Handmade Spotlight

Handmade Spotlight: AbbyKate Pillows

This week I’m excited to introduce you to Abby Granger of AbbyKate Pillows. Abby designs creative and fun throw pillows that are unique and hand painted!  Whether you’re looking for something cute for your own home or looking for a unique gift Abby has you covered.  Click below to take a closer look at her pillows!

1) Tell us a little bit about your business and how it got started.

I make custom hand painted pillows and I truly never intended to start a business – it literally just happened. For Christmas in 2014, a family member declared it was a “handmade only” Christmas so I decided to make some pillows which ended up being very well received.

My husband, our boys and I were fundraising for a Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic the following June so on a whim I told my husband, “I think I’ll just throw an etsy shop together to see if anyone else is interested in these pillows.” We raised the funds we needed for our trip and had more people wanting pillows so I decided to keep it going.

We are currently selling consignment in 20 stores, sell wholesale to 5 stores, have a busy Etsy shop and recently joined Handmade at Amazon. Next stop, our own dotcom!

2) What is your favorite part of owning a handmade business?

I love having the opportunity to not only be flexible and available FOR my family, but to also be working WITH my family. My husband is extremely supportive – and thankfully very artistic – and he paints all of our extremely detailed pillows. Our two boys (age 15 and age 10) also help in various capacities of our business.

Besides the family flexibility, having the ability to give more is also one of my favorite parts of owning a handmade business. Since our business started as a fundraiser for mission work, we have continued to make that a focus of our business by giving to a different “mission of the month.”

3) What is something you’ve learned during your handmade journey that you’d like to share to help or inspire others?

Don’t be afraid to take chances! Some of my best-selling pillows are ones that I wasn’t quite sure I could originally accomplish. Take time to think through the process and keep practicing until you get it right.

Be on the lookout for ways to become more efficient or cost-effective! My method of painting is completely different now (and much faster) than when I first started this business. There’s always an easier or better way to do something so don’t get stuck in a rut!

4) How has the Handmade Journey Academy helped grow your business?

Before joining the Handmade Journey Academy, I was having consistent sales in my Etsy shop, but was having trouble getting to the next level. I wasn’t able to connect all the dots of SEO to gain real traction. Jami and Rose both have an easy way of explaining things that make sense to me. Once I implemented the things I learned in the HJA, especially the renewing strategy and promoted listings, my etsy shop has continued to improve month over month and my orders have doubled. Another great benefit of the HJA has been the camaraderie with other supportive handmade business owners.

5) What are your future goals for your business?

My immediate goal is to replace my husband’s income so he can grow his own woodworking business. Future goals are growing my product line and mentoring other makers.

Where to find and follow AbbyKate Pillows

Etsy
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest

Want some help with your Etsy shop?  Click below to grab your free Etsy Makeover checklist!

Handmade Spotlight: Craft-A-Boo

Handmade Spotlight: Craft-A-BooHandmade Spotlight: Craft-A-Boo

This week I’m excited to introduce you to Amber Johnson of Craft-A-Boo. Amber creates stunning crochet items including a Lego style blanket that has gone viral!  Whether you’re looking for a mug cozy or a cute elephant hat, Amber has you covered!

1) Tell us a little bit about your business and how it got started.

My business started without really trying to start a business! I have never felt that artistic at all, growing up with two sisters who sing and draw beautifully. I have always felt like I didn’t have an artistic bone in my body!

Then I started sewing in high school and loved watching my grandmother quilt, so I started doing that. I fell in love! It was very therapeutic for me. Life kind of got in the way and I no longer had a way to set up my studio and pursue my passion for quilting. So I had to look to other creative outlets.

I had learned how to crochet as a teenager, but it wasn’t cool and I have literally zero patience for completing a project, so I kind of gave it up. But after I had to give up my quilting studio I decided I’d pick up a hook again and give it a whirl. I found that I loved crochet more than I had ever loved quilting and I was “hooked”. (hehe)

I started making things for friends and family, and they were telling me how good they were. I had already opened an Etsy store for my quilting stuff, but wasn’t finding much success with it. So I re-branded everything and started putting my crochet items up. I’ve found such fulfillment in my customers purchasing my things!

