She’s building her empire, she’s a total girl boss, meet Lindzi Shanks of The Trendy Sparrow. Lindzi has been such an inspiration and when we heard her big news, we knew it was time to get to know her a little bit better. The Trendy Sparrow is known for sassy quotes and just being a total girl boss. From mugs, daily planners to clothing, TTS will inspire you each day to work a lot harder and follow your dreams.
Read how Lindzi Shanks turned her hobby into a quickly growing business. She tells her inspiration behind the brand and how social media played a huge role in her growth. Lindzi also has some exciting news to share with us!
What was your inspiration behind The Trendy Sparrow?
The Trendy Sparrow has taken a crazy journey since it’s original inception in 2010. We started out making scrapbook paper decorated wooden boxes. TTS was only something I did to pay for my scrap booking habit, haha. It had a very vintage vibe, with more natural colors. It was cute and the items sold well, but it wasn’t “me”. In 2014 while I was attending graduate school, I had the realization that I hated grad school and wanted to do TTS full time. But, if I was going to run a company full time, it needed to be more “me”. I needed to want every single item in the store. So…I know this sounds kind of bad, but the inspiration behind The Trendy Sparrow is myself. It’s my style, my passions, my sass and wit all rolled into one cohesive brand. We don’t make or sell anything in the store than I wouldn’t want to own and love myself. My personal style in an infusion of Blair Waldorf, Kate Spade, and a #GIRLBOSS mentality. That’s all reflected in the style of The Trendy Sparrow.
How did you come up with the name, “The Trendy Sparrow?
My grandmother was the main source of inspiration behind the name, The Trendy Sparrow. When I was a little girl, my grandmother called me her “little sparrow”. She used to tell me that when she died she would become a sparrow, too. She said, every time I heard a sparrow sing I would know it was her watching over me and telling me that she loved me. Since then, I’ve always been obsessed with the bird. So when it came time to name my company, it only made sense that “sparrow” would factor into the name. I decided that since I love fashion and all things trendy, we would be called “The Trendy Sparrow”. The rest is history.
Ok, we are obsessed with your Gossip Girl collection. Are you a Blair or Serena?
I’m definitely a Blair. I like to think I’m a much nicer (and poorer) Blair without a Dorota. I resonate with her feminine, put together style. I, too, am a lover of bows, lace, pearls, and pencil skirts. I’m also a believer that tights are not pants. I’ve always loved how hard she worked for everything, and that things weren’t always handed to her. She’s a hard worker, obsessively organized, and lives fashion. That’s someone I could certainly get behind.
Your shop has grown significantly and your response times are so fast! For future business owners and bloggers, what is your typical work week like? Do you set a schedule for yourself or are you an all day girl boss?
Even though we’ve grown so fast, it’s important to me that people still know that we are a small business. I want people to be able to get the feeling of a small company with my fast and personal turn around times. That has always been an important part of our company and will continue to be as long as I have a say. As to my schedule…I pretty much work all the time, haha. Not to be cliché, but when you are doing something you love and are really passionate about, it doesn’t really seem like work. I put in a good 70+ hours a week into the store and blogging, but I love all of them. I do make myself a set schedule for certain things such as shipping orders, working in the shop, and blog posts. I think tackle everything else as it comes along. For example, I’m answering this while working at the retail store in between having customers in the shop. I do make sure I take time for myself though, whether that’s a mini-vacation, shopping spree, or bubble bath; carving out some “me time” helps make all of the other girlboss hours so much better and easier.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to aspiring business owners?
Never have one source of income. Running a business is extremely taxing and hard work without also having to stress about your next paycheck. I worked while starting my business long before taking it on as a full time job. Even though I work on The Trendy Sparrow full time now, we still have multiple revenue streams. We make money from our online store, wholesale orders, popup shops, blogging, an eBook, and more. If you’re thinking to yourself, what is commerce? It’s ways we make money, whether it’s online or through other methods to bring in the profit. When you have multiple income sources, you stress less about money and can focus more on the creative sides of things. Plus, I take more risks with the store. For example, I’m less concerned about trying out a new design for the store because even if that design bombs, I have more sources of income that can counter act it.
