I’m so happy to finally have NOH back online. It has been a tumultuous couple of weeks and I’m guessing that I have about 20 new gray hairs after this past week!
So today I wanted to celebrate being back online by sharing about another awesome sponsor for the Made in Germany giveaways. Plus, I wanted to let you know that there will be a sneak preview of all the goodies being given away AND a chance to score a few extra entries!! So be on the lookout for info about another very special sponsor next week and the pre-entry info!
Today I get to introduce Lslie Art — which makes some of the coolest yoga mat bags I’ve ever seen (plus other really nice totes, pouches and other cool fabric goodies!) All of the beautiful and unique bags are handmade and no two bags are the same. I got a few moments to talk with Lili who is the creative force behind Lslie Art and was able to pick her brain.
What can you tell us about Lslie Art that we absolutely need know but might not read elsewhere?
All my bags are one-of-a-kind and no two bags are similar, simply because they are designed and handmade by me with lots of love. Coming from Germany where we are famous for details and workmanship, you can be sure of the quality of my bags.
I learned to sew when I was in high school and I really love it. I used to make my own school bags, pencil cases, headbands, dresses etc (You name it, I’ve done them all!) However, I was so occupied with studies and work that I didn’t lay my hands on the sewing machine for almost 20 years. After obtaining a degree in IT and subsequently an MBA in Berlin, I worked as a Senior Consultant for almost 10 years. Along the way, I got very burnt out from my job and tried to balance my life by practicing yoga and meditation. I love yoga!
I started selling online a year ago with only 9 different yoga mat bags designs. Today, customers can choose from more than 40 different designs and they can even customise their own. I like to call it the “Do-It-Yourself Yoga Mat Bag”, whereby customers can choose the fabric which they like in my shop and I can tailor it according to their preferred design.
So yoga eventually brought you back to your true love of sewing? Did you just look at your mat and know you could make the perfect bag to stash it in? Or was it more out of necessity?
The story behind these bags began when I could not find a nice bag for my yoga mat. So I decided to make my own, and just for the fun of it, I tried selling my bag on Ebay to see if anyone was interested in buying it. As you might guess, it did actually sell and I was over the moon! After that first sale, I thought, “Hey, why not make more yoga mat bags and sell them? Perhaps one day, I can make a living out from the things that I love (which are sewing, yoga and bags).”
What excites you and continues to motivate you year after year to make these fun bags?
What keeps me motivated is the feedback from my customers – when they tell me how happy and excited they are to receive their orders, how they love my bags, how other women look at their bags with envy. All these just encourage me to make more bags, knowing that I contribute to someone’s happiness out there. It makes me feel happy and purposeful in this world.
Sounds like it’s been a wonderful experience so far to owning and running your own business. What has been the most rewarding experience while running Lslie Art?
It’s the freedom to do what I love to do and when I want to do it, without anyone telling me what, when and how. At the same time, I’m not a morning person, so it was very hard for me to work normal hours, especially the 9- to-5 jobs. Now I can sew my bags in the middle of the night, or pack them when everyone else is sleeping. I can also design new bags, list them on my shops, do paperwork at my own time and pace, without any deadlines specified by anyone. It’s definitely great to enjoy such freedom but at the same time, there needs to be a lot of self-discipline to make sure things work.
What are your hopes for the company for the future?
I would love to continue to make a living out from my passion, as well as to be able to offer my items in brick and mortar shops. I also aim to come up with more new designs to cater to the needs of my customers.
Wow! Big plans for Lslie Art. But let’s get back to what you’re currently doing. What is your favorite bag that you offer for sale right now?
I love all my bags! Every one of them is unique and one-of-a-kind. I make each bag as though it is for my own use. There’s a lot of care and “love” put in for each of them (I know it sounds cliché but it’s true!) so it’s always difficult for me to let them go. I ended up not selling some and using them for myself (can’t help it!). Sometimes I’ve even kept a bag for a long time before I put it up for sale.
I can see why you’d have trouble letting some of them go. I already have trouble picking a favorite myself. I just love your fabrics! How do you come up with the designs of the bags?
I am a simple and practical person, and that has an influence on the designs of my bags; Lslie Art bags are simple but functional. At the same time, I listen to my customers’ needs. They tell me what they want in a bag and from there I come up with new designs and improve or revamp the existing ones.
My first yoga mat bag design was a very simple one. Along the way, a customer asked for one with a pocket. It was a difficult request because most of the fabric used has big patterns and I didn’t want to interfere with the beautiful pattern by putting a pocket on it. For months, I banged my head on the wall (just kidding!) to find a way to incorporate a pocket. So after a lot of trial and error, I finally found a way to fulfill my customer’s request without affecting the beautiful pattern of the bag.
There were also many other requests that came in subsequently – the need for adjustable straps so that customers could sling the bag across their body, waterproof yoga mat bags and most importantly, bags with zips so that it is easier to slide those sticky mats in. All these requests and suggestions had helped me tremendously in improving my designs and at the same time, understand what my customers wanted.
Today, my best-seller is the zippered yoga mat bag that comes with adjustable strap and zippered inside pocket.
So what do you think? These bags would make me want to take up yoga! But thankfully I can just yoga it up with my Wii and grab one of Lslie Art’s awesome totes instead.
Join in on the Made in Germany giveaway and you will get the chance to win one of these great one-of-a-kind yoga mat bags for yourself! And tune in Monday, March 28th to learn how you can gain a few extra entries for this mega-giveaway event — with prizes worth over $1,000!!0