[quote style=”boxed”] One thing I do over and over and feel is worthy of recommending to anyone else would be if you find yourself incredibly stressed out to walk away and come back with a new set of eyes and perspective. Go out, clear your head. Issues most of the time seem much bigger at first glance.[/quote]
Laurie Elyse is an artist and designer creating wearable, functional and decorative pieces. You can find her work in magazines, galleries, restaurants, studios, private collections, boutiques around the world, on celebrities and even charity auctions for the Grammy’s Foundation and MusiCares, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, and many more.
She graduated from The School of Visual Arts in New York City. It’s where she began to build furniture and other large-scale works. Starting out routed in the music industry she had already been named a “creative genius” for her one-of-a-kind chandeliers crafted from recycled materials as well as donated broken and used items from musicians of all genres. Once established as an emerging talent she founded Laurie Elyse Design, LLC only months before being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2007. Despite the challenges of living with the illness, Elyse made her runway debut in 2008 and has continued to push the boundaries with her work creating highly sought-after pieces.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment I am working on putting together a fall/winter collection for next year, a handful of custom orders, putting the ground work in for opening my own boutique within the next two years, collaborations with three different charitable organizations, keeping up with customers and the day-to-day tasks of running a business.
Where did the idea for Laurie Elyse Design, LLC come from?
The idea for opening Laurie Elyse Design, LLC came from having friends of mine in the music industry as well as strangers asking to purchase items I had made. It all started with a project in college to create a chandelier. The chandelier I created was out of signed musician drumsticks and drums. People began to ask about buying one or having one made. It didn’t stop there all of my art pieces were selling and the demand for garments and jewelry I made for myself continued. I officially founded my business in 2007.
How do you make money?
The company makes money from four different facets:
- Being the affordable guitar pick bracelets that have sold steadily since they debuted on the market in 2007 as our first product
- Custom orders for art, fashion, costume jewelry and pretty much whatever you can dream up I can create
- The licensing of my original fabric prints
- The furniture and chandeliers crafted from musician’s “music scrap” and other salvaged materials. The ultimate re-purposing.
What does your typical day look like?
There is no such thing a typical day for me. Each day is full of new challenges and you never know what will come up. Some days are full of surprises and with Multiple Sclerosis unforeseen setbacks can happen. Being a business owner means wearing many hats.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life by putting together a plan, doing all the research and finally physically creating a product or one-of-a-kind piece. Creating art, custom work and original designs definitely has its share of learning via trial and error as with anything else. As long as I have patience and flexibility most ideas can become a reality.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that really excites me is the DIY movement.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I have had a few pretty terrible jobs when I was younger, not sure which one takes the cake for worst. If I had to go with one I would say working at this hat shop in New York City. It was run by a crazy woman who was illegally living in the back of the shop and would make an effort to talk down to employees around potential customers. Not to mention having only one female sales girl working in that tiny shop next to a bar until past midnight all alone. That was a crime scene waiting to happen. I learned from her how not to run a business and treat people.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Sure it’s easy to look back and find a ton of things I would have, should have, could have done differently, but the truth is I did the best I could with the knowledge and resources I had then. Life is about learning as you go. If I had to start again I would take all of the lessons I have learned and apply them to what I have to work with now.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One thing I do over and over and feel is worthy of recommending to anyone else would be if you find yourself incredibly stressed out to walk away and come back with a new set of eyes and perspective. Go out, clear your head. Issues most of the time seem much bigger at first glance.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure I have had as an entrepreneur was the planning of a product launch/charity event that turned out to be a flop. At first I was extremely let down with myself, however I learned a great deal from it. I guess you can say I overcame it by taking the lessons learned and using them to plan and throw successful events.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A business idea I have always wanted to see someone do is open a high end resort/vacation destination that is centered around you being able to bring your dog or pet (within reason). I mean a true vacation where there are options for petsitting and pet services, while still being a luxury vacation spot. How fun would it be for an animal lover or a family to be able to enjoy a vacation without worrying about the four-legged family left behind?
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
There are so many things I wish I could change, but I don’t know which one I would single out or how I would even go about it. Maybe it’s selfish since I live with MS, but I want a cure in my lifetime.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Very few people know that I am secretly pretty nerdy.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
I am not the most tech friendly person, but if I had to pick three online tools I would choose: LinkedIn, the NAMM U sessions offered online and photo/document sharing programs. LinkedIn is great for staying in touch with colleagues, business contacts and friends while still being professional. NAMM offers some of the best sessions covering every topic a retail/distributor could image. Lastly all of the programs out there that make it possible to send documents over instantly and sign them without the back and forth faxing are such a time saver.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh out loud all of the time. I believe you should never take yourself too seriously. Just a second ago I was laughing after finding my dog was dragging four feet of fabric around my studio like it was one of her toys, wondering why I wasn’t going to toss it or her to catch.
Who is your hero, and why?
I find so many people inspirational, but none more so than Vivienne Westwood. She is a true free spirit and doesn’t conform to what people want her to be.
Where do you see your business in five years from now?
Hopefully still in business.
The silent film The Unknown and really anything with Lon Chaney.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.