This is Linnea. If you are familiar at all with downtown Cville, you’ve likely come across her adorable second hand shop, Darling. Like Darling, Linnea is full of vintage charm, quirky fun style with a side of color and flare! She is a true beam of sunshine and a breath of fresh air. And a wonderful example of what hard work, determination and imagination can create. My hope is you will be uplifted by her playful style and positive attitude. Enjoy her interview and photos!
As an aside, I did want to say this shoot was done recently, in an empty and sanitized shop where we kept six feet between us the entire shoot (thank goodness for wonderful lenses!) and respected and recognized the guidelines. The interview is typically done in person–however, during this time period all interviews are done via computer. As many of you, I am wanting to find any way I can to help and support others in our community during this very challenging time, and so these next few weeks we will be focusing on the amazing, rock star women who own and run small businesses in Charlottesville. Let’s continue to build each other up and encourage each other. We will get through this and come back stronger and more united because of it. ***ADDED quarantine specific questions at bottom of post!***
We are still accepting nominations, so please nominate women whom you are inspired by in our community–we need to be inspired now, more than ever! Shoots will resume after June 10, according to the covid-19 guidelines.
Now, enjoy the interview!
us: Linnea, please tell us a little bit about yourself . . .
her: I’m the #girlboss behind Darling Boutique, wearing lots of hats (or outfits), styling all the darlings, cultivating community, and learning daily how to delegate and grow my team! I’ve been the owner for over 5 years now, and I didn’t always have an amazing team. From co-ownership to sole proprietorship, running the whole shop by myself to having a team of 6 employees, I’ve gone through many changes and growth spurts.
In 2017, when I was feeling isolated and alone in my new sole proprietorship-ness, I founded a group for women in business called Boss Babes Cville that has grown to almost 1,000 amazing local ladies!
I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2010 and never left Charlottesville. I knew I wanted to grow roots here. I had an inherent connection to the local scene all throughout college, working at Hamilton’s and spending much of my time my
2nd through 4th year Midtown, Downtown, and all around Cville. The connections I cultivated in those years after graduated are what opened the door to becoming the owner of Darling!
I’m 89% sure my life would unravel without oat milk lattes, 80%+ dark chocolate, and red wine. Pink is my power color, yellow is my joy color — mostly, I like colors. Color is my love language. Cream is my black. Oh, and running 15 minutes late is my brand.
us: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
her: A bowl of granola with fresh strawberries – yum!
us: Does pineapple belong on pizza?
her: Only with bacon (and not the Canadian bacon kind)!
us: Do you sleep in your socks?
her: Heck to the no!
us: What’s your go-to midnight snack?
her: You can find me “workin’ on my night cheese.”
us: Mountains or beach?
her: I love looking at the mountains around us, but I’ll always be a beach girl at heart. It restores my soul.
us: Current favorite song?
her: “Treat People with Kindness” by Harry Styles — it’s so friggin’ weird and I love it (for the message, too).
us: Salty or sweet?
her: Sweet AND salty. A cookie with sea salt on top? Dark chocolate with sea salt? Yes, please.
us: Pet peeve?
her: Spelling errors and poor grammar. Once an English major, always an English major. Also, poor road etiquette. Use your signal, people.
us: Room entrance song:
her: “Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA or “Love Shack,” by The B52s . . . honestly, this totally depends on the room! Just like I love rainbows, I love many styles and moods of music.
us: Favorite place you’ve traveled to?
her: Savannah, Georgia was a magical, moody Gothic dream. I’d 10/10 go back.
us: What’s your favorite room in your house?
her: My closet!
us: Who has been the most influential woman in your life?
her: I’m pretty sure I’d fail this interview if I don’t say my mom. But that’s also the influence of my mom! We’re all shaped and influenced by our mothers. My mother is an amazingly courageous woman who’s steadfast love and support has been an anchor in my life. She has a tender heart that has taught me so much about vulnerability. She also homeschooled me until 8th grade, so that’s probably where the whole pass/fail reference came from . . . she instilled in me a passion for creativity and growth and learning at a young age.
us: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
her: Quitting my stable “normal” full time job at age 25 to buy a store and become a small business owner. I had never even worked in retail before, had no capital or financial security, and no business experience. I’m honestly glad I was pretty
naive about the whole thing at the time, otherwise I’m not sure I would have taken that leap of faith! But I’m so glad I did. And I don’t think I say it enough, or openly, but I’m really dang proud of myself. I’m proud of what I’ve cultivated over the last 5 years. And who I’ve become because of it. I was made for this, designed for it —uniquely. In the words of David Rose, “Love that journey for you,” (aka me). ALSO, I was basically the foreman and interior decorator for the buildout of my
shop’s new location, and when people asked who the interior designer was for ourbuild out, I couldn’t help but beam with pride. Maybe there’s more of that in my in my future . . .
us: If you could give your younger self a single piece of advice, what would it be?
her: You are enough and not too much. Don’t you dare change yourself for anyone or anything. You are captivating. You are so beautiful – just the way you are – no matter how many pimples or scars or what the scale says. You are worthy. You are capable. So trust yourself.
us: Can you tell us about a challenge that you’ve overcome?
