as i continue my path towards starting my own biz, i find it so inspiring to talk to those who have managed this impressive feat! it’s definitely one of the reasons i wanted to start this interview series -this way we get to soak up what these awe-inspiring folks have to say, right?!
so, i have to say, i was beyond thrilled when i got to interview lori from marzipan inc (cue jumping up + down with excitement!). without sounding too stalkerish, i think i want to be her when i grow up! not only is she uber-talented and creative, but she’s also down to earth and has a great sense of humor…which is one of the reasons why i’m obsessed with her new fin + roe letterpress cards! (the tag line says it all: “snarky, sassy, sweet” LOVE IT!). so let’s take the leap with lori! (btw, i’m completely in awe of how she’s grown her biz…and with 2 young boys at home? amazing!! wait until you read about her typical day…i don’t know how she does it!)
Can you share a bit about yourself…what’s your background? How did you get started?
i grew up with a crayon in one hand and a coloring book in the other. i knew from a very early age that i wanted nothing more than to be an artist. i went to collage, studied art, and graduated with a bachelor of art degree with a concentration in graphic design. i never, in a million year, thought i would own my own company. (if i had, i would have taken at least one business class in college!) i worked in the corporate world for a while after college and found that it left much to be desired. designing for others was often disappointing because the final product never ended up being what i envisioned because of client changes. more often than not, the work was something i wasn’t proud to put my name behind.
marzipan inc. all started when i made my wedding invitations in the fall of 2001. i found that i loved the process, and soon, my dream business started to emerge. that year i made small sets of hand embellished greeting cards to give to friends and family for christmas. the praise i received prompted me to take the idea more seriously. i approached several stores with my new cards in hand. to my delight, nearly every store i visited placed orders for my handcrafted originals. soon my little business was bustling. within the first year, i designed a line of over 150 cards. eight years later, in the fall of 2008, i launched a new division in the company. fin+roe (www.finandroe.com) was born from the desire to branch out into more custom products.
as of the spring of 2010, i currently employees one production assistant, one office assistant and work with a distribution team of over 80 sales reps across the united states and canada. my cards can be found in over 600 retail shops nationwide. my new custom line, fin+roe (known as citrus & clover in the wholesale world), has also been added to the english company’s line of products and will soon be distributed nationwide.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
this is always one of the toughest questions for me. it’s impossible to specify something in particular that inspires me. honestly, everything around me inspires me on a daily basis. something as simple as a crack in the sidewalk that forms a nice shape, to fabric, nature, or vintage patterns. really, design inspiration comes from everywhere.
I’m always fascinated by those who are able to take the leap…what hurdles, if any, did you have to overcome? Are you able to pursue your dream full-time?
the biggest hurdle for me is that when i started i knew nothing about running a business. i just learned as i went. like i said earlier, if i would have known this is what i was going to do, i would have taken some business classes in college.
yes, i work full-time (and then some) at this business. it really has to be your passion to put in as many hours as i do.
Can you give us an idea of what a typical day is like for you?
in addition to running my business, i also care for my 2 young boys. this makes my day challenging in many ways. (and is one of the reasons i work so many hours). here’s what my “typical” day looks like.
7:30 eat breakfast while i go over e-mail, facebook & twitter; 8:00 get to work! what i work on varies every day, but if there’s anything to be shipped that day, shipping gets done first. then i move onto whatever other projects i have on the docket for that day. i work as much from 8:00-11:00 as my kids will allow. they’re pretty used to our schedule so i’m typically able to log in a solid 2.5 hours in there. they spend the morning emptying their toy box and crafting. there’s no t.v. allowed during this time.
11:00 make lunch. my youngest has to be to afternoon pre-school by noon, so our lunch is a little earlier than normal. they usually eat from 11:00-11:30 or so. depending on how busy i am that day i’ll do 1 of 2 things while they eat. if i’m super busy i’ll grab my laptop and bring it in the kitchen or if i can take a few minutes i’ll try to do a quick sweep through the house picking up from the morning. (not that i pick up their messes, they’re responsible for that); 12:00 take my oldest to school; 12:30 return home and put my youngest down for a nap. now is the time i usually grab my lunch.
