Sydney Hembrough teams up with Open House Print Shop to introduce Lightheart & Co.
Questions and answers with Sydney Hembrough about the brand she just launched: Lightheart & Co.
The Source Newspaper: Tell us about your new initiative, Lightheart & Co.
Sydney Hembrough: Lightheart & Co. is an apparel and accessory brand that is designed and printed right here in Jacksonville, Illinois. It is going to be used as an extension of my social media platforms in which I aim to inspire people to create a life they love. I want to use this brand as a way to show others what Jacksonville can do and to inspire others.
I am working with my friends from Open House Print Shop to design and print unique, high-quality graphic tees, crewnecks, accessories, etc. I love the idea that everything comes from Jacksonville — not some big internet giant. By supporting Lightheart & Co., you are not only supporting me and my platforms, but you are also supporting another local business!
TSN: Where did this come from?
SH: The meaning behind the name is actually a funny story. I knew I didn’t want it to be anything related to my name. I wanted it to be able to stand as its own brand. We began the brainstorming process with the name of my blog, Blissfully Sydney, in mind. We knew we wanted it to relate to the word “blissful,” because that is what the brand would stand for. We quickly figured out that every name option with the word blissful, or any variation of the word, was taken. One day, Eli from Open House messaged me and said, “What about the word lighthearted?” I liked it because it meant something very similar to blissful, but it would be more gender-neutral. After throwing the names around a bit, we settled on Lightheart & Co.
TSN: How did this idea start?
SH: This idea started as an Instagram DM, funny enough. I remember back in the fall of 2019, I mentioned to one of the Open House guys that I loved their shirt as I was taking their order at my aunt’s business, Charlie’s Ice Cream Shop. To my surprise, he came back with a shirt to give to me later that day! I ended up posting about it on my Instagram account (which was much smaller back then), and my connection with Open House started there.
Fast forward to September 2020, Eli from Open House Print Shop messaged me on their business account asking if I would be willing to post a little promo for their new merch on my Instagram in exchange for a free shirt. Of course, I said yes because I love anything to do with supporting Jacksonville. After we settled the details on the “collaboration,” Eli mentioned how cool it was that I had such a big following. I explained my YouTube journey to him and mentioned how it was what I was going to school for. Then, he out of nowhere said, “We’ll have to get you set up with your own clothing line at some point.” Of course, I was so shocked, but I wasn’t opposed to the idea. It was almost like an answer to my prayers. At the time he contacted me, I felt really stuck with my personal brand. I wanted something more out of it than just uploading videos for people to watch, and I wanted a way to reach more people with my message. The opportunity to build this clothing line was just that!
The following months were full of brainstorming, Pinterest vision boards, and lots of logo sketches. I never thought I would ever do anything like this! With the push from my aunt Kerry Kvorka (owner of Charlie’s Ice Cream Shop) and many conversations with Eli and his team, we built Lightheart & Co.
I was so hesitant to even consider this opportunity, but if 2020 taught me anything, it was to just go for it. Life is too short and too unpredictable to wait on your dreams. I kept quiet about it for a long time because I was scared of failure. I was scared I would put in all of this work and Eli would put in all of this work and we wouldn’t sell a single thing. Boy was I wrong!
I am so thankful to be working with Open House to make this such a hands-on experience. It was never something I had envisioned for myself prior to my conversation with Eli, but now it just feels right. It feels like my own, and I am very proud of it and everything it stands for. The response has been tremendous, both from the Jacksonville community and my online community. I can’t wait to continue building this brand and supporting my community in the process!
TSN: What are you planning to do?
SH: With Lightheart & Co., I want to create apparel and accessories that have impactful messages behind them. I don’t want to create a piece without meaning behind it. It really just reflects what I talk about on social media — positivity, connection, and just life in general. A lot of it will revolve around the idea that no matter what life throws at you, go about your days with a light heart.