I love connecting with people in a truly unique way, and having a part of my heart being in their home is a wonderful feeling.

2) What is your favorite part of owning a handmade business?

Owning a handmade business gives me such freedom! I love the ability I have to work when I want, where I want. If I want to take a day off to visit a friend, I can do that. If I decide I’ve taken too many days off and have a mountain of work waiting for me and have to put in an eighteen hour work day I can!

I love the ability I have to truly prioritize my life on my terms. Without a boss or a time clock constantly breathing down my neck. It really is empowering to be able to live life on your terms.

3) What is something you’ve learned during your handmade journey that you’d like to share to help or inspire others?

Don’t give up! You are so strong, and capable of much more than you give yourself credit for. This is hard. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. But it’s also the most rewarding, the most fulfilling, and the funnest job I’ve ever had!

You’re going to doubt yourself. You’re going to look at everything you’re doing, be tempted to throw it in the trash and convince yourself that you’re doing everything wrong. (true story!) Sometimes you’ll do that daily. But in those moments, truly take a minute to look at yourself and reflect back on your progress. Take a breather. Step away, and go play with your kids. Go read a book or watch some TV. But DO NOT QUIT! You are enough and you can do it!

This is the hardest lesson that I’ve learned, and am still learning. Everyday is a new challenge for me. Whether it’s health issues that keep me from fulfilling orders, to crickets when I put up a new listing. Sometimes I’ll have wild success with a post on social media and I’m on top of the world. Other days it’s so quiet that it makes me wonder if everyone simultaneously decided to just hate me! I convince myself that I’ve done something wrong, and get worked up and in my head about it.

In those moments, reach out to someone! Reach out to other handmade sellers, and get some perspective. Get a second opinion. Ask questions, learn, grow and laugh with others that are on the same journey you are. It’s so hard for me to be that vulnerable that it’s really difficult to reach out in moments of doubt. But once I do it, it’s so much better. And it will be for you too.

4) How has the Handmade Journey Academy helped grow your business?

Handmade Journey Academy has literally been my lifesaver! I have learned so much from this place that it’s unreal. I have had my shop open since 2009 but haven’t really done much with it. The times that I have decided to “work on my shop” haven’t resulted in anything substantial so I threw in the towel again.

However I left it open. I just couldn’t bring myself to close up shop. When I decided this time around that I was seriously going to work on it, I started searching Facebook groups because I knew I needed help. I knew I needed a professional opinion, and short of that I needed a community of like minded people to help me. There was so much conflicting information out there that it was hard to decide what felt best for my business.

And then I found Jami and this site. I decided that the $10/month fee (the price at the time) was worth it to see if I could make a go of this. I figured I’d spent $10 on worse stuff, and if I could double my investment it would be worth it. And so I dove in. I absorbed all the information on the site, and was active in the Facebook group. My first month brought in $160. It wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it was 16X return on my investment and I was thrilled.

This place is full of great information and support, and I honestly couldn’t do what I do without the tools I’ve gained here in this place.

5) What are your future goals for your business?

My dream is to make this a full time source of income. I want to be able to create products I love and sell them to those that truly want them. I want to make this a full time source of income so my husband doesn’t have to keep killing himself to provide for our family. I have health issues that prevent me from doing a regular job. This is my way of contributing on my terms in a way that I can manage.

Next year I’d like to double what I’ve done this year, and with the help of HJA I think I can definitely reach that goal!

Where to find and follow Craft-A-Boo:

Etsy
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest

Want some help with your Etsy shop?  Click below to grab your free Etsy Makeover checklist!

Handmade Spotlight: Champagne Decor

This week I’m excited to introduce you to Kristy Riese of Champagne Decor. She creates gorgeous handcrafted wood signs that are perfect for any room in your home!

