We chat to Leona Thrift-ola, the maker behind Lucky Dip Club, about snazzy socks, staying colourful and helping the creative community.
From running her own jewellery stall in Portobello Market to selling vintage finds and launching a subscription box service, Lucky Dip Club’s Leona has had a varied creative career.
After success at London markets, Leona set up her own label, Lady Luck Rules, and opened the shop Superette in Shoreditch, London. After five years, she decided to change direction, travelling across the world picking up vintage finds to sell on. On her return she started Lucky Dip Club, a subscription box service for colour lovers that’s become hugely successful.
Since relocating to Margate following the birth of her daughter, Leona has continued to grow her subscription box service, packing them with quirky socks and pins, plus much more. She’s also embarked on a new path with her latest venture The Rollercoaster Of Running An Indie Business, which is all about helping the creative community. We caught up with Leona to find out what’s next for Lucky Dip Club, how she’s inspired by San Fransisco and why she’ll never stop dressing colourfully.
Hi Leona! We love Lucky Dip Club. Can you tell us a bit about why you set it up and how it’s evolved?
Four years ago a lightbulb pinged in my head and the idea to develop my range of Lucky Dip products into a subscription box model was born. The core ethos has always been to champion independent creatives and bring happiness through rainbow goodies and surprise post. The club has evolved in that we now send out less products, but have more experiences our subscribers can get involved with. We concentrate on super useful accessories and stationery alongside running a monthly swap and sale shop, a pen pal party, creative zine and positive online community.
Can you explain the process that goes into the subscription boxes?
I collaborate with indie illustrators to create brand new, never seen before products for the boxes every month. To keep everyone excited and engaged, the rainbow goodies inside always stay exclusive to us. I post everything out once a month so everyone receives their boxes around the same time. As a community, we decided to hold off sharing them until the 1st of the month so there’s less chance of seeing spoilers on Instagram! Our hashtag #luckydipclub has over 13,000 photos of happy post and it makes my heart sing when I scroll through people’s pictures with their goodies.
Which have been your favourite collaborations and why?
I only collaborate with illustrators and creators whose work I adore, so I’ve usually got some kind of established relationship with them on Instagram. This makes it super hard to pick a favourite! I admired the work of Australian artist Kitiya Palaskas for many years before approaching her and was bowled over when she said yes. Kit created our best selling pencil socks, which have just sold out!
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Can you describe your workspace and why it works for you?
My home office, The Rainbow Room, is my creative sanctuary. I feel inspired the moment I walk in – being surrounded by colour makes me happy. My job involves a lot of repetitive tasks, such as packing boxes and carding enamel pins, so it’s fun to have lots to look to keep my mind ticking over with creative ideas. I’ve divided the walls up into different project spaces to encourage myself to fill them with colourful fun. I have a patch wall that is full of positive and rainbow-hued designs by indie makers, two walls are painted rainbow stripes and I’m currently creating a very large gallery wall of uplifting art prints.
What does your average working day look like?
I’m awake at 6am – although not by choice – and have a bit of time to spend with my daughter before she goes to nursery. I’m at my desk at 8am and I have four hours to do whatever I’ve prioritised. based on production and project timelines – it’s amazing what you can achieve in short pockets of time when needs must. I clear my inbox first while I drink a cup of coffee – it’s like I’m clearing my headspace to get started on the day. There are always orders to be packed ready for Maggie, our post lady, who collects them every day at 2pm. I have lunch with Lola once she’s back from nursery and if she takes a nap I’ll tie up lose ends while she’s asleep.
Depending on workload, I’ll either spend the afternoon with her and my partner Glenn or continue working. I don’t quite believe in the elusive work/life balance that you always read about, so I let go of chasing that a while back. I’m a lot better at letting go of what doesn’t need to be done these days and I time block my work so I don’t feel like I’m inside a pinball machine pinging from one thing to another with no direction. My only non-negotiable rule for the day is that I down tools by 6pm to have dinner with my family.
You recently started the Facebook group The Rollercoaster Of Running An Indie Business – what made you decide to do this?
I’ve always been open about the ups and downs of running an indie business. Eight years ago I produced a zine sharing all my suppliers, manufacturers and key business contacts. Sharing this info was in no way detrimental for my business and it feels great knowing that little zine inspired many people to set up their own indie biz. I’ve spoken at Blogtacular, Betty Magazine’s The Girls Club and my own indie biz talks tour, so it seemed a natural progression to start a support group on Facebook. I decided to go live every Monday night with a different industry professional or indie biz owner to discuss subjects such as SEO, social media and Etsy. Ultimately, my passion lies in supporting the independent way of life. I left school at 16 with no hope for the future and starting my own business gave me a purpose in life. I’m as excited about it all now as I was that first day I set up my stall in Portobello Market in the early 2000s.
What are your next plans for the Facebook group?
The free group has grown so quickly and the feedback has been so positive that I launched a test membership group for 100 indie biz owners which sold out in under three hours. I’m going to concentrate on making this the best it can be then open our doors again on 1st September. I’ve written an updated version of my contacts book called the Rainbow Book of Contacts and I’m working on different ways to work with me, such as one-to-one coaching and indie biz audits. I feel like I’m stepping into a space that I’m meant to occupy and doing the work that I want to be known for. It feels fantastic!
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I recently travelled to San Fransisco to visit the Color Factory, which was the most amazing creative field trip. It was the first time I’ve travelled solo, with just my sketchbook and laptop. I walked and walked the streets, visiting all the famous colourful houses I’d seen on Instagram and doing some people watching in cafes. I took a million photos and sketched so many ideas. I changed my socks in every room and it was so much fun seeing my own products in all the different rooms.
Where does your love of colour come from?
As an 80s kid, I’ve always dressed colourfully, from mismatched neon pink and yellow towelling socks at school through to my 90s raving days – hello confetti print catsuit! As a 40-year-old mum, I love wearing colour more than ever and recently dyed my hair a peachy pink to add to the bright vibe. I feel like me when I dress colourfully – it’s a big part of my identity which as I get older I don’t want to lose it or give it up. Dressing colourfully usually makes people smile and that’s a wonderful thing.
Where are you happiest?
When I’m completely absorbed in what I’m doing. That can be hosting a live chat in Indie Rollercoaster, creating products for Lucky Dip Club or at the beach with my family. I’m only just beginning to find what my true rhythm is, to spend less time in my head and to have fun!