Right now, we are fulfilling orders from our first launch that took place from January 1 to 14. After Open House finishes the orders, I will start shipping them out. This presale model is working well because as I start out, I don’t want to end up with a bunch of stock that I won’t sell. It also ensures that whatever you want, we will have.
In the next few weeks, I hope to launch another product or two. I am looking at some accessories and different apparel options for popular designs. I have so many ideas that I want to see for Lightheart & Co., and I am so grateful that Open House Print Shop has been so accommodating and supportive of my crazy ideas! The possibilities are endless! Keep an eye on our social media to be notified of future product launches!
I am also planning on launching my own Lightheart & Co. website. Right now, it is a web store off of Open House’s website, but for the next launch, I will have my own.
TSN: What impact do you hope for it to have?
SH: I hope that Lightheart & Co. can serve as a reminder to not take life too seriously. There are too many heavy things in our world today, but I try to be a light to everyone around me — both in-person and online. I have always been a lighthearted person, and I hope this brand can reflect that. I don’t want it to come across as “merch,” which is typically what creators refer to their products as. I want it to be a reflection of all of the things I talk about on social media, and to be able to stand alone as a positive brand that people can resonate with.
I also hope that it can serve as a way to show others how great our small community is. I have followers and subscribers from all over the world. By working with Open House Print Shop, I am giving them a little slice of Jacksonville. It is so cool to be able to be so hands-on with this process. This setup is very unique because typically creators will work with huge online companies to produce products to sell to their followers. I didn’t want that. I wanted it to be a reflection on what’s important to me, which is community. I get to be involved in the entire process from design to shipment. That’s something a lot of creators can’t do. I hope to see Jacksonville get some love as a result of my reach online.
TSN: Can people get involved?
SH: Lightheart & Co. will be very customer-focused. It starts with following this journey on social media. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram (@lightheartandco). With every new launch of products, I hope to get my audience involved with polls on everything from design options to color choices.
Another way people can get involved is by sharing Lightheart & Co. with their friends. I truly believe this could evolve into something much more than a clothing brand. I want it to be a platform that reminds people to go about life lightheartedly. By sharing either by word-of-mouth or on social media, we can spread Jacksonville love far and wide! I am so thankful for everyone who has shared Lightheart & Co. so far. It has truly shown me the power of this small town! Even if you don’t buy anything, a simple share on social media can make such a huge impact, and I am so thankful!
TSN: Personal information about you. Who you are, Where you are from. Etc.
SH: I’m a junior in college studying Digital Marketing with an emphasis in Social Media and Digital Content Strategy. I am an online student at Lindenwood University. This degree path has opened my eyes to all of the possibilities in the industry and has sparked my interest in making a career out of social media. I currently work as a freelance social media consultant for a few local businesses, which allows me to gain experience in the field while still earning my degree. I love traveling, making YouTube videos, and meeting new people.
I have proudly lived in Jacksonville my whole life. I love the small-town community here and it has been phenomenal to see the support of other small businesses as I start Lightheart & Co. My main goal with all of my platforms is to show others that it doesn’t matter where you are from — you can do this, too. A lot of people feel like you have to live in a big city to have an impact online.
In 2016, I started my YouTube channel just for fun. I never expected it to change my life. Not only has it shaped my career path, it has also given me a voice that I never thought possible. I now have over 18,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 14,000 followers on Instagram. My favorite thing about creating content is connecting with people from all over the globe. Although it didn’t start this way, I now use my platforms to tell my story. I believe in authenticity and using my platform to help others by talking about the hard stuff. I never want to come across as someone who just has it all together. On my platforms, I talk about my path to discovering who I really want to be and choosing a career path that I am so passionate about. I also discuss how there is not one path to success. When I left high school, I had it in mind that I had to know all the answers. I had to choose a college and stay there. However, that wasn’t the case for me. I found a degree program I was so excited about that allowed me to bring my classroom with me. I hope to inspire others to go after their dreams and to create a life they love. That is really what Lightheart & Co. is all about.