Monday Member Spotlight: Courtney Leapley of Urban Bird & Co.

 

 

 

 

Please describe your craft business. What was your impulse for starting it?

We like to call ourselves, “purveyors of sweet recollections and charming sentiments.” All of our items are inspired by memories of childhood and sweet little things we say to each other or make for each other as husband and wife. Some of our items just simply remind us of sweet moments we shared together. Our hope is that our items will either remind others of their own memories of childhood or inspire them to create new memories and express themselves in unique ways to their loved ones.
The concept of Urban Bird & Co. began in 2008 when I suddenly had a flood of ideas for housewares I wanted to create based on nostalgic feelings of childhood. I kept sketching these ideas and thinking about the business I wanted to create when I found Etsy and realized these sketches could actually become a business. I had always felt being an entrepreneur was going to be a big part of my life, I just hadn’t figured out how yet. However, it wasn’t until the birth of my son in November, 2010 that I was able to start putting the wheels in motion. I had quit my day job to stay home with him and to finally launch Urban Bird & Co. From there, it took another 7 months of research and set up before I finally launched in July, 2011. It’s been a crazy and exciting first year! We have huge plans for new products and expansion in the relatively near future that we are so excited about!
What do you consider to be the most important personality trait of an entrepreneur?
Audacity and tenacity are by far number one for me, with positivity and confidence as the second most important traits. You can’t be afraid to go after what you want, and you can’t wait for opportunities to come to you.  Being positive and confident go a long way to helping you avoid burn-out and to keep chasing opportunities. You just have to keep going even when it seems a little daunting, or when the sales are slow, etc. You just have to keep pushing yourself to go further and think bigger. Those with audacity and tenacity never underestimate themselves, and they believe wholeheartedly in whatever they are doing.
What piece of advice do you wish you had, when starting your business?
I’m such a researcher and list maker,  I took a lot of time to plan and research before starting Urban Bird & Co. so there haven’t been many surprises. But the piece of advice I have found hardest to adhere to, yet helps tremendously is: don’t compare yourself to other sellers, especially if they are in a different product category than you are in, but even if they sell similar items. This will absolutely ruin you. Believe in your brand and work to go after what you want and in the end it will pay off for you. Maybe not in the same ways it does for those other sellers, but in ways that are suited to your situation. Comparing will only make you dissatisfied rather than allowing you to focus on how awesome you and your unique products are. Also, as a side note, I think it’s super important to run your  craft business like a real business, to have that business mentality, that’s what I’ve always tried to do and it seems to really pay off.
Who in Denver do you admire? Who is your crafty hero?
I have a lot of respect for Samuel Schimek, owner of the I Heart Denver store. He seems to have unending energy and passion for the design community, the support he provides makers in Denver is hugely inspiring, and he really has a natural ability to know what works, both in the I Heart Denver Store and in business in general.
What’s the best show you did last year?
I was really honored to be chosen to participate in a pop-up shop at West Elm in December. A collaboration between West Elm and Etsy with four other fantastic Etsy sellers, it was a really positive experience and I received such amazing feedback from customers that I was able to use to refine our products even more. I didn’t launch Urban Bird & Co. until the end of July, 2011 and things got busier than expected so I didn’t have much of a chance to do other shows.

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