Female Feature Friday: Carolyn and Lauren of Lola + Lina
We are back at it, bringing you another Female Feature Friday. We are so excited to be sharing a new amazing Girl Boss every week. The inspiration behind this series was to highlight the brilliant women running small businesses in an effort to inspire other women to bring their talents to the table. We can do it all, ladies!
We are so excited to bring you this week’s blog with Carolyn and Lauren, the duo behind Lola + Lina! These ladies have some amazing insight and advice to share. We are thrilled to share their interview with you!
LET’S GET DOWN TO (SMALL) BUSINESS:
Name and Occupation:
C: Carolyn Osborne, Co-Owner
L: Lauren Perkins, Co-Owner
Briefly describe your business:
C: A passion project-turned-scalable business that fulfills the demand for fun statement accessories and clothing.
L: What Carolyn said. We felt there was a void in Fort Worth for statement jewelry, and hopefully we filled that! Another side of our business is our mascot line - when we designed this there was nothing like it on the market. We love seeing our Horned Frog earrings on fans at TCU Games.
How did Lola + Lina come about and what were you doing before its creation?
C: Ever since I was little, my dream job has been to own a store. After being in Fort Worth for several years and putting many miles on my car to drive to Dallas to shop, I realized I didn’t want to cross the Fort Worth city limits to get what I want. Yes, we’ve had great clothing-focused boutiques here, but we lacked a store with all types of jewelry and accessories. I wanted to create a one-stop shop. I quit my job and created a Lola + Lina Instagram account—and the rest is history!
L: I had been working in the Oil and Gas Industry for 10 years before taking a break before having my second child. I realized that I wanted to do something creative outside the home! What started as a fun little side business has sure taken off, and I am finally putting that Fashion Merchandising Degree to use!
Why is small business so important to you?
C: As small business owners, we provide personalized attention to our customers that I don’t think is feasible with more corporate retail establishments. One of my favorite aspects of my job is client interaction. We’ve created an ongoing dialogue that has influenced major choices, from the location of our storefront to brands to pursue.
L: Being a small business, we are able to really zone in on what our clients want. We are able to unlock a level of creativity and flexibility that large businesses wish they could replicate. In a small business, you can sit at the intersection of quality, creativity, service, and value. We find that to be the high-traffic zone for small businesses.
What was your first real job?
C: I was an assistant for a wedding planner.
L: Oil and Gas Project Manager (Landman); Managed > 20 field landmen at one point for a successful field services business.
What motivates you to keep going on the less than awesome days?
C: On even the toughest days (and there are plenty when owning and operating a small business), I’m grateful to work for myself in a creative, entrepreneurial capacity— and to add some style and color to the world!
L: The challenge of running a small business. The challenge itself motivates you.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?
C: Find a hole in the market that aligns with your passion, then build a business plan. Also, ask people you respect all the questions that you can. I’ve found that successful people generally like to help others get their start.
L: First, just understand if you should truly start your own business. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, which is okay. If you do, know the work can be tedious and boring at times; but making sure you invest early in back-office infrastructure is key.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and what/how did you learn from it?
C: I’m not sure this qualifies as a mistake, but learning how to maximize our presence on social media has been a trial-and-error process. We’re at a place now where we know what our demographic wants to see and when, but it takes patience and research to lock that down.
L: When we started, we were a small social media retail business. Knowing more today, I would have given more thought to the set-up of the back office infrastructure earlier. You can never invest too early in the details.
What has surprised you most about running a small business?
C: Honestly, a pleasant surprise has been the overwhelming support from the Fort Worth community. It’s nerve-wracking to share a passion project and new concept with others, and we so appreciate the love from other small businesses and individual customers alike.
L: People root for you and cheer loudly. Those are important to hear. I’m sure people who work in large businesses would love to have the kind of support small businesses get from others.
Who have you looked to for advice and mentorship?
C: I value day-to-day advice from my husband and business mentorship from my brother-in-law. As far as products, packaging, and presentation are concerned, I trust my own instincts!
L: My family has always been our biggest supporters and mentors. We are fortunate to have successful people who openly share their business mistakes and learnings... which are more valuable generally than their successes.
What does it mean to you to be women in small business?
C: I worked hard for this! I’ve found inspiration in other women small-business owners and am proud to be counted among them. We also prioritize empowering other women, from hiring to styling them.
L: Businesses should take note of great things women do on a daily basis. Real entrepreneurs can’t afford to see or have bias. I do not have any stories about overcoming barriers because of being a woman, and I think that is an indication of progress at this end of the market.
What’s next for Lola + Lina?
C: Fingers crossed that we’ll open a second location outside of Fort Worth!
L: Second location and more online presence. We are also expanding horizontally with more licenses for our mascot collection and exciting new products. More announcements coming soon!
LET’S GET THE SKINNY ON FORT WORTH:
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO FORT WORTH?
C: I moved to Fort Worth in 2009 to attend TCU. Right before graduation, I met a handsome man at Central Market. We celebrate three years of marriage this year, and we’ve made Fort Worth our home.
L: Attended TCU. Moved to Dallas for a brief stint; but my husband and early career in the oil and gas industry drew me back to Fort Worth.
BEST TACO IN FORT WORTH?
C: I’m a sucker for Salsa Limon. Always have been. Hands down, best salsa in town. But if Revolver Taco didn’t close, I would have to pick them. If you’re reading this, Revolver Taco: please come back.
L: Taco Heads... hands down!
BEST QUESO IN FORT WORTH?
C: Unfortunately, I will eat queso from anywhere. I have found myself saying “This queso isn’t that good,” but finish the bowl anyway.
L: Queso Flamado at La Playa Maya.
FAVORITE MARG IN FORT WORTH?
C: Mi Cocina.
L: If you have not tried the Paloma from Taco Heads go now!!!
FAVORITE STEAKHOUSE IN FORT WORTH?
C: Wow, this is tough—so many solid options! I would have to say B&B Butchers. It’s incredible, and I love the atmosphere. Plus, the owner, Ben Berg, has been so good to Lola + Lina. We hosted their hard hat party!
L: The bar at B&B Butchers is where you will find me.
FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND A DAY IN FORT WORTH?
C: Nothing makes me happier than a productive Saturday and Sunday. Last weekend, my husband and I checked off our whole to-do list (this never happens). It felt great. If I’m not in the most productive mood, I like to explore what’s new in Fort Worth. New restaurants, stores, and cool concepts pop up daily! Come lunch time, you’ll likely find me outside at Press Cafe with a Medi Dip and a Trailhead Chicken Salad (add serrano peppers).
L: Chasing my kids around Waterside, attempting to eat a Steel City Popsicle -- try the Avocado, its like frozen key lime pie on a stick
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A BUSINESS OWNER IN FORT WORTH?
C: I love that Fort Worth is an eager, receptive market that encourages creativity.
L: The clientele. I’d put them up against any city in the world.
TELL US 3 OF YOUR FAVORITE FORT WORTH SMALL BUSINESSES.
C: Hair by Mauricio and Kari Does Makeup. This duo is extremely talented. Whether you need makeup and hair done for event or just because— you can always trust these two to do an incredible job. Very good people who put a lot of love into their career. I’m sure we’ll both say Hurley House. It’s drive-through and so convenient. I am a pimiento cheese fanatic.
L: Hurley House: their weekly to-go meals are an easy favorite among my family; Babies on the Boulevard: I can always find something we need there; and Playhouse Academy: It has been such a wonderful early childcare school to our three children.