#WCW – Lindzi Shanks from The Trendy Sparrow

Today, I’m featuring miss Lindzi Shanks from The Trendy Sparrow for this week’s #WCW! When I think of #GIRLBOSS, Lindzi is definitely the person that comes to mind. Lindzi designs the most amazing tops and home goods that range from fun and cheeky to empowering and inspirational.

I met Lindzi a few years ago when we were both vendors at a holiday event at West Elm Chicago, and I have since been so impressed with her drive and passion for The Trendy Sparrow. She is definitely an entrepreneur you need to know.

Lindzi does it all from running her online shop, to posting on-trend looks for The Trendy Sparrow blog. Read on to learn more about how Lindzi got started with The Trendy Sparrow and what she finds most challenging and rewarding about being an entrepreneur.

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Name: Lindzi Shanks
Company: The Trendy Sparrow
Years in Business: Almost 2

When did you realize the Trendy Sparrow was going to be your full-time business?

I was sitting in one of my graduate school classes at University of Chicago and noticed all of my classmates getting up to leave. Class had ended, but I didn’t even notice. I couldn’t recall what the professor said or anything we learned in class. I had spent the entire duration of class designing new products for The Trendy Sparrow and answering customer emails. It just sort of dawned on me that it was pretty clear which path was making me happier…and it wasn’t school. So I graduated with my MA, decided to not go get a PhD as I planned, and started running The Trendy Sparrow full time before I even graduated. I didn’t even attend my graduation ceremony!

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What was the most challenging part of starting The Trendy Sparrow?

Learning the accounting side of things! I’m still not great at it, and finally opted to hire a full time accountant. I don’t have a degree in anything business related so having to learn the traditional (and important) aspects of running a business such as accounting and proper lingo for things were a big struggle for me.

What is the hardest part about running your business now?

Intellectual property issues, for sure. I deal so often with other businesses both big and small attempting to duplicate my work. It’s so incredibly frustrating! Unfortunately, it’s something I realized was never going away. Instead I hired an IP attorney who does her best to secure trademarks on everything we make and send cease and desist letters on my behalf. It’s still one of those things that really gets me down though, and makes running a business so much harder.

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On the flip side, what is the most rewarding part of running The Trendy Sparrow?

I love seeing my products in the hands of customers! It’s why Instagram is my favorite social media platform. I get giddy every time someone tags our products in their photos because I love knowing that something I created is making someone happy, or inspired, or stylish. Similarly, I love reading reviews people leave on the site. I want to see how people use the items, why they love them, or how we can improve.

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What’s a typical day in the life of Lindzi?

One of my favorite things of being a business owner is that I don’t really have a typical day. I have certain things that I accomplish each day such as drinking tons of coffee, making sure my emails get answered, and packing up orders. Other than that, my day really changes quite often. Some days I’m designing, others I’m focusing on photography and social media, and some I’m out at meetings. Each day is quite different, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned thus far as an entrepreneur?

Although it’s important to delegate and surround yourself with amazing people, at the end of the day…it’s all on you. I once heard someone say, ”I want to be an entrepreneur so that I don’t have to answer to anyone”. The reason is, you answer to EVERYONE. As a business owner, your paycheck is a direct result of your success and hard work. If something goes wrong in any aspect of your company, it affects you more than anyone else. So know that you are going to where multiple hats. You never get to say “that’s not my job” because at the end of the day, everything involving the business is your job.

Who would be your dream customer?

Oh gosh…I would pretty much flip if I saw a photo of Leighton Meester with one of our Blair Waldorf mugs or Alexis Bledel with a Gilmore mug! But mostly my ideal customer is a girl who is a total boss, feels like taking on the world, and wants to look incredibly stylish while she does it!

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What’s next for the Trendy Sparrow?

The next big thing is a huge new line. I can’t give away too many details on it, but expect a ton of new items come Fall 2016! In the meantime, I am focusing on growing my social media presence, my blog, and revamping our online site.

What do you like to do in your spare time and how do you unwind?

Because I spend most of my day working in an office alone, I really like to get out and see friends to unwind. Even if that means a dinner, a quick drink or coffee, or some gal pal shopping time…it’s getting to spend time with the people I love the most that helps me recharge and unwind.

What are you obsessed with right now?

