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Life & Work with Lauren Stamegna of West Liberty, OH

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Stamegna.

Hi Lauren, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Art has always been part of my life in some form or another. I hold a degree in design but didn’t actually end up (at the time) working in an art-related industry. A few years after I graduated from college, I was really feeling the absence of creativity in my life so I happened to find a makers space where I lived in Wilmington, DE. They had all kinds of classes you could take and then have free range of their woodshop, laser cutter, etc. I started making signs as gifts for people and for my own entertainment. It slowly caught people’s attention and it blossomed into a nice side-job for me.

Months into opening my Etsy shop, Covid happened and I had to shut down because the makers space was closed. Once I reopened that summer I found out I had lost my day job, which prompted a move back to Ohio. I lost all access to the machinery I used to make my signs so it took about a year to build my own studio where I can make signs again. It’s been about a year since I was able to start making again and now I have a self-sufficient studio to keep my passion project alive.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
In some aspects, yes, and some no. Yes because I never put too much of an expectation on myself and what the business could be. I have a tendency to let my brain be flooded with so many ideas that I get overwhelmed and never know where to start, so I never actually end up starting. I let my business grow organically- never trying to come out with a “collection” or force too many ideas into production. I have chosen to make everything to order so I never felt like I had to keep up with stock and try to project what people would want to buy. I let people come to me with their ideas and then I make them happen. The growth has been very smooth and not forced so I’ve been able to enjoy the ride.

The not-so-smooth road is all of the complications with my timing. I made my first several signs the summer of 2019 when I was quite pregnant with my second daughter. I had to take a small pause when she was born, but used part of my maternity leave to set up my Etsy shop. I had a great first Christmas season, but then March rolled around and the world shut down for Covid. I wasn’t able to use any of my available time to pursue business any further because my studio space was shut down. Once that reopened, I caught up on orders, made a few more sales, and then when I lost my day job we decided to move to Ohio where I basically had to start over. It’s been very on and off, but thankfully it hasn’t had too big of an effect on business.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I make farmhouse-style signs and other laser cut goods. My best selling items are custom dates and/or names, as well as handwritten signs. There are a lot of farmhouse signs out there, but because I don’t keep stock, I can custom every aspect of my product- color, size, text, etc. I’ve been able to take other people’s ideas and make them come to life allowing super meaningful people and events to become a lasting piece of art. I am most proud of the handwritten signs because there is nothing more personal than someone’s handwriting. I have made pieces with some of the sweetest messages from loved ones that have passed and the messages I recieve afterwards make all of the hard work worth it.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
This is an area where I lack. I’ve never had a mentor and I just kind of do my thing when it comes to networking. I’m not the world’s most social person, I don’t go out of my way to start conversations, but I do enjoy talking to people in the right situations. I have lived a few months where I was expected to produce a much higher lever of extroverted-ness that was very disingenuous to who I am. I have purposely kept The Fox & Sun as authentically me as possible and I feel like that translates into what I make.

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