What would you do if you needed 15 weeks of physical therapy after a debilitating accident, lost your job, and had a near-death experience—all in the same year? For HoneyBook member Stefani Lefler, it was now or never to pursue a long-held passion in website design and development. She started Stefani Jessica Studio four years ago and hasn’t looked back. Here, she shares about starting her business, the best business advice she’s ever gotten and the web design trend that’s having a moment.
What type of design do you do?
I create Showit websites from start to finish to bring my client’s brands to life. I love partnering not only with my clients but with a team to serve my clients to the highest standards. I help connect them to copywriters, photographers, stylists, and brand designers depending on their needs
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I used to work at a dental office (not even sure how I got there to be honest). I had an accident in March 2014, slipping on ice, injuring my neck and losing my job after 15 weeks of physical therapy. Then in August (2014 was an unlucky year), I had a near death experience after having blood clots fill my lungs because of a surgery I had to reconstruct my ankle. During this time, I started my business to pursue a passion I’d had for over 13 years. I realized we need to do what we love because life could change in an instant, and I wanted to feel more fulfilled.
I started my business to pursue a passion I’d had for over 13 years. I realized we need to do what we love because life could change in an instant, and I wanted to feel more fulfilled.
What do you do for inspiration?
I like to read when I feel a creative block. Getting to visualize a story in my head helps me visualize websites when I come back to my computer, ready to work. I also love looking at fine art and photography, classic design, and award-winning sites that really push the boundaries and redefine what a website can look like.
Why is design so important? What do you enjoy most about it?
I’ve always loved that designing websites marries creativity and art with technology. I feel like my services directly improve my client’s lives because they are able to pursue their own passions and an amazing website just makes that easier to achieve. I enjoy building a relationship with my clients about as much as getting to create the sites in the first place.
I feel like my services directly improve my client’s lives because they are able to pursue their own passions and an amazing website just makes that easier to achieve.
What’s been one of your most successful projects?
I recently worked with a business mentor who was transitioning from a blog that offered very affordable courses and resources for women entrepreneurs. These students were brand new to business and were focused on blogging. She wanted to spend more time helping women in business who were willing to invest to get to the next level. Through her brand and website we created, she was able to grow her email list, Instagram and income more than she imagined she would in the first month. She is quickly becoming a prominent voice in her industry and niche.
What’s a trend you’re really enjoying in design?
I love the trend lately of websites that are interactive and have some depth. Flat design still has its place, but layering design and creating some visual interest on my client’s websites has been a lot of fun, helping me think outside the box. Websites that have more interactivity and immersion is a cool trend as well. I love creating click-through areas of websites or unexpected ways to present content.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
I was told by multiple sources about blogging, but at round two of Creative at Heart, I remember Lauren Hooker of Elle & Co. saying, “Providing help and education to your audience shows that you’re an expert in your industry more than anything. Serve your audience well and they will become clients.” I’ve been very active in providing education this past year when it all finally clicked, and I’ve seen such a humongous difference in my business.
I’ve been very active in providing education this past year when it all finally clicked, and I’ve seen such a humongous difference in my business.
How do you use blogging as a tool to grow your business?
Getting all my ducks in a row finally happened when I started working with Jesse & Becky of Idealust. They made blogging more of a tool in my business rather than an overwhelming use of my already limited time. They helped me to see that blogging would consistently demonstrate my expertise and was a great way to answer FAQs that needed more depth. When I started doing this, people trusted me more. They inquired based on posts I’d made, and I could direct people to a post when they had a question. It made a huge difference in my interactions and helped others.
Which brands do you admire for their design and why?
The first that always stands out to me is Anthropologie. I know a lot of us creatives love that company, but when it comes to their brand design, I love how they seem to magically encompass every color, art style, and store interiors while still feeling true to whom they are. It’s always been so interesting to me that I can’t think of one design detail that they possess that makes me exclusively think of them, but I know when I’m looking at something that they have a hand in. I have to say, though, my absolute favorite brand recently has been If I Made. The fresh colors and fonts they use are simultaneously bold while being in the background enough to showcase their classes and educators. I feel they have the perfect balance of distinct brand identity with high-end and flexible details.
What’s your favorite HoneyBook feature?
Absolutely the reports and projects page. I love HoneyBook reports because they give me a ton of super helpful information at a glance. You don’t have to dive into boring (and ugly) spreadsheets to see what you’ve booked this year or where your inquiries are coming from. It helps me adjust as I go for my marketing and income goals. I also love the projects timeline because I never feel lost as to where I’m at with all my clients and inquiries, no matter how many there are. Keeping my inquiries all in one place is great too, and the archive feature where you choose why they didn’t book can be just as helpful as when they do book!
I love HoneyBook reports because they give me a ton of super helpful information at a glance. You don’t have to dive into boring (and ugly) spreadsheets to see what you’ve booked this year or where your inquiries are coming from.
Thanks so much, Stefani!
Plus, three other entrepreneur interviews you might like:
- Christina Scalera, attorney and founder of The Contract Shop® – “It’s important to get excited about legal stuff because when you get to deal with these things, it means you’re growing – you’re no longer a hobby or a dream. You are showing up for people, and they are better now that you’re in their life with your services or products.”
- Laylee Emadi Smith, photographer and Next Level Photography Retreat founder – “I wanted to create a space where attendees could work closely alongside each other and the speakers to impact and change their businesses and lives.”
- Mandy Ogaz, floral designer – “I would have to say the biggest challenge is educating the general public on the value of a floral experience and the ambience and mood florals bring to an event. Having the ability to send guides and packages through HoneyBook to educate inquiries has helped…”