Interviews

One woman's success does not detract from your own...if anything it inspires others to start living the life they always imagined!

Rounding out my final female founder interview series is Lea Mayer. Lea (pronounced Leah not Lee hah!), is the creator, owner, designer, customer service rep, and production line for Lulu and Lea.  She has a degree in Textile design and a background working in apparel design. 

When I first starter Pax’s account I was asked to be in my first collaborative giveaway and I was invited by Lea! I had no idea what I was doing and kept ask her questions about what to do and if I was doing everything right. She was always so sweet to answer and it ended up being a great experience for everyone!

When starting new things it can be really overwhelming because there is just so much information out there and things to do. It’s such a joy to be able to have such a strong community of like minded people! In our interview Lea mentions that just diving in is really the solution to the overwhelm and that overthinking can delay one from living their most fulfilling life! Thank you so much Lea for your time - it was such a blast to learn more about Lulu and Lea!

Make sure you follow @shopluluandlea and give your pup a beautiful gift!

Please tell us a bit about your background both personally and professionally.

I have lived in the Philadelphia area most of my life.  I grew up outside of the city in Southern NJ.  Growing up I always had a passion to be in the design world.  As a little girl I would watch HGTV and always thought I would be an interior designer.  I later really learned to love fashion design as well.  When looking at colleges, design programs were my focus.  I landed at Philadelphia University (now Jefferson University) in their Interior Design program.  The first year was whirl wind of architecture classes and as much as I found it interesting and certainly challenging, it didn't feel like what I really had a passion for.  I switched to textile design and fell in love.  I absolutely loved not only the design aspect but the technical as well.  After graduating I worked as a CAD designer for Bed Bath and Beyond, then moved to their subsidiary Harbor Linen as their first in house designer working on contract custom bedding and drapery.  I really enjoyed it but again didn't feel a strong passion for it.  That lead me back to fashion to try to find a career I could love.  I worked for a well known apparel brand in Philadelphia working in their design department.  It felt like I landed the dream job and I was so excited to dive in.  After three years of giving that job literally everything I could possibly put into, and admittedly letting it affect me in ways I won't get into I decided it was time for a serious change.  I left without a plan but knowing I really needed a positive change and inspiring work environment.  At the time I had an instagram for Lulu, my puppy, and loved the community that I had never expected to find there.  I also could never find accessories for her that were my taste or quality that blew me away so I decided with my new found freedom to start Lulu and Lea based off this idea.

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How did you get your idea or concept for the brand?

Just as above in my background it just felt like a void in the market.  I am willing to pay a higher than average price point to get high quality well designed products for nearly anything so why not dog accessories!  I really wanted to create something special that no one else was doing.

Tell us more about your brand and what you do!

I have taken my background in textile design and really made my knowledge and love of textiles what makes my brand special.  Lulu and Lea products are always made of high quality fabrics that are sometimes a little unexpected, like when I did velvet or our new eyelet or embroidered styles for spring.  I really like to take really special fabrics and allow them to be what elevates my fairly simple designs.

Looking back would you do any thing different?

Hmmm!  I don't know I'd do anything different.  I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and I think although the path has not been easy I have learned so much about the business, and myself, along the way.


What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?

I love the creative freedom and the ability to take risks.  Designing for corporate companies always felt restrictive to me.  There was always someone there to tell you that it wasn't good enough, a good design, idea, etc.  With being an entrepreneur I love having the freedom to try.  The person saying no may have been right but I think there is something really valuable about learning for yourself.

Share your favorite moment or moments while growing your business.

Oh gosh, that's hard because I've had many!  One, I find it so rewarding as I grow and continue to succeed, especially when so many people in the beginning couldn't see my vision.  Second, and more importantly, I have to go back to the connections I've made.  Instagram is where I built my business from and the people I have made connections with there is invaluable.  People, most people, are so wonderful and want to support you and help build your dream.  I love when a customer tags me and they are just in love with the styles they've just received.  Thats the best moment.

