Interview: Lively Ghosts

Welcome to October on Goddess Directory - a month full of celebrating our favorite spooky, scary, and (let's be honest) cute shops that embody the spirit of shopping small for Halloween instead of shopping at Spirit Halloween. Well, we do love a good Spirit Halloween, but not as much as we love supporting creative entrepreneurs and the business they put their blood, sweat, and tears into - vampire or otherwise. All month long we'll be featuring shops and makers who sell Halloween themed items, and don't forget to check out the ever-growing directory of Halloween shops here. I'd also urge you to scroll through the comments on this Instagram post to find many, many more.

Today's feature is on a shop that perfectly captures the creepy but cute ~aesthetic~. Lively Ghosts is stocked with pins, mugs, art prints, and more that all look like they belong in your chilly upstate manor where you're living to cut yourself off from the outside world. Given how much of a vibe it all is, it's surprising that Lindsay Kaye, the creator, didn't actually set out to create the brand. It all came about when she hit a stroke of luck with a DIY project that gained attention, but she's since proven that her shop is less about luck and more about her creativity and hard work turning it into a business. I found her story as fascinating as her products, and I'm so pleased to share it with you. Enjoy!

My pick: It has to be the Candy Corn Collar! It's honestly the perfect accessory for the season and you can't convince me otherwise.

Q: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting your business? What made you want to do this and how did you turn your idea into a reality?

A: The creation of Lively Ghosts was, quite honestly, a beautiful yet completely unintentional adventure. In early Autumn of ’17, I had crafted what I call “a Pin Board”. A Pin Board, essentially, is an aesthetically pleasing framed piece of cork board with a velvet facade, which served as a format of showcasing my enamel pin collection. I had posted a picture to my personal socials as kind of a “hey friends, check out this DIY thing I made this weekend”, and sincerely didn’t think much of it. Sure enough, I woke up the next morning to an inbox full of messages from friends asking if I take commissions. So, I opened a shop solely for the ease of it, and expected it to be no more than a side hobby. I was working full time in the film industry, so I REALLY didn’t put much effort into the shop’s creation. As for the name Lively Ghosts, that was merely my username at the time! Over the course of the next year, though, Lively Ghosts most certainly became more than just a side hobby.

Q: Was there a moment when you felt like this was something that was going to take off and become a success for you?

A: I think from the start, I most definitely didn’t. I really hadn’t thought much of my Pin Boards when I first launched Lively Ghosts. Again, the foundation of Lively Ghosts stemmed from a random DIY project I had created for myself, and I had found it odd & humbling that my friends were so enthusiastic about it. Slowly, I started developing my brand and solidifying the overall tone of what it was that I wanted to create: dark art celebrating the macabre & all things spooky (in other words, things I’m passionate about). I came up with the idea of coffin shaped Pin Boards, and started creating them from scratch. They really didn’t catch on at all -- no one cared about them at the time, but I suppose deep down I just had a feeling that they would find their time to shine. I feel like when you create something you’re truly passionate about…you just know. I felt so vehemently enthusiastic about them.

Jump to modern day — I truly can’t keep those Coffin Pin Boards in stock. All of them are still handcrafted by me, and I release more than a hundred at a time. Incredibly, they always sell out in minutes flat. I say this often: I don’t think I’ll ever truly fathom the reality of it all (especially what I just wrote in the past few sentences)! To this day, I don’t think my encouragement stems from the success of any specific thing, but moreso my belief in its future success. Ultimately, you have to believe in yourself and your product for your shop to truly thrive.

Q: What were your friends and family’s reactions to you starting this as a career or a business? Were you nervous to share it?

A: I think the bigger reaction came from when I decided to put a pause on working in the film industry and take on Lively Ghosts full time. It’s a massive leap, and an immensely terrifying one at that. Seeing others take that leap now with their businesses is something I find wildly brave and admirable.

Fortunately, I’m surrounded by the most caring and supportive people, whom remain my biggest cheerleaders to this day. Many of my mentors at the time, whom own their own shops, are some of my closest friends now. Those friends — along with the others I’ve made with Lively Ghosts — have been one of the most rewarding fragments of this journey so far.

Q: Is this your full-time job? If so, how long did it take you to transition into full-time?

