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(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Sisters Michelle LeBleu, left, and Christine Racca began operating Shop Aurea LLC four years ago. Their business name came about from the fact that both sisters share the same middle name, Aurea, which was their grandmother’s first name. (Lana Tyler Photography / Special to the American Press)

Sisters Michelle LeBleu, left, and Christine Racca began operating Shop Aurea LLC four years ago. Their business name came about from the fact that both sisters share the same middle name, Aurea, which was their grandmother’s first name. (Lana Tyler Photography / Special to the American Press)

Sisters find their niche creating custom invitations and more

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 12:29 PM

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.

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