Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in handcrafts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lauren White, Founder of White Loft, located in Austin, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
White Loft is a female-owned small business dedicated to making artful and heirloom goods that celebrate the joy of childhood and help preserve life's most precious moments, all of which are handcrafted, made in Austin, TX, and have become treasured keepsakes to families across the country.
Tell us about yourself
In 2011, I had my first baby and, upon returning to my corporate recruiting job, realized my passion for my current career had waned. There was a big part of me that wanted to do something different, more creative, and more flexible - so I started doing DIY design projects in my home, which turned out to inspire my next career path.
I've always had a passion for families and preserving precious childhood memories, and the products that I was working on creating helped me do this in a convenient, beautiful way. As I leaned into my craftiness, the first product that I designed was a growth chart to measure a child's yearly growth in the form of a beautiful, portable keepsake. I made the prototype on my kitchen table, and a friend suggested that I sell it. This was the motivation that I needed to expand my side hustle into a full-blown business, even creating a studio within our home for production. White Loft was official!
Over the next ten years, the business grew wildly, and we developed new products that help families mark their most special moments with their children in memorable, nostalgic ways.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Over the past ten years of White Loft's existence, I've learned so much about "success" - specifically, what success means to me. Previous to being an entrepreneur, I had different expectations of what success meant. But when you own your own business and wear all the hats, each day's wins and measures of success are different.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
There are setbacks! Overall, we've experienced year-over-year growth, but like any founder building a business, we learn as we go, and some lessons are easier to handle than others.
As a product-based business, we've worked hard to perfect our process and end product, which has been the result of years of tweaks and refinements. For example, we've endured trial and error as we've developed our production process for our canvas growth charts. Years ago, we attempted a screen-printed version instead of our current handmade version, only to realize right before a big market that the canvas wasn't to scale any longer. That was a stomach-sinking moment.
But it wasn't the end of the world. The key there was to be solution-oriented - we pulled everything and started from scratch with our tried-and-true method. We overcame the obstacle by being flexible and learning from the experience. Sometimes, a solution can solve a temporary problem, even if, at the moment, you know that a specific solution won't be a long-term fix.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- One of my favorite guiding principles is, "Be clear in your goals but flexible in your approach." I love this mantra because each day's goals can be slightly different.
- I like to recognize micro wins that don't have to do with financial success. These goals are sometimes qualitative, like, did I get to exercise today? Did I get some quality time with my kids and family?
- I'm inspired by the idea that entrepreneurship is the mix of both personal and professional successes, and I strive to meet these goals and empower my team to do the same.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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