We recently go to catch up with and peruse the home of Stacy Longenecker, owner/founder of Leif shop. The online site started a few years ago and quickly became one of our go to shops for all home good, gift and accessory needs. Stacy describes the site as being a place "set out to present the most special, beautiful things that add a unique touch to day-to-day living" and we couldn't agree more.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm from a small town in Pennsylvania where there are lots of cows and all there really is to do is go to the movie theater or the bowling alley. (the former was actually my first job, when i was 15). thankfully i graduated from selling popcorn and movie tickets and later moved to NYC when i was 20. I've been here for 7 years now and i don't see myself leaving anytime soon.
Favorite neighborhood hang?
Calexico, Five Leaves, Bakeri. Playing shuffleboard at a bar called Burnside.
Drink of choice?
Something involving gin, bubbles and lemon juice
What made you decide to launch Leif Shop?
I remember feeling really depressed at the thought of having to work office jobs (i was doing a lot of e-commerce and fashion copy writing) for the rest of my life. i think i knew that i wouldn't be able to ever be happy doing that so i just decided to do something about it. LEIF is kind of a combination of everything I'm good at; it really is my dream job. my parents run a home decorating store selling paint and carpet and stuff, so maybe i got the entrepreneur gene.
Why an online shop?
Online just makes so much more sense to me than offline. i'm secretly (or maybe not so secretly) a huge nerd so i've been doing things on the computer and internet for a long time. i started selling virtual commodities from video games on eBay when i was 13 (back when you could still do that). in college there was this one t-shirt brand that was really popular, so i would find things before they sold out and then sell them on eBay for a profit. so i guess you could say i have a history. plus, now is the best time yet for online shops, with social media and sites like pinterest and svpply and whatnot.
Where did the name leif come from?
Leif is a Scandinavian name. I've been fascinated with all things Scandinavian for the longest time (ever since i saw the danish film "after the wedding" - you have to watch it). Their design and way of life is a big inspiration for me. I spent forever trying to think of a name; I wanted something interesting but also nondescript, and when I thought of 'leif' it just felt right. Almost three years later i still feel really good about it, so I think it was the right choice.
Describe Leif shop in just a few words:
Colorful, playful, unique.
What inspires you?
Color, plants, weekends, the 60's, unexpected interactions with strangers.
What new products/designers are you looking forward to getting into the shop?
I'm really excited about a new artist I'll be bringing in, Jenny Andrews Anderson. I'm also bringing back apothecary (candles, soaps & things), so I'm happy about that because the office smells really good now.
We love the sites colorful palette and even more that your products seem to be more affordable than most homeware/accessories sites. What do you look for when bringing in new designers?
Of course the first thing is that it fits in with the whole aesthetic of the shop (preferably colorful, of course); I like things that don't take themselves too seriously. I like bringing in things that people maybe haven't seen before. and yeah-- I'm not hugely conscious about keeping everything affordable but I guess I just gravitate more towards accessible products. I try to make everything still feel special and indulgent though.
Running a small start-up business has its challenges. What are some of the challenges youve faced in getting Leif Shop off the ground and what advice would you give to someone starting an online store?
During the first 2 years of running the shop, I was also working a completely separate full time job. It was a LOT of work, but it helped that the shop was/is my passion and didn't feel so much like work than fun. I stuck it out for as long as I could because having an extra, regular income was necessary while the shop was still finding its feet. I didn't take out a loan or anything like that. I think the biggest challenge yet will be when I have to bring in other people and let go of doing everything on my own, but I'm still putting that off for as long as possible. I've heard people say "you can't do everything by yourself", but i think you actually can.
I'd like to eventually start my own product line under the LEIF brand, so that's definitely something I'm constantly thinking about.
Thanks, Stacy. Check out all the Leif shop goodies here.