Small Business Profile: Emily Benzinger, Owner of Fine Life Co

 

Hi Emily! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Emily and I'm the owner of Fine Life Co. FLCO is an online women's retail shop based in Tucson, Arizona-- where I was born, raised and currently living in with my husband. 

What lead you to begin Fine Life Co?
After working corporate retail for years & also seeing the side of entrepreneurship from my family -- the idea of owning a shop, (or online webshop in my case), had been a dream of mine for awhile. I'll never forget the discovery of e-commerce and the impact it had on me... the idea that someone from point A could order something from point B fascinated me. I never thought that years from that discovery, I would be in the mix! 

Tell us more about the origins of the brand’s name.
The name has been interpreted in a few ways--- and I have to admit, it was a bit of a "I need to launch this thing now and need a name now" kind of thing. For me, Fine Life means an overall "good life" and hopes that the site brings an experience to customers that make them feel good too.

How do you source the items and brands that you have in the store? Do you look for certain designs, sustainably made products, etc? 
Most of the items in the shop have been found on social media. One of my favorite sources for inspiration and finding products is simply scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest. I love seeing what my friends are enjoying and finding new designers & brands! I'm always searching for handmade, quality products made locally. 

How do you connect with your customers and community?
Being an online shop can be difficult for connecting to customers. I love even simple conversations over email or Instagram DM to connect with customers. I also try to open up our studio space once or twice a month to get some locals in for shopping or even to just hang out. I've been known to keep customers in for an hour or two just chatting the day away. 

What are some brands/designers that you are excited about that we should know of?
I'm forever amazed by the talent people possess. Some of my favorites (and surprise, surprise-- all can be found in the shop): Stephanie of Esby Apparel (who I was lucky enough to meet in May), Emma of Everyday Oil, Heidi of Ozma of California, Ursula Basinger (local!) and Natalie Joy --- all these women are doing amazing things. 

Why do you think it’s important to shop small and support local makers?
Supporting small businesses and local makers isn't just a walk to the checkout line--- it's an experience! It feels good to contribute to someone following their dreams.  

What is your favorite thing about your workspace?
So many things! My studio space completely relaxes me. It's warm, inviting and full of beautiful items to hang around. I often find myself just wandering around in there, even after my lists of to-dos are complete. More often than not, my lists take longer than expected from me stopping to snap a photo of the space whenever the light hits just right. 

What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
I get to be creative on a daily basis, something I've always been passionate about! 

What are some of the setbacks or challenges you faced when starting Fine Life Co?
A challenge I still face today is committing myself solely to the shop. I'm still working full-time in my family's business and finding the right time to transition is tough. It's like working two full-time jobs, which is exhausting -- even though the shop doesn't necessarily always feel like work! 

At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
We can be & should be each other's biggest cheerleaders. There's room for everyone, so why not team up and continue to show the world what we, as women, are capable of?

What creative women do you find inspiring?
SO many -- Margaret and Katherine of Doen, Hopie and Lily of Block Shop Textiles, Jenni Kayne (Rip + Tan), the ladies behind Garmentory & my mom!

Was there any particular person who helped shape your career in formative way?
My parents really paved the way for me to follow my dreams. Owning a small business themselves, they had a lot of real inspiration and advice for me. My husband, who has been by my side for the past 10 years, has been incredibly supportive and encouraging since day one. 

What have you learned from owning your shop that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
If you believe in yourself and put in the work, anything and everything is possible.

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
I'm looking forward to continuing to bring in new products, having a few open studios and possibly a workshop. Summer in Arizona is tough, so I'm looking forward to cooler weather in... 3-4 months? Ah!

What tools or resources have been most helpful for you in creating your business?
My website platform, Shopify, is incredibly helpful for not only selling products but keeping track of finances, reports, etc. Recently, I was invited to a Facebook group of women business owners and it has been so informative + refreshing to hear from other women doing this too! 

How do you manage a work/life balance?
I rarely do, but trying to stay out of the studio on weekends my husband has off is key. I limit those days to only going in to pack orders Saturday morning and Sunday evening -- other than that, working is off limits!

What are some of your favorite places in Tucson?
Saguaro National Park & Gates Pass for scenic views, Presta or Exo for coffee, Maynard's or B Line for good food and the Barrio for a beautiful, historic neighborhood to walk around. 

Photos provided by Emily Benzinger

Photos provided by Emily Benzinger