Small Business Interview / Llani Shoes

Starting your own business and needing some advice? Check out this interview with Alana Oates, owner of LLanie Shoes. Find out from an entrepreneur when to launch your brand, the best investment,  reaching out to influencers, and finding inspiration.  "Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later." Click through for more  from Alana and a free shipping code!

Today's interview is with Alana Oates, founder of Llani Shoes. She produces the most fun and stylish slippers, flats, and slides that provide the comfort of home from anywhere. Read on to learn about her experience running a small business. AND...if you make it to the bottom there's a little treat for you!

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I launched Llani in 2016, but the decision happened way before that. It was always a nagging idea in the back of my mind. I was working for a large corporate company in San Francisco, but my fiancee was on the east coast in the home we bought before I said yes to the opportunity that took me across the country.

My motivation to get home really propelled me to take the steps to start the brand. I knew I wanted to 'come home' and in doing so, I wanted to work independently.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out?

I think for a few months when I was sampling shoes and figuring out how and when to launch, I took it all a bit too seriously. I obviously wanted to put my best work into the world and I thought that once I decided on an identity, a logo, a color story, it could never change and it would determine the brand ID forever.

I soon realized, it was better to launch and let the brand evolve it's self. Now, I let my customers choose what they want to see more of. I follow my sales patterns, for sizes I buy into, and I pay attention to the feedback I get on social media to determine my next steps.

Starting your own business and needing some advice? Check out this interview with Alana Oates, owner of LLanie Shoes. Find out from an entrepreneur when to launch your brand, the best investment,  reaching out to influencers, and finding inspiration.  "Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later." Click through for more  from Alana and a free shipping code!

For other product-based business owners, how would you recommend finding a manufacturer?

I was lucky that I had a strong background in sourcing from the larger companies I worked for, but I found a lot of my current vendors through Linked-In. Some approached me, some I sought out.

The best thing is to have an idea in mind of want you want. I knew I wanted to work in India. I have always been inspired by the culture, and I love their hand-crafted atheistic.

My collection features a lot of hand beaded work, and it's one of the only places in the world I can get the quality I wanted for the right price. Figure out what area will be best for what you need to produce, and work from there.

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What has been the most effective strategy for selling more products?

I do a lot of influencer outreach. For me, I like to reach out to girls who are also business owners, or creatives. Maybe they don't have the largest followings, but they have a curated feed and great fashion sense, while also having the integrity to showcase smaller brands and tell their story.

These girls are thrilled to get a pair of my shoes, and post a photo in return. Instagram has been a god send for me. I don't know how small businesses launched before social media!

Starting your own business and needing some advice? Check out this interview with Alana Oates, owner of LLanie Shoes. Find out from an entrepreneur when to launch your brand, the best investment,  reaching out to influencers, and finding inspiration.  "Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later." Click through for more  from Alana and a free shipping code!

What has been the best financial investment you've made in your business?

My largest investment has directly been into my product. I have really tried to keep all other costs lean. It's the most important piece of what I do, so investing in that first and foremost was the best move.

Just this year I took another big step and partnered with a PR firm in NYC. That was my second biggest investment, but waiting one year to take the step felt like the right timing. I hope it will be a game changer.

What is something you regret or wish you had done differently in your business?

I really can't say I regret anything to date. There are small learns I encounter everyday, like ordered too much of one size and not enough of another. But that can all be channeled into the next season to make that one a success. I'm forced to learn through trial and error.

What's your favorite business book, blog, or podcast?

I love to listen to Girlboss radio, in the mornings while I'm getting ready for my day. Sophia features amazing women who have started their own companies and listing to their journeys really inspires me.

Starting your own business and needing some advice? Check out this interview with Alana Oates, owner of LLanie Shoes. Find out from an entrepreneur when to launch your brand, the best investment,  reaching out to influencers, and finding inspiration.  "Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later." Click through for more  from Alana and a free shipping code!

How do you rest, recharge, and find inspiration?

I love to socialize and I gain a ton of energy from doing so. Trying to unplug on weekends is huge for me too. My husband and I often go to the shore on weekends with our dog, getting away from the office and taking a walk on the beach with my family is the best way for me to relax.

Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your business, or being a small business owner in general?

Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later.


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Don't forget to follow her on Instagram. Thanks so much for sharing, Alana!

Small Business Interview / Savan Photography

If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

It's time for another small business interview! Today I'm chatting with Savan Crutchfield, owner of Savan Photography. She is a fine art film photographer specializing in weddings, lifestyle and editorial for the past four years. Savan is based in Orange County, California and always ready to travel. In her timeless and romantic work, she seeks raw and emotional moments. Aside from a few high school and college film courses, she is self-taught. 