What are some of the challenges of being an entrepreneur?

I think balance.  Balancing life and owning a business can be a struggle... Especially a very small business, my staff is myself and I just hired a part time assistant.  So it can be hard to put down the work and separate that from my personal life.  Especially in a world where everyone is used to Amazon prime and such immediacy.  It feels like you need to be present 100% of the time.

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Advice for other entrepreneurs or those looking to get started?

Just dive in!  I think we can be our own worse enemies and the more you sit around and think about what you want to create the less likely you are to just do it.  Diving in can be scary but you learn so much along the way.

Is there anything else you'd like for us to know?

As I'm filling this out its International Women's Day and I just think women need to support each other more! It's easy to feel competitive and protective of your work but I think everyone has something valuable to bring to the table. I heard recently, and I cannot remember where, that one women's success does not detract from your own and that really resinated with me.

Lea is absolutely right! One woman’s success does not detract from your own abilities. It can be challenging to start a new project when social media promotes so much comparison. But, there is room for all of us at the top & I’d love to have you contribute to leader of the pax! Fill out a form below so we can get started!

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How surrounding yourself with like-minded people can boost your confidence!

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Imagine my absolute delight in getting to interview Christina Conlon. Christina is the upbeat, joyful gal behind the creation of DailyBarker. When she’s not pouring her heart into this community, you can find her traveling with her entrepreneur husband, training their new Golden Retriever puppy Nash, or having coffee with friends. Christina currently lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and pup.

It was such an honor collaborating with Christina. Not only did I get to virtually meet the sweetest girl I also pushed myself outside my comfort zone. I was intimidated by her account since she has such a massive following that I was a bit anxious and concerned she would’t be interested. (Don’t worry- I’m working currently on this worthiness problem). Christina inspired me because she was doing a lot of the things I was also passionate about. Things like cultivating community, educating her followers, and sharing information based of her interests.

I decided oh, what the heck and wrote her anyways. I wrote her a direct message explaining who I was and that I’d love to interview her for my female founder interview series. Surprise! She wrote me back and she sent me the most energetic email to follow up - I could feel her gregarious warmth through her words. We instantly became little pen pals and began chatting about more than just dogs.

Through the course of our email chain Christina shared with me about several tools and resources she uses to stay organized as an entrepreneur- things like Evernote (which I’m currently writing in) and Linktree for the Instagram bio link which allows you to showcase multiple links or blogs. What a blessing it is to have another gal in this space to talk with!

So, what’s the lesson here? Stop viewing people on a similar path as you as your competition. They are ON YOUR TEAM! Connecting with another female entrepreneur can actually boost your confidence. With someone else doing something similar you can learn from them and WITH them! How else do you get better and gain confidence? THROUGH LEARNING! There is enough room for ALL OF US to do what we love. I am so grateful to continue meeting such passionate, intelligent, hard working, beautiful, kind, and giving women. Real women. Such an honor. On to the interview shall we?

What is your business name?

DailyBarker

Please provide your social media handles below (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).

Instagram (@dailybarker), Facebook (@thedailybarker), Twitter (@thedailybarker), Pinterest (@dailybarker)

Tell us a bit about your background both personally and professionally.

I am originally from Indianapolis, IN, I met my entrepreneur husband right when I graduated college and my whole world changed. Not only because I met him and fell in love, but I also met Beau ("his" turned "our" Golden Retriever). I've always been a HUGE fan of pups, but meeting Beau changed my heart in the best ways.

Before we got married, we moved to San Diego, CA and are now settling into our new home in Nashville, TN with our Golden puppy, Nash. We live a pretty crazy life (we both run our own businesses) but I'm so grateful for it!

How did you get your idea or concept for the brand?

