We had the good fortune of connecting with Alanna Bailey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alanna, what role has risk played in your life or career?
It’s funny you know, when I look up the definition to the word ‘risk’, it states: “a situation involving exposure to danger”; or to “expose [someone or something] to danger, harm or loss”. When you think about it literally, this may be what it means in certain practical terms- but as was pointed out to me once, without taking risks, while we may avoid the bad, we also miss out on the opportunity for good or all the pleasant surprises that can come from taking a chance on the uncertain or unknown. It’s as much true for relationships as it is for art or business. I don’t approach the concept from a fear and loss based mentality- I look at it as an opportunity to do or try something new or on my own terms. This has been my experience in both business and creative ventures and processes anyhow.
Risks I’ve taken have generally come out of an exposure to risk in general- leaving a job and having a project lined up but fall through and having to just figure something out to make due. Risk essentially also signifies an opening, and if you’re attuned or clever or a hustler, an opportunity.
Maybe it’s because I’m someone who is fairly unconventional and who has long struggled with the standard 9-5, but risk taking to me, especially in business, is sort of par for the course if you want to follow your own dreams and ideas- especially if they are outside the box. I’ve worked a vast number of jobs (service related usually in between larger positions or ventures) and any time I’m taking a chance and leaping out on my own, it’s just as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. There is always possibility and hope too.
Maybe because I am a creative risk is just a given you learn to deal with (I’m a writer- being a writer professionally comes with tons of rejection as much as it may acceptance or success, if not more). But I think especially as someone who has straddled the line between “work life” and “creative life”, and continuously struggling to seek a balance, which often didn’t pan out, I’m ready to be done with the belief that one can’t make a living doing something they also enjoy or love. In New York I accidentally started a consultancy for marketing and brand development working with high end artisans in luxury design. It was a wonderful experience but while I told myself doing my own thing would leave time for writing, it never worked out that way. I was working with wonderful talent and creatives but I myself wasn’t really creating and when I wasn’t working I was trying to unwind.
After a few years, a lot of reflection and some personal health issues I decided to quit that job, phasing out clients. I worked odd jobs and cleaned houses to make ends meet while I applied to graduate school to keep writing. And I won the lottery. (I still can’t believe it). After 10 years in NYC and 2 years in Boston, I decided to come home to LA. I worked a 9-5 for a year and was laid off 5 weeks before the pandemic hit. So I was home, at my parents house, extremely isolated and my anxiety was so high that focusing on reading and writing became extremely hard. So I got busy with my hands.
When I started making Little Chimes I never thought they’d sell, until I finally had a distanced visit with a dear friend and she was like ‘WHAT is this?! You have to sell these!’. I had pursued other modes of creativity mostly just to cope. I’d applied to hundreds of jobs to no avail. So with the total support and encouragement of some incredible friends I decided to take the leap and give Little Chimes a go. The incredible reception it’s been met with has been beyond anything I could have imagined. So it’s still a risk, but it’s one I’m feeling really hopeful and optimistic about. I think you have to always be smart and work hard- but without taking a risk, you will never have a chance to see your own ideas/ visions/ dreams manifest.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Forgive me- I sort of addressed all of this in the previous question about risk taking, but here are some other snippets to add to it:
Nothing is ever easy. What’s that saying- ‘We make plans and God laughs’. I’ve never had an entirely straightforward journey personally or professionally, I tend to wind up off the beaten path, having to find my footing somewhere unexpected and stumbling on something new. I have larger visions I still struggle to articulate and am chipping away at, but the businesswoman in me is somehow easier to navigate now that I am working behind products I’ve actually created. There is something so deeply satisfying and moving about selling something I made and seeing someone completely love it. It’s way more meaningful than any other business I’ve done. Really validating and fulfilling. I feel incredibly grateful.
No challenges can be overcome alone. There are things I will have to tackle myself, but I’m never truly alone, I believe in a higher power, in something else at work. I also believe in community, the physical manifestation/expression of connection and plugging into something bigger than oneself. I believe in asking for help, accepting help and offering it to others any time I can. I also eternally believe every single persons story is their strength and is worth being told and heard. None of us are meant to be alone- the pandemic reenforced this fact. Being able to be out in the world now (vaccinated!), to be selling my own products and line, and to be meeting so many amazing people has only compounded my gratitude. There is a shift happening- some people quit 9-5’s to do their own thing, others adapted from unemployment- all around people are committing to shopping small, supporting local and being open to try new things, go to new flea and farmers markets. Whether the connection is with ourselves, nature and our interior lives or with others and community- I think people are hungry for it.
We can never know how things will happen, but if we keep showing up, with humility and willingness and a clear intention, putting one foot in front of the other, a path will be revealed. I don’t know how or why or how long it will take but it’s been my experience.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In LA? Well being born and raised here I always want people to get to know the LA I do. Though to be honest, being newly back here and post-pandemic, I myself am still investigating some of these things. But for sure we would: Go to the beach- I like Bay St. for surf lessons or maybe Malibu for the scenery
Tacos- all of the tacos.
Get Mashti Malone’s ice cream
Go for a hike, maybe Fryman
Drive up Beachwood Cyn to see the Garden of OZ and then the obligatory city outlook drive by
Do whatevery we wanted in this perfect AF weather!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh man, well the big one is to Maggie Flynn of The Deep Agency. Shoutout to her for being the biggest, brightest light of encouragement, support and hope, helping me with everything from photography, getting the word out and listening to my ‘what if this is a huge mistake and I’m a failure/ have to go back to a 9-5’ phone calls. I’ve known her for almost 13 years and she’s just the best friend and human you could ask for.
Shoutout to my parents, for being supportive and their cautious optimism (lol). And especially my father for the saw horses and lumber to have a work table and always helping make displays last minute.
Shoutout to Jami, Hannah, Lisa, Jade, Beth, Jasmine and all the other amazing women in my life for supporting me!
Shoutout to Mercy for being the first store owner to ask me to do a pop up and carry Little Chimes in her store! And to Shawna and Ella at Tansy for welcoming us so openly.
Shoutout to the small village of other amazing vendors I’ve met doing pop-ups and hustling to get their new businesses off the ground, doing what they love and making it work.
Shoutout to every single person who has shopped with us, followed us and stayed in touch.
Shoutout to you, for letting us share our story with the world. <3
Other: You can always email us at hithere (at) shoplittlechimes (dot) com- or come out to one of our pop-ups and say hi! Thank you thank you thank you for this opportunity. xoA