Sisters find their niche creating custom invitations and more

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

After working in television production for 5.5 years at Suddenlink Media, Christine Racca became a stay at home mom. She had some graphic design experience from working in TV production, and she wanted to use her creativity in some way.

“I knew I could use my design skills to make some money from home,” Racca said.

Her sister, Michelle LeBleu was working for Jambalaya News in the art department and also had graphic design experience.

“Our friends would continually ask us to make party invitations for them,” Racca said. “Michelle and I put our heads together and decided to start a small online business from our homes in

2010. We wanted our business name to be different. Michelle

chose the name, Shop Aurea, because we both share the same middle

name, Aurea, which was our grandmother’s first name.”The sisters built

the website themselves and made a Facebook business page.

“We started out designing party

invitations and then we saw the need for custom wedding invitations in

this market,” she said.

“It exploded from there. We never expected it to take off like it

has. Four years have flown by and we have had the opportunity

to meet and work with so many great people.”

What sets your business apart from others like it in Lake Charles?

With the ease of email and online

access, we can work with anyone, face-to-face or online. We have a large

local clientele

base, but we have also created products for people all over the

United States via-email, through our website and Facebook

page. Our designs are custom — this is really what sets us apart

from other invitation businesses. Ninety percent of what

we make is done from scratch. Michelle and I are the designers and

we have the ability to make the design specific for each

client. For example, we aren’t limited to stock products like

those offered in catalogs and websites were you can only change

the color of the art and text and not the design itself. Our

designs are created by us, for each client.

What services do you provide?

In addition to invitation design, Shop Aurea also offers business solutions: digital ad design, logo design, business cards,

custom letterhead, mailers, rack cards and more.

What are the latest trends in stationery?

This past year a lot of brides have had a vintage and rustic theme. Lots of blush, ivory and gold colors with lace, burlap and wood-grain inspired designs.

What do you print?

We print most of our wedding

invitations in house. We outsource other products that require heavy ink

and off-set printing.

Address printing is a great feature. We have the ability to print

address lists and brides love this. We can print your addresses

on your envelopes so you don’t have to sit there and write 300

names and addresses. We get the best feedback from this feature.

Another popular trend is photo printing on the invitations. This

is very popular with birthday party invitations. Anyone can

go buy stock invitations and fill in the information. Why not make

it personal by including a photo?

How are you able to operate without a central location?

We are a web-based business, however,

we area able to meet with local clients in person by appointment. We can

also work via-email

if this is a preferred method. I serve the Lake Charles and

surrounding areas. Michelle LeBleu is in the Houston-Katy, Texas

market. Even though Michelle and I are 2.5 hours away from each

other we can still easily work together through Skype and

email. We work so well together and truly balance each other out

creatively. The client’s location isn’t a problem. With the

ease of email, digital proofing is quick and effective and your

product gets shipped to your doorstep. I can’t imagine having

the limitations that businesses had 15-20 years ago.

l

Send your Businesswise suggestions to Lance Traweek, American Press, P.O. Box 2893, Lake Charles, LA 70601; or email suggestions to ltraweek@americanpress.com .

Business Snapshot

• Business Name: Shop Aurea LLC

• Location: Lake Charles, Louisiana & Houston/Katy, Texas

• Owners: Christine Racca & Michelle LeBleu

• Services provided: Invitations for any occasion, Logo Design, Digital Ad Design, Business Cards, etc.

• Hours: by appointment

• Years in Business: 4

• Number of Employees: 2

• Phone: prefer clients to email first (please do not print a phone number) it is just easier to start communication with clients this way due to the volume of calls/clients and only 2 employees.

• Email:  shopaureadesigns@yahoo.com

• Website:  www.shopaurea.com

• Company Slogan or Motto: Stylish. Paper. Designs.