10. Featured Artist + Shop Owner | A Girl Named Leney

Original photo by: Meagan Abell

Talk about someone you want to grab some coffee or tea with! For the 10th edition of Featured Artist + Shop Owner, I am thrilled to introduce Leney, the girl behind A Girl Named Leney. Her handmade shop features knitted wear and jewelry to keep you extra warm and fashionable. Her photography and blog constantly inspire me to practice what I love and find a way to keep it relevant. I'll stop rambling and let her do all the talking now :)

1. Introduce yourself and some background info :)
My name is Leney and I'm an artist who resides in Virginia where there's both a little country and a little city. I find inspiration in both! I work full time designing and creating things for my Etsy shop which holds a variety of knits and jewelry pieces. Additionally, I'm also a part time photographer. Taking photos is another one of my many passions! When I'm not knitting or taking pictures, you can find me making lists of everything, thrifting, watching Gilmore Girls, finding excuses to travel and taking care of a bunny named Lewis.

2. What initiated this love and passion for knitting? How did it develop into owning a shop?
My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was eight years old. I remember sitting on our taupe colored couch in the living room of my old house fumbling with these red plastic needles and multi colored purple and green yarn (which, at the time, I thought was beautiful). It took a year or two for knitting to become the obsession it is for me now, but I've pretty much loved it ever since. I grew up being a very artsy child though. I learned how to sew at a young age as well and I was always known for making things and being creative. I had the dream to open up an online shop to sell my creations early on (though as a kid it started as setting my stuff up on a table at the end of my driveway), and when I heard about Etsy a few years ago that dream became a reality!

3. Where do you find the biggest inspirations for your products?
This is such a hard question! I honestly find inspiration in so many things. I think vintage fashion is really fun and something I always love looking at, whether it's on blogs or in magazines. Often though I find inspiration in the materials I work with as well. Whether I'm at the fabric store and I find a bolt of fabric that I can instantly see it as a new clutch or when I'm at the yarn shop and I spy some pretty grey wool yarn for some new mittens! It really depends... my ideas come out of nowhere sometimes. Other times it's a collaborative effort. For instance, a friend of mine liked all the knit animals I'd started making and asked if I could make him a crocodile. Which was something I honestly had never thought about doing before.
So working with people and their ideas fuels a lot of my inspiration as well!

4. What made you take a huge step into becoming an independent business-owner? Have any tribulations you'd love to share?
All growing up my parents always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do. Nothing was impossible if it was a dream of mine and I worked hard enough for it. I definitely attribute a lot of my success thus far to their support! Otherwise though this is just something I've pretty much always wanted to do. Though I'm not where I need to be quite yet, I think I'm definitely well on the way there and I'm willing to do the work it takes to make it the rest of the way! It definitely has it's hard days, and sometimes I have a hard time motivating myself, but I try to remember why I love what I do and also that I'd way rather be trying to knit crocodiles and taking photos of newly engaged couples than sitting behind a desk all day making phone calls and doing paper work (though there are some days like that...)

5. What's your favorite part about owning your own shop?
Coming up with new designs! It's so much fun. I have a whole bunch of new ideas for the Spring that I'm getting really excited about. I really want to incorporate more sewing into what I do (my fabric stash is almost as big as my yarn stash). I have a dress design in particular that I want to expand upon and some bag ideas as well. So keep an eye out for those!

I also love writing little notes to my customers to include with their order. It let's me send a little love along with each package and that's always fun.

6. Are your products just on etsy? Anywhere else we can find them?
At the moment yes. During the holidays this past year they were featured in a local holiday shop or two, but currently they are just online. Though I am definitely working towards having some stuff in a local store or boutique in the near future!

7. Have any tips for those wanting to start a shop, but are hesitate?
Honestly I think if you want to do something badly enough, you can do it! It just takes a lot of hard work. A lot. And weird (often late) hours. You just have to be persistent and stay motivated and sometimes you even need to decide what you're willing to give up for what you want. Because most things worth having don't come without a little sacrifice. You will definitely have mishaps and challenges, but if it's your dream it will be worth it in the end!

I also try to keep in mind that nothing's really a failure if I've learned something from it.
I have to say though that my friends and family are a huge reason why I'm able to do what I do! Their support is nothing short of essential for me. They are my biggest fans, customers, and cheerleaders. A lot of them carry around my business cards to give to everyone they come in contact with, it's the sweetest thing. I definitely couldn't have gotten this far without them!

8. And because I love all things music, who is your favorite musical artist at the moment?
Oh goodness, another hard question! Admittedly I was jamming out to my Disney music playlist while working the other day… haha. But I think I have to say Beirut is one of my all time favorite bands. I never get tired of them. Especially the song Scenic World which reminds me of sailing and summertime.

Here is a glimpse of the items she sells on her shop. I just can't wait for my future purchases!
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