Oh, hello there
"Wait, seriously, a blog? You're adding a blog to your lengthy to-do list?" Ya know what, I am. I'm going to do it. Because I want a way to say hello to you all without algorithms and advertisements and full inboxes getting in the way. So, yes, yes I am. There will be grammatical errors and much inconsistency and I'm just going to ask for you to love me through all of that. There will be art and fun and inspiration and stories. And, hopefully, there will be some connection in this little virtual world we are all living in.
But, first: An introduction.
Hi, I'm Laurel. I started Laurel Denise in 2005 after I had a dream where I was creating jewelry with glass and my tiny handwriting. No, seriously, a dream. I was working for the government (because I lived in Northern Virginia at the time and that's just what you do there) and was pretty desperate for a creative outlet. God gave me a whisper of hope in my sleep and has continued to guide me along in this journey. And what a journey it's been!
I launched with a wholesale market booth in NYC (this is a huge shopping experience where designers have booths and buyers from stores come and place orders). I can still remember the plastic flowers that I got for the booth (I swear they looked real) and the big bin in the corner of the booth that now holds all of the costumes that my kids play in. I sold glass jewelry that had my teeny tiny writing sealed on the back. I didn't even make my booth fee back. Like, not even close. Lots of sadness, lots of tears, lots of questioning.
I built a website with the help of my aunt (okay, so, my aunt actually launched it and I just sent her pictures and prices...someone get that woman a drink) and I can still remember running across my mom's house, excitement bursting out of me, after my first order. Literally feels like yesterday.
Skip ahead a few months and Daily Candy featured my website. Daily Candy was, like, THE influencer before influencers were even a whisper in social media's mind. Before social media was even a whisper! That one feature was the tiny push of the pebble...which eventually turned into a bigger rock...which eventually turned into a boulder? Maybe? Is that dramatic? Yes. I don't know if I've reached boulder status yet? Am I spending too much time on this?
What I mean is that, from there, we were rocking and rolling. I mean, sort of. I was still a one-woman show doing everything while I also worked full time. For, like, a long time. A super long time. There was very little social life and a lot of solitude. I need a nap just thinking about that time in life.
There were so many mistakes along the way, so many product attempts (I even had a stationery line at one point!), and so much learning that has happened. There have been years where numbers looked like they had just taken a deep dive off of a cliff (especially the years where I was becoming a mama), there have been employees that have felt (and still feel) like family, and years where growth and ideas flow like a river. I'll share all of those details from time to time here. We celebrate it all (or, at least, try to). I look back and, my goodness, it's been a bit like climbing a mountain. But, like, a super pretty hiking one that sometimes has scary edges that you have to walk away from and maybe you're nervous there's a bear hiding someplace, but also pretty fields of flowers you can feast your eyes upon.
Now Laurel Denise is a small and super tight-knit crew of women in Charlottesville, Va in a modest studio where we try to spread joy, understanding, encouragement and love in all of the land. We have plant babies and real babies (or kiddos, really) and fancy coffee Friday celebrations. We have team meetings daily and check ins every few hours. We strategize and create systems and, most importantly, make some pretty jewelry and gifts. We try to love our customers with messages and care, going above and beyond to be the one good thing someone deals with that day.
I hope this little blog and these posts will encourage. I hope they will allow us to share a bit more about ourselves. And, really, I hope I can keep up with it enough to post? I believe!
Love y'all. Happy day to you!