Small Biz Chat: Local Spotlight on Lizzibeth
I love hearing about how small business owners get started. When there is so much activity online and doing business with people around the world, I like to make sure I take a moment to savor the awesome brick and mortar shops right in my own community.
Today, I am so delighted to share a local edition of Small Biz Chats to tell the story of Lizzi Weasler and her company, Lizzibeth, right here in my beloved Milwaukee. Not only does she have the shop, but Lizzibeth hosts shopping events, consults with brides, and does pop up shops.
Lizzi didn't follow a straight path to shop ownership, and like so many of us, had to go through a few jobs until she found what she loved to do and was able to create her own path. She went from civil engineer to J. Crew to Teen Vogue...and finally back to Milwaukee. I love that she took control of her destiny and made a unique career for herself that worked.
Lucky for you, you can shop her gorgeous collections online at Lizzibeth, but you truly must stop by the shop if you are ever in Milwaukee! (The black and white decor is my ultimate shopping setting.) Enjoy Lizzi's story!
Tell me a bit about yourself and background! What were you doing before you opened the shop? Hi, I'm Lizzi, and I own a retail and event company called Lizzibeth. I guess you could say I went through a period of time where I changed my career as often as you change your nail color. I graduated with a civil engineering degree and knew after working for a firm for over a year that life behind a computer screen was not my calling. Hopping around from Milwaukee to NYC to Chicago, I got a taste at many careers that got me to where I am today with my business. I dipped my toes into companies like J.Crew, Teen Vogue, The Vintage Twin, and AEP Energy before I finally had the guts to try out the entrepreneurial route and take full control of my every day work life.
What led you to open your shop? What gap did you see in the market before opening? After working various jobs out out of college, I was able to realize that it wasn't the type of work I was doing that didn't suite me. It was going to an office every day, sitting down, and helping a company further their aspirations and never feeling a connection to my work. I knew I needed to begin creating my own path and put 100% of my time into my dreams of owning my own business. Lizzibeth came out of that desperation to be my own boss and take control over my life's ambitions. I have always loved shopping with people and making them feel good about their purchases. I saw a gap in the Milwaukee market while at school there and knew I could bring my NYC and Chicago style finds to a smaller, more trend delayed city.
How did you find your first paying customers, and what has helped you to grow your business? The reason I came full circle back to Milwaukee is because my networking that I built from grade school to college was there. Already having that community of people made it easier for me to round up my first paying customers. It has been the love and support of all of these people that has helped me grow my business these past two years. Milwaukee is a tight knit community and everyone has been so zealous to support local businesses that the natural spread of Lizzibeth occurred.
What aspect of your owning your shop is your absolute favorite? I love structuring my day and having the freedom to never have the same day twice. Even though I'm working more hours than my past jobs, I absolutely love it, which makes time fly and the complaints go out the window. I can be hopping around since my first early morning meeting and still be cooking until the late hours at an event and not even feel an ounce tired. The adrenaline of meeting new people and continually changing your scenery makes working for yourself the best reward.
What is something difficult about owning a shop that an outsider might never anticipate? The most difficult part would be multitasking and wearing a million different hats. You need to be able to turn on and off various job titles throughout a single day. You may be working on your taxes in the morning, dealing with customer service the next hour, assisting a bride with her wedding accessories and topping off the day updating the website with new merchandise.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to launch his/her own dream business? The most important advice is to do your homework and make a game plan before you jump into it 100%. By no means do you need to have everything figured out, but it is very important to have a solid idea of what you are hoping to accomplish so you can easily portray your idea to potential clients, customers and funders. I would highly recommend writing everything down and making some financial projections to make sure there is hope for your idea to succeed. Then jump in with both feet and figure out the smaller details as they pop up.
Find Lizzi online:
Lizzi Weasler photo by Matt Haas. All other photos by Lizzi Weasler.