When my husband and I unexpectedly lost our Golden Retriever, Beau, at the end of 2015, our hearts were beyond shattered. Beau was our best friend and he did everything with us. I’d find myself scrolling Instagram, seeing the sweetest pups, and some how, that gave me peace. That’s when I decided to start the DailyBarker Instagram account. It warmed my heart knowing that just one post every day on DailyBarker could help bring joy to others in similar situations — or even others who just loved seeing cute pups each day on their Instagram feeds.

Tell us more about your brand and what you do!

DailyBarker has become a collaborative community on Instagram and through our blog (dailybarker.com). On our Instagram channel (@dailybarker), I feature one photo daily from an account that has either submitted their photo or that I personally found on Instagram. Our submissions have grown significantly through the years and it has been so exciting to watch how excited the community gets when they see their photo as our daily featured photo.

For the DailyBarker blog, we have just about 40 contributors that come together to share their creative passions. Our contributors are from the US, Canada, UK, and Australia! I work with each contributor throughout the year to brainstorm blog content ideas, schedule out our yearly calendar (which is constantly being tweaked), and once the blog is live, promote it across the DailyBarker social channels.

When I started thinking about a blog, I knew it couldn't be "The Christina Show" - I'll be the first person to admit, my life is not that exciting, nor do I know everything (who does!). I thought the best option for this blog would be to create a collaborative space, where people from all walks of life could come together, share their passions and love for dogs, and encourage each other. After all, that's what the Instagram channel is - so collaboration just felt right.

Working with our contributors has been hands down, the most special part of this journey. I had wanted to start the blog for about a year, but I had no idea the great relationships I'd get from actually doing it. I ADORE (and that's no exaggeration) every single person I get to work with and am so grateful for their contributions to the community - but mostly their friendships. I just love them all.

Looking back would you do any thing different?

Yes and no! For the first 2 1/2 years of DailyBarker's existence, no one know who I was! Meaning, the community didn't know who the "person" was behind the account - that is until we launched the blog in June 2018. Looking back, I wish I would have put a "face" to the brand sooner. I'd tell my friends randomly about DailyBarker and they wouldn't believe me. So I'd have to log onto our account to "prove it". I'm sitting here laughing at all the weird looks they gave me when I'd show them.

As for the growth of DailyBarker, I've never pushed for more than I can take on and I am proud of that. It's easy to bite off more than you can chew and grow too big, too fast. I never wanted that. When DailyBarker started, it was from such a sweet place of joy, I never wanted it to turn into a stressful "to do" on my list. Until June, I was the only person who did anything with the account. Now of course, we have our contributors and a good friend of mine who tackles our blog editing and scheduling.

What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?

Getting to meet and work with so many amazing people!

Share your favorite moment or moments while growing your business.

My favorite moment was the day we launched the blog - but for a few reasons! When I started DailyBarker, it was when we lost our Golden Beau. From the day Beau passed away, it took my husband and I 2 1/2 years to open our hearts and home to a new puppy. The day the DailyBarker blog launched was the same day we brought our new puppy Nash home. I wish I could say that timing was planned, but it wasn't. I felt like it was such a sweet "full circle" moment. (Looking back, I do not recommend bringing home an 8 week old puppy the day you launch something this big, but by the grace of the good Lord, I made it through, haha!)

What are some of the challenges of being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur, you have to figure out everything on your own. I definitely annoy my poor husband when I ask him questions, but it's how I learn (by asking). I'm so grateful I have him to ask though! Even though I'm sure he wishes I would Google more things. ;)

Being an entrepreneur, you experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One day, you'll feel like you're getting it all right, the next day (or even that afternoon), you'll feel like everything is failing. That's normal. ;) This is why it's important to be surrounded by others in the same boat as you!

Advice for other entrepreneurs or those looking to get started?

Don't be afraid to be awkward or fail (because you will in some way and GUESS WHAT, life goes on!), surround yourself with other like-minded individuals (don't walk the entrepreneur road alone, because it can be lonely), create a daily schedule for yourself and do the best you can to stick to it, don't be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone, make friends in your niche, have fun and take time for yourself every. single. day.

How do you advertise your brand?

