In this week’s “From the Ground Up” interview, we sit down with Lauren Hunt, founder of LP Creative Co, an UpCity Certified Premium Partner and one of the top web design companies in the United States. Below we discuss taking the leap and starting your own business, what it’s like being a mompreneur today, and more!
Q: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get into this industry and how did your company get started?
A: I began this journey as a freelance designer in 2011. Prior to that, I worked in the corporate world as a marketing director for a national firm based in Omaha. I was introduced to creative design and web development through this corporate job, and taught myself graphic design. I later went on to earn a second degree in web development as well.
I began my freelance business as a side gig for a small group of clients I built entirely through word-of-mouth. I was hustling a full-time job during the day and running my freelance gig during the evening and weekends.
Looking back, I wonder how in the world I had time for all of that (and then I remember, “Oh yeah! I didn’t have kids then.”). I absolutely loved working closely with my clients, providing consulting and design services all while building these really great and meaningful relationships, many of which are still strong today. This passion continued to grow like wildfire, and so did my clientele. I was now juggling a full-time job while growing a robust client list and project schedule.
Fast forward to 2013 when the big LEAP happened. After much deliberation, consulting, and support from my husband and family, I rebranded myself and launched LP Creative Co in full force! I trusted myself and my abilities and wanted to put everything I had into this venture.
Since that time I have grown my company from Omaha to Phoenix and now Kansas City. My team consists of designers, developers, marketing specialists, and writers.
The driving force behind LP Creative has always been to preserve and improve the bonds that we forge with our clients. We are rooted in relationships, and an incredible experience is what sets us apart from our competitors.
Q: Having a family certainly can complicate matters when you’re trying to start a business, but it seems like you’ve handled that transition really well. What did you learn from that experience?
A: That’s a great question and I think it’s really important to talk about my story in our industry. Being a mompreneur has really been a huge part of my life and there are certainly pros and cons. Looking back, I think about all the things I was doing in the early days and I can’t believe it.
For the first three years of my business, I was married but didn’t have any kids. In 2016, I had my first child and, of course, I had a lot of questions and doubts.
Could I still do this? Did I want to run a business AND be a mom? Did they have to be mutually exclusive?
I always wanted to be a mom, but I also love my business. I love working with people, helping people with their businesses, so I went through this complex stage of trying to figure out that work-life balance. Ultimately, I decided that I could do both. It was gonna be a lot of work and that was going to be challenging, but I had faith in myself that I could do it and I knew that there are tons of other mompreneurs out there that do the same thing every day.
The way I looked at it, I essentially had two babies: I had my son and my business. I didn’t want running my business to interfere with being a good mom. I was really afraid of that, but I also didn’t want my family life to affect my professional goals and aspirations.I didn’t want running my business to interfere with being a good mom. I was really afraid of that, but I also didn’t want my family life to affect my professional goals. - Lauren Hunt, @lpcreativeco Click To Tweet
The biggest change was my short-term goals in terms of scaling my business. LP Creative has progressively grown over the years and I know I can scale it a lot faster, but for me my family comes first. I’d rather nurture my client relationships, provide great service, and maintain that work-life balance; scaling quickly isn’t always conducive to that.
Q: And I think there are quite a lot of readers out there who are in the same boat. There’s no need to choose between having a family and having a career anymore. That being said though, this industry tends to be dominated by male personalities. Can you tell us a bit about what your experience has been like as a female agency owner today?
A: Honestly, I don’t really think about it that much. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when a potential or ongoing client relationship was affected by the fact that I’m a woman. If anything, I think it’s given me an extra spark to succeed!
Q: Well, that’s great to hear!
So you’ve managed to grow your business while growing your family, but that’s not even half the story. You’ve also moved across the country multiple times and have successfully created new opportunities for yourself in every market you enter. Tell us about your experience moving your business from Omaha to Phoenix and now Kansas City.
A: LP Creative started in Omaha, with so many of my initial clients local to that area. At the same time, we began to gather nationwide clients during our time in Nebraska, so it made transitioning from city to city a bit easier.
