Florence Shin & Athina Wang, Covry

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers, business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Interviewees: Florence Shin & Athina Wang, Founders

Company:  Covry

Launch Date: August 2015

Motto: Smile confidently

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Pavo Beige


What inspired you to launch an eyewear company with high school friend, Athina Wang?
Florence Shin: Athina came to me with the idea a few years ago, and it instantly resonated with me because I’ve always struggled with being able to find stylish, comfortable eyewear. Frames were always sliding down my nose, hitting my cheeks and leaving embarrassing cheek indents. Together, we redesigned the standard fit and created Elevated Fit® eyewear.

How did you come up with the name Covry?
FS: Covry comes from the word cove. It symbolizes effortless beauty and calming tranquility to us. We wanted to create a word that we could give meaning to as we built our brand.

 

Describe a day in the life of Team Covry
Athina Wang: Honestly, every day is so different. We could be at the warehouse overseeing order fulfillment, running around the city for meetings, shooting models, or brainstorming new strategies and events.

There’s a lot of variety that goes into a single day, and I think that’s one of the adventures of being your own boss.

How do you juggle the creative and management skills needed so you aren’t screaming at the end of the day?
FS: Fortunately, Athina and I come from different areas in fashion. Even though we work together, we’re able to divide up the work to focus on tasks that we know and understand better. This allows us to make better use of our time and get more things done.

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Denequa Williams & Akenea Dillon, LIT Brooklyn

thursday interview lit brooklyn candles

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers, business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Happy September, Thursday Interview faithful and newcomers!  Although summer brain lingers, I am happy to kick off the fall season with Denequa Williams & Akenea Dillon, founders of LIT Brooklyn.  Their Interview gave me motivation on a day when I needed it.   I hope you find common ground and inspiration in their story of how LIT came to be.  Enjoy!

Name: Denequa Williams & Akenea Dillon, Founders

Company:  LIT Brooklyn

Launch Date: December 5, 2015

Motto: Keep it lit!

Theme Song: Jay Z- Forever Young

Describe the moment that LIT Brooklyn was born
Akenea Dillon: It was a random Monday morning in October (2014) and Denequa had called me really early. We were having regular conversation about how we can’t wait to be like the women who inspire us. We wanted the freedom and happiness that these women possessed while following their dreams. In mid conversation Denequa was like “Let’s start a business!” I laughed because it was really random but I wasn’t opposed to it. I said what would our business be? She said “Let’s make candles!” It made sense because we both love smell goods and have invested in many different candle brands in the past. I replied “That would be lit!” She asked what would we call it?  My reply: “LIT”.  The rest is history.

What are the most surprising lessons you’ve learned as a new business owner?
AD: Having a business is still relatively fresh as we launched a little under a year ago and since then so much has changed from our initial packaging to our social media content to the scents we come up with. There is always a lesson to be learned.  One lesson that I can think of is that it took trial and error to learn is that simplicity is key. Another one is that sometimes you have to take a step back and take yourself out of the equation. We make candles and while we are making something we love, we want to make sure that our customer loves it too. So I may hate a particular scent but that might be the very scent that our customers are obsessed with. Also don’t doubt your influence. It’s been really humbling to hear people say “I love your candles, I saw it here…” or “such and such gifted it to me.” It never fails to surprise me.

Denaqua Williams: Some of the most surprising lessons that I’ve learned as a new business owner is that you really have to prove yourself for people to either want to work with you, or even support your product. It’s also a common misconception that a lot of new business owners feel that you don’t have to put in the work to see the results. You have to eat, sleep, and breathe your business if you want it to flourish. The passion has to be there.  We live in a time where everyone wants instant gratification without completely and thoroughly understanding the amount of work and time and effort and loss of sleep that goes into running a successful and effective business. Another surprising lesson that I’ve learned is that your relationships with people are going to change. Having a business is like having a baby, and just like a baby, you nurture this business, you give this business your undivided attention, and the people around you who don’t get your vision, won’t understand, and that may cause your relationship to wither. Everyone around you is not going to get your vision and that’s okay because it’s not for them to understand.