1) Tell us a little bit about your business and how it got started.

I am the owner and artisan behind Champagne Decor. I taught high school for 8 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. I consider being with my babies the biggest blessing. I have always dreamed to starting up my own business, and found myself needed an outlet. I have always loved art, and found myself staying up late at night playing with my paints again. It had been years since I held a paint brush. I have always dreamed big! I think it’s important my girls see that with hard work and dedication dreams can come true. It is such an amazing honor to think people love my work enough to display it in their homes. I hope my pieces brighten up and bring inspiration to homes around the world.

2) What is your favorite part of owning a handmade business?

I really enjoy hand crafting each sign. I love the process. starting with a rough piece of wood, and transforming it into something beautiful. I also love being able to contribute to my family financially. When I made the decision to stay home with my girls it was a big leap of faith for us. I am beyond thankful for each and every purchase. Every purchase is a blessing to my little family.

3) What is something you’ve learned during your handmade journey that you’d like to share to help or inspire others?

I have learned so many things. This entire process has been a huge learning curve for me. I have two small children therefore time is of the essence for me. I have learned at times it is okay to slow down and take baby steps. We want to be able to do it all. We want that immediate success. I have found everyone’s handmade journey is different. For me, sometimes I have to take a minute to regroup; because after all I am first a wife and mommy. I have also learned success does not come overnight to most. Great pictures and good SEO’s are absolutely key to running a successful Etsy shop! It takes a lot of time and hard work to get all the working parts of your shop to come together. When I’m feeling defeated I always remember my why! I want my girls to see with hard work and determination you can turn your dreams into a reality.

4) How has the Handmade Journey Academy helped grow your business?

Without Handmade Journey Academy I would of most likely shut down my shop months ago. I am the person that opened in February, and didn’t make a sale for months after. I owe any success I have had thus far to the Handmade Journey Academy. I must admit I was that person that never thought I would ever pay to be apart of a group like Handmade Journey, but y’all it really is worth it. Not only is Jami amazing, but the community is outstanding. Not only are the resources Jami provides live saving for your business; the people within the community provide you the support we all need so much!

5) What are your future goals for your business?

I hope to continue to build my little Etsy shop with the help of Handmade Journey Academy. I plan to continue to utilize the resources of Handmade Journey Academy to become more knowledgeable, and successful.

Where to find and follow Champagne Decor.

Etsy
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest

Want some help with your Etsy shop?  Click below to grab your free Etsy Makeover checklist!

Handmade Spotlight: MarioSiArt

This week I’m excited to introduce you to Mario Saverino of MarioSiArt. He creates stunning art on cards, ready to frame prints, and personalized stationary.  Click below to see some of his amazing work up close!

1) Tell us a little bit about your business and how it got started.

MarioSiART is all about my journey with my art and sharing it with the world. I started out with Blank Note Cards and have been slowly growing with Signed Art Prints ready to frame, other Personalized Stationery and soon Graphic Art Prints and Inspirational Quotes. I said in one of my listings in my Etsy Shop, I want to keep the art of sending handwritten note cards and thank you cards alive in this new digital age.

The way I got started is very unique for me. I always wanted to be an artist and or graphic designer working in a big bright art studio and creating all day. As a good friend of mine would say, “Oh you want to sit around and draw all day.” I guess that’s true. My biggest problem or fear was I was unable to find inspiration. I had all the supplies, papers, inks, paints, brushes, pens and pencils, yet every time I would start thinking today is the day, I would draw a blank. It wasn’t until my best friend passed that I realized life was short and I should follow my dreams before it’s too late. So I booked a flight and set out to the one placed I always dreamed of seeing, Italy. When I returned from Italy everything in my life changed and my stalled talent started pouring out of me. Everyday since I have either painted, doodled, sketched something or took my camera and started looking at everything and anything. Italy was my muse. I became alive as an artist and I haven’t looked back since.

2) What is your favorite part of owning a handmade business?