A: Yes! At the time I started Lively Ghosts, I was very fortunate to have a job that worked remotely — so I spent a LOT of time at home or at coffee shops. This lended me opportunities to take breaks from work to craft at home, or open a new tab on my computer and start working on my shop website. By about the 9 month mark, I was at a crossroads with new film gigs…and decided to take on Lively Ghosts full time. Though I desperately miss many elements of working in film, the jump into running my shop full time was perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made.

Q: So many of your items are perfect for the Halloween season! What made you decide to make spooky themed items?

A: Circling back to an answer from earlier, I think it’s important to create what you’re passionate about. I consider myself a spookstress & creature of the shadows. The idea that the macabre, death, and the like are seen as ‘taboo’ was like a pandora’s box that I still fully love to explore. From as early as I can remember, I had an immense fascination with things like The Haunted Mansion, and by the time I was in high school I was taking Thanantology classes (the study of death & dying) with utmost delight. For Lively Ghosts, I create the things that I want to see in the world. And with that, comes the ‘spooky themed items’. The shop now carries Coffin Pin Boards, spooky enamel pins, candy-corn detachable collars, ghostly art prints, autumn-scented candles, and so much more.

Q: Obviously, we’re in strange times right now so I have to ask everyone I talk to - how has COVID-19 affected your business and what are you doing to keep everything going during this time? What can people do to support you and others during all of this?

A: Tis a strange time indeed, but like most twists and turns in businesses, I aim to just roll with it. To contrast to last year, I had traveled the country with Lively Ghosts at expos, conventions, and the like all year long. In fact, I had vended 40 shows within 44 weeks. No, I didn’t sleep. Yes, I loved every second of it. Though this year I’ve spent most of my time at home, it’s been wildly refreshing to have this time to -- at least physically -- R E L A X. This ‘break’ has given me time to focus on strengthening my social media platforms, the shop website, marketing tools, and craft more at home (dare I say it’s actually been….better...for my business and myself). In times like these, I’d always recommend shopping from small businesses. The smallest of purchases go a long way for us small shop owners.

Q: What do you wish you wish you knew when you first started your business?

A: That is a fantastic question. If I could give a piece of advice to my earlier self, or anyone starting off their business or creative endeavors, it would be to: absorb everything. I gather inspiration from the strangest things, and that’s a tool that developed over time..but something I probably could have strengthened sooner had I known to keep my eyes more open to the world. I’d recommend: watch lots of films, and not just the popular ones. Call it ‘hipster’, but find the indie flicks. Dig into the crevices of your local bookstore and read on topics you’re not familiar with. Let it inspire you. Pay attention to other shops/creators and start thinking about what captivates you in their marketing, visuals, captions, etc. The more you open yourself up to the world, the larger your imagination becomes. At the end of the day, it's your creativity that will take you to places you never thought possible.

Q: Favorite item in your shop currently?

A: I’ll give an everlasting answer (because it’s true): my most recent creation. An artist once told me: your favorite creation is your most recent one. They were right! My taste is forever evolving and I’m constantly thinking about creating the next best thing. At any point, my favorite piece I’ve made is always the one I’ve just released into the world.

Q: What goals do you have for your business going forward?

A: As peculiar as it sounds, this is a question that frightens me. I think because I walked into this business without any set plan or intention for it — and found success in that — I aim to almost keep that mentality. I’m enjoying every second; ultimately, my goal is to keep on keeping on.

Q: Lastly, let’s spread the love. What are a few of your favorite small shops owned by women that you personally shop from?

A: Oh how I could make the grandest of lists here, as I’m so fortunate to know SO many talented female creators. As my shop is spooky year-round, this list will include other shops that do the same!

Little Ghouls — From artwork, to tea, to candles, this whimsical shop is owned by two of the most kindhearted & imaginative creatures I’ve ever met.

The Beheaded — The badass babe behind The Beheaded is one whom has the same spark in her eye as I do now. I so greatly admire the fierce passion and ingenuity behind this woman. This girl, and her shop, are going places. Oh, and this is where I shop all things: Accessories.

Seance Perfumes — My go-to for perfumes, scents, and utmost kindness. The femme fatale behind this brand is hardworking & gracious in every way, and her perfumes tell a tale like no other.

The Pretty Cult — Wicked apparel from a wickedly badass woman. Intertwining fashion with comfort is something I can get behind, and that’s why I adore this brand (& it’s owner)!

Follow along with Lindsay:

Shop Lively Ghosts

Follow Lively Ghosts on Instagram

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