Surrounding yourself with like minded individuals is an essential part of being a creative and running your own business. This month’s featured artist spotlight belongs to Randy and Alyson, two people who were friends of mine before they started TheoHenry. It has been a blast watching this project turned part time business of theirs grow through the roof! From a basement startup to a local studio space in Downtown Appleton, their products are filling local farmers markets and you can find them at each Artery event hosted by Pulse Young Professionals Network ~ the next one is coming up on April 30th!
This is the first Featured Artist where two fantastic individuals are answering a few of my probing questions, it was fun to read their answers and envision what it would be like if I were to work closely with Joe. I’m not so sure we would find our ebb and flow as easily as Randy and Alyson have. I’m super excited to share a bit of their story with you and encourage you find them at the next art outing you are at and say hi!
Name: Randy and Alyson Newhouse
When TheoHenry first started to take shape, how quickly did you both realize it would be a joint effort to run a business out of your home?
R: Once we applied for an LLC and made TheoHenry an official business (January 2015), it became apparent that we would both need to work on this to make it successful.
A: Randy has always been the designer and creator; TheoHenry was completely his idea. Once we formed the business, I took over the bookkeeping side of things.
When you were a kid Randy, what did you want to be when you grew up? How do you think this impacted what you do today? I never really had a clear idea of “this is what I want to do when I grow up.” Maybe a musician. I still enjoy playing guitar. I can’t say that any of my childhood aspirations resulted in TheoHenry; those ideas didn’t develop until much later.
How do you help and encourage each other as days get busy and TheoHenry continues to grow?
A: We both make frequent trips to the post office to ship items to customers. When there are big orders, we work together at the shop to get them done. Randy is still the one to do all of the sewing, but I help with other parts of the products (cutting, punching leather, ironing).
R: When we have big orders, Alyson helps me cut fabric and assemble products. We talk about the business all of the time; ways it could be changed, improvement to the products, how to distinguish ourselves in a world where there are products of similar style.
A: Having those conversations definitely helps us stay on the same page, and keep working toward the same goals.
Randy, what does a typical day of work look like for you start to finish? Coffee, radio, sewing, coffee, sewing, coffee, waxing, coffee, sewing. It typically starts with coming up with a plan for what I need to get done in terms of products. I try to schedule things to make everything the most time efficient (What orders need to be finished first? What colors do I need? What items need to be waxed? What pieces of leather need to be made?) so that at the end of the day I’m not repeating myself over and over. Once I have a plan, I get to work.
Alyson, what are your day to day responsibilities with TheoHenry? I work on the business end of things. I keep track of our monthly income and expenses and help with ordering supplies. My day job as an 8th grade teacher doesn’t allow for much extra time to work with Randy at the shop, but we do spend time together there on weekends. This has definitely been a learning experience for me. I don’t have any sort of business background, so there was a huge learning curve.
Any favorite projects you’re currently working on?
A: Randy has an idea about starting a collections line, which I’m really excited about. We’ve talked about using a set color palette to make a series of products that match. He’s also played around with block printing, which I think will make us stand out.
R: The block printing is an idea I started playing with a couple of months ago. It’s the process of carving a linoleum block, rolling on ink, and printing it one stamp at a time on fabric. It’s an opportunity to individualize TheoHenry from other brands.
How do you use social media and what is your favorite way to connect with your audience? We have both an Instagram and Facebook account. Due to our lack of time, our social media presence isn’t very active, although we do use it to post new products. We would like to focus more on this in the future.
How do you find inspiration Randy? It starts with brainstorming products I can make that people will find useful. I normally look online to get ideas of what people currently want and then try to create designs that meet that demand but are also unique.
Alyson, if an idea ever pops in your head do you ever get behind the sewing machine? Definitely not. It’s funny; I used to love sewing. I even made my own prom dress in high school, but I don’t enjoy it like I used to. Now if I see something in a store or online that I like, I point it out to Randy and suggest that he try making it for me!
Randy, who or where is your go to for creative criticism when you are questioning your work and why? I don’t need to look any further than myself. I am incredibly critical of what I make. I am constantly looking for ways make new products and to make current items better, because I don’t have anyone to teach me.
What was the best piece of advice you ever got?
A: We met with Randy’s brother, Rob, who is a successful business owner. He gave us two pieces of advice: hire an accountant and start using QuickBooks. We met with him on a Friday, and by Monday we had done both. Those two things definitely helped us organize and grow TheoHenry.
Any secrets for productivity?
R: Not working alone. I am easily distracted. When Alyson is there, I get more done than I do on my own.
A: It’s true. He has this incredibly creative mind, but it drifts all over the place sometimes. We are so different from one another; I don’t think this business would work without that balance.
Who are some of your other favorite creatives to follow?
R: Greenwich Vintage Co, Stormy Kromer, Best Made Co, Field Notes, lots of motorcycle builders
A: Dora Lou (she’s a jewelry designer; she purchased a hot pink TheoHenry apron when we first started), Knit Collage, ByEandM
Anything we missed that you would like to share? Whatever you do, be good at it.