#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!

What Would Blair Waldorf Do Mug Trendy Sparrow

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.

New at See Song Designs – Rings!

If you haven’t noticed, there are quite a few new jewelry pieces in the shop. One of the big changes to the line is the addition of hand made rings!

One of my longtime goals has been to add rings to See Song Designs. The idea of making rings using fire and metals has always intimidated me, but I knew rings would really complete the collection and I kind of just love wearing rings in general 🙂 Last year, I finally took the dive and enrolled in a basic metal-smith class. I was able to learn the fundamentals of soldering and shaping metal, and it was an amazing experience.

See Song Designs Studio

A look at my ring making station with my once super scary metalsmithing tools.

Since then, I have been working on honing and improving my techniques to finally bring you some beautiful simple rings for the new See Song Designs collection. All of the Opal Rings are made of 16 gauge 14k gold-filled which has a solid layer of 14K gold bonded with heat and pressure to a base metal, which lasts for many years, even with daily wear. Since each ring is handmade, you are able to get lots of customization. There are 5 multi-dimensional colored synthetic opals to choose from, and you can choose if you’d like the ring to have a smooth or hammered finish.

I also make simple thin band rings which are perfect for stacking and can be made in 18 gauge gold-filled or sterling silver in any size or finish. I personally love wearing the thing rings as stacked midi rings.

Round Gold-Filled Rings in Light Blue and Moon Teal

Round Gold-Filled Rings in Light Blue and Moon Teal

Simple Gold Rings - Only $12 each!

Handmade Simple Gold Rings – Only $12 each!

Tied with a Bow

I just absolutely love bows. I grew up with bows, and I have always had them incorporated into my life in one way or another. My mom and aunts are professional bow makers (yes, that is a profession) for my godmother’s company Bows Arts. They sell handmade children’s hair bows to retailers like Brooks Brothers and Neiman Marcus. Bows have always been a part of my life, and they’re pretty much a symbol of my family and childhood.

Some of my favorite pieces from the See Song Designs collection are the bow bracelets. My mom and I work together to make these bracelets, so the process of making them is really special to me. It’s great to work with my mom, and it’s fun to see the end result once we’re done. My mom knows a lot about colors and what colors will be in season, so it’s really great to incorporate her knowledge into my jewelry collection. The bow bracelets are one of my best sellers, and it makes me really happy to know that people enjoy something that is a product of our collaborative hard work and creativity. Here are some of my favorite bow pieces for the holidays:

Sparkly glitter bow bracelets are perfect for the holidays and New Year's Eve

Sparkly glitter bow bracelets are perfect for the holidays and New Year’s Eve

You can never go wrong with a basic red bow

You can never go wrong with a basic red bow

Tis the season with festive bright green

Tis the season with festive bright green

You'll be the talk of the party with these red glitter bow earrings... coming soon!

You’ll be the talk of the party with these red glitter bow earrings… coming soon!

Currently Crafting

I learned to knit and crochet in 2nd grade because my school had a program where the ladies from the nursing home would come during lunch time to teach kids how to knit and crochet once a week. I absolutely loved it. I loved picking all different colors of yarn and just hanging out with the nice old ladies. I also realized I don’t have the patience to make anything worthwhile like blankets or socks, so I put my knitting and crocheting dreams aside for awhile.

One of my favorite mediums for jewelry making is paracord. It’s sturdy, strong, and comes in lots of different colors and patterns. Plus, it sounds pretty badass to say that my jewelry is made of rope that can carry 500 lbs. of weight. I’ve started crocheting paracord and turning it into bracelets and necklaces. I wasn’t sure if I could still do it, but a few google searches and some deep within muscle memory brought my crocheting skills back to life. I love how crocheting the paracord makes everything really chunky, so it’s perfect for statement pieces. Here are a few things I’ve been working on.

Bracelet

Crocheted Paracord Statement Bracelet

Necklace

Crocheted Statement Necklace

Craft Show Season Recap

This past season was my first time doing street markets and craft fairs. It’s been really hard work but also really rewarding. I’ve met lots of great vendors and it’s great to see so much creativity and entrepreneurship in one place. Being around wonderful vendors and artisans really creates an invigorating and inspirational environment.  Overall, it’s been a great season, and I have learned so much and met such interesting and wonderful people. I only have one show left this year, and it’s Randolph Street’s Holiday Market on December 15th and 16th. Be sure to check it out and get some SSD jewelry without having to pay for shipping 🙂

I’ll have a post next week with more details on the Holiday Market, but for now, check out some pictures from this past season!

Day 2 at RSM... Notice the handmade banner in the background. I've upgraded since then.

My first time being a vendor at the June Randolph Street Market. Notice the handmade banner in the background. I’ve upgraded since then.

My friend Katie helping out at the festival

My friend Katie helping out at the North Coast Music Festival in Chicago… Lots of neon was sold that day.

Taking a break and checking out some of the EDM performers at North Coast

Taking a break and checking out some of the EDM performers at North Coast

Going back to my roots giving back to my old high school district

Craft Show at Prospect High School. It was great to help raise money for my old high school district!

See Song Designs at Prospect High School's Snowbird Craft Fair

See Song Designs at Prospect High School's Snowbird Craft Fair

This was a crazy and really fun street market in Boystown

Me at North Halsted Market Days. This was a crazy and really fun street market in Boystown.

Only at Market Days...

Only at Market Days…

See Song Designs at Lambs' Farm Holiday Lights Gift and Craft Show

At Arlington Park for Lambs’ Farm Holiday Lights Gift and Craft Show. It was by far the largest show I’ve done with 3 floors and over 500 vendors!

See Song Designs at Lambs' Farm Holiday Lights Gift and Craft Show

See Song Designs at Lambs' Farm Holiday Lights Gift and Craft Show

See Song Designs at Lambs' Farm Holiday Lights Gift and Craft Show

New Look!

Welcome to the new See Song Designs blog! I want to share my journey in this creative endeavor of running a handmade jewelry business as well as any inspirations that come along the way. I started See Song Designs in April 2012, and it has grown so much from just being a hobby. I’m really excited to grow my business and see what opportunities come in the future, and I thank all of you for the love and support. I hope this blog will provide you with a nice break from your daily duties and give you inspiration to do what you love and follow your dreams.

-Liz