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This is an interview done with Linen & Clay owner Brenli Dobrinski, read her story below! If you, or anyone you know would like to be highlighted in The Zillennial Zine, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Instagram!
Q: Tell us your story! Who is behind Linen & Clay designs?
A: Hi! My maiden name is Brenli Brown, but after getting married in June of this year, I am now Brenli Dobrinski! I graduated from Oklahoma State University in December of 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Design, Housing and Merchandising with an emphasis in Fashion Merchandising and a minor in Entrepreneurship. I have the sweetest husband, Scott, and the sweetest doodles, Honey and Maya! Scott is so supportive and actually jumps right in and helps me when I get overwhelmed. Right before graduation, I scrolled through Pinterest and saw a post about making earrings from clay. Crafting has always been a way for me to detox and release stress, so naturally I ran to Hobby Lobby and grabbed the supplies! After making myself earrings and wearing them around my sorority sisters, I had friends asking me to make them some. From there, the boutique I worked at asked to carry them in store and before I knew it, I was putting together an Etsy shop! Now I have a Shopify website of my own and I’m in about 35 stores across the US! I’m also almost in all 50 states, but I have Maine, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho left!
Q: What is it like to own a small business? Is it challenging at times? Is it rewarding?
A: Owning Linen & Clay is SUCH a dream come true, but it definitely comes with its own set of challenges. Sometimes I find myself finding my worth in my business and that can be hard. It’s difficult to separate yourself from your business considering you spend so much of your time dreaming, sketching, packaging, posting, etc. If I have a launch that doesn’t go as well as I’d like, I take it personally and get my feelings hurt. But the same thing is said for when I completely sell out or I get an amazing review or a genuine message from a customer, I feel amazing! I have to remind myself to separate the two sometimes and remember that my worth isn’t found in the way a collection sells. It is so rewarding seeing what you’ve always dreamed of come to fruition and grow and reach people. Owning a business is the most humbling experience and I’m so thankful for my customers and supporters that keep me up and running!
Q: Your Instagram feed features many inspirational quotes. Why is that?
A: Most of the quotes I post to my Linen & Clay page are either about mental health or are full of positivity! It is sad to say, but I feel like a large majority of the world is still scared to talk about mental health, when really, your mental health crazily affects your physical health, too. I personally struggle with anxiety and if me sharing my struggle can reach and help someone else that is also struggling, it’s more than worth it. The quotes I share and when I decide to share them is largely determined by what I’m struggling with in my personal life. I try to be really open and honest about what I’m dealing with, and I think my customers/followers really appreciate that. I love to keep the conversation for mental health open so people don’t feel so alone or isolated! The book Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen really helped me sort through my thoughts and helped me put words to what I was thinking and feeling, but couldn’t communicate to the people around me. It also gives factual, scientific evidence about how important your mental health is and shows you how necessary it is to take care of your mind! I would absolutely recommend it to anyone struggling with sorting through their thoughts and emotions!
Q: Do you have any advice for someone who is starting their own small business?
A: I have a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
1. Don’t just start a business to make money or to kill time. Make sure what you’re doing you genuinely LOVE to do, because it makes it so much fun! I can say I 1000% love what I do and it makes it the easiest job in the world.
2. Join the small business community on social media! You’ll make friends that are navigating the same waters that you are. You learn alot and you build a support system!
3. Tagging onto #2, try not to compare your journey to the businesses around you. Comparison will mess with you and make you feel like you’re behind, when really, you aren’t at all!
4. Have fun and be genuine. Your customers will love your business because of your products, but also because of YOU. So be authentic and have fun with your business!
Q: What are 3 of your favorite items in your shop?
My favorite collection I’ve ever done was our Rose Quartz collection! It has blush marbling with gold flakes and is topped off with a coat of resin, it really is so gorgeous! My other two favorite items are our clay hoops and our stickers! Our clay hoops are offered in 3 different sizes and multiple colors, and our stickers are weatherproof! Everything is completely handmade and our stickers are all hand drawn by me!
1. We have free shipping every Friday!
2. I interned for dress designer Sherri Hill during the summer of 2019 in Austin, TX! I also attended their runway show during New York Fashion Week that fall.
3. I design and cut all of our earring cards!
Go Check Out Linen & Clay!
Are you as obsessed with Linen & Clay and their clay earrings as we are? Let us know in the comments below!