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A local designer and entrepreneur took inspiration from her father to create natural wedding decor, jewelry and wooden bow ties. Read on for all the details.

Lindsey Estes of Lucca Laser Workshop creates natural products such as bowties for weddings.
Lindsey Estes of Lucca Laser Workshop creates natural products such as bowties for weddings.

Cincy Chic: What is Lucca Laser Workshop?
Lindsey Estes, Owner of Lucca Laser Workshop: Since I was a very young girl, I always knew that I wanted to have a retail store. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be, but I knew I wanted to be an artist, and I knew I wanted to run my own show. Lucca is where that dream began. I went to college at the Columbu College of Art and Design for a year, but I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to afford to continue going there, and I already felt a yearning to be doing something else. I already felt I would be able to transform my trade into something useful.

Growing up in my father’s machine shop, I was raised on the power of entrepreneurship. I was taught the trade of machinist and, most importantly, I was taught diligence, efficiency and perseverance. No idea was too small or too minuscule. Now all three daughters own their own businesses as well! So I quit school, moved back to Cincinnati and I bought my first laser machine. Working from the top floor of my home, I had a small studio where I would work on my off hours. After my first craft show at The City Flea, my business hit the ground running. I quit my day job, and I focused solely on designing, creating and developing new products. Once I created my first item, there was no stopping my creativity there.

A bowtie created by Lucca Laser Workshop.
A bowtie created by Lucca Laser Workshop.

Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind it?
Estes: My main inspiration? My father. Hands down my father. Or should I say my family. My father raised me on the power of entrepreneurship, precision design and love for the constant search of knowledge and expansion. He taught me to never ignore my instinct or deny an idea or design no matter how simple or obscure or difficult. He also ingrained in my mind that sometimes you need to relax your brow, step away from what you’re doing, and grab an ice cream cone!

My inspiration and drive also comes from my passions outside of my business. The importance of maintaining an active social environment outside of my work really allows me to approach each day with a new feeling of exuberance. Moving my studio to the heart of the city allows me to take daily walks to adore the architecture of the city, take my shop dog to the dog park or allow myself the relaxation of opening my large shop doors and sketching new designs on the couch. A weekly visit to the neighboring small shops allows me to explore what is on the market, converse with other educated business owners and observe how others find their passion and motivation!

Cincy Chic: When did did you launch your business?
Estes: I started Lucca Laser Workshop in 2013. After 2 years of working from my home, I realized I needed to get another machine and more studio space, so I found a space downtown and I opened my first retail store in June 2015.

A hair piece created by Lucca Laser Workshop.
A hair piece created by Lucca Laser Workshop.

Cincy Chic: What makes Lucca Laser Workshop unique?
Estes: My store features all of my natural gifts, supplies and decor created by natural wood and paper. I also feature a few other artists who create items from natural materials. My space is split between my studio and my retail space. So when you come in to shop, you can see me working as well, and you can hear the faint whir of the laser machines. Smells of all kinds of wonderful cut wood in there! Lucca began creating natural wedding decor, but I have since expanded immensely!! I really pride my business on focusing on natural and handmade products. People think laser design is all machine made, but it is far from that. I can spend up to 30-40 hours drawing and designing a product, then long hours and gritty hands are used to clean, sand, stain and package each and every item.

Cincy Chic: Where can readers purchase your products?
Estes: Right now I am not only selling on three online websites, including Etsy and on my website, but I sell wholesale all across the world! Lucca is currently in 30 states and 6 countries across the world.

Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for your business?
Estes: New on the horizon for my business? Expansion! I plan to eventually have 5-6 machines working all day. This summer I have a new assistant who will be working with me to help produce items faster, and help with daily work and tasks. Right now it is just me! My goal this year is to expand my wholesale product line and hire new employees. My 5 year goal is to get an 8′ laser machine where I will be creating furniture as well!

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more?
Estes: Readers can visit my Etsy store or check out my website.

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From prints and stationery cards to silk-screened posters, tees and tote bags, one local lady launched a new business that shows women empowerment through chic and swanky designs.

Kayla Risch of Kayla Risch Designs
Kayla Risch of Kayla Risch Designs

Hello “Miss Thang,” “Miss Bees Knees,” “Midwest Swanky Gals”! You are the go-getters – the tenacious few – those who aren’t afraid to be who you are and rock it.

No one understands you better than fellow swanky girl and owner of Kayla Risch Designs and Midwest Swanky Gals (MWSG), Kayla Risch herself. “I think there is this unsaid code between these types of women. It’s something in us – wanting more for the world,” she says.

Risch emphasizes that she has a big heart, a big laugh, and an even bigger passion for design. With the support of her hardworking family and friends she doesn’t have to “work” a day of her life – because she does what she loves. “I come from a hardworking family and have had to work very hard to be where I am, so I try to keep things real around here,” says Risch.

The whole thing started as a happy accident. Starting a city flea booth two years ago, Risch was determined to sell some art as a way to start paying off her student loans. While maintaining her full time job as a senior designer at Landor Associates, she would draw until she fell asleep at night.

In an effort to feed her “artsy” side, in addition to her daily work at Landor, she started silk screening and created her first prints – Ohio Girl & The Queen. “I was literally hand dying bags in my sink – it was my own sweatshop,” Risch laughs. “I had my poor mother cutting artwork to frame hours before city flea. This was just going to be for fun – I had no idea what the turn out would be.”

“Well, my little hobby sure worked,” Risch continues. “The response was worth all the hard work and I felt like I was giving the world a piece of me.” After her success, she continued around five city fleas creating new tote bags, tees and a card/print line.

“I always told myself as a designer – I didn’t want to lose my edge,” says Risch. “I haven’t seen enough women in art here that represents empowerment. So with that – I created an art silkscreen line and MWSG was born.”

Today, MWSG offers a range of originally designed prints, stationery cards, silk-screened posters, tees and tote bags. The theme is around women empowerment and femininity. “I have a mix of Girl Power & Ohio Girl tees – along with painted lips, XO’s, patterns & featured fashion illustrations,” says Risch.

Getting her name out there, however, is what has brought her solid street cred. “I had a large illustration mural featured in the Cincinnati Museums Princess Diana exhibit this past summer, and was commissioned to illustrate and design The Queen Bee 2014 poster ‘Born to Rule,’” says Risch. “I illustrate OTR’s Malice Ball posters and my original ‘Ohio Girl’ is in Frameshop’s gallery. Since my last city flea I now carry my stuff at Brideface & Cincy’s first juice bar Off the Vine in OTR. Plus both those businesses are owned by amazing hustling Ohio women. No joke. Go support.”

As for Rischs’ personal goals for MWSG, she hope to gain clients and store interest. “I would love to keep doing city fleas, but it’s a ton of work selling print goods all in one day,” she says. “I would love to sell my stuff more fluidly in stores and create my personal brand – but most importantly, I want to keep making more art.”

Ultimately, Risch hopes that Cincy women will see that they are all Midwest Swanky Gals. “There is such wonderful women to look up to and be friends with right next door,” she says. “I want them to rock a little tote or have Ohio Girl print hanging in their office because of what it stands for. So go ahead – be awesome. You have my permission.”

To check out Kayla Risch Designs, follow her on Instagram (@kaylarishdesign), on Twitter (@kaylarisch) or on Facebook. She also has an Etsy shop, and will be launching her blog and website in approximately one month.