I met Lindsay a few years ago when we were both living in New York. We were volunteering together to turn a dark music venue into a bright winter wonderland by creating hundreds of paper fans and snowflakes. I was just happy to have an outlet to direct my love scissors, glue, and thousands of little paper cuts, but little did I know, Lindsay's vision for design and atmosphere was much greater. Since then, Lindsay made a major career change and took a chance on herself and a dream that she's kept close over the years. Her business, Lindsay Marcella, features uniquely beautiful handmade pieces for your home and gives insight to her brilliant eye for interior design.
Lindsay's story is a thorough look into her journey - from letting go of stability, to fighting comparison in creativity, to what it means to have the gumption to truly trust yourself.
Tell us the story behind deciding to start your business, Lindsay Marcella.
When I was 17, in the “where do I go to college/what do I want to do with my life” phase, I knew I wanted to do interior design. My parents, lovingly and wanting what was best for me while they supported me through college, wanted me to get a degree in something I could fall back on. So I received a different degree and worked for a few years in that field. Right before I quit that job, I had lengthy/in depth chats with those I’m close to, and all those years later, what I still wanted to do was interior design.
I studied for a bit in NYC then launched my business, which included interior design services and my homewares shop. I realized, after working with a few different clients, that what I actually wanted to do within interior design was renovate homes (not specifically for clients) and then sell them. My husband’s background, aside from music, is building. That’s what his father does, and he’s helped him renovate homes in the past. Combined with my design and his building (he also has great design taste), it’s something we’ve talked about doing in the future while I still run the shop and he continues doing his music.
Throughout all of these conversations, I was traveling to new places and I fell in love with vintage, handmade textiles. Working with them, creating pieces of my own, and sourcing items from around the world. I decided that until the time comes that we do renovations to focus solely on my shop, and occasionally take interior design jobs. It’s still something I love - when the client/designer aesthetic matches up and we’re all on the same page.
It wasn’t a hard decision or path only because I’ve known for years this is something I love. However, with anything, there are obstacles. Some people will not understanding what you are doing or why you’re leaving a secure job with stability. You feel inadequate sometimes, learning how to be a business owner, creator, entrepreneur, marketing expert, photographer, web developer. There’s so much that goes into it, and at first you’re doing it all on your own so it’s a bit overwhelming wondering if you’re doing it right! But I reached a point where I realized that this is me right now. I’m not going to know everything right away and that’s part of the process of growing in business and as a human. What you're creating and putting out into the world is a piece of you and what’s inside of you. Some people will love it and some people won’t. All you need to do is create to the best of your ability and put it out there for the world to have. You learn as you go, and you keep growing with it and from it.
And that’s how I started my business!
Was there a particular moment where you knew that it was time to switch paths?
There was one day in particular that I reached a point where I knew my workplace wasn’t a healthy environment for me anymore, for a variety of reasons. And reasons that were out of my control. There are some things that you can help change, but there are also circumstances and situations you need to walk away from after a certain point. I knew that it was time to move on, which was terrifying, exciting, and so many emotions all at the same time, like anything that comes with change in life! I’d given everything to that job as best as I could. I was encouraged to resign and start pursuing what I loved, and if I needed to get a different job until things picked up then I would, but it was time for the next step and I felt right about it.
Where do you look for inspiration when designing your pieces?
Pretty much everywhere. Sometimes inspiration strikes all of a sudden, but majority of the time that’s not the case. Either way, I’m always open and looking for it. Paint block colors on the side of a building, the ombre color of a flower, textiles someone is wearing or the way they wear it, shadow patterns. However, if I were to pinpoint specifics, travel does wonders for my inspiration. The colors, patterns, textures, interiors and textiles around the world are incredible. And nature. The colors in nature have me in awe constantly. And a good little trip to one of the hundreds of fabric stores in the city to see what my options are for fresh ideas. I love looking at new fabric, trimmings, zippers, and so on. I’m always imagining what “could be” with those pieces. A friend also recently took me to one of the fashion shows she was walking in, and I was so inspired by the textiles used, and how they were combined with certain pieces, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks! I have some ideas for this coming winter’s products in the shop that were inspired by that show.
