Who's That Gal: Kimberly LaFoy of Loyal Supply Co.
Name: Kimberly LaFoy
Hometowns: Bristol, VT and Grand Rapids, MI
Current ‘Hood: Porter Square, Cambridge
First, tell us a little bit about Loyal Supply Co.
Loyal Supply Co. is a design firm, retailer, and distributor or goods for the home, office, and studio. We believe in useful, thoughtfully designed products that make life more enjoyable. We strive to supply items that are as enjoyable to view as they are to use.
Before starting Loyal Supply Co. you worked at some of Boston’s top branding and experience agencies. Can you talk a little bit about your career path?
I studied advertising and public relations at Michigan State University and got my first agency job at Arnold Worldwide in Boston. I worked on the Brand Experience team, planning and producing events, product launches, tours, etc. From there I went to a local startup called LevelUp where I worked with clients to create social, location-based engagements for their customers. After a few years, I decided to make the jump back to agency life at another event planning agency, Jack Morton Worldwide. During my time there, I started my letterpress company. What began as a weekend and evening hobby soon started taking up more time. I had valuable experiences at both big and small companies, but I wanted to take these skills and apply them to my own brand.
Loyal’s motto is “supplies for life,” meaning objects worth keeping by your side for life. When did your affection for well-made utility and paper products begin?
I’d say my affection for well-made items started quite young. I’ve been riding horses since I was two years old so I love equestrian style and the materials associated with it. Saddles, bridles, riding boots, they’re all items that you want to last a lifetime, and you want them to improve with experience. This is what we strive to incorporate into the products designed by Loyal, including the bridle leather we use for our leashes.
What does a typical day in the office look like for you?
Well, there really is no office...so the days definitely aren’t typical! I like to start the day with my dog, Huckleberry. We usually go play in the park before heading to the store a few hours before we open. This gives me some quiet time to work on e-mails, scheduling, planning, and collaborating. I spend time each day making sure the store is stocked and noting what needs to be reordered. I’m always looking for new products to bring to Loyal and constantly have conversations happening with new makers we want to feature. Customers are in and out of the store throughout the day so I spend time chatting with them and telling the stories of the products in the store.
Evenings are often occupied by meetings with printing clients. We provide a full range of letterpress services and do a lot of wedding suites, business cards, and other custom stationery.
How often are you designing new products for the shop and what influences a new design?
As often as possible! When the store opened last year there were two Loyal designed products, the Loyal Leash and our Key Holster. Since then, we’ve added some local Somerville branded items including pennants and pins, we’ve collaborated with talented designers to make tote bags, and our latest product the Prismatone Pin Pack. We try to find inspiration everywhere, and are most often influenced by the materials we work with.
Talk to us about your first month up and running as a shop. What were some of the wonderful and also harsh things you realized out of the gate?
The first month up and running was easily one of the busiest months of my life! We were given the OK to open by the city a little sooner than expected, it was the week of Thanksgiving last year. We decided to work all day and all night to be able to open our doors on Black Friday. We didn’t have a big launch party, we just put a little message up on Instagram and let the community find us. It was wonderful to see how excited the neighborhood was to have a new place open. We had so many people walk in the door and say “Wow, this is great, welcome to the neighborhood.” It was very rewarding. The schedule was one of the hardest things to adjust to. The store is open Saturday’s and Sunday’s and it was a struggle to find a normal work/life balance. That’s one of the things we still deal with often.
Where do you see Loyal Supply Co. in the next five years?
Wherever the wind takes us! It’s no accident that we sell kites. Every day we receive emails and calls from people wanting to collaborate and that’s been one of the most exciting parts of this journey. There have been talks about another location, maybe a cafe or a community workspace, anything is possible. In five years I’m hoping we will be on the same path we are today, creating things and experiences that make life a little more enjoyable.
Any advice for an entrepreneur looking to open their own shop?
Do it. It’s been an incredible experience and extremely rewarding. It’s also hard and overwhelming, so be prepared. Have lots of pencils and even more erasers! Have a business plan, a solid, well thought-out idea and be ready to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. It’s OK if your idea changes and transforms as you grow and learn, as long as you stay true to yourself and are happy with the direction you’re taking.
Favorite Restaurant in Union Square: Union Square Donuts. That counts as a restaurant, right?
Your must-have Loyal item: Loyal Leash. It’s the product that started this whole journey. It’s stamped with the silhouette of our rescue pup, Huckleberry and we donate part of the proceeds to the shelter where we adopted him.
Favorite Fall Activity: College football (Go State!)
Favorite writing utensil: My Delfonics ballpoint pen. I’ve been known to go out of my way to find another pen for someone to use if they ask to borrow mine.
Currently reading: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
COME MEET KIMBERLY AT LADIES LOUNGE
This month's Ladies Lounge networking group will be on the theme of passion projects. Kimberly will be sharing her story and giving us some tips on how to turn our passions into careers.
Thursday, September 17th from 6:30pm - 8:30pm
General Assembly Boston
51 Melcher St.
(Images via Loyal Supply)