Although the name of her business is The Lazy Bee Paper House, there is nothing lazy about Karen Lazenby. She and I started ‘talking’ when she joined The Art and Artists of 614 on FB. I think she had posted some photos of her work and I commented and that started an evening of conversation about both our lives.
Originally from Toledo and Chicago (considering she’s spent equal portions of her life in each place), Karen moved around frequently because of her father’s career in the military . The family finally settled in NW Indiana, where she spent most of her school-age years.She was lucky enough to grow up in a Fine Arts Family: her mom is a classically trained professional musician; her father is a beautiful illustrator; her brother is an author and editor of a newspaper; her grandma was a beautiful seamstress, and grandpa was an engineer. So art was always present in all forms with each family member excelling in their own medium. So it’s not too hard to understand why she opted to major in art while in college.
A graduate of Bowling Green State University, she has a BFA in Three Dimensional Art (emphasis in ceramics & sculpture) & a minor in foreign language and even though she was 3D major, she spent an ample amount of time in printmaking.
Her graduate work was completed in Florence, Italy, at Studio Art Centers International & Universita degli Studi di Firenze in Art Conservation with an emphasis in the bio-deterioration of structural objects & fumigation techniques. When she told me about this in our FB conversation, I was so very jealous as Florence and the Tuscan region is my favorite place in all of the world. Just the thought of being able to live there, explore, be creative and experience Tuscany at a young age was amazing to me! She also worked in a coffee bar and pub in Florence~~oh the life!! That started another tangent to our conversation about the region, San Gimiagno, Sienna and more…I felt like I had been transplanted back to my 2 weeks there, vacationing on a working farm. Guess that’s a topic for another post!!! Sorry for the transgression (aaahhhh!)
Back to Karen! As a graduate student living abroad (2004), money was tight, so for birthdays, holidays, etc., she gave handmade greeting cards and note cards as gifts that she drew in her spare time. Before long people were requesting more! That started the making and selling cards as a side project to help pay for living expenses during grad school and that was pretty lucrative.
However, she stopped selling cards once she moved back to the US and settled in Seattle in 2006. The original idea/name for The Lazy Bee came when she began researching and writing business plans for a possible coffee house in 2006. The name seemed was catchy and suited her style of artwork and would be incorporated into the business with the intentions of creating a brand. The coffeehouse plans never became a reality but her paper business did and unbeknownst to her, her original business name fit perfectly with her future as she married a man with the last name: Lazenby [LAY-ZEN-BEE] four years later. A coincidence? I think not! I think maybe she was dreaming of him back then!!
The official title, The Lazy Bee Paper House, was branded in April of this year  when I decided to bite the bullet & re-start the stationary business on a full-time basis.
“So in a nutshell, I’d like to say I began business in 9 years ago with recently giving it an official name.”
Karen lived in WA for a little over 2 years but returned to Ohio after the economy took a dive and cutbacks were made at the Museum of Glass where she worked. Luckily, she also worked at Borders Books part-time and was able to transfer to Toledo with a full time job. In 2010 she and her hubby (remember the fortuitous bee??) returned to the Pacific NW (Portland, Oregon) before moving back to Ohio and settling in Columbus.
Her business now specializes in stationery and home décor. Her designs are inspired by her world travels but also by the simplicity of day-to-day living. But, as Karen says, her inspiration goes so much deeper than that.
“Believe it or not each design is made with a specific person(s) in mind & there is a story that goes along with each one. For example- One Peanut is inspired by a small gift my grandfather bought my grandma on a business trip when they were first married. They didn’t have much money and he couldn’t afford flowers so he picked her up this small peanut-shaped magnet in a train station that says: “Thinking of You is like Eating One Peanut…” Grandma ALWAYS had that magnet on the fridge, and it described my grandfather’s thoughtfulness perfectly. When he passed away, she gave me the magnet, and I made her a picture. One Peanut is my favorite but ironically, it has the least amount of sales. Probably because it’s the most personal of the entire collection.”
She states that there are no special techniques used in her art; ” just pen, ink, Prismacolors, a heap load of paper, and a computer.” Of course, that alone does not make art….her talent plays a huge role in what she considers to be rather a simplistic art form. I mean I could have all of those tools and not even begin to make the beautiful drawings she makes!
In the 4 months since she formally opened her business …”People have become my creative process! In fact since opening 4 months ago the bulk of my business has been customized. I have done 4 weddings this summer alone & currently working on professional note cards for a few businesses. Complete strangers have sought me out by word of mouth. It’s truly a blessing from God! I love it working with people and coming up with new designs. My clients have pushed me further than any professor could have & for that I am grateful!”
Needless to say, The Lazy Bee DOES do custom work and Karen states that if you don’t see something that fits the bill, just ask and she will create something just for you! Lots of ideas for product are swimming through her head right now so I would imagine that soon you will see many more products in her line. For those with the ‘artistic itch’, she also sells blank note cards and stationery….all products are handmade with the exception of envelopes (she does the cutting and folding, too!)
As of now, Mettler Studios, LLC in Waterville, OH (Toledo) and the Silver Lining Gallery also in Waterville are the only places she sells her work except online. having only been in business for 4 months, she has sought out a modest number of venues but selling wholesale is a primary goal for her business. The Lazy Bee will also be at The Roche de Boeuf Festival in Waterville, Ohio on September 28 teaming up with Mettler Studios, LLC.
Although she has worked in museums, coffee houses (U.S. & Europe), bartender, banking, loading and unloading semi-trailers, coffee tasting for Seattle’s Best Coffee (her fav job till now!), bookstores, janitor, and many other odd jobs, creating her brand has by far been her favorite job and one she does not plan on leaving any time soon.
What are her plans for the future? Developing her brand with her stationery and home decor art work but she still has her heart set on opening a coffee house as coffee is still one of her passions. Of course, The Lazy Bee will continue to be her brand…I think there’s room for an artsy kinda coffee house in the Columbus area, don’t you?
Contact info for readers: http://www.thelazybeepaperhouse.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media http://twitter.com/LazyBeePaperH http://www.facebook.com/TheLazyBeePaperHouse http://instagram.com/thelazybeepaperhouse