Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence, launched in 2008 in Laurel, Miss., makes lovely, heirloom ephemera for your vintage-inspired wedding.
‘Ah ha’ moment that led to launching the business: After my first client, I posted images of her handkerchief save-the-dates on my blog, then they started popping up on blogs everywhere. The next day I had 50 inquiries in my inbox and that was it. I was completely shocked by the power of the niche market.
Ideal customer: The artful, romantic, nostalgic bride who wants something out-of-the-ordinary for her wedding paper goods.
First customer: She is a lifelong friend and now the only employee of Lucky Luxe. She let me have total creative freedom and was completely trusting in my ideas. After posting photos of it on my blog, things seriously took off.
Measuring success: A couple weeks after my first Lucky Luxe blog entry, I received an inquiry from Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine and that was huge — considering I had no idea what I was doing really. It was definitely exciting to consider how blogs have changed things for small business.
Biggest struggle: I sometimes struggle to understand the bookkeeping and financial side of owning a business—they definitely didn’t teach me anything about that in art school. Creatively, it’s always a struggle when a client has a very specific vision and I have a difficult time discerning what they want. It’s frustrating, but twice as rewarding when you finally hit the mark and they’re happy.
Surprise!: It seems to just continue growing and expanding on its own and sometimes feels like it has a life of its own. I think I’m just chasing behind it and holding on tight for the ride.
Promoting sales: A well-placed banner ad on the blog that most appeals to your preferred client-base is amazing. One banner ad on a great wedding blog is the only advertising we do and our page views were at 1,677,429 last month. The only other promotion we spend time on is sending images of new, exciting custom invitations to all the big wedding blogs and nine times out of 10, one of them will write a feature for free. That kind of press is invaluable.
What you wish you would have known: Had more faith when I was ready to leave the cubicle and quit my day job for Lucky Luxe. I knew it felt right, I was just afraid of failing. It was an irrational fear and staying at my day job kept me from taking on more Lucky Luxe work that I didn’t have time for. After months of constant prayer, I finally left in December 2009 and it’s been the greatest reward of all.
What keeps you up at night (business wise!)?: Knowing that I could just get up and walk in the studio, keep working and then I would have more free time tomorrow. But you can’t do that. Sleep is so important and it’s easy to disregard that fact when you work from home.
Ever tempted to throw in the towel and just get a job?: Never ever. I’ll be a self-employed artist until I retire. I’ve seen what’s out there for me in the corporate world and it’s depressing. Uninspiring. This life is a blessing.
Pricing: Consider what your time is worth and realize that just because your business/talent is easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for your client and they’re willing to pay you what it’s truly worth.
A few good tips: For me, it’s crucial that my contracted printers maintain a level of quality that my clients are happy to pay for and it’s also super important that my designs stay consistently unique and never mass-produced. In my line of work, our Southern hospitality pays off big because you can’t find that kind of one-on-one service at a store on Madison Avenue. These brides want someone to be their friend in the process—not a snotty salesperson.
The absolute best part of owning my business is: being able to take off for the afternoon if I want or wear pajamas to work.
If I had to start over again, I would: have done this much sooner.
I never imagined: making every single customer happy would be so difficult.
If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout: “Don’t be afraid! Find your niche market and just DO IT!”