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Tell us the LIT Brooklyn process for creating the kind of scent combinations that make me wish my computer screen was scratch and sniff.
DW: When it comes to creating the scents for LIT, that might be the most tedious but fun part of it all. It’s a lot of trial and error. We spend a lot of time experimenting. These scents are intoxicating, they are all reminiscent of something that we love. I love all of the scents that we created, but my ultimate favorite scent thus far is “HOME”, we named it “HOME” because that’s what it reminded us of. The lemony scent with notes of vanilla is to die for.

How did LIT get involved with Curl Fest 2016?
DW: We’ve always been fans of CurlFest, since it launched. We keep up with their events through social media, and when we saw that they were looking for vendors, we reached out and were able to be a part of the epic event. The feedback that we received from everyone who came up to our booth was spectacular. We would definitely do CurlFest again.

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Will LIT candles be available at any pop ups for the upcoming holiday season?
AD: Ideally, we will be a part of a few pop-ups or events for the holidays. We have some things in store for fall and the holiday that we are finalizing right now. (Stay tuned to our social media) I can tell you that you will definitely see us in a few beauty subscription boxes and hopefully a few holiday gift guides. The best part about the holidays is that we get to celebrate LIT’s birthday (December 5th) so an event for that is in the works.

Fast forward a year from now, what news would you like to be sharing with your fans and collaborators?
DW: A year from now, I hope we have become an international brand. I hope to share that LIT has its own store front. I hope to share that we are being carried in major department stores. I hope for us to be featured in magazines that we read. I hope to share that LIT has expanded carrying more than candles.

Shout out time!  This is your opportunity to celebrate the people who have made the LIT launch and journey a joy.  Don’t be shy.
DW: I am happy to celebrate those close to us that keep us going, and that push us to exercise our complete potential. My boyfriend Khiry is stellar, he helps keep me motivated. Every business owner needs that one person in their corner that is there to remind them why they started in the first place. Things are going to get rough, but the most beautiful moments start to unfold right after you cross over that rough patch. Another person in particular is Evanka W., our brand manager, she came on board a few months ago. A close friend to us both, she plays a significant role in our growth as a company. I would also like to thank our customers who have remained loyal to us from the very beginning, we are very gracious to them for supporting us and believing in the product that we created. And overall, just thankful for everyone who supports us in any way possible. Being a new small business, people are often hesitant, but words can’t express my gratitude for the amount of support and love that we receive on a daily.

AD: Thank you to all my family, friends, believers, and yay-sayers for all the support and well wishes. Before the launch, they were the ones to encourage us in the ways we needed and for them, LIT is grateful. For our launch in particular, it wouldn’t have been the dream it was without our friends Marva & Miriam from the space, Ode to Babel where we had our launch party, Eshama John who has blessed us with visuals of our product from time to time, Deasia Rumble, Endeshia Bryan, Gigi Gray, and every amazing person that helped make our launch extra special. Most importantly thank you to all the people that invest in our candles, our customers. Thank you for believing in our product and spreading the love with your friends and family. We couldn’t keep it LIT if it wasn’t for you all.

Want to keep your world LIT?  Stay connected with Denaqua and Akenea on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

Parisa Pan Wang, Love Affair Handbag by ParisaNYC

parisa wang thursday interview

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers,  business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Name: Parisa Pan Wang, Founder

Company: Love Affair Handbag by ParisaNYC

Launch Date: 5/18/2016

Motto: “Onward ever; backward never.”

