Leesa Jo Schenk has turned a hobby for creating crafts into a thriving business courtesy of Etsy and social media. Whether it is seasonal items for your home or clothing, Schenk puts all of herself into the handmade products she creates.
Schenk began selling her products through Etsy in 2009, and since then, she has built up a reputation for her high-quality creations. But Schenk isn’t just about the handmade crafts and clothing she stitches. With a strong faith, Schenk started her business as a way to work closer with her mother and sisters. However, fate intervened, and Schenk’s original plans for her crafts company changed. Despite the shift in her original idea, things have worked out for her and RRhomedecor.
Totalprestige Magazine caught up with Schenk to find out more about her products and her life.
Leesa, can you please tell us about the handmade products you create?
I love what I feel I’m privileged to do. Make beautiful things! Outer beauty may fade but inner beauty remains forever. My designs evolve from a seemingly endless supply of inherited materials and trims that just keep coming to me!
Your RRdesigns561 shop on Etsy features your creations. Leesa, are there some very special gifts you would like to mention?
I really enjoy Christmas and this time of year making Myrtles trees. Myrtle is a dear friend who passed away at age 96, over a year ago. I loved her and she inspired me to carry on her tree decorating. They bring joy to little spaces and special faces! Wonderful Christmas gifts that can be enjoyed year after year.
“Scraps Teddy Bears Collections” are a favorite. Keepsake namesakes tagged with a card that tells the origin and meaning of the names that are chosen for them. Every bear is unique like we are. Many people do not know what their name means. I have found through the studying of people names and meanings that our moms get it right and could even be by divine design.
I also love to design clothing, mostly dresses. A friend came to me and asked me to make her daughter a custom prom dress and I was floored at her confidence in me. I wasn’t so sure I could, but the end result was perfect and a re-creation of a vintage white satin dress adorned in ostrich feathers. In a sense, my friend Ellie’s confidence in me, moved me to make many dresses after that.
Leesa, can you please tell us what makes your luxury creations stand out from competitors?
I believe it’s the personal touch and attention to the details. I try to do all things with excellence and I do many things with focus on what’s at hand, one original gift at a time. For instance, my pillow designs are well sewn and stuffed firm, so they do not go flat in a year, and all of them have zippers and trim and I even overlock inter seams so when washed you do not have loose strings inside to catch your finger nails on while putting the cover back on the pillow form.
Leesa, what led you to create RRhomedecor?
Originally, I dreamed of a family business with my mom and sisters, where we all could work together and inspire each other. Robin Rogers, my younger sister, had a home decorating business in Arizona. We got together and did shows in Las Vegas every year in December, but distance and family responsibilities ruled. I, myself, was the one who desired this dream of a handmade gift shop, so I pressed on making it slowly happen one day at a time. My older sister, Marguerite, still provides all the beautiful hand crochet items. Etsy is the perfect platform for me with my background in professional photography and scene styling for magazines and ads. It all came together nicely.
What has been your most rewarding professional experience?
That’s hard to pinpoint as I feel I’ve been blessed with so many. If I had to choose, I would say winning the Florida title of ‘The Woman of America’ pageant in 1988, because it led to many fun and rewarding experiences.
How do you find inspiration?
My faith and inspiration just seems to come to me through visual stimulation as I view fabrics, prints, colors and supplies!
What is the most challenging part of your work?
Definitely, keeping materials and projects organized in a small space, so I can be more productive. That has been in the works all year; 2017 was get it organized. New office, decorating workspace moved. I’m very pleased and looking forward to 2018.
What do you have your sights set on next?
I know there is always room for improvements and I’m considering opening a second Etsy shop in 2018. If I can increase my sales, I would like to contribute more to household expenses to relieve my husband a bit, and contribute to causes that I’d like to help. I hope to publish a book of true inspiring short stories from my life journal. They are full of humor, excitement and some sorrow as well. My hope is to encourage others into a godly relationship. Because the only thing free in this world is the grace of God.
Were you ever influenced by other entrepreneurs?
Yes, I have admired a few. But my true love and influences were woman like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, whom had the gift to make laughter an everyday practice. They are and were beautiful woman that could make ugly faces and were deeply loved and appreciated by many. I really like that and I fashioned myself after them.
What is a day in your life like?
Early raise and load up bikes, at the park by 7:00am. Do about three miles, and back home and fix a large coffee with whip cream and cinnamon on top, TV on TBN and listening to Joyce Meyers Ministries and other great preacher teachers. Sewing, working on computer, managing a Facebook group for shoppers and Etsy sellers called “Everything To Serve You” with my partner Joanne Hayward in administration. Trips to my local post office to ship orders and the daily and evening horse chores. Awaiting the homecoming of my loving husband and our dinner! Most evenings are spent soaking in our romantic Wisconsin whirlpool tub for two!
What makes you smile?
The laugh or chuckle of my husband, friends and family. Honestly, I’ve been told I laugh more than anyone most people know! In fact, one of my mottos has been “be happy for the bad times you are having, because they can always get worse” or “no matter what the weather is, bring your own sunshine”.
What scares you?
Living this life without my kingsman. I was 15-years old and Kevin was 17-years old, and he pledge his love and his life to me as I was pregnant with our son. You could say we all grew up together and I thank father God for him daily.
What have you learned about yourself running your business?
I’ve learned that I’m a human being before I’m an Etsy seller and designer, and not to be too hard on myself, if and when, I make a mistake. I’ve learned that I must continue to work and move forward every day in some way with a thankful heart. Putting ideas into actions and following through. I’ve learned to press on and not stress on! To enjoy what I’m doing is the key to my success and customer satisfaction.
What is your secret talent?
Well, if I tell it won’t be a secret anymore. But I never tell my customers that I sing and dance and pray over my designs at the sewing machine. That’s just an added bonus.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Leesa, do you have any hobbies?
Yes, I love to horse around with my quarter horse palomino, Phoenix, grooming and trail riding.
What are you never without?
Ice tea or some kind of drink, and father God. That might sound radical, but it’s really biblical, if you believe as I do. I look back at my life and I have no doubt father God is all over it. I give him the glory and thanks.
Can you tell us two of your favorite quotes?
The golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s good for life and business! I love this quote by Art Linkletter too: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”
How do you define success?
Working, moving forward with the talents and gifts you were given. If you have someone that loves you with all their heart, you have found success, cherish them and treat them with love and kindness in return and you can live happily ever after! Heaven on this Earth, if you will.
What advice would you give to anyone starting a new business?
Consider your motives, your loved ones and family, and keep the goals you desire to reach realistic so you do not overwhelm yourself with stress and become a slave to it (money). Do not give up on your dreams and desires, pray often.
For more information on Leesa Jo Schenk and to buy here RRhomedecor, please visit her seller’s page at https://www.etsy.com/shop/rrdesigns561.