We have had so much fun getting to know small business owners across the US that we wanted a way to share even more of their story with you. That's why we created the #BuySmallSaveSmall Stories series! In each new post we'll introduce you to a new business, and get down to details with the owner about what it's like to be a small business owner.
Without further ado, meet Jen Edmondson of Laughing Frog Studio!
Jen, where are you originally from?
I'm originally from the Bay Area. Moved around a BUNCH! I think like 10 different times by the time I graduated high school. CA, PA, SC, MI, WI. So I grew up everywhere!
What or who inspired you to start Laughing Frog Studio?
I have always wanted to have an art-based business since I was a kid. Then as I got older I wanted to have an antiques business. I started my antiques business around 2002 and sold antiques in shops and online really up until 2019. Matt is an artist to his core. Since he was saddled with the responsibility of making a decent living and procuring health insurance for our family, I was searching for an avenue for him to be creative.
As our kids got older our daughter got involved in travel hockey- we needed to make a little extra money to afford her passion. So I took my existing online presence, married it with the desire to allow Matt a creative outlet and paired it all with the need to make some "icing" money. I made a pair of earrings from some of my antiques stock. I listed them in my online store and they sold within a day. That's when I knew we were onto something. Shortly thereafter we created Laughing Frog Studio.
Where is your business located?
Cat Spring, Texas (yes, that is really the name of the town lol)
When did your business open?
May 1, 2011
What is/was your flagship product that launched the business?
Well like I said earlier it was a pair of earrings made from vintage silverware, but technically I sold that on my antiques Etsy shop. The very first item we sold as Laughing Frog Studio was, naturally, a spoon ring - June 7, 2011.
Is there a special story or meaning behind this name that you want to share?
The business name was created to reflect both of us. For the Jen side, so I have always been known for my laughter. I had various childhood nicknames related to my laughter, one of which was "hyena". As I got older, my friends would say, "we know when Jen is in the bar, we can hear her laughter." Matt loves frogs. When we first started dating, I bought him a silver tie tack in the shape of a frog. When I gave it to him, I said this is your guardian angel Gerry. He paused, looked at me in disbelief and said "What did you say?" I repeated what I said, to which he replied, "Did you know I had an older brother named Gerry that died before I was born?" Well I had not and we were always dumbfounded at the fact that of alllllll the names I could choose to call this little frog, I chose Gerry. So frogs and frog icons heretofore have been a thing for him.
Name three things that make your business or products unique, that people should know.
1. Creativity The primary characteristic that sets us apart at Laughing Frog Studio is our CREATIVITY. While spoon rings are a classic and have withstood the test of time, there are so many more things you can make with vintage silverware. We are super proud of our most creative design – Casserole Spoon Belt Buckles which we began making in 2014.
2. Upcycled All of our jewelry, accessories and housewares are all UPCYCLED from vintage silverware. (which stemmed from the original antiques business)
3. HANDmade All of our creations are HANDmade by myself or Matt. While we do use tools, they are basic rudimentary tools and there is no mass manufacturing of anything. We pull a spoon, assess it, design the product, cut the spoon, file, etc. all by our two hands.
What was the first major milestone that you were excited to reach for your business?
The first major milestone that excited us was....well there were two. 1. doing our first show and 2. building our website. I must admit, I totally geek out on building the website.
What is funny is that Matt is professional an IT guy, but when it comes to Laughing Frog Studio,. he does ZERO with respect to the website. I do it all, I even do some coding! WHA!! It very rudimentary, but it is coding nonetheless and I super jazzed!
What is the next major milestone you are working toward for your business?
I would like to grow our Instagram following so that we can reach more people and share our creative, upcycled HANDmade creations. We are very confident in our unique creations and our quality production, we just need more people to see us so they too can know how awesome we are!
Do you have any new products or services in the works that you can share with us?
We are working on a Collab with an up-and-coming country singer/songwriter, but I can't really discuss it too much yet. We are also in the beginning stages of working with a sustainability cause and plan to donate a portion of the sales to the cause, but that project is in its infancy right now. So stay tuned....hey, here's a great idea - follow us on Instagram! @laughing_frog_studio and know as soon as these projects drop.
Does your small business support your local community or communities in other parts of the world? If so, tell us how!
LOL not yet, like we said in the last question, we are working on that project as we write. Additionally we have taken the #buysmallsavesmall #shopall50 pledge to shop all 50 states. If you are reading this article, then you already know about #buysmallsavesmall, but if you do not, please go check out the program @buysmallsavesmall on instagram. Its a super worthy project aimed at supporting small & independently owned businesses across the country with small purchases.
In your own words, why do you think supporting small business is important?
Most people don't go into small business because the HAVE to. (I mean if they are absorbed into an existing small business that is something different.) People who start small businesses do so out of PASSION, pure and simple. So supporting these businesses is important from the perspective of supporting a person's passion and allowing them to make a living doing something they love.
More more importantly, as a consumer, the product/service you will receive will likely be top notch because it is something at which the proprietor excels. Additionally, small businesses are like the sprinkles on a cupcake. Cupcakes are good, but they are are even better with frosting and sprinkles right? If a town only had a McDonalds and a Wal-Mart and no other small businesses, life in that town would be pretty darn boring. I mean there is a time and a place for the big box stores; but for variety, inspiration, creativity and soul satisfaction, having small businesses in a town are of the utmost importance. (This train of thought applies to on the online marketplace as well.)
What is one piece of advice you have for anyone interested in starting their own business?
Make sure you LOVE what you are getting into. You will need to spend every waking hour working on the business. If you are not actually working on it, you will be thinking about it, planning, making notes on scraps of paper etc.
You will and should be consumed by your passion to create and succeed. For those of us who love our small business, while it is a ton of work, we love what we do and it does not seem like work. So I suggest that you really believe in the business 110% and are prepared for that business to become that top priority in your life.
Aside from your own, what is one of your favorite small businesses to support in your community? What do you love most about their offerings?
Well community can be online/virtual or geographic. For us we moved to Texas and then COVID hit, so we don't go out too often and the place we loved to support closed down during covid. But there are a bunch of new small businesses popping up in our geographic area that we are trying to support as we can during covid. While we are not able to go to many of these places due to COVID, but we do our best to support them by sharing their posts and trying to help get the word out about their businesses.
Thanks for learning more about Laughing Frog Studios! Be sure to visit their website to explore the virtual storefront, and give them a follow on social media: