In 2007, Lauren Dolinsky left her marketing position at LePorte Modern Doors to focus full-time on her true passion: botanical arranging. She moved to Austin, Texas, and founded LD Designs, a sustainable design store specializing in modern botanical design. The following year she made a lifelong dream of owning an Airstream trailer come true by purchasing one used and renovating it to house her budding business. We spoke with Dolinsky about trailer park retail, the success of succulents, and why Austin is a great place to be an entrepreneur.
Where did your interest in botanical design stem from?
I was working as the marketing director for Neoporte Modern Doors in Los Angeles, which is how I found out about Dwell, fell in love with modern design, and what lead me to what I do now. I worked around a lot of big, stainless steel doors. The showroom was very cold and sterile, and I wanted to warm it up. You can’t just throw a fern next to a modern door so I started playing around with botanical design.
What drew you to succulents specifically?
In my job I couldn’t tend to the plants all the time—I wanted to but my boss wouldn’t let me—so I had to come up with arrangements that lasted longer without a lot of maintenance. I learned about all these wonderful plants—succulents, mosses, and so on—that don’t need much care.
How did that turn into a full-time career?
The botanical design started as a side project, but I wanted to develop it more. Making little designs for friends or as gifts was my stress relief at the time, and finally I had enough friends say that I should start doing this full-time that I moved to Austin in the beginning of 2007. By October 2007, I had my design company, LD Design, up and running.
Why did you choose to start your business in Austin?
It’s really a cool city. The great thing about it is everyone here is so into supporting local businesses and the whole local thing in general.
How did the Airstream trailer come about?
I was working out of my house and then in a couple studios that I rented before I moved into the Airstream with my business partner, Josh Frank. We found one on Craigslist located just outside of Austin that was such a steal. It was kind of a dump but that’s what we were looking for since we wanted to renovate the whole thing anyway. We bought it and towed it back to Austin at the end of September 2008 and opened it in the beginning of December.
Why did you want to house your business in an Airstream?
I lived in an Airstream one summer in Topanga Canyon, California, taking care of horses. Airstreams have a cool retro feel and are hipper than your average trailer. After my summer in Topanga Canyon, I always wanted an excuse to end up with an Airstream and Josh felt the same way.
What else can a visitor find in your Airstream?
The whole thing is called La-Dee-Dah and you can find most of my botanical designs along with some home design products there under the name LD Design. The back area is a newsstand kiosk that Josh runs called Treat that has a menu of desserts. The big thing is s'mores. People can sit around the fire pit we have set up and roast designer s'mores with different flavored marshmallows.
What's next for LD Designs and La-Dee-Dah?
We're moving up the street to a place called the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery. There's tons more traffic there and cool neighbors like Torchy's Tacos [featured in Dwell's March 2009 Square Meal section], which is also housed in an Airstream.
For more information visit designld.com.