And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anais Nin
Since the day that my friend Lacey Lemmert posted this quote I thought it was the perfect illustration of what it means to follow your passion… to take a leap of faith… to be an entrepreneur. Cherry Blossom Paperie is one of those places I like to stop in just because of the way it makes me feel. When I step into the rustic little brick shop on Valentine’s Main Street, I feel a sense of warmth, happiness, and inspiration. There is always something different and every visit is like a little exploration. In every nook and cranny is something creative and unique, just begging to be discovered.
Cherry Blossom is also special because many of the products there are carefully and lovingly hand-made by some of the Sandhill’s most talented crafters and artists. Each display is like a little collection of hopes and dreams, most often born in local basements, back rooms or garages. Nothing is more uplifting than a woman living her dream while helping others do the same.
So take a few moments to hear Lacey’s story. She is one of the “blossoming” Sandhills women whom I admire. I hope her journey brings you as much inspiration as it does for me!
Tell us a little about you – where you grew up, what you went to college for, other jobs you have done, hobbies, interests, family, etc.
I grew up in Valentine. I went to school in Iowa and received a BA in art. Through my college, I interned at a cultural arts center in Chicago. My first real job was working for a company called Sticks (http://www.sticks.com/) where I painted folk art furniture and sculptural pieces. Then I spent a year teaching English in China and I worked for an Educational grant program when I first moved back into the area. My hobbies are reading, plants, travelling, being out in nature, and doing anything creative. I have an amazing husband that I’ve been married to for ten years.
Describe your business (including the Etsy portion):
In our brick and mortar store, we carry unique stationery, papercraft supplies, party supplies, vintage inspired items and a lot of beautiful handmade items, including but not limited to: hand-painted furniture, jewelry, hair accessories, crocheted items, quilts, papercraft items, and home decor. We also take custom orders and are willing to try almost anything! We usually have at least one custom order that we are working on at a time. We have two online Etsy shops right now. The one that our website links to is a variety of art, handmade stationery, and wedding accessories and decorations. It’s quickly becoming mostly wedding items, simply because that is what we have had the highest demand for. Our other Etsy store is one that I’ve just recently decided to try. I like to take photographs, have been doing so for as long as I can remember, and I finally decided that I wanted to share them with others. It’s so different from our other Etsy shop that I created a new one just for the photography. We also offer classes at the store. We offer children’s art classes and craft project/technique classes for adults. So, we have a lot of facets to our business and really we enjoy doing a variety of things.
What inspired you to start your business?
I wasn’t happy at my job, but I never really dreamed I would ever do something like this. I’ve always wanted to have a job related to art and my job at the time wasn’t, but I really feel like the desire to do this was from God. I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to do it if I hadn’t thought that. And I think my mom definitely inspired me: her creative and hardworking spirit and knowing she would enjoy helping me.
How did you choose the name?
I’m not really sure, I know we had it narrowed down to 2 or 3 and Cherry Blossom Paperie just felt right.
What was the hardest thing about taking that step to become an entrepreneur?
I think fear of failure and the unknown is always what is hardest in taking any risk. I wrote a blog post on it here: http://lemmertorium.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html
What is the best part of having your own business?
Getting to do what I love. When I’m not doing business stuff, I actually get to sit around and make stuff.
What words of advice would you have for other women thinking about becoming entrepreneurs? What does it take?
Number one, it takes being willing to risk failure. Number two, it takes a ton of hard work and time, working over 40 hour weeks and having patience building up your business. Number three, it takes having good ideas. And number four, is being good enough at business to be able to make money off of those ideas.
Describe how your business helps other budding entrepreneurs.
We are all about independent handmade items. We take items on consignment from local artists and crafters (over 20). We try to charge the least amount of commission we can and we try to encourage and promote their sales and ideas. Also, personally, I purchase a lot of handmade items. Both from our consignees and from Etsy sellers. I love how high quality, unique, and inexpensive most handmade items are and I want to support individual artists and crafters taking the time to create these beautiful things.
What kinds of products are you looking for to sell in your shop?
Well, we are willing to take almost any well-made/good quailty handmade item and at least try it. However, we are most excited about taking items that can be described with one or more of these adjectives: unique, earthy, quirky, vintage inspired, industrial, mid-century mod, natural, and/or detailed. And of course, pretty.
What helps spark your ideas and creativity?
Pretty much anything and everything. I’ve literally been inspired by the colors and industrial style of a semi-truck J. Usually, it’s something a little more specific. I follow a lot of designers and read their blogs, I use pinterest, I keep up with new product from companies I love. If it’s something that I’m making, I try to make sure it’s very different from the original inspiration. I love being inspired by others, but I don’t want to steal from them.
When I do window displays, I usually just start with a general style/theme and a color palette and come up with things in the store and things we can make that fit in with that. I usually spend about a month planning the next window and adding things to my original idea, even making drawings.
What do you like about living and working in the Sandhills?
I love the beauty of this area, talk about being inspired by something.
I love the people. Seriously, I’ve very rarely had to deal with a rude customer. Our customers are awesome!
Something I’m super excited about is our recent collaboration with Chelsie Moreland Photography. I was very honored when Chelsie asked me to design a styled wedding shoot. We had so much fun and her photography is amazing! See it here: http://www.chelsiemorelandphotography.com/2013/07/24/vintage-syled-wedding-shoot-nebraska-wedding-photographer/