Some of you may know that my “day job” is teaching middle school. One of the cool perks of this job is seeing former students go on to do great things. Our next Agenda Worthy Woman, Elizabeth Bartlein, is one of those students. Since her stellar beginning in 7th grade Spanish, I just knew she was destined for greatness. Read on to learn about her interesting day job and her most impressive side hustle that showcases her design talent.

Name: Elizabeth Bartlein

Hometown: South Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Current home: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

You have a super cool artsy side hustle and a steady gig. Can you tell me first a bit about your “day job” - where do you work, what do you do, and how did you get to where you are now? My “day job” is an Assistant Buyer for Kids’ Athletic Shoes at Kohl’s Corporation. I started at Kohl’s right out of college (graduated from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater). I also just started pursuing my MBA at Cardinal Stritch University.

What are your future goals for your day job? I love retail and have been a big student of the evolution of retail within the industry. As shopping patterns shift, and demand of customers becomes shorter I think it’s a great challenge of how to continue to serve our customers with the best product/price and value they are looking for! My future goal within my day job is to continue enjoying my work when I walk through the doors each morning! I love what I do right now and growing and learning within the industry is my main goal!

You have quite an impressive side hustle as an artist/seller on Etsy and other places.  Can you tell the story of how this began?  Thank you! It all started when a lot of my friends began getting married. Chalkboards & Signage was becoming a common décor piece at weddings. I have always had good handwriting, but have never given “hand-lettering” or “calligraphy” a try. One of my friends, Sam, asked if I could write her menu on a mirror and I said “why not, I’ll give it a shot”… Her photographer ended up reaching out to me for another project and from there she helped advise me that this is something that could have a future. The photographer (Heather from Better Together Photography) helped coach & mentor me to start the business. That is how the wedding side of the business began, as for the home décor piece, that piece came from an assignment that I had to complete for a facebook “product shop” group I started following by Rachel Allene. The task was to create something that told a story about you. I drew the state of Wisconsin, and filled it with words that were meaningful to me and told the story of who I am… from there, that expanded quick. I started creating more states and then custom designs, and some of those projects have been my absolute favorite since they are a one of a kind piece. I launched my Etsy shop in April 2017 and utilize Etsy, Instagram and my website Elizabethedesign.com as my main modes of information and transactions.


Where do you see this business in one year? Three? Five?  Do you see possibilities of expansion into other mediums? I see the business continuing to grow and expand. I have just started to participate in craft fairs and markets, I will have one at the end of September at Fulton Market in Chicago called Covent Market as well as I will be at the Craft & Relic Show in Franklin, WI on November 10th and 11th.

I named the business with a broader name so that I could fit whatever I would like under the “design” umbrella I have no clue where it will be in five years, but I also had no clue I would be where I am at now within a year and a half!


What does a day in your life look like? Wake up, check e-mails, coffee time (best time), drive to work, work, leave work, gym, hobby lobby run/post office run (at least once a week), get home, make dinner, work on EED projects with my assistant Milo (my cat…) & bed. I do a lot of my projects during the weekends!


If you could live anywhere in the world, it would be: London

Top Life Highlights: Family vacations, my first time to New York, my college AMA Chapter winning International Chapter of the Year (I dedicated a lot of time to AMA in college – haha), Mother/Daughter Trip to London & Ireland.

Advice to younger self: Travel more in college! Get out of the bubble a bit more. & create a savings account for Weddings & Bachelorette Parties… (It was a tip that was given to me in High School & I wish I would have listened.)

In five years I want: To add a few more stamps to my passport!

Biggest life lesson: Life may not always go as planned, but have faith in that the journey is leading you somewhere. Take every opportunity you can to better yourself. I’m a big believer in saying “yes” to trying new things and taking chances.

Trick for staying sane/biggest life hack: Continuing to maintain my schedule on paper – I still carry around a planner that I write all my weekly to-do lists and deadlines in (I get that from my mama).

Red or white: White – Wine right ;)

Three things I can’t live without: Family, coffee & Instagram.

Favorite books: I have loved every book that Emily Giffin has written. Something Borrowed remains my favorite. I also have recently discovered Emily Belden – a Chicago native author who knows how to relate to a single girl in her 20’s. I read her books Eightysixed & Hot Mess in basically 1 day – I guess I have a thing for authors with the name Emily?!

Netflix Binge Recommendation: Gilmore Girls, Friends, most recently… SUITS.


Words to live by: Everything happens for a reason. It sounds so cliché… but there have been too many times in my life that this has held up.

Finally, who is a woman in your life who you find to be an AWW? My friends, Kati Rodriguez who started her own online boutique and Heather Ford, the Photographer that helped me establish my business.

Where can we find all of your great work?

Website: www.elizabethedesign.com

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/elizabethedesign

Instagram: @elizabethedesign

Thanks, Elizabeth! You’ve proven you’re not only great at Spanish (I just knew it, back in the day), you’re also a very Agenda Worthy Woman!