We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Harper and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Julie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?

I’ve always loved to work with my hands ~ and to share what I make with others ~ so my business was largely born out of me making things that I love, and seeing if others would like them, too. I feel that if you believe in your product and love what you do, it’s contagious and others are drawn to that. Some people build a business primarily to make money, and if they happen to love it, that’s icing on the cake. For me, I love what I do, and if I can make money in the process it’s a bonus!

 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had my hand in something artsy. Whether it’s arranging a bouquet of flowers or standing at a chop saw prepping cedar Christmas ornaments, I see art everywhere. I can’t remember the last time I bought wrapping paper because I always consider it a challenge to find something that’s already on hand and to see how pretty I can make it!

Hand-lettering has moved to the forefront of my business this year as I’ve had a bit more time on my hands these past few months. When an old friend from highschool reconnected with me in October, I had no idea that in three months time this Canadian girl would be married to her American best friend and living in Arizona! Not being able to work in the US while working on my green card has certainly been a challenge but having the time to really focus on my art has been a sweet gift. I’ve always love hand-lettering, and as part of my personal life am often writing out Bible verses or special quotes to remind myself of what’s important (you’ll find these taped up all over my house with bits of washi tape). When friends continued to ask me if I’d ever consider selling my hand-lettered pieces, I knew I wanted to pursue this avenue of art but never seemed to have the time or resources. Over the years, I noticed that while shops seemed to be saturated with artists selling all sorts of products with typed verses on them, there was little space taken up in the market with hand-lettered pieces. I continued to write out verses with pen and paper and gave them away to people to create awareness, but things really kicked into gear when my husband bought me my first iPad a few months ago! I felt like my creative world just exploded with new possibilities and, by focusing on digital prints, I could finally see a way to potentially get my foot in the door.

I’m grateful that ~ because my business has always been supplemental income in addition to my regular job ~ I’ve had the ability to do what I love without the pressure of relying solely on the income it brings. In that way, seeing my business grow over the years has been a fun process void of much of the stress a business can bring. Now that I’m entering a whole new world with an online shop, though, things are definitely kicking up a notch! I know my plate will be full (and I’ll need work on some major time management!) but this is such a dream come true for me and it’s a joy to get to do what I love.

 

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
To work into the activities slowly, I’d take my friend to Papago Park in Phoenix (this happens to be the location of my first virtual date with my now-husband and one of our first in-person dates when I moved here). The rock formations are amazing and it’s a great little afternoon jaunt. Then to get the blood pumping a bit more we’d hike to the top of Piestewa Peak. The view of the city is amazing! We’d head over to the Soda Jerk afterwards to try one of their crazy milk shakes, and then slip into the Nemesis Club Escape Room for a little adrenalin rush.

If you’re into rock climbing, a trip out to the McDowells is definitely a must. The hike alone is well worth it even if you don’t climb. On the way home it’ll be hot, so a quick stop at Sonic for their All Natural Lemonade will be welcome (yes, you’ll want to order the biggest size you can get). Carolina’s Mexican Food by the airport is a must for some of the best tortillas you’ll ever have. Blink and you’ll miss it…super inconspicuous but so worth the visit.

Sedona is a bit of a tourist trap, but the hiking is incredible and Cathedral Rock is a hike you won’t regret (does getting engaged here make me biased?). Grab a bite to eat at the picturesque Oaxaca Mexican Restaurant and you’ll go home with a happy tummy (and leftovers).

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I would not have had any sort of success in my business (young as it is) without friends and family coming alongside to support my dream…with encouragement, of course, but also by showcasing my art and spreading the word even when I was still honing my craft! I’m embarrassed now by some of the pieces I put out in my early days, but my community was nothing but amazing and I never once felt discouraged away from following my dream.

Website: www.laceyandmowbray.com (this site is new and is a work in progress, so keep your eyes peeled for new products being posted weekly!)

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lacey.and.mowbray/

Other: lacey.mowbray@gmail.com

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.