If you're a new business owner, keep reading to learn some helpful tips from someone who's been there. AND take advantage of a special discount that Savan has generously offered to my readers at the end of this post.

How did you get started in your field?

I got my start by taking photos of my first daughter. Through friends and social media, I was referred to my first family session and wedding client.

What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?

I'm such a people pleaser and I HATE saying NO, but I wish I knew that earlier in my career I can't always say YES, and can't make everyone happy. It's going to be tough your first year and you have to give yourself a chance to learn and make mistakes along the way.

If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

What has been the most effective strategy for gaining new clients?

Being consistent with my brand and work has been the most important thing. I put out quality work and share on all social media sites daily. For social media, the two most important things are displaying quality work, and writing captions from the heart that your ideal client can relate to. 

If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

What does it mean to be consistent with your brand and work?

This is a lot easier said then done for sure! I think we, as artists, struggle to find the right path for what our work should look like. Trying to be different and creating a brand that is wanted can take time. My suggestion for photographers is to shoot what you love and shoot where you love, and go from there. 

Once you find your niche start building that consistent look and don't stray from it, continue to build and tweak little by little if needed.  Creating a brand and work to be fully proud of is hard as an artist, but like anything success takes time. 

Success comes in time and it does not have to happen over night. One must be prepared to work hard and stay humble.
If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

What has been the best part of running your own business?

The best part is being my own boss and having creative freedom.

What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?

The most difficult part is also being my own boss because it means not having the support of a huge corporation when needed.

What advice would you give to someone else starting a business?

Success comes in time and it does not have to happen over night. One must be prepared to work hard and stay humble.

If you're a photographer starting your own business and are in need of some tips, check out this interview with small business owner, Savan Crutchfield. In it she gives some ideas and tips you can try out in your own business. from social media marketing to finding your style, Savan shares her insight. If you're a new entrepreneur, click through to read!

Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your business, or being a small business owner in general?

In our world of social media it is hard to not compare yourself to others, but comparison is the thief of JOY! Success is very dependent on the person, so as you build your business and brand, make sure to go at your own pace and enjoy the small and big successes along the way!

Thanks so much for sharing and for your generous offer to my readers, Savan!
See more of Savan's gorgeous work and follow her on social media: Website / Instagram / Facebook


Special offer for Letterform readers

Book a session with Savan in 2017 and receive 40 complimentary 4x6 proof prints!
Click here to send her an email and book your session.

Small Business Interview / Bell Mountain Naturals

"You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!" This is one of many great quotes in my interview with Sarah York, owner of Bell Mountain Naturals. If you're a small business owner be sure to check out this article! Sarah talks about the ups and downs of owning an online business from bookeeping, to brand marketing, to social media strategy. learn about her experience as an entrepreneur and gain some inspiration,  ideas, and tips for your own start up. Click through to take advantage of the free wisdom that Sarah has shared!

Say hello to Sarah York! Sarah is the owner of and maker at Bell Mountain Naturals, purveyor of all natural, sustainable soap and skin care.

She's located in Manasquan, NJ. Sarah started Bell Mountain as a side hustle in 2012, and it became a full fledged business in 2015.

A fun little fact about Bell Mountain Naturals is that it's named after the street her aunt lived on in Austin, where she started making soap. I love a name with a good meaning behind it!

If you're just starting a business of your own, keep reading to learn some helpful tips from someone who's been there. AND take advantage of a special discount that Sarah generously offered to my readers!

How did you get started in your field?

The first time I was introduced to soap making, was in a college chemistry class! I loved the idea of combining science and art. I revisited soap making as a hobby a few years later with my aunt (I come from a long line of women artists and makers). I fell in love instantly.

"You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!" This is one of many great quotes in my interview with Sarah York, owner of Bell Mountain Naturals. If you're a small business owner be sure to check out this article! Sarah talks about the ups and downs of owning an online business from bookeeping, to brand marketing, to social media strategy. learn about her experience as an entrepreneur and gain some inspiration,  ideas, and tips for your own start up. Click through to take advantage of the free wisdom that Sarah has shared!

What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?

Oh man! I could probably right a book! haha! Being the maker is the fun part, but such a small aspect of running a business. I wish I would have spent more time in the beginning with bookkeeping and other business related things. It would have saved a lot of headaches!

What has been the most effective strategy for gaining new customers or selling more products?