All our growth has been organic! I haven't done any advertising for DailyBarker! Of course, that will eventually change, but I'm so proud of how far the community has come on it's own!

How can clients reach you/Collaborate with you?

You can follow DailyBarker on Instagram (@dailybarker) and send me a DM! I check every single one or you can send an email to hello@dailybarker.com.


Something about Christina’s interview catch your eye? Have questions about starting to grow your Instagram or becoming a content curator? Make sure to join our tribe for updates, news, coaching & more!

How being a dog mom inspired a business idea for Ripley+Rue founder Jeannie North

What if I could tell you that you could start a business from literally anything? What if I could tell you that there is really only one ingredient to making that business successful? Would you believe me? That’s exactly what Jeannie North did. All she did was follow her passion of making accessories & apparel for her dogs and now she’s an unstoppable force producing clothing for both dogs and humans!

I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to interview such incredible female founders…these founders aren’t just bad ass women, they are passionate, kind, generous, forward thinking innovators, and most of all creators of community!

Over the next few weeks I will be highlighting several female founders who share insight on their success, their struggles in balancing a one man show, and what they would tell future business owners.

When you begin the journey of being an entrepreneur, it’s definitely a bit daunting and a lot of living in the grey. It takes guts and trust! Growing a business is a wild ride! This week LOTP interviews Jeannie North, owner of Ripley + Rue.

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Jeannie is also the founder of International Doodle Dog Day which began in 2016! On this special day, doodle dogs and their parents go to a meet up specifically made for doodles! This year it will take place on Saturday, May 4th. The first year had about 10 major cities celebrating and this year they have have over 40 major cities wanting to be involved from around the world!! To find out if there is a romp in your city or to create your own you can visit https://www.internationaldoodledogday.com/. Make sure to tag #internationaldoodledogday @internationaldoodledogday on May 4th to get featured on their page!

I absolutely LOVE her collections and have purchased several bandanas both customized and standard from her. She has also made my family custom @paxthedood hats. Is there anything this girl can’t do?!

ENJOY JEANNIE’S INTERVIEW BELOW AND MAKE SURE TO CHECK HER OUT AT @RIPLEYANDRUE ON INSTAGRAM!

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Tell us a bit about your background both personally and professionally.

I'm Jeannie, designer + girl boss + stay-at-home dog mom. Dogs + design are my true passion. I’m an Omaha native, but spent most of my 20’s in the SF Bay Area. After graduating college, I began my career in marketing and design, then a couple years later went back to school for web development to improve my skill set and start a new career as co-owner of a design and web agency with my husband when we moved to Omaha. After only 5 months of launching Ripley + Rue on Etsy in 2016, I stopped taking clients in my design biz and went full time on this new venture and hired an extra hand to help me sew, then expanded to human apparel and my own .com website! Since then, I haven’t looked back and know this is where so many years of searching lead me to right where I was supposed to be.  I’m goofy and weird (and proud). You can usually find me working in my slippers and listening to podcasts or dancing around to music in my shop...and talking to my dogs (I mean who else am I supposed to talk to all day 😜)

How did you get your idea or concept for the brand?

Ripley + Rue are my two doodles! I started making accessories for them, and they are my inspiration.

Tell us more about your brand and what you do!

Ripley + Rue is more than just a job for me, it’s my true passion. We are a dog accessories boutique that creates adorable and witty dog bandanas as well as human apparel for obsessed dog parents. All products are original designs handcrafted in the U.S. by the R + R team. We currently ship hundreds of products to pups around the world and we also are now carried in several stores across the US and CAN.

Looking back would you do anything different?

I think I would tell myself to work a little less, and enjoy life a little more. It took me 3 years of owning this business to have a work-life balance.

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What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?

Freedom - to make what I want to make and see other's enjoy it. Knowing I make people and dogs happy with each bandana or product they wear.

Share your favorite moment or moments while growing your business.