All of your pieces have a very specific name. What’s the story behind that and how do you choose?
When I launched my business and shop, I wanted to name products after people who had played a significant role in my life and the process of switching careers, so each product was named after someone that really meant something to me. Their support and encouragement played such a huge role in launching my business, so it was just a small token of recognition to show that they are part of this, and that I’m thankful for everything they’ve done to help. At this point all of those products have sold, so now I choose names that I love and think fit the character of my pieces! My products are very individual, so it’s easier to give customers names that they can refer to when emailing me with questions, instead of just a generic label.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every person is different and functions at their best in different ways, times, and schedules. For me, I like to wake up at 7:30am every morning, go for a run or to the gym, come home, shower and get dressed for the day. Then I make hot lemon water and sit down for 15 minutes to do my morning writing. I write anything and everything that comes to mind, in order to clear my brain of all the little things I’ve been thinking of, pertaining to any part of life. It releases all of those thoughts onto paper, so I can give my full attention to my work and my art for the day without distraction. Once I’ve done this, I can start my day.
It’s the discipline of having those things set in place that launch my day. It’s a morning routine, and if you read of those who’ve been creative/successful before us, the majority of them have a morning routine (whenever it is that your morning may start!). After writing I make a healthy breakfast and read for 15 minutes while I eat, then get straight into work until noon. I take a midday break to eat lunch and run any errands I need to, then get back to work for the next 5-6 hours. The things I work on can range from designing, emails, sourcing, creating new pieces, product photos, planning for the next day - the list goes on. I turn my phone on silent during work hours just like I would if I were at any other job, because there can be so many distractions that take away from working. After work I make dinner, call or see friends, and always read before I go to sleep around 11:30 or 12:00.
I try to make time to see people when I’m done with work, at least twice during the work week, then take off on the weekends as best as I can (a lot of orders are placed then, with emails accompanying them). I’m still learning the balance of it all, but enjoying the process.
What’s the best thing about living in New York?
Probably that anything I need is at my fingertips, under a variety of categories. Also that people I’m surrounded by are just as driven, if not more than me, to be excellent at what they do, which helps keep you going through the ups and downs of starting your own business. There are a million things to love, but those are two specifics that stick out.
What’s the hardest thing about living in New York?
Renting would be at the top right now for me. If you asked me that question before I began my own business, it would’ve been other things (like schizophrenic neighbors that knock on your door every. single. day. at 4PM offering you tuna fish sandwiches). However, at this point there are a lot of factors I need to work around while renting a space that isn't my own. I need space to take product shots, areas with natural light, interiors that can be ruined with dye and fabric paint while creating pieces, and computer and filing space for paperwork. It’s a little difficult sometimes to create everything you envision when you can’t paint walls, or put holes in the wall to hang things, or change the flooring, or just have floor space in general to function, because it’s technically not yours!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since opening Lindsay Marcella?
There are a few big lessons I’ve learned. One big lesson would be knowing that I don’t need to have it all figured out. I’m learning, and will continue to learn new things for the rest of my life. Not setting a time limit on myself thinking “it’s too late” for anything is the best thing I can do. In fact, aside from work, I just started studying French again. Why not?
Another big lesson I’ve learned would be that this new career isn’t just a big change for me, but for everyone in my life as well, and learning to communicate with them about all of those changes is so important. For example, I still maintain work hours from Monday-Friday just as I did at my previous job when I had a boss, and to many people at the beginning of launching my business assumed because I’m my own boss now, I’m free to chat or hangout whenever - and to no ones fault. I would assume the same thing if in their shoes! From the beginning, I should’ve let everyone know how I’m going about my days, just so everyone understands what this new career will look like in all of our lives. This requires much longer days than my previous job, as with any entrepreneur, and letting others know that would’ve been the best thing to do. Communication is so important, especially when there’s such a big change in all of your lives.