her: When I quit my full time job and bought Darling, I knew it was a financial risk. But Ihad no idea just how challenging the first few years would be. So many months not paying myself, or having any income at all. Pouring in 60-80 hours a week, and not seeing a penny to my name. I took on extra jobs (and invested in certifications) becoming a fitness instructor at local boutique gyms, you know, in my spare time, to supplement income. It was an exhausting tunnel I didn’t know if I’d ever see the end of… and, looking back, I’m not sure how I quite got through those years (a whole lot of support from friends and family, that’s how). But over time, with continued sweat equity and a whole lotta work, the business started to grow. By year 4 of owning Darling, I was making more than I used to at my full time job, and by year 5, I had 5 part time employees and was able to move my shop into a bigger, better location. And then, it blossomed so quickly, so vibrantly, I had to catch my breath. And just as I began to do so, we found ourselves here, now, in quarantine during a global pandemic. I find myself again wondering about the financial challenges that face not just my business, but my own livelihood. I don’t know what will happen… I don’t know, but I’m okay. I’m liberated by admitting the not knowing. And that’s the biggest mountain and deepest valley I’ve had to cross during this small business owner journey. Getting used to not knowing and trusting anyway.
us: Favorite Quote?
her: “I dwell in Possibility.” – Emily Dickinson
us: Where do you find your inspiration?
her: From stories. I love stories. From friends and family, from books and movies and shows, to songs and dances. I’m deeply passionate about storytelling. I was an English major at UVA. But if we go way, way back, as a little girl, I used to carry a pad of paper and pen around with me everywhere, jotting down little notes and writing stories. I thought I wanted to be a journalist. And you know what they say — “You can do anything with an English degree!” But I never knew I’d be able to
tell stories, and hear stories, and share stories through a platform like Darling —through a brand, through a community, through articles of clothing, through style. What a dream!
us: Any funny or embarrassing nicknames we should know about?
her: It’s not really embarrassing, but I’ve been called “The Bag Lady” since I was a little girl. I always had to have my “puhwse” with me everywhere we went (again, with that notepad and pen in it). Maybe I loved accessorizing. Maybe it was a crutch. Maybe I was just whiny as heck. But for whatever reason, having my bag with me has stuck with me my whole life. I have a LOT of purses still, and I can’t recall a single day when I left the house without one.
us: Any hidden talents we should know about?
her: I’m a dancer! I grew up doing ballet, and modern all through college. After college, in my twenties, dance fluttered in and out of my life in terms of practice and performance, but I’ve come to terms with saying — always, no matter my current level of conditioning and training — “I’m a dancer!” Because once it’s in your bones, it’s in your bones. Life and music and words will always move you and make you move.
us: What are you most thankful for?
her: The unwavering support from my boyfriend these last 10 years. He is the most giving, caring, loyal person I know. He has taken care of me through high highs and super duper low lows. He fills my belly with bouts of laughter and bowls of delicious home cooked meals. He listens. He doesn’t try to fix. He is discerning and so wise. He’s just there for me, in every way. And I can’t imagine what life would be like without him by my side. (so sappy, LOL)
us: What is your favorite thing about living in Charlottesville?
her: The love of local. It’s so rich here. It’s genuine. The support I’ve felt and seen and experienced as a small business owner has been baffling at times. And no one is ever looking for you to repay them. It’s more of a “pay it forward” attitude. People give to one another here and just want you to do the same for others.
QUARAN-QUESTIONS . . .
us: Tell us one lesson you’ve learned during your quarantine experience?
her: You are not defined by your productivity or creativity. Your self worth is not based on output. Rest. Work, move, process, create, from a place of rest. There is grace for this, too. (Age old wisdom from a dear friend, but it keeps coming up again and again during this season of quarantine.)
us: Favorite show to binge watch?
her: Schitt’s Creek — I’m on watch number 3 of the whole show. Yes, I re-watch entire shows (in order) when I love them.
us: Favorite local business to support during quarantine?
her: As a small business owner it’s so hard to pick just a few! My heart is for all of the local businesses in Charlottesville, and I do my best to support as many as possible – now and always. A few brick & mortars I’ve supported so far in this season: Petite Mariebette, Louise, Hedge Fine Blooms, Corner Juice, Belle Cville, Common House, Glaze, Bowerbird Bakeshop, Belmont Pizza, Doma, Milan, Monsoon, and so many more. Chimm, Potter’s, and Splendora’s did the coolest takeout dinner pairing the other weekend. Love seeing local businesses collaborate and support one another! Also, Darling is comprised of over 70 small businesses. We carry over 70 local artisans on consignment from around the Virginia area, so you could say I’m supporting them every single day. We believe in supporting local in a BIG way at Darling.
us: Have you taken on new hobbies or discovered a new talent during this time indoors?
her: I have remembered how horrible I am at puzzles! And also remembered how great it is to have spontaneous, gratuitously ridiculous dance parties with my boyfriend in our living room to very loud music.
us: What’s one thing you can’t live without right now?
her: The ability to see the faces of friends and family virtually. I never used to FaceTime friends or family a lot – it was always phone calls or texts. But now, I’ve picked up all these new routines of scheduled FaceTime or Zoom calls with friends and family that I never used to before. I’d like that to never change.
CBD! CBD tinctures morning and night from Louise, and CBD flower from The Little Flower Field. Works miracles for me when it comes to managing anxiety and stress.
And, dry shampoo from my girls at Fringe Cville. #dryshampoonation
WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT DARLING:
Purchase a Positivity Package — aka care packages for you or yours curated by Darling — in March after closing our storefront due to quarantine. We have loved seeing these purchased and shipped all over the United States or delivered locally for loved ones. It’s been so moving to see the love shared and spread through these packages. We now have 8 different Positivity Packages, including the newest launch — the “Taking Care of our Health Heroes” package! We are also donating a portion of our profits from all Positivity Package sales to the Charlottesville Restaurant Fund. Giving back and supporting local is at the heart of our brand — always. Buy one as a gift for someone you know, or buy one as a donation for our local area healthcare professionals. You can find out more and order packages directly on our website.
You can also virtually shop at Darling any day of the week! Their doors may be closed, but they’re “open” online and always here for the Darling community – near and far!
Thank you so much for sharing with us Linnea!