Shop Around the Corner is a twice-monthly series where I share a variety of fan-tas-tic small business owners that I think you’d really dig. It’s very important to me to share the love with fellow small business folks – the welcoming community of entrepreneurs I’ve met is quite strong, and there is so much incredible talent out there! I look forward to introducing you to great photographers, designers, shop owners…the list goes on and on!
Today’s feature is a really neat one, y’all! I learned of Valerie McKeehan’s chalkboard boutique, Lily and Val, through the Delight blog earlier this year. I was the lucky one chosen to interview her from the Delight team, and ended up liking her and her work so much that I knew I had to show her off on my own site! She is one talented lady, and I swoon over her work constantly! I think you will, too – especially because you’ll be able to see some of her holiday prints in T.J. Maxx this season (wow)! Until then, enjoy getting to know the girl behind Lily and Val.
Tell us about your business!
Lily & Val offers hand painted chalkboards, chalkboard prints, note cards, and other paper goods featuring my hand lettered and illustrated chalk art.
What made you decide to open your shop?
After my husband and I got married I turned an old picture frame into a chalkboard to decorate our new kitchen. I wanted to create something personalized with our last name and I drew a chalk design in a “coffee shop” style. I love making it and the design got such a great response from friends and family that I decided to open an Etsy shop for fun. One year later and my hobby has turned into a full time job!
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration from so many things. Sometimes I hear a song lyric or read a quote that strikes me and I can literally envision the words in chalk. Recently, I visited a Railroad Museum and found myself so inspired by the turn-of-the-century typography on wooden boxes and signs as part of the displays. I definitely didn’t expect to be inspired there! Inspiration usually strikes when I’m not searching for it.
Favorite item that you sell?
Any advice for those just starting out?
It may sound a bit cheesy, but be true to yourself. It is easy to get caught in the comparison game and this only leads to discouragement. If you are intensely passionate in what you are doing let that passion show. Not everyone will like it, but when you stay true to who you are as an artist you will be much more fulfilled.
Three words to describe you/your life.
Exciting, passionate, comical
Story or moment in business that was memorable/impactful:
Last summer, shortly after starting my business, I was contacted by Clearasil to develop a series of chalk images for use in a social media campaign. I was beyond ecstatic when that project came in. It was the first time I realized that this had the potential to be something bigger than a hobby for me. I will never forget that feeling and excitement.
Favorite tv show: What Not To Wear on TLC
Favorite ice cream flavor: Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food
Favorite vacation spot: Nantucket Island
Favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon: A picnic by a lake with nothing to do but read a book or magazine
Favorite part of running your business:
I love hearing my customer’s responses to the products. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that something I’ve created made someone happy or provided the perfect gift. One customer recently told me that my “Friends Become Our Chosen Family” print made her friend cry (in a good way!) That feedback is so rewarding.
Huge thanks to Valerie for chatting with me! I think she can expect some repeat business coming from Columbia, Tennessee 🙂 You can watch for Lily and Val’s lovely updates on her website, Facebook, and Twitter. Excited to see where her business goes!
*All photos courtesy and copyright of Amanda Kraft Photography*