Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alex Starrett, founder of Little Blue Lane, located in Austin, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We, Little Blue Lane, provide a collection of curated gifts, from ready-to-ship options to a full custom offering where you can create your gift from start to finish. From handpicked products to beautiful packaging, we build a memorable experience for our customers. We add your personal touch by including a handwritten card with your message to match the occasion. Love, congratulations, condolences, and whatever the message may be, we’d be delighted to bring your sentiment to life.
The level of creativity stays top of mind, whether it’s a singular gift or a large quantity for a corporate project or event. We’re redefining corporate gifting by placing the utmost emphasis on customization. Coffee lover? Spa enthusiast? New homeowner? We’ll find just the right thing. From a single purchase with us, you’re supporting multiple small businesses. We’re excited that many of the brands we work with have philanthropic and sustainability efforts built into their core values. You can experience our products (& meet me, Alex!) at local ATX pop-ups and events.
Tell us about yourself
Growing up in an entrepreneurial environment, the ambition to create my own path has been there since an early age. Montage of my life thus far, speed round, born and raised in Tulsa, OK, played soccer for the University of Arkansas, graduated with a Visual Design major and French Language minor, and moved to Austin, TX, for my first job after college (graphic design). Spent a few years in the design and events world, then transitioned to hotel marketing. After absorbing as much as I could working in the corporate world of hospitality, I felt it was time to make the jump to start LBL.
Little Blue Lane was born from the desire to express our appreciation and gratitude to the ones we love - oh, and my love for travel. I’ve been hunting down trinkets and treasures for as long as I can remember. I’d love to find a unique item, usually accompanied with a story of the artisan who made it or the adventure I found myself on when stumbling upon that item. Bringing back seashells from family vacations in California, to the soft leather bag from the centuries-old craftsmanship in Florence, and the stylish shoes made of cork from the son who just took over the family business in Lisbon, to the wooden spoons carved by the passionate father down the street in Austin.
When curating products, I ensure each item supports the overall theme of the gift. Thankfully, I can geek out over paper types, thoughtful packaging, and eye-catching branding in my day-to-day. Takes me back to my art classes in college - happy I’m able to incorporate what I learned from my school days.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being able to support other small businesses. Whether locally or globally, we take pride in working with other passionate founders, regardless of where they're at in their business journey.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
In the scheme of things, the journey has been generally smooth. Luckily the hard days thus far have been the size of pebbles and not boulders. Building awareness about a new e-commerce brand comes with difficulties regardless of when you launch. With all events and pop-ups canceled for an extended period, it was challenging to get the word out, especially to our local community. We relied heavily on word-of-mouth and personal connections to build our base outside of digital marketing.
When ordering perishable food items, I’ve learned to underestimate quantities. Although it was a learning lesson, we were able to bring a positive light to it by donating to charity during the infamous freeze of February 2021.
It’s about remembering to disarm those thoughts of doubt with constant effort. Business owner by day, student by night. My family and friends are wonderful resources for support and encouragement. Additionally, I’m thankful for the friendships with other business owners, near and far. It’s a solid reminder that you’re not alone…or going crazy.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I'm normally the one seeking business advice, not providing it, but here are three thoughts that could be beneficial to those beginning their business journey.
- 'Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.' When you find yourself frozen or stagnant, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. This will help reset your perspective.
- 'Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.' When things get tough, which they will be at times, remember to remain positive, energetic, and enthusiastic about the current problem you're solving.
- Constantly be learning something new.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
There's a quote I stumbled upon a few years ago that I find myself returning to when my world is spinning, "If you have everything under control, you're not moving fast enough."
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.