“…I love dipping in and out of different hobbies and always love trying new things.”
The Creative Business series continues with the lovely being that is Leona, of Little Stag Signs. Leona creates the most gorgeously simple but creative wooden signs for weddings, nurseries, home decor and more. In her own words, her signs are designed to ‘love, inspire, and celebrate’ and I think this beautifully sums up her brand’s ethos and product style. There is a wonderfully feel-good nature about everything Leona creates, and I’m really looking to sharing a bit more about her. Let’s get started…
What does creativity mean to you?
To me creativity is expression.
Everyone feels emotions ranging from pure joy to sadness. Our creativity allows us to express those emotions in a way no other living thing can. We have been given a gift, to share how we see (or feel) the world, through our music, art, dance, stories, filmmaking, sewing the list goes on and on. Through our creativity we connect with others and can even move them to tears or laughter in a single moment, by expressing our own emotions or experiences in a unique and amazing way.
Have you always been creative?
I think everyone is creative in their own way, my creativity has always been a bit of a journey. I’ve always loved trying new things (not like sky diving or walking on hot coals), but creative things where I could use my hands and mind together. Growing up I loved painting and drawing, I would spend hours on one piece and get completely lost in it. It wasn’t the end result I cared much about, but the experience of doing it. I’ve dabbled in a range of things, photography, painting, filmmaking, sewing, etching on glass, paper cutting and much more! Making things always fills me with so much joy.
What first got you interested in your field?
Many years ago I was at a pretty low point in my life, I felt lost and my world had crumbled around me for many reasons. I had to do something to pull myself out of it and found that my creativity was the key. I played around with many different projects and mediums until I came across wooden signs. I’ve always loved things made from natural wood, the personality of each piece is always so different. The grain of the wood reminds me of a fingerprint, so beautiful in its complexity and unique patterns. So I decided to try my hand at making a few signs for myself. At the time I had to move back home and my Dad being in the building development industry always had tools and the supplies I needed to test out this new interest. After a few months I became obsessed with painting and lettering on wood, it was there that the pieces of my jigsaw life started to fit back together again.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I always knew that I would one day start my own business, I just had no idea what it would be until I started making signs. Both my parents are very driven hard working people and that really resonated with me growing up. I loved the idea of doing everything myself, the flexibility and freedom in being your own boss, making the decisions and creating something that would one day support my family.
What is your favourite thing about your work?
Do I have to pick just one?! It may sound a little cheesy and cliche but, hey, its true! My favourite part of my work is the people. The small business community and all the lovely people who have supported my little shop are just amazing. From ordering a sign to leaving a kind word on an Instagram post or stopping to say hello at a craft fair, they may seem like small things to some, but to me they’re massive and I’m beyond grateful for every single one.
What is a ‘reality’ of your work that other people don’t realise?
The biggest reality of my work is time. Every sign I make goes through an entire cycle of stages, each needs a different amount of time, focus and skill. Running your own business takes a lot of hard work, determination, patience, passion and yes, you guessed it, time! Small and handmade businesses are not Amazon Prime and our work cannot be rushed in the same way that mass produced items can be and that’s something to celebrate! When you support a small business you receive something unique and special that a person has poured time and love into for you.
How do you handle creative ‘blocks’ in work?
Creative block is usually triggered by being overworked, over scheduled and stressed. Your brain, body and soul need a break once in a while, something I’m not great at doing. I’m one of those people who has a million things on my to do list and consistently overestimates how much I can get done in one day! This leads to burnout road with a big old crash into creative block and my system shuts down, the creative well runs dry and I feel unmotivated and sometimes a little lost.
Knowing when your on burnout road is the key, if you can take steps to try and ease the pressure or slow down a little then your creative crash may not be as dramatic. Some things I like to do when I feel that pattern emerging are:
- Going for a walk and being surround by nature
- Spending time with my toddler and getting lost in her world
- Catching up with a friend for a good vent and strong coffee
- Listing to uplifting music or watching something that makes me laugh
- Doing something creative that’s not to do with my work, doing it just for me, just for fun!
Do you have any other creative interests?
Yes! So many, I love dipping in and out of different hobbies and always love trying new things. Bullet journaling is my creative outlet combined with my obsession with planning and schedules! I like to make little felt ornaments for my daughter to play with and I’m dying to take a pottery class. We repurpose anything we can around the house as I don’t like waste, so there’s always a little DIY project going on.
What one thing would you say to someone dreaming of starting their own creative business?
Be patient. Don’t rush yourself or get impatient with your progress. This is a long game and your journey will be different to someone else’s, so don’t compare it and get disheartened if you don’t see results as quickly as you expected. Do your research and take the time in the beginning to get everything done properly, which will save you a lot of time in the future going back and tweaking all the little things. You can do this and there is so much help out there, just be kind to yourself, be patient with your skills and progress. There is no button to push or cheat code to enter that will fast track you to your goals, you need to experience the journey with all it’s ups and downs. I don’t think I stuck to the -one thing- question!
I’ve got so much joy (and for some reason comfort) from reading more about Leona’s story. We’ve yet to get to know each other that well in ‘real life’, but it’s easy to feel her warmth and calmness just beam from the page! I find it so inspiring to read about creativity being the key to someone moving from a place of difficulty to a place of ‘light’; finding a creative hobby or passion that can take you outside of… well.. life, when needed, is a wonderful thing. I can’t quite place my finger on why Leona’s words have really touched me today, but I feel very honoured to have been able to feature her.
I’ll leave you with Leona’s self-portrait – three of her wooden signs, perfectly stating the way I now see Leona after this feature. She even said herself: “my signs… are all a little piece of me in some way”.
P.S. Don’t forget to sign up to my email list (and select business, or business and lifestyle) to receive the ‘Creative Business Edit’ which includes further insight from the Creative Business features, as well as guest experts giving tips on the other side of creative business.