We’ve been in the midst of a new makeover for our front room and wanted to go for a crisp minimalist look with art from our favorite artisans. It was a no brainer to us when we came across Local and Lejos, a brand specializing in unique handmade goods from around the world. Their tagline “Design with Intention” truly represents what they’re about. Local and Lejos partners with artisans globally and helps create steady employment opportunities for craters to build better lives for themselves and their communities. Everything in their shop is beautifully handmade and represents a story. I got the pleasure to interview Sheeva, the founder of Local and Lejos, to learn more about her brand and story. I know you will just love what this brand is all about. Not to mention, all of the beautiful, unique pieces they have to offer.
How did the idea for your business come about? How did you get started?
After college graduation, I was backpacking in South America with my sister. We were blown away by the unreal products that artisan women were weaving, and how unique they were to what you find in the US. The women explained that it was a real struggle for them to connect with consumers during the off season. It got me thinking about the opportunity to connect artisans abroad with a global market. I started a corporate retail job at the TJX Companies (TJ Maxx + Marshalls!) when I got home. While I loved my job there, it wasn’t fulfilling my passion for social impact and giving back. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the potential of working with artisan women abroad to create design oriented products. So, fast forward 7 years from our trip and I left my job to start Local + Lejos. Our first collection started with a flight to Guatemala, 7 suitcases, a lot of coffee (and red wine), and a relentless passion to just FIGURE IT OUT.
What does a day at the office like?
Every day is so, so different that it is really hard to come up with a typical first day. It usually starts with early morning coffee + email catchups. We are starting to grow (exciting!) but there are a lot of pieces to juggle and even when I have a day planned it advance, its more likely than not that it changes as challenges arise. As we gear up for holiday, not much of my day-to-day work is super sexy. It usually look like a mix of the following: outreach emails, social media engagement, meetings with like minded social entrepreneurs, content creation and shipping & logistics.
What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is that I can create a business that impacts the world in a way thats important to me. I feel so strongly that business can be used for good, and being able to implement that every day reminds me why I started this business. Spending time with our artisan women keeps me grounded. And seeing them excited about our work together just makes me push even harder.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced being a small business owner so far?
Right now my biggest challenge is resources, both time and capital. As a sole founder, I’m often pulled in 340234087 different directions, and knowing what to outsource (while also bootstrapping), can be challenging.
In a world of constantly growing digital media, its been difficult to decide how + where to allocate a (very small), marketing budget.
What piece of advice would you give others looking to start up their own business?
Get ready for a ride! But, seriously. The highest highs come right after the lowest lows. My advice would be to try to take it all in stride, and not let your emotions ride the wave too much. I was a huge culprit of this in the beginning, and I found that it made being productive really challenging. Now, when something bad happens, I shrug it off. When something exciting happens, I celebrate, but not for too long, its on to the next!
What goals do you have for your business? What can we look forward to in the future from your business?
My goals for the next few months are just on awareness and growth: Really focused on getting the world about our business out! In the future, there are lots of pretty new things coming. In the next few weeks we are introducing storage basket / plant holders from a new artisan group from Tanzania, you guys are hearing it first! Looking forward to Spring, new throws from Guatemala, as well as some new basket beauties from Rwanda.