Her Story with Lauren Thorp: When to Pivot
Update: Since February 2018 when we first did this interview with Lauren, her store has been named, “Most Beautiful Shop in Missouri” by Architectural Digest!
I am so excited to share Her Story Spotlight with Lauren Thorp. She is a mom of two adorable kiddos and owner of an extremely charming vintage home goods shop out in St. Louis, MO, who's gorgeous Instagram feed will pull you in way longer than you planned and make you start plotting your next DIY project :)
Lauren has always been an entrepreneur, and shares here some of her past failures and the risks involved, but for her it's never been a question of if it's worth it. This path has lead her to be able to create her ideal life and feel extremely fulfilled. I think most of you will also love her preferred way to unwind and hopefully can incorporate something similar into your own routines!
Where you Can Find her: St. Louis, MO
Best part of being a mom to her two kiddos:
Watching your kids grow and develop.
Most challenging part of being a working mom:
Balance! I don’t really love that word as it implies that everything is equal. No part aspect of my life will ever be equal. Sometimes I have to spend more energy and focus on my children, sometimes on my business, and sometimes on my health. It’s an ebb and flow, and will never be fully “balanced”. Figuring out what takes priority and when is the hardest challenge for me.
Biggest parenting lesson learned so far:
I need to pick my battles. I don’t always need to win the power struggle.
What do you do for fun or to relax?
Thankfully for me, my work is actually my relaxation and fun, so I actually feel recharged after a couple hours at work. In addition to that, I go get a manicure at the Four Seasons Spa every few months and spend about 6 hours relaxing at their spa while my husband hangs with the kids. (You can spend as long as you’d like using their crazy luxurious facilities when you have any spa service done. I take advantage of that!) If you have a Four Seasons in your city, I highly recommend it. Pricey, but worth it.
Tell us a little about your shop and what you do!
I’m a shopkeeper & stylist; I own Bonboni Home& Gift Co., which is a tiny retail shop that’s located on the side of my home. My shop features vintage and antique home goods and furniture, plus a selection of gift items for women, men, and children. I’ve always wanted to own a shop, but could never figure out how to make it work financially, as I also wanted to stay at home with my children while they are young, so only wanted to work in a shop a couple days a week. Making enough money to pay the shop’s rent while having limited hours was scary! When we were in the market for a new house in 2016, we found this house with a cute little retail shop that came with our property! The house and shop are about 120-years-old, and the shop was a candy shop long, long ago, which is why we named it Bonboni to honor it’s past life.
It’s a perfect arrangement because I don’t have to pay rent on the shop since it’s a part of our mortgage. My shop is open one day a week, and I’m able to have the best of both worlds: stay at home with my kids during the week, and have my dream job on the weekend.
You’ve been an entrepreneur from the beginning – What made that path so enticing?
After college, I quickly learned that I’m not a good employee. I like to do my own thing and explore my own passions. That doesn’t usually make your boss very happy :) Though riskier, I felt more freedom and joy in being an entrepreneur than being an employee.
What advice would you give to women looking to start their own business? Any specific considerations for online vs. brick and mortar options?
It’s scary, but learn to embrace that! I’ve done both online and brick and mortar and for myself I’ve found brick and mortar to be much more life giving. I love the aspects of curation, merchandising, and visiting with customers, which an online shop doesn't allow for as easily. But, an online shop is definitely less risky. But with great risk, comes great reward.
Has there been a failure you’d be willing to share here and what you learned from it?
My last business was technically a failure (I closed it), though I learned so much from it. I had a fairly large company ($1M plus in total revenue) with a team of 7 employees. I couldn’t get it to grow any more and finally had to shut it down because it was causing so much stress in my life I just couldn’t take it anymore. Laying off my team was probably the hardest things I’ve ever done. Through the process, I learned about being a leader (and that being a boss isn’t my favorite thing in the world). Your team is your biggest asset. Cultivating the company culture that you want is SO important when you start hiring employees.
Is there anything else you want the group to know?
After chatting with many customers and friends that they love the idea of decorating a beautiful home, but don’t quite know what their decorating style is, I wrote a short e-book that walks readers through the process of determining what their style is.
Know another amazing lady in your life that would be a great Her Story Spotlight? Drop me a line and let me know about her! Hello@herexchange.net