What made you decide that owning and running a business was the right choice for you?
Passion and the urge to live a creative life. Artistic expression was not a warmly accepted ideal during my childhood because the arts were seen as a waste of time and as an impediment to academic success in China. I didn’t openly pursue art until I attended college in U.S. However, I always found opportunities to immerse myself in drawing, designing and creating things growing up. My desire to become a fashion designer never fades entering college and pursuing a business degree. Instead, it grows even stronger and deeper. I could have followed my parents’ insistence and a traditional career path. However, at the end of the day, I could not help but feel empty and lost. I asked myself, is this the path that would make me happy? Will I wake up every morning excited to go to work? Will my work have any lasting value in the world? I imagined what I would tell my grandchildren one day when they asked about my life. I could tell them that I chose a safe and responsible career choice for me at the time. But I would much rather tell them that when I was young, I decided to take a risk to follow my dream and have never looked back since. I chose to stay true to myself, therefore I chose to pursuing the things I truly love and make it a lifelong pursuit. After work experiences with 3.1 Phillip Lim, J Crew and Pologeorgis Furs, I started my business venture in 2015.

Describe a day in the life of ParisaNYC
A day in the life of ParisaNYC starts with morning yoga or workout at 7am. I finish up exercising and breakfast in around an hour and be at my desk around8am answering and writing emails. I usually draft out the day’s tasks the night before so that I can follow my calendar to tackle each task one by one that day.

The current stage of the business involves a lot of logistic and inventory management, store and market fairs research, social media marketing and etc. I will start two of my interns this week and slowly assign them some responsibilities to get them familiar with the brand and operation.

Depending on the day, I meet with potential collaborators, go to speaker and networking events, and do store researches.

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Why did you create the #LoveAffairCollection?
Disappointed in a love affair, I found consolation and empowerment among my group of friends. Overwhelmed by their graciousness and the emotional support I received from these amazing women, I was compelled to spread an equally encouraging and supportive message of hope to others. That’s why I created the Love Affair line, a collection of high quality leather handbags that encourage all women to truly love their independence and to never shirk in when the going gets tough.

I created the Love Affair Handbag to further inspire women to seek relentless inner courage in the face of adversity, and to regale in the throes of loving relationships that bring out the best in each and every one of them, one handbag at a time.

Love Affair Collection is a line of handbags capturing 5 stages of a relationship to inspire courage and confidence. Find out more at: www.parisanyc.com

Congratulations on your successful Kickstarter campaign.  What insight can you share for anyone considering a Kickstarter campaign?
First and foremost, you got to have a good product and a video that catches people’s attention. The video could be funny, sarcastic or short and sweet. Here is where your creativity comes in.

Then start early. Ideas are only ideas without execution. Get out there and tell people about your ideas. Craft a landing page and create an email signup list to acquire your early adaptors. Identify your target customers and build your social media around them. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, create a business account and start to get followers. I went to many pitch nights, social networking events and speaker events during my campaign to spread the word. Any opportunity I could stand up and pitch my idea for couple minutes whether it is Q&A for guest speakers or talk to people one-on-one, I would do it.

Last but not least, plan to hit your target early. Whether it is to set your target low but practical or to persuade your friends and family to back early on, give yourself a deadline and plan to hit your target in the first week of your campaign. Then the party really starts after you hit your target. I also realized that the amount of your backers and sales orders really pick up after you hit your target.

My Kickstarter campaign can be accessed through here: www.parisanyc.net

What are your go-to resources for managing your business?
The SCORE network is my go-to resources for managing my business. SCORE has an impactful and resourceful board of business mentors who provide free advices and answers to my business questions and concerns. All the mentors on the board offer genuine, insightful and truthful suggestions to your business hoping that you would succeed. It is the best and free resources I found in the city. I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful for their time and support and highly recommend it to you. You can find out more about it here: https://www.score.org

Fast forward to July 2017, what would you like to be sharing about ParisaNYC?
Fast forward to July 2017, I will be designing for Love Affair 2018 Spring/Summer Collection. The design and development go from July to September and selling period goes from September to October. November to January will be production period and delivery to stores/customers afterwards.

