Laura Caldwell (owner of Laura Lee Designs) and I go way back. Allllllll the way back to High School. We first met each other at marching band practice after school. Yeah, I know… #bandnerds. She was on color guard and I was in the woodwind section. I remember, even back then, that Laura was excellent at everything she did. Her hair always looked amazing and her flag spinning was always on point. In fact, Laura made color guard look so wonderful that I ended up joining her in my Sophomore year. See… I told you that we go WAY back! 🙂
We both graduated, married, and moved off from our small town (Shout out to our Tifton, Georgia folks!). Thankfully, Facebook has enabled us to keep with one another over the years. I knew that Laura created adorable handmade products because she was always sharing them on social media. It wasn’t until 2015 (the year of pregnant friends) that I actually had the opportunity to purchase some of her products as gifts. I ordered numerous things including a handmade wipe case and pretty hair bows.
What I received in the mail a few days later, blew me away.
Laura is freaking talented!!!!
I knew this already, but I didn’t really KNOW the extent of her talents… until this moment.
Of course, my pregger friends who received the gifts (and everyone at their baby showers) reacted the same way I did! They absolutely LOVED them. I couldn’t have been more proud to call Laura my friend in those moments.
I knew early on that Laura was talented, but in recent years I’ve come to realize that Laura is amazingly passionate and wildly successful. There is NO stopping her! She is what I consider a true “Womanpreneur.” I want to be like Laura when I grow up, okay?
All that said, I only found it fitting to feature Laura on my blog! So, a few weeks ago I bombarded her with a bunch of questions.
No surprise here: Her answers blew me away and I am feeling pretty dang inspired at the moment. Don’t worry – You’re going to get some of that inspiration, too!
Womanpreneur Interview with Laura Caldwell, Founder of Laura Lee Designs
Describe Laura Lee Designs.
I run a handmade boutique focusing on unique children’s accessories, embroidery, jewelry, and photography props. I dabble in other areas like wedding and vinyl as well.
When did you start Laura Lee Designs?
2010 but in 2012 I began to run in full time instead of as a hobby.
What is the vision statement for Laura Lee Designs?
Laura Lee Designs strives to create unique children’s accessories to bring a little pop of color and personality into your everyday life.[Tweet “My friend Laura was featured on The Caffeinated Woman! #LauraLeeDesigns108”]
Was your success with Laura Lee Designs over-night?
Oh no! This was first started as my “creative outlet”. A hobby more or less. Friends and family started asking for my wipe cases for shower gifts and a friend encouraged me to try them on Etsy. What started as a small hobby really gained momentum and picked up when my husband encouraged me to take it on full time after our marriage in 2012. 4 years later and I feel my shop is in a great place. It isn’t making millions, but it has grown to a point where I almost need to hire help. I’m very happy with my growth!
What is your daily routine?
My basic routine is to get on Etsy in the morning and answer messages, set up custom orders, and review my new orders and pull any ready to ship items that were ordered from my stock inventory. From there my day varies depending on what orders are due.
I work in the order each one is placed usually, though sometimes a more “assembly line” approach really helps me knock out 30-40 orders in a day or two. I cut fabric, iron it, place fabric back on the shelves, organize the cut fabric according to when it was ordered and then begin assembling cases. Usually around lunch I will take a break and pack orders that are completed to ship. My mailman picks them up in the late afternoon for me (thankfully!). And then back to creating cases!
Some days I have to take off and shop for supplies. I work odd hours. And long ones. Typically from 9 am to around 1-2 am. I take a break from work in the afternoon to cook dinner, clean up , and spend a little time with my husband. He gets up at 5 am for school and isn’t home until 5-6 usually and is off to bed rather early. I hate idle time so after he goes to bed I either clean up my house or go back to work, depending on what needs my attention more at the moment.
Check out Laura’s Etsy Shop, follow her on Facebook, and take advantage of her exclusive deal through The Caffeinated Woman!
What is your key to success or your secret sauce?
The support of my family! My husband and mom have been so encouraging! They are my driving force.
What do you struggle with the most as a business owner?
Time management probably! I get sidetracked SO easily. It is normal for me to have 10 projects/orders going at once. My other is keeping my work shop clean!
What was the best advice that someonegave you along the way?
I was told about a new inventory software by a friend, Craftybase. I have a referral code if anyone would like to try it with a 10% discount! Just comment below this post and I’ll send it to you. Craftybase allows me to input my supplies and their costs. From there I can create recipes for each of my listings and each time I make one it will subtract the used materials from my inventory. I love that it also keeps my expenses along with my inventory and is SO helpful! Craftybase is the way to go forsmall/handmade businesses!
What are the long-term goals for your business?
I hope to keep growing. I am working very hard to have exclusive items that can only be found in my shop. I am also working hard to have as much as possible made and ready to ship once ordered so my processing times are quicker.
What have you learned the hard-way?
How to track expenses, inventory, taxes… yeah all that. I was lost at first! I am considering going back to college for a business degree (since my teaching one is useless here lol) so I’m better informed. I read as much as I can online and I’m in a great tax group on Facebook that is run by an IRS accountant. It isn’t all “fun work”. Some of it is HARD and boring but is has to be done. I wish I could hire someone to do all that and just let me create. But I’m a control freak so of course it has to be done by myself for me to feel it correct.
If you could tell a fellow womanpreneur anything, what would it be?
If you want it, go for it! I set personal goals for myself and each time I reach one I set another. Research the area you want to go into business as… make sure it is something you love, otherwise it is easy to get burned out and want to give up. Internet selling is amazing, but it is hard work! Don’t be ashamed to promote yourself at any and all opportunities!
Just today I handed out business cards while grocery shopping. I always joke “Oh my business cards are beautiful so I love to hand them out.” I had a graphic designer (another hardworking small business lady!) design my “brand” and it is lovely. Support fellow small businesses and in return they will support you![Tweet “If you want it, go for it!” – Laura Caldwell”]
How do you create balance?
Balance? Like work and my life balance? Honestly there isn’t much right now. I eat, sleep, and breathe Laura Lee Designs. When I first started this full time I was a new army wife and literally across the country (in Olympia, Wa) from all my family and friends in GA. I had a husband that was an armorer in the Army and was gone anywhere from 13-16 hours a day, even weekends sometimes.
I was lonely so I put all that into my shop. My husband is out of the Army now after a 12 year career and is in school in TX. He goes to school full time and also works so he’s gone about the same amount of time (but I get him on weekends! lol). I devote almost all the time he is gone for me to work, do housework, grocery shop, etc so when he is home we can spend some time together.
I work crazy hours… anywhere from 12-15 hours a day. And most of those I love. Some are devoted to “lame” business stuff like packing the orders to ship, updating my website, social media (ugh I hate social media!), and updating my inventory software.
We’re giving away a FREE travel wipe case! Check out the Etsy Shop for pattern options. Pin the image below to your Pinterest account in order to be entered into the contest. #winning