Our most effective strategy has definitely been using social media! Specifically Instagram. We've been able to meet customers both wholesale and retail that share our passion for natural and ethical skincare. Also, having a clear, strong idea of what our brand is. SO important!

What has been the best part of running your own business?

Best part for sure is watching it grow, It's like my baby!

"You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!" This is one of many great quotes in my interview with Sarah York, owner of Bell Mountain Naturals. If you're a small business owner be sure to check out this article! Sarah talks about the ups and downs of owning an online business from bookeeping, to brand marketing, to social media strategy. learn about her experience as an entrepreneur and gain some inspiration,  ideas, and tips for your own start up. Click through to take advantage of the free wisdom that Sarah has shared!
"You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!" This is one of many great quotes in my interview with Sarah York, owner of Bell Mountain Naturals. If you're a small business owner be sure to check out this article! Sarah talks about the ups and downs of owning an online business from bookeeping, to brand marketing, to social media strategy. learn about her experience as an entrepreneur and gain some inspiration,  ideas, and tips for your own start up. Click through to take advantage of the free wisdom that Sarah has shared!

What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?

Finding balance. Running your own business, you never clock out. Since we are small, I still wear all the hats, and there is always something that needs to be done.

What advice would you give to someone else starting a business?

You HAVE to love what you do. That passion carries you through all the challenges of starting/running a business!

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and offering a discount on your lovely products, Sarah!


Use Code: Letterform 
For 15% off your purchase through the End of the month

Visit the site here to purchase. Follow on Instagram here.

Small Business Interview / Treasured Peach

Hey Small business owner, are you in need of some ideas and inspiration? This interview with Mandy Leckie of Treasured Peach covers the importance of Niching down, finding your passion, social media, and SEO. She also Shares some  greate tips for  improving your product photography to up-level your marketing &  advertising efforts in a way that attracts clients and sells your product online.  Mandy loves the freedom of owning her own business, but knows the struggle of balancing work and life. CLick through for some small business insight from someone who's been there!

Today's interview will really make you glad it's spring! 

Mandy Leckie, owner of Treasured Peach, makes the most adorable felt flower items for children, from headbands, to garlands, to mobiles to name a few. As she put it in her own words, "I create items for magical childhoods and treasured moments with your littles".

Mandy's located in Alberta, Canada. She's been in business for just over a year, which is very impressive considering all of the high-profile places where her products have already been featured!

If you're a small business owner or interested in becoming one, keep reading to hear Mandy's advice on the topic.

How did you get started in your field?

I started sewing for my children and friends and family. It was really my daughter who started what Treasured Peach is today, when she asked me to make her flowers for her room.

What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?

I wish I knew that you can't confuse your clients by selling everything you make. I think as creatives we are so multi-talented that it's hard to narrow down to selling one of the mediums we use.

What has been the most effective strategy for gaining new customers or selling more products?

Quality photographs and a narrowed focus of what items to sell definitely changed my shop for the better. I saw an increase in sales, since clients could see how to style my items.

For photos, a white background photo is a must for listings, that is essential to learn.  Find a few tutorials on YouTube and practice all you can.

The other essential is a lifestyle photo so your clients can imagine how to use or style your piece. I started out with a non-existent budget. So I searched my area's community and mom Facebook groups for beginning photographers who needed to build their portfolio. I got free photos, they got samples of their work. Win-win!

And I kept getting free pro-styled photos because we held events for members of the community to model for me. If the client wanted the pictures, they paid a discounted rate to the photographer. All participants had to sign a release for both parties to use photos in marketing materials. Now, I don't have the time to plan those events. But it was a great way to start, low cost and so much fun! 

Hey Small business owner, are you in need of some ideas and inspiration? This interview with Mandy Leckie of Treasured Peach covers the importance of Niching down, finding your passion, social media, and SEO. She also Shares some  greate tips for  improving your product photography to up-level your marketing &  advertising efforts in a way that attracts clients and sells your product online.  Mandy loves the freedom of owning her own business, but knows the struggle of balancing work and life. CLick through for some small business insight from someone who's been there!

What has been the best part of running your own business?

There are so many things I enjoy about running Treasured Peach, but the best part is the freedom to be a stay-at-home mom and be there for my family.

This is such a family business because my daughter models my accessories, everyone helps wrap orders for shipping, and my kids absolutely love mail day when get to drop off orders at the Post Office.

We live in a small town so the ladies at the Post Office are so sweet and great with my kids.

What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?

The great balance.

As much as it's awesome to stay at home with my kids and serve clients at the same time, it can be difficult some days.