I am also looking into opportunities to bring the Love Affair to Asia market and introduce a jewelry line in the near future.

Shout out time — this is your chance to highlight colleagues, collaborators and supporters.
First of all, big shout out to Tom Greenbaum from SCORE network for his genuine support and insightful suggestions to both the long-term and short-term planning for my business.

Secondly, I’d like to give a shout out to my incredible filmmaker Caleb Suttles for helping me with my film planning and making. Without his help and support, I wouldn’t be able to tell my story in the most vivid and effective way.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank all my backers and supporters to believe in my project and the mission of Love Affair to inspire courage and confidence. At ParisaNYC, we don’t believe in making handbags for mere functionality sake. We make them so that you can hold and showcase a tangible object of strength and beauty. With your support, we can continue to spread its message to support and uplift women of the world.

Thank you, Parisa.

You can stay connected with Parisa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!  
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

 

Julie Reif, Founder of The Blog Bar & Cardrella and Daville

the blog bar thursday interview

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers,  business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

 

Name: Julie Reif

Companies: The Blog Bar, Cardrella and Daville

Launch Date: August 19, 2015

Website:  The Blog Bar

Blog: 8Balloons.com

Motto: Hustle Beats Talent, Hustle Isn’t Defined By My Environment

I love all things digital but still take the time to send letters and cards just because so I can appreciate your love of all things paper.  Can you share the eureka moment (or moments) that inspired Cardrella and Daville and 8Balloons.com?
I was preparing to write a book at the time and I had writer’s block and needed to exercise my writing skills with something I loved. During 2009, blogs were becoming large and I had such an appreciation for them and wanted to have my own. So I started exercising my writing skills by writing about paper daily on my blog, 8Balloons.com. I then realized quickly this was very niche and I may be onto something. My blog continued to become larger and only a year ago did I decide to share my own designs. It was a small but yet successful project and fun!

What are three life lessons you’ve learned (so far) as a creative entrepreneur?
This is difficult to put into three lessons as I feel this a 24/7 way of life.

1)    There is no such thing as failure. I know this is cliche but really there is not. You should feel gratitude for the fact you are following your passions and having the opportunity to see the ups and downs of your passion projects. Most people don’t get to that level.

2) Gratitude. Always have gratitude. It changes the energy around you always.

3) My hustle isn’t defined by my environment. No matter if I am in New York City or the smallest suburb, I don’t let it hinder me or make or break me. There’s something called the internet and I work with as much as I have at my fingertips. Always have. Everyone can. So no matter if you’re waiting to make your dream come true by “getting out of wherever you are” There is always something you can be doing from where you are.

4) Hustle Universe Enterprise. These are the three words I live by. I find every avenue at my fingertips I can use to make what I am working on get one step farther. I always put it in the universe because positive vibes attract positive reactions and I always think enterprise (business) with everything I do. If anything that day does not fall into those three aspects, I don’t  do it.

Your motto is Hustle Beats Talent.  There’s gotta be a story behind that. Spill.
I don’t know if there is a story behind it, it’s just how I have always felt. In actuality, my motto is H.U.E. Hustle Universe Enterprise. I keep the hustle mentality for everything I do, I place it in the universe, and I always think enterprise. How can I make something bigger than myself, How can I make a product helpful to others. Talent is great, but you can’t rely on just that.

Share why you had to launch The Blog Bar.
I realized bloggers were missing so many online resources. We didn’t have a digital planner at our own fingertips and ironically most bloggers were still using pen and paper. As much as I am a fan of pen and paper, I wanted to give all bloggers access to the opportunity to have a planner that was dedicated to their needs. From there, I quickly learned we needed an online community to connect with other bloggers to not just collaborate with but to have a bigger network of like-minded individuals, and to share our content for others to discover and grow our influence.

What are your go-to resources for managing your businesses?
My needs right now are very technical and all about project management, so I have been using Asana, Google Documents, and Basecamp.

