Tea & a chat with Red Velvet

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Shimelle Laine meets two sisters from Springfield, Missouri, who work together, sharing a love of vintage fashion and home-baked goodness through their boutique, Red Velvet

Elsie Larson is the bundle of creative energy behind the hugely popular blog, A Beautiful Mess, but she’s not a one-woman show. Starting in their high school years, Elsie and little sister Emma Chapman formed Red Velvet Art along with their friend Rachel Denbow, and the trio spent all year making journals, hair accessories and guitar-pick earrings to sell at music festivals in the summer holiday.

That early entrepreneurial fun inspired Elsie to launch the Red Velvet boutique for vintage and handmade fashion, first as an online store, then a small retail space and now a full store with a dressmaking studio at the back. Emma runs a Sweet Shoppe filled with baked goods at the front. We caught up with them to find out more…

Describe your style in a few words

Elsie: My style is 1950s and 1960s inspired. I love wearing dresses, heels and beehives. I was born in the wrong decade!

Emma: Neutrals. Fringe. Gold tones. My style is all about trends from the 1970s.

Which books and magazines are currently on your bedside table?

Elsie: My nightstand is currently full of cookbooks because I’m a newlywed and I’m in nesting mode. I also love Nylon and Martha Stewart! Magazines are my guilty pleasure, so I have way too many in my purse at all times.

Emma: I have Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food on my nightstand. I also just acquired Super Natural Every Day, and have been marking recipes I want to try soon.

Name your top three creative blogs

Elsie: My favourite blogs are Smile And Wave, Skunkboy Creatures and The Dainty Squid

Emma: Creative blogs I love include: Joy the Baker, Annie’s Eats, and The Pioneer Woman Cooks

What advice would you give to others who want to start a creative business?

Elsie: My first advice is always to start online. Start a blog, start an Etsy shop and build that following. Starting with just a local store is so challenging these days. If you have that base of people who know you online, they are there to support you even if they aren’t local. That makes it so much easier to take your next steps and it’s way more fun if you know you have this group of people who like what you do.

Emma: I totally agree. The support you get online helps in so many ways and gives you a sounding board too.

Elsie: Start with one thing and do it really well. You don’t have to do everything overnight; I like to see people develop their skill and style. That’s what we carry here, too – items made by artists who have a speciality and a trademark look.

Photographs © Shimelle Laine

Original article printed in issue 7 of Mollie Makes. Available to buy online now.