Balancing time and my energy to give the best to my family and my best service to my clients, has taken the most time to learn a flow that works well.

Hey Small business owner, are you in need of some ideas and inspiration? This interview with Mandy Leckie of Treasured Peach covers the importance of Niching down, finding your passion, social media, and SEO. She also Shares some  greate tips for  improving your product photography to up-level your marketing &  advertising efforts in a way that attracts clients and sells your product online.  Mandy loves the freedom of owning her own business, but knows the struggle of balancing work and life. CLick through for some small business insight from someone who's been there!
Hey Small business owner, are you in need of some ideas and inspiration? This interview with Mandy Leckie of Treasured Peach covers the importance of Niching down, finding your passion, social media, and SEO. She also Shares some  greate tips for  improving your product photography to up-level your marketing &  advertising efforts in a way that attracts clients and sells your product online.  Mandy loves the freedom of owning her own business, but knows the struggle of balancing work and life. CLick through for some small business insight from someone who's been there!

What advice would you give to someone else starting a business?

Figure out your favorite thing out of all your talents that you could make over and over again, even late into the night. That passion will draw in clients and pull you through the rough days.

Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your business, or being a small business owner in general?

Never stop learning!

Things are always changing with SEO, social media, and trends. To stay at the top, you need to constantly be in a state of learning and working on improving yourself as much as improving your business.

Thanks so much for sharing, Mandy! If you'd like to purchase from her shop or follow along on social media, you can do so hereWebsite / Instagram / Facebook / Pinterest

Small Business Interview / The Lemonade Stand

"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!

Today I have the opportunity to introduce you to small business owner, Kim Sievers. I didn't know this when I originally scheduled the interview for today, but it also happens to be her birthday! Happy Birthday, Kim!!

Kim is the owner, purchaser, and designer behind The Lemonade Stand, an online children's clothing store, with seriously adorable clothes! She is also a full time mom of a three year old and four month old, and a dayhome owner. She's located in Edmonton, AB, Canada. She started her business about two years ago. It was inspired by her daughter. Kim found it so hard to find unique, fashionable, and most importantly affordable clothes for her and wanted to change that.

I think she certainly has done that! Keep reading to learn more about her experience as a small business owner.

How did you get started in your field?

My shop first started with a small dream, a lot of research, and sending off a lot of emails. I had a few brands I loved that I knew I wanted to carry (a lot of which didn't end up doing wholesale), but aside from them I researched a lot of different brands, and made a lot of personal purchases so I could get a feel for quality and such.

What do you wish you had known when you were just starting your business?

The full extent of how much competition there is out there. I mean I knew it was a competitive field to get involved in, but it felt like once I committed and put money into it, ten new shops were popping up every week.

"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!
"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!

What has been the most effective strategy for getting new clients or selling more products?

I try to make a personal connection with my customers. I like my Instagram feed to be real. Lots of shops have these dreamy photos that look so magical and they are amazing, don't get me wrong, but I want my customers to see the items I carry being worn by real kids, doing real kid things.

What has been the best part of running your own business?

Being able to work from home and watch my kids grow up (cheesy I know).

"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!
"It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier." This is one of many great quotes from my small business interview with Kim Sievers, owner The Lemonade Stand  In our interview Kim opens up about the some of the harder aspects of owning an online shop, like coming to terms with all of the competition out there and seeing them succeed on social media. SHe also talks about the perks of being an entrepreneur, such as the flexibility it affords her. Her advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is do your research! Click through for more great start up and business planing tips,  ideas, and Inspiration!

What has been the most difficult part of running your own business?

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. As a new(ish) shop in such a competitive field, it's sometimes disheartening seeing the success of other shops exceeding mine. Statistically a new business is in debt for the first few years of business, so I know I'm not alone. 

It's hard to keep motivated sometimes...but every kind word from customers or cute photo shared in my gear makes it easier.

What advice would you give to someone else starting a business?

Do your research!! In relation to my business; I THOUGHT I did a lot of research...researched other kids shops in my area and internationally, looked to see who carried what and what was popular, and even made a lot of personal purchases just to test out quality. But even after all of that, I found there were A LOT more shops, even within my own city, that didn't necessarily advertise a lot so I never came across them.

With certain brands I learned a lot of them (although great brands), just cared about their end of the business. So they didn't really care if they had six different stores within the same city selling the same stuff; which makes it really hard to sell things when you've got so much surrounding competition. 

Thanks so much for sharing, Kim! If you'd like to purchase from her shop or follow along on social media you can do so hereWebsite / Instagram