I had the honor & privilege to work with an amazing brand, Luxe Lion. Luxe Lion specializes in high quality African goods. The leather and materials that these bags are made out of are seriously amazing. I love these bags so much and can't wait to share mores about them with you. Danielle is the maker behind them, and her and I did a little interview. Not only did this help me learn so much about the brand, why it started, and the vision behind it, but also taught me some tips on what it's like to be a small business owner. Listed below are the Q&A that we did. Enjoy!
1. What inspired you to start your company?
My work has taken me to Africa for the last 8 years, and during that time I’ve come to realize that luxury and quality African brands don’t have much of an outlet in the US yet. I also really believe in the power of fashion to create meaningful, life-giving, highly skilled jobs. This kind of employment has the ability to transform individuals, families, and communities. I wanted to be a part of making that change possible by bringing these exceptional products to a bigger market.
2. What made you choose Luxe Lion for a name?
When I was daydreaming about building the company, I was on a long flight home from Kenya, so I had uninterrupted time to think about it. The name ultimately came down to what I wanted the brand to convey: strength, quality, luxury, Africa, nature, the wild, freedom. So as I worked through possibilities, Luxe Lion was what stuck.
3. How long has Luxe Lion been in business for?
I’ve been working on the business since July 2015, but it officially opened for business on October 1st, 2015.
4. Did you have any experience with creating African goods prior to starting Luxe Lion?
Before starting Luxe Lion, my only experience in fashion was as a consumer, so it’s been a steep learning curve. A fantastically fun part of the business is that I am working with makers and designers who have distinct points of view and are exceptionally skilled. So while I can certainly speak into the design process, they are the experts.
5. What is your favorite piece to create and why?
That’s like asking to choose a favorite child! Ha. Honestly, my favorite part so far has been taking already great designs and tweaking them so that they reach that place of ultimate usability or personality - so that they have all of the components needed to become someone’s absolute favorite bag or clutch.
6. What has been the most difficult thing about running Luxe Lion? The most rewarding?
The most difficult thing is about running Luxe Lion is not being able to give it 100% of my attention. I’m getting my executive MBA right now, and I still work full time at a job that I love. So time is short. I have to choose priorities for the week or the day, and be okay with the fact that I can’t get the business to the place I want it to be just yet.
The most rewarding part has been - well I’ll cheat and say a few. The first is getting to connect with makers and designers and finding common ground and vision for getting their creations - their art to a broader market. The other piece has been to really build something that is my own - the business is a reflection of my values, and as such its an outlet and hopefully a catalyst for talented African designers in the US and beyond.
7. If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is looking to start their own business, what would it be?
I’ll cheat here too and give more than one. The first piece of advice I’d give is don’t make excuses or put it off until xyz. Just do it, you’ll figure it out as you go. The only way to become an expert is by doing it. The other piece is that you have to believe in the reasons you are doing what you’re doing more than the product or service itself, because when it gets hard, and you find yourself looking at inventory or spreadsheets, or whatever - you need to be doing it for more than - in my case, a handbag. It might sound trite, but if you start with a mission and build your business from there, I believe you’re less likely to give up when things get tough.
I hope you all enjoyed reading about Luxe Lion and the heart behind it as much as I did. So fun to get to connect with such an amazing brand, and really get to hear the voice behind it. Danielle & I would love to gift you all with a promo code of 15% off by using MonicaO at checkout, and trust me you'll want to take full advantage. I haven't put these bags down since getting them, not even kidding. The tote is perfect for getting ready for a day of exploring, an overnight at friends, or a carry on at the airport. Or even an everyday bag if you like bigger styles! The clutch and envelope are amazing, because you can grab them, throw in your wallet keys & some lipstick, and head out the door. They make simple outfits really fun and give a different feel than the everyday bag.
You can shop these Luxe Lion products and so much more by clicking the box link below! Don't forget to use code MonicaO for 15% off.