Today we’d like to introduce you to Alicia Roy Fries.
Alicia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always turned to illustration as an outlet for my imagination. I am hearing impaired, wearing two hearing aids since I was five. Due to my hearing loss, the use of visual arts and writing to communicate gave me confidence in myself. It made me whom I am today. Through years of art, writing, speech therapy, and the support from family and friends that treated me “just like everyone else”, they helped me gain the confidence in myself to go after my dreams of creating full time.
My favorite way to express myself was making homemade greeting cards for family with my own heartfelt sentiments. Fast forward after years of drawing and crafting, I reached the University of New Haven where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Fine Art. There I learned to combine my love for whimsical illustration with typography. I continued designing cards and was often approached to make custom invitations.
Soon enough, it seemed everyone I knew was getting married, including myself, turning to me to help create their visions for their special day. This demand was the final push I needed to begin selling custom invitations, favors, gift bags, and more. I decided my passion was in those smaller details, the favors and gifts to others, so I decided to focus on making and selling those items.
For years, I would go to my “day job” and then work all hours of day and night on my orders, until this past May 2019, when my first baby girl was born. I am now a full-time stay-at-home mom boss, maintaining my business and fulfilling orders in between naps, feedings, and diaper changes. Although she has replaced my “day job”, I manage to get it done, because I love it! Leeshyanna keeps me fulfilled and grounded. My shop gives me my sense of self, helps keep me feeling like “me” in the day-to-day grind of “mom life”.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There are always good day & bad days in business. I have 18 years of retail and customer service experience, but I don’t have a traditional “business background”, so it’s been an ongoing learning process. Luckily, I have the never-ending educational source of the internet!
I like to believe people respond to small businesses with heart, knowing they are supporting a family, not a corporation. But, in the days of Amazon, I am always trying to find ways to ship my items quicker, without jeopardizing my commitment to that handcrafted, personalized touch. So it is an internal struggle versus what’s best for business.
With all those perfected posts on social media, it’s hard not to compare your journey to others, especially when you offer similar items. I try my best to let others inspire me rather than bring me down. Having the right perspective in business can do wonders! You must always stay positive, persistent, and have grit.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Leeshyanna – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Leeshyanna specializes in custom gifts and event details. We love all things that should be celebrated: love, weddings, babies, friendship, family, and a good night’s sleep. Our sleep eye masks and hand-lettered gift bags are our current number one sellers. When available, our custom portraits & illustrations are a big hit.
Leeshyanna is run solely by one busy Mama, designing, creating, and marketing all items by hand. Nothing is more satisfying than having a customer express their happiness in something I was able to create for them on their special day.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am consistently researching and creating new products to stay fresh and relevant! I am so excited to get back to my true love of illustrating custom art, and launching other new product lines, including apparel that “gives back”. I look forward to raising funds for local organizations close to my heart from selling my designs. I also look forward to participating in local fairs and markets, connecting and collaborating with other local creatives. We are currently building our new website off of Etsy at www.leeshyanna.com.
- Website: www.leeshyanna.etsy.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/leeshyanna
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/leeshyannaboutique
- Other: www.leeshyanna.com
Alicia Roy Fries, Heather Renee Photography