We know that social media is such an important aspect of building a business and a blog. How has social media affected your business?
Social media has played a huge role in the growth of our company. Just like many other companies, promoting my brand online was one of the most effective ways I grew my business. One of my friends, who has also started a company recently, told me that having strong online marketing is the key to growth. She had help from Spark Outbound who were able to direct her marketing, resulting in more leads for her company. However, I wanted to see if I could create my own business myself. So far, I’ve only really used social media to grow my business. However, having a blog as well as a strong Instagram presence has also helped our products be seen by people who might not have seen them otherwise. It’s also helped our customers to see me as the face behind the company. I find the customers and readers enjoy hearing about yourself as well. It reminds them that a human is behind this company as opposed to a big box store. Social media has also helped us to connect our product to customers by using bloggers as influencers. We have bloggers who represent our brand for us internationally, helping to increase sales, awareness, and our existing social media following. I’ve known other people running similar businesses use marketing companies to help with this side of things – a friend recently tried out NGP INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS– which can be really helpful if you’re struggling to get the wheels turning to begin with. Social media is such a huge part of a growing community of online sales. I recommend picking one social media platform and really trying to master it, rather than being “okay” at all of them. For us, that platform is Instagram because our products do well when presented in a visual form.
In times of doubt, what keeps you going? Any advise for our readers?
Gosh, this one is hard. I deal with doubt a lot when times get really stressful. I certainly deal with it a lot when I have other stores copying my work. You get to the point where you ask, “Why bother being original when people are just going to make money off of you by copying?” Luckily, I have some amazing friends and family. They are constantly encouraging me and reminding me that being original is who I am. I also keep going because I know this is what makes me happy. The good times far outweigh the doubt. If you’re experiencing doubt, do two things: 1) Lean on your friends and family for emotional support Let their loving words encourage and inspire you. Don’t be afraid to take a compliment! 2) Ask yourself…”Does this make me happy? Is this my passion?” If the answer is yes, then that’s all you need to keep pushing forward. I know that this business is exactly what I am supposed to be doing, so no amount of doubt will convince me to quit my dreams.
We are excited to share your amazing news with our readers! The Trendy Sparrow pop up shop is officially open in Downtown Chicago at Block 37! What an accomplishment! Tell us more about your shop?
Yes! We just opened a popup shop in Downtown Chicago. We are open from Nov 27 – Jan 15th. We actually won a contest that the mall, Block 37, was hosting to win a free popup space, so we aren’t paying any bills! Is this real life? I have to ask myself that everyday because I still can’t believe we have a free retail location in the heart of Chicago. Our popup is very girly. It features all of our products plus a couple of items from other local Chicago designers: jewelry from SeeSongDesigns and handmade marshmallows from XO.Marshmallow. We have a couple of dressing rooms, a chic boutique feel, a bold striped wall, and a gift-wrapping station. People can come have any of their presents wrapped even if they didn’t buy them from us! We use the wrapping paper I designed and people seem to love how convenient it is to have someone do the wrapping for you. One of my favorite parts of the store is our “do it for the gram” wall, where we feature a number of bloggers who have worn our items in Instagram photos. We even included their IG handle to help them gain more followers. The popup shop is about gaining exposure for our store, but also about paying our good fortune forward to other small businesses by carrying them in the store and promoting them as much as possible. If you’re in the Chicago area before Jan 15th, I highly recommend stopping by and saying hello!
Any future plans and designs for The Trendy Sparrow?
I’m so excited for all of the amazing things we have in store for The Trendy Sparrow in the coming year! This experience with our popup shop has been so wonderful and the response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s making me seriously consider taking the leap into having a full time retail store in addition to the online shop. We are also working on expanding beyond t-shirts and sweaters into a full clothing line once we handle all of the logistics. Plus, we are always adding new designs into the store as often as we can. Also, we are always looking at new and exciting ways to make the online shop more enjoyable for customers, we have been looking into some providers who can design a shopify store but we’re finding the right one before we dive in the deep end!
Lindzi, thank you so much for being such an inspiration to all of us girl bosses out there! Don’t forget to stop by The Trendy Sparrow & if you are in the Chicago area, make sure to stop by her popup shop!