styling? Any tips for blogging beginners who are shooting pictures themselves?
Natural light! I cannot live without it. I love southern light in the winter and northern light in the summer. I also have a HUGE props collection. I like to style our projects in as natural an environment as possible. So I have lots of cute vases, ribbons, tableware, picture frames and more! Collect pieces you love from vintage stores and flea markets. If you love them, they will become part of your brand and your “look” and that’s ultimately what will set you apart from others.
Do you wish you had made the leap to add team members sooner? Or do you feel like putting in the time as a solopreneur was all part of the journey for you?
It was definitely an important and valuable part of the journey. I believe everything happens for a reason and at the right time. It might not seem it at the time, but things do tend to work out! I believe in sustainable growth and so to push anything too early would just feel inauthentic to us 🙂
Behind the scenes
Tell us a little bit about how your team operates. Do you all work together every day in one space?
We have 3 spaces. One is our official office space with desks and computers and all the businessy things. We love being in here together with the music on, my dog Enzo wandering around hunting for the next lap to sit on, surrounded by our projects mid-prototype. It’s a wonderfully creative space. We also have a photo studio and a video studio both of which I love!
We meet as a team every Monday morning at the big table in the photo studio, we plan our week and go through deadlines. I then meet twice a week with my creative team and we share progress, discuss upcoming projects and plan the weeks ahead. We work very closely together and so it’s important that we gel. I hire based on the person’s personality as well as their talents – it’s vital to me that the culture of the company remain true!
Can you name a book, podcast, conference, or individual who has had a lasting positive impact on you and your business?
Rising Strong by Brene Brown is amazing. Brene Brown’s views around women in business really stuck with me. She is the most authentic business coach I have come across and I constantly feel inspired by her.
Hopes + dreams
What areas are you still working on becoming better at, as a business owner and a creative individual?
Trusting my intuition has been a big one for me this year as well as becoming more confident with the business-side of running a company! I’m also working hard to challenge myself as an artist and so I’m trying to paint more this year!
What do you envision for the future of your business? Do you have any personal dreams that you still have your sights set on?
Yes! I imagine a huge bustling creative lifestyle house where we can create, design, make and share everyday. I imagine a magazine, books and boutique stores. I imagine helping more and more people to reconnect with their creativity, to help people overcome their creative fears, to empower people through craft – oh the list is endless!
Anything exciting on the horizon? Tell us about what you’ve been up to lately and what we can look forward to:
There is something very very exciting coming up in January 2018 but I’m not allowed to say anything yet! Let’s just say that your crafting kit is about to get an incredible make-over 🙂 We have new colors of crepe paper coming as well which is very exciting!
How can we stay connected?
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you’ll help support MichelleHickey.Design, and you’ll receive some amazing stuff, too. Whohoo!