One of my favorite things about blogging is discovering small businesses. It has always amazed me how many bloggers have started small businesses and also how many women just like you and me have started their own company from the ground up. Christine is a friend that I met through Instagram and has the most beautiful things. She lives in Charleston and there is no doubt we would be friends in real life! She started a company called South of Libbie that sells classic, Southern goods and beautiful monogrammed gifts that any lady would swoon over. I wanted to introduce her to all of you with a little Q&A and show you some of the beautiful things she does. And if you make it to the end… we have a pretty fabulous giveaway waiting for you!!
photo by Jennifer Collins
1. When was South of Libbie born and what made you decide to start your brand???
I’ve always loved giving gifts, but my love of monograms started when I was 16. I was looking through my mom’s jewelry box one day and found one of her gold cut-out monogrammed rings with her maiden initials from when she was in high school. I immediately put it on my finger, and haven’t taken it off since. I love knowing that wherever I go, I have a part of my mom & my family heritage with me through her monogram. I think that really hooked me onto monograms…knowing that something I use/wear today is from my family past, and something that I have made with my monogram can be passed down through family generations to come. It’s a special way to honor family, which is everything to me.
I worked in different boutiques throughout and after college, and always loved those jobs. It never felt like “work.” But, I really started toying with the idea of opening a boutique around the time I was getting married. I become enthralled with intricate, vintage-style monograms to incorporate into our wedding. During this same time, I also had so many experiences with different gift shops through our registries, and I started to notice what things I liked (or what I would change) about different boutiques. Once we got married and moved to Charleston, I decided to take a leap of faith! It’s been an amazing experience so far!
2. Tell us a little bit about you, your family and where you’re from.
I was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia but now call Charleston home. I’m incredibly close with my family. We had family suppers (as we call it in the South!) weekly. My mom, Aunt, and Mamaw always used their fine china, silver, and linens. It was never in a pretentious way…but more of an intentional effort to show us love, and show our family that we were worth the extra effort. We always had extra people at our supper table, whether it was strangers or lifelong friends. I really admire my mom’s hospitality, which inspired much of South of Libbie.
My mom is an amazing cook (you haven’t lived if you haven’t tried her coconut cream pie!) and I love to cook & bake because of her. I always see cooking as a way I can tangibly serve others. You have to eat, so it might as well be good!
In my spare time, I love to be out on the water with my husband and family. I grew up with a riverhouse near the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia (I was only 2 weeks old my first time on a boat!) so being on the water is just part of life for me! I also love to antique shop, decorate our house, and read.
Photo by Gillian Ellis
3. When did you teach yourself how to use a monogramming machine
I taught myself when I bought the machine! I don’t have any sort of sewing background, and this has been such a learning experience! My sweet machine dealer has dealt with lots of questions from me, and many occasions of me bringing in my machine after I accidentally messed it up 🙂
4. What is your long-term vision for South of Libbie
My main vision with South of Libbie is for people to buy my products and use them in an intentional way. I want you to use your monogrammed napkins to host your family for supper, host your neighbors…don’t just let them sit in your china cabinet! My hope is that people can shop my store and find classic, high quality, yet fun items to either add more beauty to their everyday life, or give to others as a meaningful gift.
5. Would you like to have a store front one day??
Yes! One of my core founding beliefs of South of Libbie is that relationships are everything. I’ve formed so many amazing friendships through my online store, but I know that a storefront would enable me to form relationships with my customers on a whole other level! Plus, I’d love to design the displays! I’m not sure of the timing on this, but I am trusting in God’s plan.
6. You have a gorgeous instagram feed. Do you run everything with South of Libbie by yourself?
You are so sweet! Thank you so much for saying that. Yes, I run everything with South of Libbie by myself! My dad is a business owner as well, so he has given me a lot of advice with the business side of things. It’s been really neat to connect with my dad through my business. I’d love to learn more about using a DSLR camera on manual, as right now I just use my iPhone. I listen to a lot of podcasts any chance I get, and google as much as I can!
7. What is your favorite part about owning your own business?
South of Libbie gives me an amazing outlet to form relationships and show kindness and grace to so many people. I really believe in treating others the way you want to be treated, and my hope is that South of Libbie allows me to do that with my customers. I truly have the most amazing customers, and have formed so many friendships with the greatest people.
I’ve always been creative (something I’m so thankful my parents always encouraged and were proud of!) and South of Libbie really allows me to flex my creativity. I love finding beautiful, high quality items to share with others
I’m also always learning something new. I genuinely love to learn, and I truly learn something new everyday in my business!
8. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about starting your own business?
Where do I start?! I sometimes can’t even believe how much I’ve learned in the 1.5 years I’ve been in business. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is perseverance and believing in myself. Starting a business from scratch (with no semblance of a business background!) is tough work. There were definitely days that I would question if I could make it. But I know in my heart that this is my calling and what God has laid on my heart, and so I just keep moving. I’ve also learned to give myself grace. Emily Ley’s quote, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection” hangs over my desk, and is a huge reminder to me (I definitely struggle with perfectionist tendencies!) One of the perks of working for myself is giving myself grace to occasionally take Millie on walks during the middle of the day, meet up with friends, etc… I’ve learned it’s all about a balance. Owning my own business is a never ending schedule, so I’ve learned if I take some time off during the day, I just will have to make it up later that night working late.
9. What does a typical day look like for you?
Oh goodness! Every day is a little bit different. I try to start each day in prayer and quiet time. It definitely doesn’t happen everyday, but my faith is a huge part of my life. I usually try to exercise 2-3 times a week (Orange Theory Fitness is my favorite!) After that, I make my way into my office and get working on orders, social media, updating my website, or whatever comes that day! We recently got a cavapoo puppy, Millie, who has been the sweetest addition! She’s the best co-worker, and forces me to get out of my office and get some fresh air breaks throughout the day. I always like to clean my office and make a list of what needs to be done the next day before I shut off for the day. I’m a big believer in the statement, “a cluttered house is a cluttered mind,” so I like to keep my work space and house as organized and clean as possible. I always end the night cooking dinner for my husband. We try to eat dinner together every weeknight at our dinner table (something my family did every night growing up, and a very important tradition for me to continue in my own family!) My guilty pleasure is watching TV and Netflix binges (Downton Abbey is my all time favorite!) so I always wind down at the end of the day with some TV, and reading before bed.
10. What are the most popular items from South of Libbie?
Our pagoda tea towel is definitely a top seller, and a perfect hostess gift. For a higher price point (especially a wedding gift!) our monogrammed dinner napkins are hugely popular. The Richmond font is the most popular font for our napkins. I’m looking forward to seeing what changes in popularity as I add more gift items into the shop!!
Photo by Gillian Ellis
:: READER DISCOUNT ::
Enter code HOMEOFMALONES15 at check on the South of Libbie website and will give them 15% off until Monday, 12/18. She has some of the most gorgeous gifts for friends and family!
Now for our giveaway!!!
One lucky winner will have the opportunity to win TWO monogrammed tea towels from South of Libbie! Please enter below! Don’t forget… the more time you enter, the better your chances of winning!