Fly Female Entrepreneurs
Fly Female Entrepreneur
LaToya Henry: Memory Lane by Toya
Have you ever found yourself on the seemingly impossible quest for the “perfect” gift? You know the one: meaningful, creative, one-of-a-kind, yet budget-friendly? When you want to commemorate a loved one’s milestone – be it a birthday, anniversary or graduation – it’s hard to settle for the cookie cutter approach to gift giving.
Enter Miss Latoya Henry, founder of Memory Lane by Toya. As the brand’s Chief Crafty, Latoya’s days are dedicated to spreading love and creating Kool-Aid smiles through the art of decoupage. She takes basic decorative items like mirrors, picture frames or coasters and transforms them into beautiful conversation pieces that tell personal stories of life’s experiences.
What made Latoya choose this path? What does she like most about entrepreneurship? Who was Memory Lane by Today’s first client? Get comfy as Latoya tells In Her Shoes all this and more…
In Her Shoes: What inspired the launch of Memory Lane by Toya?
Latoya: My aunt inspired me to launch Memory Lane by Toya. She created custom cigar boxes for all of the bridesmaids in my sister’s wedding and when we received the gifts we were blown away. We sat around for about 45 minutes looking at our own and checking out each other’s. My cigar box had pictures of me from the age of three to 29! After seeing the joy that personalized gifts give, I knew I wanted to take my creative talents and channel them in this direction.
In Her Shoes: What was the toughest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Latoya: Things don’t always work on your schedule. You dream big and have these grand ideas but how things unfold, how people receive you and how much money you’re going to make is often out of your control. This has been much more of a grind than I thought it would be so I’ve had to really manage my time and lean on my other talent (PR/marketing) to funnel money into my business. If you ever thought working for yourself was hard work, please know that it’s even harder than you expected but with countless rewards!
In Her Shoes: What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of being your own boss?
Latoya: The thing I love most about what I do is that the person who commissions me to create the piece is touched and the person who receives the gift cries! When I see a grown man cry, I know I’ve done my job well. I have countless stories about people from different walks of life who have truly cherished these gifts.
The least favorite aspect of entrepreneurship for me is burning the candle at both ends. You have to be a one woman show or as you would say Renae, a “solopreneur.” I’m handling both the creative side and the business side. It’s the ultimate grind!
In Her Shoes: What is a day like in Latoya Henry’s shoes?
Latoya: My days are spent doing work that has a positive impact on people’s lives. By taking a few moments in time that tell a story of love, triumph, and personal journeys, I can take memories out of an album and into my client’s daily lives.
In Her Shoes: On the average, how much time do you invest in making each Memory Lane by Toya piece?
Latoya: It really depends on what type of piece it is. Typically it could take up to three days. For example, with the Obama cigar boxes I create, it takes me about an hour to put together the collage but once applied, it takes a couple of additional days for the high-finish gloss to dry.
Decorative Pieces by Jonathan Adler
In Her Shoes: Who is your entrepreneur idol/inspiration?
Latoya: On the personal side, I would definitely have to say my aunt. She’s the entrepreneur extraordinaire! As the owner of Harlem Made, she creates t-shirts, home decor products and has a location in St. Lucia. She’s been an amazing mentor to me and personal advisor.
I also really love Jonathan Adler. I live for him. He’s at the top of his game right now but had such humble beginnings. He started off as a potter creating pieces in his parent’s basement! He had a friend who worked at Barney’s who was able to get his work in front of the decision makers to catapult his career. His work is very modern, contemporary and is definitely recognizable when you see it.
In Her Shoes: Where would you like to see Memory Lane by Toya in the next five years?
Latoya: The goal is continuous growth. I’d like to have several brick and mortar locations in the top five U.S. markets.