What’s on your weekly must read blog list?
I am a huge fan of Product Hunt and always find new products that not only help me but inspire me. I read the NY Times, Huffington Post, CNN. And throughout the day check out my TED app to learn as much as I can.

What’s next for The Blog Bar, Cardrella and Daville and 8Balloons.com?
The Blog Bar’s new launch is around the corner and I am as excited as Jessie Spano from Saved By The Bell for it! It will seriously change how we blog! Cardrella and Daville is finding its way into a few shops in NYC and Florida and can be found online. No new designs until the fall. As for 8Balloons.com, it is in full force with many amazing interviews with designers throughout the next few months with my fellow blog partner Andrea.

Shout-out time! This is your chance to spotlight your collaborators and community. Don’t be shy.
My network I collaborate with is extremely tight and also have become my best friends and family. They don’t all know each other as some work within greeting cards and others within the tech aspect, but they are familiar with each other and connected.

Diamond Donatello is one of the best greeting card designers there is and more importantly all around amazing artist. Her cards are pop culture and hip hop inspired and you may have seen them in stores like Urban Outfitters.

Andrea is my co-blogger on 8Balloons.com and she is well known for her 365 Days project, where she writes a beautiful card a day and shares her curation on Instagram, @dreyray. She has also created a stationery subscription company called qandaletterbox.com. Everyone I work with has created their own passion projects.

Andrea Grbavac is a close friend, great copy writer and my co-author on our book Blog Boss.

Britney of seamsandsprinkles.com She is a contributor to The Blog Bar and her blog is one of my favorite reads because of her positivity and did I mention all her baking recipes!

Ray of afewhungrygirls.com This girl has been a contributor to The Blog Bar since day 1 and I have loved seeing how far she has grown with her food and fitness blog and her business.

Stay connected with Julie on Instagram and The Blog Bar on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Photo via.

Kim Goulbourne, Bourn

kim bybourn thursday interview

 

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers,  business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Thank you to Museum Hue’s  Monica Montgomery for introducing me to Hashtags Unplugged, an art exhibition paying tribute to 10 memorable hashtags. Exploring the exhibit online made me super curious about Kim Goulbourne,  the woman behind the project.  Here is her Thursday Interview.

Name: Kim Goulbourne, Maker, Designer & Developer

Company: Bourn

Launch Date: November 2015

Current Projects: Founder Mantras, daily mantras, quotes and words to live by for founders by founders; Hashtags Unplugged, an art exhibition paying tribute to 10 memorable hashtags and SendThanksto, a platform for sending thanks to the people in your life.

Motto: I can and I will.

Theme Song: Lose Yourself, Eminem.

Describe the moment when you knew branding and web design spoke to you.
Back in high school I had a group of friends that designed flyers for parties and I always wanted to be a part of that. I think it was around that time I told my mom I wanted to go to college for Graphic Design. Generally I was always interested in art and creative expression but I never knew what medium I would end up choosing until sophomore year of college when I took my first Web Design class. I haven’t looked back since.

What can a company expect when they become a Bourn client?
I enjoy collaborating with young makers/creators and small business owners who are looking to establish a web presence. When they partner with me I strive to create an online experience that embodies their personality, work and core values.

How did you connect with hashtag godfather Chris Messina and artists for the Hashtags Unplugged exhibit?
Finding the artists for the exhibit was simpler than I imagined since there are a few websites dedicated to artists. I submitted a Call For Artists on the NYFA website and Art Slant. I had no idea what kind of responses I would get, if any, but luckily I got quite a few to choose from and they all turned out to be amazing people who created beautiful work.

When it came to contacting Chris Messina I knew it was a long shot but I also knew I would be a fool not to try. I found his email address and sent him a heartfelt email that he responded to more quickly than I expected. It was the perfect match and I was thrilled at his enthusiasm for the project.

