STACY LONGENECKER // Owner of LEIF
Stacy Anne Longenecker founded LEIF in 2011 and currently resides in Brooklyn.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is a mix of parts that need to come together to run the business — on any given day I’m doing everything from answering emails, sending out marketing promos, designing new products, placing orders, or going to a showroom or a trade show to source new products.
I wake up, have a coffee and breakfast while I answer emails, and then head to the studio (and I work from home at least 1 day a week). I can walk to work, which I’m really grateful for.
What parts of your work do you love the most?
I feel the most excited when I find a new product or designer that I fall completely in love with and I haven’t seen their products available anywhere else. I love the moment when it goes up for sale in the shop, especially if the photos turn out really well. I also really love naming products and creating a story with something as simple as a color name. In short I love being able to translate how beautiful objects appear through my eyes.
What parts of your work do you dislike?
Dealing with technical things on the back end can be a real drag. There are so many components to deal with and it can get incredibly overwhelming. Another thing that I was a bit surprised by — I recently introduced a wholesale line of candles and bath soaks to LEIF, where I’m making them myself in our studio, and I realized I don’t at all enjoy physically making them — it’s coming up with the concept (naming the scent, designing the labels, making the line sheet) that I really love. Now I’m working on a textile line that will be manufactured by a local sewing factory.
What are some interesting things people probably don’t know behind the scenes of LEIF?
Probably how much I’m still doing myself that I’ve done from the very beginning. For example, I’ve never outsourced product photography. I’ve personally photographed everything in the shop myself since day one. I actually have an incredibly simple setup for photography—zero bells and whistles to the point that anyone could do it. You don’t always need a ton of equipment or experience to get a good result (and that applies to more than photography).
What type of calendar do you keep? How do you plan out your calendar?
I’m not the type to have a super structured schedule and do very little planning. The only things I plan in advance are marketing emails and events. On average I go to the studio about 4 days a week and work from home the other day (and sometimes weekends too). But it’s never very consistent, it really varies depending on what needs to get done and when. I’m way more comfortable working on a pretty flexible schedule and I’m actually more productive that way.
How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?
Again, I’m generally not a to-do list person. It does help to make lists for some things, like incoming new products for example, or orders I’ve paid for and haven’t yet received, and for that I use Trello. Everything else though, I pretty much just prioritize it in my head. There’s a natural order to a certain extent, like responding to customer inquiries comes first, putting out fires with orders, etc.
How do you attack your never-ending email? Do you have a certain strategy you use?
I’m admittedly not the greatest when it comes to email. For example it took me over a year to do this interview — eek! I keep emails that I still need to respond to as open/unread, and archive anything that no longer needs attention or is waiting for a response from someone else. This strategy is good because I always eventually respond, but bad because it enables me to be really slow sometimes. Again, mentally prioritizing plays a big role here.
What is your process/work strategy? Anything that you have found that works for you?
Working on an organic, open, and flexible schedule allows me to be the most productive. I’m also way more productive when I work from home — and keep my desk area clean, both at work and home, it makes a huge difference in how I’m able to focus. It’s not always clean of course, but whenever it is I can immediately feel the difference, so I’m trying to be more consistent with that.
How do you GSD at home?
I’ve recently jumped on the minimalism bandwagon and I’ve been getting rid of a lot of “stuff” at home — it’s an amazing feeling. I’ve found the less stuff I have, the less anxious I feel — and the less I want *more* stuff. I’ve also found that having a few really nice things is better than having a bunch of just okay things, which is part of the inspiration behind the LEIF lifestyle — having simple, beautiful things that bring you joy.
What books, websites, posts and other resources have you found helpful or have changed your life?
Experience is the best resource and learning by doing has been more helpful than any book — I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started out and just learned things as I went along. And I’m still learning, of course.
Would love to know what apps, websites, programs, and gadgets you use.
Instagram is definitely my social media of choice (I’ve officially given up on Twitter and Facebook), and I’ve been using Iconosquare and Archie recently to keep track of and gain new followers. Also, and this is maybe a bit random, but I’m addicted to Car2go to transport things from my apartment to the studio or vice versa (which can otherwise be challenging and expensive in the city!).