The Inspirationals: Chick Lit Designs!

We love, love anything quirky, creative and fun and this is EXACTLY what Michelle from Chick Lit Designs does! Michelle's shop is known for her Book Clutches, handcrafted purses, iPad and Ereader covers made from old hardcover books. Dedicating herself to bringing back the nostalgic feeling of having a book in your hands during this technology growing world. So this month's 'Inspirational' is Michelle who we hope you find as inspiring as we do! 


Michelle! (All photos by L Breeze Photography)

Tell us what you do: 

My name is Michelle and I'm the owner/designer of Chick Lit Designs.  I take books and recreate them into designer handbags/clutches, ereader and iPad cases. 

What does your average work day look like for you?

I usually wake up have breakfast and a cup of coffee at my computer while checking emails and social media, respond to any custom requests and search for books that may work for customers.  The rest of the day is spent in my studio sewing, cutting and taking pictures and then listing them on my website or social media.  Mostly just trying to get orders out and working on new products.  I may venture out of the studio to go and get a few supplies from the fabric or book store.  
 
Do you primarily work alone or with other people?

Chick Lit Designs is currently a one-man show! :)
 
 Kindle Cover!

Is this what you wanted to do as a child?  Did you end up in this job by "accident" or was it a planned career choice?

I definitely just fell into it.  I actually discovered Etsy a few years ago when I was trying to find a way to make extra money to send to my parents during a difficult time. Eventually, my parents told me to stop sending them money, but I couldn’t pull myself away from my shop – it has become a
part of who I am. I recently just quit my day job and started focusing on Chick Lit designs full time.

How long ago did you start on this path?

I opened my first store in 2009.  In 2011 I decided to re-brand and changed my brand to Chick-Lit Designs and have been successful ever since.  
 
How long were you doing it before you made it into your your career or primary form of income?
 
I probably should have gone full time in 2012, but it took me 2 years to finally make the jump and make it my primary job.

Michelle in her studio!

Did anything specific happen to get you to that point, or was it a series of small steps?

 For a few years, it was like having 2 full time jobs.  I just had my first child, and decided working from home was what I needed to do.  I'm thankful each day that I'm able to spend more time with my daughter and still focus on my business.

What kind of education do you have?
 
I have a degree in International Hotel/Tourism Management from Johnson and Wales University.  It's not very relevant in what I'm doing now- but I feel like the customer service aspect I learned while in school is invaluable to my business.
 
What do you think is the best thing about what you do?
 
Definitely designing my next product. I am constantly thinking of what I can make next, and I spend hours in my studio – it is like therapy to me. I can hardly wait to see the finished product. When I do finally finish a project, I’m so completely excited that I have to run to my husband and show it off!

What's the worst thing?
The post office.  It doesn't happen a lot- but once in awhile a package gets lost, and getting in touch with the post office can be almost impossible at times. And dealing with insurance claims is beyond annoying. 
 
Would you call yourself a work-a-holic?
I think that now I am running a business full time, it is a little harder for me to pull away from my work. It's a new worry for me that I don't have a steady pay check coming in every 2 weeks. But I do try to spend more time with my family and try to make a balance. I send her to daycare 3 days a week so I can spend those days completely focusing on my business and getting orders out on time.  The days I have her I try to do get her out of the house.  We spend time with friends, go to gymnastics, swimming or festivals.
 
What would your number one suggestion be for someone who wants to do what you do.
 
Don't get discouraged! There are days where I get several sales a day- and some days that I get nothing.  On the slow days try to find something to inspire you. Create a new design or product!  Go on social media and promote your items to the world.  Just remember that everyone has slow days and it's all about coming up with new designs and getting yourself seen. Giving up is not an option. 
 

How about number 2?

Take good pictures of your designs.  Pictures speak 1000 words.  People who buy items on the internet want to see what it looks like as though they had it in their hands.  Hiring someone to take professional pictures of your product will help your business in the long run.
 
What do you wish you had known when you first started out?
 
Marketing on social media.  I wish I had spent more time promoting my items instead of worrying at my computer wondering why no one is buying anything.  You need to get your product out there and social media is a free platform where customers/bloggers/media from all around the world can find you.
 
Are there any major misconceptions about your job or industry?
 
I think a lot of my friends/family take my job as more of a hobby because I do everything from home. I don't think they realize exactly what I do on a day to day basis so they just assume I'm a stay-at-home mom with a hobby.  But I look at it as I'm a designer with my own business and am able to do it from home.
 

Do you have any ethical dilemmas with the work you do?

When I first started, I found it was a little hard to cut into books.  But, instead of throwing the gutted books into a recycle bin- I donate the fully readable books to a local refugee committee. It helps me knowing that the books are being put to good use to teach adults and children who came to America with nothing.  It gives the a chance to learn English by reading books without covers.
 
What's the best thing that's happened to you as a consequence of the work you do?

I'm surprised about how much attention I've been getting lately!  I was recently featured in British Vogue Magazine and Mollie Makes magazine.  I also had the honor of having my book clutches featured on E! Network's "The Fabulist" as one of the hottest new trends.  And lastly, Lois Lowry's editor had me make a book purse for the famous author out of her best seller "The Giver". 
 
What motivates you to keep what you're doing?

My customers!  I get so many people that literally chase me down the store asking where I got my purse or clutch.  I have customers coming back to me to re-order items to give as gifts to everyone in their family.  It actually makes me blush- :)  I'm so happy that my customers are this excited about my product. 



Who do you look up to within your industry and why?

James Plumb Studio. These two individuals make the most amazing items out of old vintage finds. They have made dressers from old suitcases and a chandelier from old vintage lamp shades. It’s amazing what they think of!
 
Rate how happy you are with what you do out of 100:
 
110 :) I'm so happy with my business and where it has taken me and my family.  I love waking up in the morning with new ideas and still have time to cuddle with my sweet little 1.5 year old at the end of the day.
 
Is there much career progression available to you?
 
I think so!  There are so many genres of books and target audiences to hit.  I'm currently working on new sci-fi/comic book items to cater to the Comic-Con/gamers industry.  I also started making clutches from LEGO's and they seem to be a big hit! 
 
Do you think you'll continue doing this for the rest of your life?
 
I hope so... as I said before "Quitting is not an option".  

 
We would thank Michelle SO much for answering our questions, please be sure to check out her store, and social media links! 

2 comments:

  1. All beautiful!
    It also passes by me
    http://theroaronthecatwalk94.blogspot.it/
    Become my reader fixed to exchange tips and advice!
    I'll wait for a kiss!

    ReplyDelete

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