There's been a short hiatus for the Inspired Chicago Feature Series over the last few months - I've taken time to think about how the feature highlights Chicago's entrepreneurial women, ways I can improve and widen the access to women who want to be interviewed, and how the feature will look going on from here. I'm happy to say not a whole lot has changed except for feeling a bit more clarity about Inspired Chicago - and what's better than clarity for creative entrepreneurs?
What a way to bring back the feature than with this amazing interview with Leigh of Indigo & Violet Studio - I may be biased, but Leigh is one of the nicest women I've ever met, the studio she runs is so amazing and has new creative events all the time, and hanging out with her is kinda the best. We've worked on a few events together over the last few months and she's one of the creatives in Chicago who I feel like truly embodies the concept of community over competition, from being open minded about collaboration ideas to sincerely wanting the best for the women in her circle. Thanks to you Leigh for letting me interview you, share your story, and always drink your studio coffee. ;)
Q. What's your title?
I’m a small business owner - which sounds so broad. Of my many tasks, event coordinator, inspiration gatherer, and workshop teacher are probably the most exciting.
Q. Was this always where you intended to be in your career, or were there alternative career paths you considered?
Not at all! I moved to Chicago six years ago with an Interior Design degree and aspirations of working in the architecture and design industry. Both my degree and design jobs focused on commercial design - I worked on primarily corporate office spaces, restaurants, and commercial kitchens. And I did that for five years before taking a huge leap of faith last fall and quitting my job to open the studio. I knew that I personally needed a creative outlet even though I was working in a seemingly creative field. So I decided to create a physical space designed for crafting and creative events and Indigo & Violet Studio was born.
Q. Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur in Chicago?
I didn’t intentionally! I moved to Chicago from Louisiana after graduation because of the architecture and design industry here. I didn’t move here thinking I’ll eventually start a business in Chicago but here I am! I love Chicago for it’s culture and creativity. Chicago works hard and plays hard!
Q. Do you feel like you're connected to a creative community, and if so, how has it affected you and your work?
Absolutely - I wouldn’t be where I am today without the other creative business owners I’ve met along the way. For me those connections are gold. I have been able dream up new workshops and unique collaborations because of the tight knit creative communities in Chicago. I actually wouldn’t have met you if it weren’t for a few mutual friends and creative groups!
Q. What's your favorite part about running your own business?
I love that everyday is different - one day the space is rented for a photoshoot and the next I’m throwing a bridal shower. Having a physical space was important to me and it has been inspiring to see the space transformed for widely different events. That part also keeps me on my toes - no two events are the same. I also love that I built a business around having a HUGE craft room! The studio is much bigger than my apartment and I was able to design the entire space - down to the height of my big studio table! I can make a mess and I don’t have to pick up my craft supplies to be able to cook dinner.
Q. What surprised you about being an entrepreneur?
That goes back to the creative communities - I’m pleasantly surprised at how small and supportive the small business community is in Chicago. I have made lifelong friendships because of the connections I’ve made in the past 8 months. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart but having these connections to fall back on has already been a lifesaver.
Q. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I do spend a lot of time on Pinterest. But I’m also very intentional in selecting projects for our events. My personal aesthetic is both simple and salvaged but I try to select projects that can be personalized to reflect your style. In a dreamcatcher workshop we’ll end up with some minimal and very intentional designs and others that are full of luxurious flowers and ribbon. Your ability to customize a project to your style is crucial - we want you to be proud of what you make at the studio!
Q. What role does a styled shoot play in your business?
Styled shoots serve several purposes for the studio - one is to completely transform the space into something you might not think of when you hear craft studio. We hosted a “Dog Birthday Pawty” photoshoot, for example, and it was absolutely adorable! Shoots like that are a great way for us to illustrate more of our private party offerings. Styled shoots also allow us to create relationships with other creative vendors that offer services beyond our craft projects, venue rentals, and decoration packages - like photographers, bakers, calligraphers, and event planners.
Q. Tell me about the name Indigo & Violet Studio
Absolutely - this story hits close to home. After I went through about 100 terrible names, I finally made the connection between a piece of art I’ve had since I was a child and my new business venture. The indigo portion came naturally from the color spectrum and the name Indigo & Violet Studio stuck. I actually have my “Violets in a Vase” painting hanging in the studio now.
Q. Final thoughts?
Thank YOU for this opportunity and the opportunity to collaborate on two events that have already happened before I got around to finishing this interview! I’m so glad our paths have crossed and looking forward to future collaborations with you. I’m also honored to be in such great company - I look up to the other creative entrepreneurs you’ve interviewed. And if you’re reading this come see me at the studio for a tour anytime!