So many!! Being featured on Buzzfeed, adding a really big client to our list (can't say who yet), and being featured in our local Chamber's video promos for Omaha. I'm so grateful for all the success and growth opportunities I've had.

What are some of the challenges of being an entrepreneur?

Self-doubt is a major one. Overworking yourself or burnout. I'm a chronic work-aholic and it becomes an issue for my personal life as well. Succeeding is an addiction to me. Worrying about competition. Just take one day at a time and know that you are only capable of so much.

Advice for other entrepreneurs or those looking to get started?

Be passionate about what you are doing, and you will succeed. Be unique, and let your brand be an extension of yourself! Show up! Show yourself in your brand and let people know you and trust you and see what you are all about.

How do you advertise your brand?

Instagram is probably my most prominent. But some facebook as well and email marketing.

How can clients reach you/collaborate with you?

They can email me at jeannie@ripleyandrue.com!

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When you read interviews like this does it make your heart skip a beat? Are you ready to take your dreams of being a business owner more seriously and learn more?

Make sure to sign up for LOTP news & boss babe inspiration!

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LOTP Interview with Swell Gelato for Dogs!

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When Debbie Hendrickx from, Swell Gelato For Dogs, wrote me several months ago about an upcoming trip to San Diego to market her gelato I knew we had to go. Being an ice cream fanatic myself I assumed Pax followed in that passion. After meeting Debbie and trying the gelato myself I wanted to learn more about her incredibly delicious small business!! Being an entrepreneur I am always looking to connect with other founders - especially female founders. In a way they start to feel like co-workers. It’s fascinating to learn about how other people build their businesses and what drives them to get up everyday and keep at it! Below is a transcribed interview that I had with Debbie. Her contact information is included so make sure to check her out and try some gelato!

Please tell us a bit about your background both personally and professionally! 

“Growing up in Belgium I've had 2 passions my whole life. One came on when I was a teenager : fashion. The other I truly believe I was born with : dogs. I was lucky enough to have a career as a corporate buyer in the fashion world for 18 years but not nearly as lucky as when it came to an end. The closing of that first chapter allowed me to dip a toe in the second. That toe-dip quickly escalated to a full immersion and now my life is constantly covered in gelato and dog hair and I've never been happier.”

Please provide your social media handles below (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).

FB :@swellgelatofordogs , IG @swellgelatofordogs Twitter @doggelato

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

“After my retail career ended in 2016 I wanted to just take the summer off from work and stress and only do things I liked. I love gelato making and I love dogs and the idea to make gelato for dogs literally hit me in the middle of the night. Swell was one of my favorite yet greatly underused words so Swell, gelato for dogs was born. I bought a gelato cart and spent my summer in the local dog parks thinking it was just going to be a temporary and fun summer thing to do.”

Tell us more about your business and what you do!

“I make my artisanal gelatos for dogs just as if I would make them for my family and friends. I use simple yet only the highest quality ingredients and taste-test everything along the way. The result is a luxurious dessert that our furry friends can truly appreciate. It's probably a little over the top but I consider our dogs not only our best friends but also our family.”

Looking back would you do any thing different?

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“Growing up, I never thought I'd end up in the USA and 15 years ago, I would have never guessed where I'd be 10 years ago. 5 years ago I would have not begun to imagine that I'd be making gelato for dogs and who knows where I will be in 10 years. So, the short answer would be no, because every step we take gets us to exactly where we are today.”

“It's all encompassing. It's financially uncomfortable . It's constantly living in the unknown.”

Advice for other entrepreneurs or those looking to get started?

Be financially prepared but don't be afraid to take a chance

How do you advertise your business?

“I love being part of social media dog central communities. It's like a family of kindred spirits that all have such amazing love for their pets. As often as I can I try to get out and meet the dogs and their owners . I let word of mouth do most of my advertising but sometimes I dabble in social media advertising.”

How can clients reach you?

“info@swellgelato.com”

Is there anything else you'd like for us to know?

“Buy your pup a gelato, they will think you are so swell.”