And lastly, probably the biggest thing I’ve learned would be that I have the answers to many of my own questions. I don’t need to seek out answers or opinions to all of my questions, because I was born with my own wisdom and knowledge to use. An inner voice that I needed to trust more. Many people won’t understand where I’m going with my business, what I’m trying to accomplish, or a goal I’m trying to reach because they aren’t me. When I’m constantly seeking others opinions, my initial vision for something may be swayed and not stay true to who I am. Of course I believe in reaching out to people who you trust and can help guide you with things, but majority of things I do, I trust my own instincts and make decisions from there.
Marcella is my middle name, which is also my grandmother’s name. As much as I love the simplicity of Thomas, which is my new last name after getting married, it doesn’t make for the best business name as it’s so common. I considered creating a brand name, however a lot of my work is personal, whether designing someone’s home or creating pieces for the shop, and I wanted to keep it personal with my name.
Do you have a favorite product in the shop?
Truly, every single piece that I sell is my favorite. I said from the very beginning that I would never sell something that I don’t absolutely love myself and want to use in my own home. Each piece is so different from the other, that I get excited about the individuality of each piece and love every one.
What are your words of wisdom to the girls thinking about switching paths?
You need a lot less than you think you need to get started! I started with 10 individual products. Compared to most stores, that’s nothing. But that’s all I had at the moment, and knew that I could build from there. And that’s exactly what’s happened. If you need to take a side job, do what you need to do during the day to make money to live, and work on your craft at night or early in the morning.
Many artists and creators before us had full time jobs they never quit during the day, then worked on their art at night. If it’s an overall healthy environment that allows you to have time to work on your craft at some point during the day, take it if you need to! No one is above that.
Surround yourself with people who see your potential, believe in your goals, and take all of the worries and fears others have voiced with a grain of salt. Seek out knowledge from those who’ve done it before and can help you. Throw yourself entirely into it. No one is going to give you a step by step guide of “what to do next”. It’s up to you to show up every day and put in work. Even if it’s only 15 minutes some days. Do something every single day that is pushing you forward towards that goal.
Write realistic goals, and start with one or two weeks at a time. Buy a monthly desk calendar and map out what that month and those weeks will look like, and what you’ll do every day to keep moving forward. Buy books to gain new knowledge.
Lastly, think about yourself at 60 years old. When you’re 60 you will most likely look back and think “Why did I wait so long? I was so young with so many years ahead of me. I wish I would’ve just done it then.” That then is your right now. If you're considering switching paths, or maybe just adding something to the path you're on right now, think about yourself in the future. Do now what you know the future you will wish you would have done.
What do you see next for Lindsay Marcella?
At this point, I only plan 4-6 months in advance on anything business related. I’ve noticed if I plan too far in advance, or write down the many things that I want to do in the future, I stay in the future instead of right now, and easily get overwhelmed wondering how I’m going to get there, which deters me from accomplishing what I can here and now.
I always ask myself, “What do I have in my hands now? What can I do with right now?” when planning and mapping out my weeks. Whatever the answer is, is what I focus on for the next 6 months. Of course I dream of things, and have goals that I’d like to accomplish in the future, but as evident in many scenarios in the past, life can change quickly, and the things that I want to do can also change over time. So what I see next is the next 6 months, making sure I make time for people in my life, producing the best quality work that I can, creating and sourcing new products for the shop that I love and would love for people to have in their homes, and just enjoying where I am right now!
What does gumption mean to you?
To me, gumption means regardless of all doubt thrown at you, whether from yourself or others, you choose to go full force into exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve. You decide to be your own biggest encourager every single day. You put action into your dreams to make them come to life, even if you’re the only one pushing yourself. I think accompanying gumption is also be a sense of hopefulness and optimism that keeps you going through the highs and the lows. And sometimes a healthy dose of feeling “invincible” to push you to the next step - believing anything is possible.