10 Questions with Maggie M., Founder of Leland gal

This is the 11th post in a weekly series of small business profiles called “10 Questions with” that will feature creative entrepreneur profiles and small business owners who have incredible stories and advice to share. It’s the perfect series to follow for budding entrepreneurs and creative people who want to know more about other people’s creative processes. Check back here every Wednesday to see who will be profiled next.. The interview is below the images.10 Questions with Small Business Owner Maggie of Lelandgal | Read more at blog.cuteheads.com lelandgal-10-questions-small-business-profiles-4

10 Questions with Small Business Owner Maggie of Lelandgal | Read more at blog.cuteheads.comOne of the best things about writing these small business profiles is discovering and meeting some incredible entrepreneurs who really have honed in on what makes them unique and special. The search for entrepreneurial answers has been years-long for me; it started when I was helping to host a business radio show called The Businessmakers and co-hosting a spinoff podcast version of the show with my friend Katie. We would talk about all things small business and try to get to the heart of what makes a small business tick. One of the overarching themes seems to be really knowing yourself, knowing your business and knowing what you are not.

Leland gal founder Maggie Mielczarek really seems to have that nailed. As soon as you visit her site, you get a sense of what her business is all about; easy living, the water, and a whimsical, preppy aesthetic. Her line is both colorful and fun, and her hand-painted textiles will have you longing for a cocktail in the Hamptons.

I was excited to get to know her, and I absolutely LOVE her advice for would-be girlbosses (at the end). Read on to find out how she launched, what drives her and what her biggest challenge is.

Glad to chat with you! First, tell us where we can find you online.

Leland gal
www.lelandgal.com / 

What inspired you to start your own business?

Leland gal is a lifestyle line of color and waterside living inspired products.

Leland gal started purely as a creative outlet, and now has turned into a brick and mortar and online business.

The main motivation to make this into more than just a hobby was becoming a mom. After teaching for 12 years, I knew I didn’t want to send my baby to child care, and started to realize that this business was really evolving into something real. It really and truly felt like the stars were aligning for me to make this jump. I was 6 months pregnant, and a seasonal shop opened up in our summer resort town, and after being interviewed against many others, was shocked to learn I had been chosen. I had my son in March of 2013, opened our shanty in May, and resigned from teaching in August. Now, three years later, I have another son and a life that feels much more my own.

What inspires your work and what sets you apart from everyone else?

I have been fortunate to have spent every summer of my life in Leland, Michigan. It is near the Sleeping Beach Lakeshore, and it is a cherished haven for fun, relaxation and an innocence that has been lost in many communities. When I am there, I feel truly alive, and it is that vibrant lifestyle that is the main inspiration. Color and all things waterside living are what inspire my paintings that I convert to graphic design and then fabric to create home decor and fun products for other folks that have this feeling by the water.

What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?

An entrepreneur from birth, I always loved to sell my wares, whether at the end of my driveway, school fundraisers or creating something!

That is definitely a contributing factor to my relentless drive to succeed, but I also spent 12 years as an art educator, mostly outside of Chicago, and then in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When I made the move to Michigan, I was asked to teach graphic design as part of my curriculum, which I did not know how to do… I had always been a painter on the side, and used my paintings as the backdrop to learn graphic design while teaching it, and fell in love with this new medium. I became obsessed with making patterns, and learned that I could have these designed printed on fabric. After making a few Christmas presents that first year, Leland gal was born.

What has been your biggest success to date?

I was just featured in DESIGN HER, a book written by Julianne Taylor (of Taylor Burke Home) featuring the top female entrepreneurs in design. The book comes out in February, and I am still pinching myself to be in the pages among such wonderful inspiring women.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Editing, editing, editing. I have had to learn to be a lot more hard nosed and edit myself, as I could go on forever with ideas, options and colors for my customer. The same goes with not investing too much money into ideas before testing them out.

Describe your typical work day.

Well, it’s anything but traditional, which I love. I have been able to pull a lot of this off during nap times, with family help, and in the early morning before anyone in the house is awake. My shop is only open from May-October, and the rest of the year, we are back in Grand Rapids trying to juggle mom life with business life. Right now, I have a 10 week old, so I am working mainly when one little guy is at school, and the other is sleeping. I typically do all of my painting in the fall, make decisions for fabrics by January, and introduce new prints and products by spring. !

Which small businesses are you inspired by?

I can’t help but be inspired by women who are doing these things while juggling a family. It’s a hustle that is a circus! I love watching Joy from Oh Joy, Emily McCarthy, Julianne Taylor, Katie Kime and more.

If you could go back to the beginning knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

Putting my business infrastructure in place to create a stronger beginning foundation would have been great, but I don’t know how I would have been able to predict how things would have gone. I went into this whole situation in such a whirlwind, I didn’t know a lot about fabric quality, textures and care, and had to rely on professional seamstresses expertise. It would have been nice to have had a little more knowledge about these things too.

What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start her own creative business?

Start NOW. If you start chipping away at something you are passionate about while you are working on something else, you will feel more fulfilled and then might have the chance to make it into something bigger. You will never be able to “take the time” to start, that is not realistic. Plus, pulling it off while doing other things helps sharpen your multi tasking skills, and that is definitely what being a small business owner is all about!

Small Business Profile: 10 Questions with Maggie, the Founder of Lelandgal | Read more at blog.cuteheads.com

28 thoughts on “10 Questions with Maggie M., Founder of Leland gal

  1. I love that Maggie does what she loves and can do so while bringing up a family and as a creative outlet! (I also love those bags with the tassels!)

  2. I am such a fan of interviews that dive into the person behind the company. It tends to make me go from possible shopper to loyal buyer. This was really well written and captured her very well.

  3. The waterside inspiration is awesome! What a great interview for great products! It’s so refreshing to hear the roots of how success stories begin. Thanks for the wonderful feature!

  4. She creates such gorgeous products!! I love entrepreneur interviews, especially those of moms pursuing their passions. I have been a serial entrepreneur for over a decade and used to run an organization for mom business owners. I always found so much inspiration in each person I met, and love the energy and drive in Maggie’s work. Great interview! Love this series and look forward to more!

  5. Great interview. It’s so inspiring to find such great business owners who also stay at home with their little ones and accomplish so much. Hats off to you!

  6. This is such a wonderful interview. I love reading stories, interviews, biographies, etc. about strong women doing what makes them happy! Thank you for sharing!

  7. This is such a great interview! Reading about the success of other small businesses – esp those run by women – is so inspiring to me. Great products and amazing attitude.

  8. I really love this series of Q&A with other entrepreneurs. It’s so inspiring and uplifting to hear the journey others have taken on their road to success.

  9. This is indeed great questions with a lot of good answers. Maggie has a great answers for advice for those wanting to start a business. I do believe if you don’t start now you will never find the right time to do so just do it now. Kudos Maggie for doing so well and being so creative. Thanks for a great interview and awesome advice.

  10. I find interviews so neat. I bet it’s self rewarding as well. Thanks for giving us the chance to get to know her better through this interview. Great post.

  11. Start Now is the best advice. People put off doing what they love for so many reasons. Myself included. Once I kicked off my own project, I haven’t looked back and always find the time to devote. As Nike says Just Do It.

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About Esther

The Cuteness: sharing daily inspiration, kids fashion, work/life balance + small business how to's from mom & business owner Esther Freedman