Making the Maker, an Interview with Lakeesha Bailey
Yay! Monday! You know, it's been really difficult waking up lately with the chilly air blowing in through the windows and the covers being so warm and snuggly. As women running our own business, we know that putting a schedule together for yourself can seem extremely daunting, especially since I can never seem to stick to mine! That's why we love reading about other women who are makers working their own businesses. It's so inspiring to learn about someone else's journey and get excited for our own. So let's get some inspiration under our wings and kick this Monday into gear! Today we're talking with Lakeesha Bailey of Rise and Kind. Lakeesha makes the sweetest soothing toys for your little one! We love her lace lovey blanket at our house!!
Lakeesha grew up + lives in the little town of Hope, Indiana with her husband, who she met when she was twelve, and their two children.
Kayla: Tell me a little about yourself! Do you have any other jobs or hobbies?
Lakeesha: I love photography, and I own another business, Color The Wind Photography, which I started 6 years ago right out of high school. I've enjoyed photography since my Great Grandma Pauline gave me my first polaroid camera as a child. I really feel like I owe my love for creativity to her. I would spend every afternoon with her on our family farm doing drawings of things we found outdoors. She would teach me how to crochet and sew, and we would go on walks visiting all of the animals around the farm or pick persimmons out of the tree together. Those memories and the role model of the lady she was shape a huge part of who I am today, what I love, and the kind of memories I hope that I am able to give my children one day.
Kayla: How did your business begin?
Lakeesha: From my photography to my blankets, or whatever it is I am doing, when it comes to creating things, I am very passionate. I am also very passionate about creating the life I have always dreamed for my family. I've forever wanted to move my family back into the country, where our kids could grow up playing outside, go on adventures, and have the freedom that the country life gives their little creative minds. I knew that on just my husband's salary that this dream would be much further away than I imagined. So, in addition to being a "stay at home" mom, a photographer, and working weekdays at a golf course (all with my littles by my side), I had the idea to take up doing the creative things I love and turn it into something that could help achieve our dreams, and that's where Rise and Kind bloomed from.
Kayla: You say you started your photography business right out of high school. Did you go to college? I am curious because I never attended!
Lakeesha: I did! For two years I went to a local community college, which happened to have an amazing photography program where I was able to take a lot of photography and design classes. As well, I had some unbelievably talented teachers who really were able to push my creative abilities. And I truly learned more than I dreamed I would. My favorite part, and something I really miss, was getting to work in the dark room. There is something so magical about the hands on part of developing film, sitting in a dim limit room and watching your images just come to life, and knowing that you were physically a part of something so beautiful from start to finish. It was funny, I had originally planned on going to college for zoology out of high school. I always wanted to work with exotic animals and maybe even make my way to Africa one day. I took veterinary classes in high school, and I scored a full college tuition scholarship to any Indiana school I desired to go to. I had really good grades and studied my entire junior and senior year straight, but in the end I knew my creative side and other dreams outweighed my desire to sit through 6 years of biology classes. I always knew I wanted to be a mom since I was just a kid myself, and I knew that was something I wasn't willing to put on hold so long for such an involved career choice.
Kayla: What inspires your products/business/designs?
Lakeesha: For my overall business, my kids are definitely my biggest inspiration. Everything I do is for them, and a lot of my ideas formed from the things that I would use for them. In a design aspect, nature, for sure. Sometimes something as simple as sitting outside, closing my eyes, and just listening can be the inspiration and the peace I need for a fresh idea. I am also moved by all the colors each season brings. From the changing leaves to the smallest little wildflower.
Kayla: What is your typical day-to-day life like?
Lakeesha: Chaos. For someone who thrives to achieve a simpler life, mine sure can be hectic. Three jobs on top of having both kids with me all day, still breastfeeding my youngest, and a husband who works nights is certainly no easy task. A typical day consists of lots and lots of coffee, lots of prayers, and lots and lots of work. It's a lot to handle, and there are more breakdowns than I like to admit, but I know in the end it's worth it, and that's what keeps me going.
Kayla: What opportunities has making by hand opened for you?
Lakeesha: Meeting people. I am blown away by the people I have met since starting my business. Sometimes I could literally cry by the amount of kindness, support, generosity, and advice I have been offered by other small businesses. It has meant everything to me, and there is absolutely no way I could have gotten through to where I am without it.
Kayla: Do you have any regrets or have you made any mistakes when it comes to running a small business? Is there a specific moment that you could highlight upon?
Lakeesha: I can't say that anything has been a regret, because everything I go through as a small business owner has been such a learning experience for me. There is definitely no step by step guide to starting your own small business, and how to handle all the situations you run into, and it's not easy, but I love it. I'd say one thing I plan to do differently at the start of the next year is that I will be having all of my items ready to ship upon release instead of made to order. By being able to work in more of an assembly line during the sewing process, it will greatly increase the amount of time I have for myself and the time I can fully dedicate to my little ones.
Kayla: What is the hardest part about running a small, handmade business?
Lakeesha: The vulnerability. I've always been very shy, so putting myself out there has always been hard for me when it comes to my art and my creations, and something I put so much work into.
Kayla: Where do you see your business heading in the future?
Lakeesha: I hope that over the next year I am able to expand in the items that I offer. I started rise and kind in mind that I could create and offer whatever it is that I was feeling like making at the time. Certain items, like my lovey have definitely stuck and expanded, and I am hoping that I am able to take the time I need soon to expand on the rise and kind brand. Locally, I am also hoping that I am able to attend more craft and small business events. Another dream I have also always had, and have never told anyone, was to own my own little boutique where I could offer items solely from other small brands across the country. It's not something I see in the cards for me anytime soon, but I am hoping for one day!
What a fun interview! Thank you so much, Lakeesha, for letting us into your life and business! We are inspired daily by the countryside and nature around us; it's so wonderful hearing from another maker that nature can be explored and inspire so many different products. If you would like to shop Rise and Kind click here, and follow along with Lakeesha's journey on Instagram (@rise.and.kind)!
Think your small, handmade business is a good fit for an interview? Let us know! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!