What is the best life advice you received from an unlikely source?
“Before you start any new venture, imagine the worst case scenario. Once you get comfortable with that, you can do anything.” – Jena Steinbach of Little House. Not a totally “unlikely” source but this quote came from one of my recent projects, Founder Mantras where I collect quotes from fellow founder and independent creators. It came at a time when it was exactly what I needed to hear to move forward.

No business owner is a solo act.  What are a few resources that you rely on to build your business without getting overwhelmed?
I’m a huge fan of Evernote for my notes, Trello for lists and to-dos, Dropbox, Google Drive and Github for my design, dev and other files. Typeform for quick questionnaires and surveys, Mailchimp for my newsletters and Cloudpeeps for freelance writers.

How can the Thursday Interview community support what you do?
Keep me on my toes and never be afraid to tell me how you feel about my work. Since my studio is still its early stages I rely heavily on the support of friends, family and the community to keep my fire burning.

Thank you, Kim, for being such a fun, insightful  interview.

Stay connected with Kim on Twitter and Instagram and all things Bourn via Twitter.


Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!  
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!

Angelique Ellyn Anderson, LIQUE Story Studio Inc.

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Screenshot of Lique Story Studio’s “Humpty and Other Goosey Tales”

***The Thursday Interview is a showcase for creators, innovators, troublemakers,  business owners to share news and insight about the creative impetus and inspirations behind their latest project, launch or business.

Angelique and I met at media mixer hosted by Emerging Market Views, a digital news platform focusing on emerging and frontier markets.  We were there to support a mutual friend Dawn Kissi,  the platform’s founder.  We started chatting about entrepreneurship, co-working spaces  and creativity.  Once I heard about her work, I wanted to include her on the Thursday Interview.  Enjoy…

Name: Angelique Ellyn Anderson, Artist, Founder / Creative Director of  LIQUE Story Studio Inc.

Launch Date: 2016

My current project(s) are…
…developing children’s book apps utilizing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. I have 2 other picture-book app projects which include journey, seek and discovery experiences for VR headsets.

I love getting up in the morning to…
…work on my projects. Now that I work independently for myself I can focus on developing my own successful dreams instead of someone else’s.

The main challenge(s) to being a creative entrepreneur…
…is being able to maintain that independence financially so that you can focus on development of your own products; and to obtain those necessary funds and resources to help you grow until your business can stand on its own. Having to stop and start by working for someone else so that you can raise money to continue your own growth is frustrating and can kill a very viable product.

My go-to networking groups are….
…the New Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, the VR Lab at ITP-NYU sponsored by Hearst Corporation, UnityVR user MeetUp group and the Children’s Book Illustrators Group (CBIG) for Julie Gribble’s Kidlit.TV,  and Viridian Artists Gallery in Chelsea, NY.

Here’s why you and everybody you know needs to see Hadestown…
…I became a passionate supporter of the folk opera, Hadestown, 6 yrs ago, when I first experienced Anais Mitchell and Michael Chorney with their band performing it  in the park. I approached them afterwards about developing it for stage on Broadway. Their CD was just being released. So here they are, years later, performing Hadestown, Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop, NYC. My passion for the musical, Hadestown expands by working with the producer to procure investors for the Broadway production.

Shout out time.  This is an opportunity to salute your collaborators and supporters.
I thank my mom and Pat Cummings, who got me started with Children’s Illustration, storytelling and book making; all my CBIG members for being such a dynamic support and resource in the industry; grateful for Roxy Munroe for being an inspiration and a dynamic force in the industry of book, storytelling and app-making;  Julie Gribble of KidlitTV for being a steadfast supporter and gracious friend;  Steve Sandberg, genius musician and best friend; choreographer and colleague Annetta Sawyer for ultimate support and of course the New Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn for being a resource of knowledge and support.


Launching a new biz or project?  Let’s talk!  
Happy Creating, Cultivating and Growing!