These days you’re able to build really successful relationships online without having to meet face to face all the time. That’s essential for businesses looking to be successful today. Being able to work remotely and deal with people all over the world has facilitated the incredible growth of our business.
My husband Dave got a job at Arizona State University, so we needed to move to Phoenix. There are a lot of logistics that go into moving your business, but I was able to make it work. Ultimately, I was really excited to enter a new market and see how I could grow LP Creative and help serve a new community. At the same time, I never stopped building my clientele in Nebraska through word-of-mouth and referrals. Now, we’ve moved to Kansas City and we’re growing here while maintaining our presence in Phoenix and Omaha as well. Partnering with UpCity has helping grow LP Creative’s reputation in each new market we’ve entered, which has helped make the process a lot less stressful as well!
At the end of the day, I think one of the most important things for me is being adaptable and building my client relationships in a way that they always know whether I’m there physically or not, they can trust that I’ll deliver incredible work.
Q: That’s a great segue into my next question actually! I first came into contact with LP Creative as your dedicated white-label services account manager. It’s been a joy to watch your business grow and shift with each new year. How has your partnership with UpCity enabled you to adapt more effectively to your changing circumstances?
A: Around 2016 I really became interested in scaling LP Creative in the direction of digital marketing. Up until that point, we were specializing in creative design, branding, and web design. I knew that a huge component of successful web design is great content and intelligent SEO; you can build a website that looks amazing, but it’s a disservice to create that for a client without those other components in mind. I realized I needed to find a partnership with someone that could help expand that side of my business and that’s when I found UpCIty.
Your team has helped me expand my service offerings into SEO and reputation management, while maintaining a focus on our core specialities of web design and branding. Beyond that, like I said before, you’ve helped me build my online presence in new markets through the Marketplace which has helped me make those city-to-city transitions easier; we’ve definitely seen an increase in prospects from people searching through UpCity. You guys just provide all the resources and support that my business needs in order to grow across the board.
We’re really grateful for that and obviously look forward to the future.
Q: You mentioned before that many of your first clients came in through word-of-mouth in Omaha, so you already had a pretty great reputation built for yourself prior to your relationship with UpCity. I think it’s amazing that you’ve been able to build that reputation even further through your partnership with us.
Would you say your reputation has been one of the key factors in the growth of LP Creative?
A: Yes, our reputation is an essential component to our success. It’s been a driving force for my business from the early days of freelancing to today. I think it all stems from the way I’ve built the company: through good communication, transparency, compassion, and great service. I have no doubt that it will continue to be a huge part of my business, as intimate, personal relationships are what we thrive on.
For new business owners, I’d definitely say that building your reputation should be at the forefront of your mind from the very beginning. I’ve been able to build my business with almost no advertising or marketing at all. It’s really just about serving people in the best way. Finding a way that you can differentiate yourself is important, but it doesn’t hold a candle to having a stellar reputation.Finding a way that you can differentiate yourself is important, but it doesn’t hold a candle to having a stellar reputation. - Lauren Hunt, @lpcreativeco Click To Tweet
Q: Absolutely. Well, Lauren, thanks so much for taking the time to sit down and share your story with us. Do you have any closing thoughts or advice for our readers?
A: For anyone thinking about starting their own business, just know that it’s a leap of faith. You have to have faith in yourself, in your abilities, in your family and your support systems. Look to others like myself as examples and with hard work and determination, you can start something great. You just have to keep pushing and working at it.For anyone thinking about starting their own business, just know that it’s a leap of faith. You have to have faith in yourself, in your abilities, in your family and your support systems. - Lauren Hunt, @lpcreativeco Click To Tweet
As an entrepreneur with over 15 years of industry experience, Lauren’s decisions and methods are driven by her passion to help other business owners build successful brands by leveraging creativity and technology. She leads a hand-picked interdisciplinary team of insightful marketers and creatives to capture the voices and visions of her clients.
As founder of LP Creative Co., she is responsible for comprehensive creative direction, brand strategy, business development, and client consultation.