dog mom

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 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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How sweet it is to be 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.”