12:30-2:00 this is usually the “nap window” i have before the baby wakes up. sometimes it’s much less. rarely is it ever more. i get a ton done during this hour and a half because i don’t have either kid distracting me; 2:00 the baby wakes up and we have cuddle time on the couch. this usually lasts for 15-30 minutes depending on the day. he’s not a good riser. he never wakes up happy so we take this time to adjust to being awake; 2:30-3:30 i usually let the little guy watch 1 cartoon between when he wakes up and when the oldest gets off the bus. this allows me a little extra time to get more done; 3:30-4:00 sometime in here the oldest gets off the bus and both boys have a snack; 4:00 the boys typically chill in the afternoon with a movie of their choice. depending on what i’m planning for supper i either get started with dinner, or squeeze in another half hour or so of work; 5:15 daddy comes home and we have dinner; 5:45-6:30 this is usually daddy time. since i’ve had the boys all day he usually takes over so that i can have some silence for awhile. i take this opportunity to work some more.
6:30-7:15 i’m lucky that my hubby does nightly routine like baths, books, etc. which means that after dinner, i’m pretty much “off-duty”. during the nighttime routine i usually accomplish a ton as well since they’re upstairs and it’s somewhat quiet; 7:30 daddy comes downstairs. we plop on the couch and watch t.v while i continue to do whatever needs to be done for that day. (thank goodness for laptops!) i usually call it quits at about 9:00 or so. i may still be on the computer, but typically not working; 10:00-11:00 i’m an early-to-bed kinda gal. i head up and get ready for bed.
and then it starts all over again. i’m really looking forward to this fall when the oldest is in school full-time and the youngest will go to pre-school a couple hours a few days a week!
Creating work and running a small business can be time consuming, can you share how you manage to balance home/work life?
as you can probably tell from my “typical” day, managing home and work life is a huge challenge for me. honestly, during the week, i’m horrible at it. if there’s one thing i wish i could be better at, that would be what i choose. i try to be a little better about it on the weekends, but if i’m being honest, i’m still not great then either.
What one piece of advice can you share with other aspiring artists/biz owners?
do what you love. if you love it, it doesn’t feel like work. sometimes when i just sit and think about the fact that this is what i do for work, it boggles my mind! i rarely dread mondays because i love my job…unless, of course, it’s accounting day!
Just for fun…what’s your idea of a perfect day?
i think a day at the spa, with a good friend, getting every treatment offered would be amazing. i rarely get to treat myself to any sort of pampering so that sounds delightful! maybe follow that up with a great dinner and a movie.
What are some of your favorite blogs or websites?
it’s really impossible to even begin a list like this. my blog reader is out of control. i have way too many favorites. let’s see if i can dig through and pick a few…. i should probably start out by listing my own blog:
my blog is a journal of everything. it covers my life as a stationery entrepreneur and mother. paisley wallpaper
my good friend fiona has an amazing blog filled with entirely too many things i’d love to own! cafe cartolina
i’m so smitten with this amazing blog filled with vintage, thrifted & crafted goodies! dottie angel
i just came across kyla roma’s blog about a week ago but, by reading only a small amount, i’m sure it’s going to become a favorite very quickly! kyla roma
i can’t leave out the pioneer woman’s photography blog. she’s taught me so much about my camera and inspires me to improve my photography every day. the pioneer woman
Any guilty pleasures?
the internet, chocolate chai tea, vintage jewelry, garage sales, thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets (are you sensing a theme here?), kissing my boys’ baby soft skin, date night, girl’s night out, ice cream, & pasta.
Thanks for sharing pictures of your workspace – I love the vintage feeling!
thanks lori for stopping by one sydney road and sharing with us!
you can find lori here: marzipan shop / fin+roe shop / blog