Oh gosh…I feel like I get “obsessed” with things all the time! Right now I’m really obsessed with fashion illustrations. I’ve started drawing some myself. I let myself draw a little bit every night to help the creative juices flowing. I’m also really obsessing over jumpsuits. I have to try so hard not to buy every jumpsuit I see when I go shopping!

I totally agree with Lindzi that it’s a vital lesson as an entrepreneur to learn that the outcome of your business is the direct effect of the amount of work and energy you put into it.

Thanks so much to Lindzi for letting me interview her for the #WCW post! Make sure you follow Lindzi on Instagram at @thetrendysparrow to get the scoop on her new products and sales while getting some major desk envy and outfit inspiration.

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#WCW – Natalie Probst

I’m so excited to share a new segment here on the See Song Designs blog called Woman Crush Wednesday! Each week, I’ll be interviewing women entrepreneurs who have followed their dreams and paved their own career paths.

I really wanted to start a weekly post to highlight not only the glamorous side of running your own business but also the challenges and different perspectives of woman entrepreneurs . Each of these women is so unique and empowering, and I hope you feel inspired by their journeys!

Our first #WCW is Natalie Probst from Natalie Probst Photography. I met Natalie a few years ago here in Chicago, and I am constantly in awe of her amazing wedding photography skills. You will see from her photos that she definitely has a talent for capturing love and emotion in her photos.

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Name: Natalie Probst
Company: Natalie Probst Photography
Years in Business: 2.5 years since I went full time with my business

When did you know photography was going to be your full-fledged business?

I honestly can’t remember wanting to pursue anything else! I think things clicked back in high school for me, and I knew early on that this is what I wanted to pursue. I was working for a studio photographer who became a great mentor. In my junior year, I began taking photography classes at our local college since photography wasn’t offered through my high school. I realized I had a passion for it and after high school, went on to study photography in college.

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What was the most challenging part of starting your business?

Initially it was just gaining clients. When I moved to Chicago after college, I didn’t have much previous wedding work to show clients even though I had editorial and portrait photography experience. But with every wedding I photographed, I was lucky to have clients who would promote my work and me. A referral is the best compliment you can get! Through referrals and networking with other wedding vendors, my business began to grow.

What’s a typical day for you like?

Every day is different, and I’m lucky to be able to set my own schedule. Some days I’m in my home office editing and emailing, others I’m photographing an engagement session or co-working with other wedding vendors. I do find my clients tend to enjoy a glass of champagne as much as I do, so some evenings you can find me getting to know them over a good glass of bubbly.

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What is the hardest part about running your business now?

I think sometimes the hardest part is balance. When you run your own business, you tend to work 24/7 and you feel as if you need to. I’m going into my third full wedding season and finally starting to give myself a little grace when it comes to that. Trying to shut the office door at a certain time and enjoy some time with my husband. It’s not always easy but it’s important!

What is the most rewarding part?

I’m lucky to be able to say that my job is SO rewarding. I think the most rewarding part is not only when the couple loves the photos, but when their parents and friends and families love them too. After all, they and their families for generations to come will be enjoying these photos!

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Since you’ve seen so many weddings and been a bride yourself, do you have any tips for couples for their big day?

Oh absolutely! Just like finding a mate, finding a photographer for your wedding is an emotional experience. Not only should you connect with their work, but you should connect with them personally as well. It’s important to find that photographer that not only you can see yourself working with for 8-10 hours on your wedding day, but working with for the year leading up to the wedding. This goes for all of your wedding vendors; find people that you connect with!

Who would be your dream client?

My dream client is someone who trusts myself and my vision 100%. When a client understands you, your style, and your work, creating images from their day becomes that much easier! Having their trust is everything.

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How do you unwind, and what do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time you can find me grabbing a cocktail with my husband or cozying up at home. Summer tends to be the busiest time of year for us, so recently we’ve been soaking up our Saturdays with no plans 🙂

What are you obsessed with right now?

I’m pretty obsessed with our new 9-week-old dachshund puppy, Millie. We’ve wanted a dachshund for years so it’s crazy that it finally happened! She’s got quite the personality and keeps me on my toes.

If you want to see more from Natalie, make sure you check out her Instagram @natalieprobst for more of her stunning photography, and of course, her adorable new puppy!