Crafted by: Sherry Lee-Huang
In the past few years I have been inspired by so many women who are seriously crushing it in life. Whether it's their full-time job, a side-hustle, or a passion project, these women are following their passions and crafting their life on their terms. I can totally stand behind that. To honor those women, and because I think we can all learn a little bit from one another, I've launched the "Crafted by" series. Each week I will interview and highlight a woman whose stories I find inspiring.
The first woman in our series is girlboss, Sherry Lee-Huang of the modern tabletop decor company, Esselle. I first connected with Sherry last year when I was looking for some fun pieces to spice up my workshop spread. Modern, sleek, and functional her pieces are the perfect addition to any home. Learn more about her story...
What inspired you to start your own venture?
I realize I have never explored my creative side quite as much until I really HAD to for my wedding- to save money! It was through crafting and countless visits to antique markets sourcing vintage tabletop décor that really got me to where I am today. I found myself enjoying that miserable process of curating and creating! I use the word miserable is because at times I really am. It’s truly a love-hate relationship but it’s one that I know I can’t live without.
After the wedding, I wanted to keep but I knew I didn’t want to be a wedding planner so the option was simple for me- sells stuff.
I was in graduate school for UX design when I started esselle with a friend who had a full time job. esselle was a creative outlet where we got to play “entrepreneur” minus all the pressure of actually being one – like making money. We created a fun concept, “The Hostess Box” where we’d curate ready-to-use tabletop décor for people to host dinner parties. It was a brilliant concept but the idea didn’t fly given the amount of time and resources we put into it.
Nonetheless, I’ve learned so much along the way while running our little online shop. We began noticing among all the types of tabletop décor sourced, a well designed place card holders were always the hardest to find! We wanted something modern and chic but it was none existent. That’s when we saw an opportunity to design and manufacture our own! Since then, esselle became a brand, not just an online shop.
When did you know that this job/career was for you or realized a past job wasn’t working for you?
I realized this path was for me because I really do love every moment of the journey regardless of how challenging it may be at times. I especially love the creative freedom and the community that I am in. The creative community truly is the best – everyone that I’ve met along the way has been genuinely kind and supportive. We are all going through the same struggles so it’s extra comforting to be around people who just gets it.
What's your unofficial business motto/a quote or saying that you live by?
I have a few!
"While I breathe, I hope." | "Fake it till you make it." | "Teamwork makes the dream work."
Word of advice for anyone looking to pursue a similar career:
It might not sound like an advice but I always say the same things to people that talks about wanting to pursue a creative career. Just do it. Because chances are, if you are always talking about it to all your family and friends, you’ve probably also been planning it in your head for a long time. You owe it to yourself to explore the possibility that it may be your calling.
The best piece of advice you have ever received:
The best piece of advice I ever got was from my sweet friend, Kristen Ley of Thimblepress! It turns out, it’s the same advice I give to people but delivered differently. While I tell people that wants to start their own business to “just do it”- Kristen tells me to apply that same philosophy to all areas of my business. This year I am trying to focus on growing wholesale but I didn’t feel confident enough to blind pitch to stores. Kristen encourages me to put myself out there because what’s the worst that can happen? Shops saying no? A simple no might not mean no forever, it might just not be a fit for now.
In the rare moments where you're not being a total #girlboss what are some things you love to do in your spare time?
When I am not working or thinking about business, I really just like to watch Netflix/movies and veg at home and with my husband and dogs or make an effort to visit girlfriends who I haven’t seen in weeks. I am so basic!