I am SO excited to talk about this brand new series we are starting here on the Luella blog and instagram. Periodically we will be sharing interviews from our favorite women owned businesses from around the world!
I hope you enjoy this series and to start it off, here's a little more about myself, Caroline, the woman behind Luella!
Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you currently based? How long have you run your business?
My name is Caroline Kolbe, I am a graphic designer and the woman behind Luella! I grew up outside of Houston and I've been in Austin for the last 6 years. I’ve been running Luella for a little over three and a half years.
Luella has definitely transformed over the years, but currently it’s an apparel and accessory shop where you kind find a lot of products based around feminism, Texas, body positivity, joy, etc! I sell mostly tees, stickers, enamel pins, and mugs.
I’ve been running different businesses pretty much since elementary school! We had a class project in 2nd grade where we had to make products and sell them with a partner. My business was the most successful one in the class! In middle school I made a sold duct tape purses to my classmates, high school I started an Etsy shop where I sold studded clothing, and early college I sold vintage clothes.
I’ve always had a passion for creative projects and art. In high school and college, I feel like no one tells you that you can have a creative career (or run your own business period). I had a little trouble after graduating high school figuring out what I wanted to do with my life and then I finally ended up moving from Houston to Austin to go to school for graphic design. I took a handful of art classes like ceramics, printmaking, and drawing and I graduated with a Visual Communications degree in Graphic Design. I actually started Luella in my final year of school by designing and making enamel pins and it took off from there.
What are some of your favorite products?
Sisterhood is Powerful ringer is definitely an original favorite. I’ve been getting really into Texas products recently too, so Don’t Mess with Texas Women, My Heart is in Austin, Yeehaw, and Howdy shirts are also current faves!
What’s one of your favorite or proudest business accomplishments?
In 2017 The Austin Chronicle put Luella as one of their favorite businesses and honestly I am still blown away by that! I hadn’t even been in business for two years at that point.
I've now hosted two successful fundraisers. I am really proud of that. We just did a big one for Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama and ended up raising $3,000. It really blew me away and I actually cried several times throughout the day as the money was being raised! Also the day after the 2016 election I raised around $1500 for Planned Parenthood in 24 hrs. Our customers and followers really blew me away both times.
What inspires you and what keeps you motivated?
It can be SO hard to be motivated during certain seasons. I feel like everyone gets into major funks (especially after the holiday season). Being able to travel and take some time off always helps me mentally charge and feel refreshed with new ideas. A lot of color palette inspiration has come from places that I’ve traveled to (Salvation Mountain, west Texas, etc). I also love going to art museums and looking at art for inspo. It's also great to have a local community of people you can talk to who understand what you're going through. That's one of the many reasons I love Austin so much, there's so much creativity here compared to other cities. Even if you live somewhere that doesn't have a large creative community, connecting with people via social media or texting your small business friends in other states about your struggles really helps. A majority of the things you're feeling, your other small business friends have felt and gone through as well.
Really loving what I do keeps me motivated. Truly running your own business is not easy and can be really tough and challenging at times. When a product I make brings someone joy or makes them feel confident, it's so worth it. It always makes my heart happening when I get sweet customer messages or people come and talk to me in person.What does your workspace, studio, home office, desk, storefront, etc look like?
Here are some photos of the HQ! Definitely big into bright colors, lots of light, and plants.
Shout out a few of your favorite women owned businesses!
I love Nooworks for their amazing printed jumpsuits (I own 4 currently). My friend April runs an awesome vintage shop here in Austin called Pieceology Vintage. Two of my cutie friends in Nashville both run amazing businesses that are in the same realm of Luella, so if you like us, you’ll like them - Made Au Gold and A Shop of Things. My friend Corey Carbo is an amazing illustrator and designer and started her own shop last year! My friend Kate makes gorgeous vintage botanical prints over at Curious Prints. Our studio neighbors, Broad Studios, are some of my fave ladies in Austin. Most of these people and more are going to be interviewed soon!
I know there’s a billion more! Look at the people we follow on IG!!!
Tell us where people can find you (IG handle, website, store address, etc)
Well since you’re on our website, you can find us here! Haha. The shop instagram is @shop.luella and if you want to follow my personal one I mostly just talk about fashion, plants, food, sometimes BTS Luella stuff - @carokolbe