My favorite part of having a handmade life business is freedom. Freedom to explore and try and be me. I love creating. I love filling orders. Each one of my orders is very personal to me – just like my art and while I am working on an order I am thinking of the person that ordered from me. Hoping they will love it as much as I do creating it. I hope my art will bring them some happiness, some joy and I am truly dedicating my art to them. I don’t keep stock and I don’t mass produce. I have my originals in a file drawer and when an order is placed, I get to work printing, cutting the paper, scoring the paper, and folding, if it’s for a note card set and packing. I find this to be as creative as when I created the original. I enjoy this process. I’m actually looking forward to the days I receive so many orders I am up all night filling them.

3) What is something you’ve learned during your handmade journey that you’d like to share to help or inspire others?

Be patient. If you work hard you are bound to get someone to notice you. My new motto is the more fishing poles you put out, the more chances of catching a fish you will get. So trying anything and everything it can never hurt you if you are putting your all into it. Another thing I learned is, not everyone cares about your products as much as you do. That’s ok, but when someone does find me, orders something they found interesting and then takes the time to write an email thanking me, means I have done something right and encourages me to keep working. I also have learned is you are not allowed to give up. If you are slow or not getting sales keep on creating and trying something you have not thought of. Learn more about other peoples craft. Learn more of that crazy thing called SEO, which I still have no clue how that works. Just do it!

4) How has the Handmade Journey Academy helped grow your business?

– Reading questions and comments and having engagement is fantastic for me. Knowing I can ask a question and get a good solid answer to me is worth much.
– Watching and knowing there are many videos provided and basic steps you can follow from writing a good description to setting up an Instagram business page. This is just plain helpful information. I was totally lost when I did the Pinterest course – but guess what, it’s still there and I get to re-watch it again and again.
– That you can go at your own pace – and seeing that the Journey Academy is growing as well. I find it amazing how hands on Jami is – that blows me away – she answers every post and she comments on almost everyone’s post. Pretty amazing. To me that means she cares as much as I do. She can easily do less, but she doesn’t and I like knowing that her journey continues as well.

5) What are your future goals for your business?

Very hard question to answer – I have many. I guess my number one goal is the same as it was when I started all this – Keeping the Art of sending a person/friend a personal note card and just saying “hi” or a thank you message for a lovely dinner, gift or a card saying “hello, I’ve been thinking about you”.
Funny, every year I would get a great birthday card from my mother-in-law with a great note. One year she sent me a digital card that I had to sign-in to download – I wanted to shout when I received it, it was pretty upsetting. She never did that before in all these years. I know that she was very proud of herself that she was able to use the computer and do it – but it was still very sad to me. To this day I am thrilled when I pickup the mail and see a hand address envelope with my name on it. So my goal is to teach all the young people to learn how to write a note card as well. Sounds crazy. All my nieces and nephews send cards to me – their mom taught them well.

Where to find and follow MarioSiArt. 

Etsy
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest

Want some help with your Etsy shop?  Click below to grab your free Etsy Makeover checklist!

Handmade Spotlight: Graceful Guessing

Handmade Seller Spotlight Rita WilliamsThis week I’m excited to introduce you to Rita Williams of Graceful Guessing.  She creates beautiful graphics for handmade sellers and every day items that make great gifts!

From logos to mousepads to coffee mugs- she has it all!

1) Tell us a little bit about your business and how it got started.

I have always been a crafter-I’ve always loved making things and giving them as gifts. I would (and still do) pick up things at big chain stores and start dissecting it; trying to figure out how they made it so I could make something even better.

I began shopping on Etsy in 2010 and toyed around with the idea of opening an Etsy shop for years. At that time, I didn’t really know what I’d focus on so I held off. But after a particularly frustrating time at the job I’ve worked at for 10 years, I decided to stop putting my dream on hold. Graceful Guessing opened on April 5, 2017 and it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

2) What is your favorite part of owning a handmade business?

I love connecting with other makers; so much in fact, that I built my business around them. When I opened my shop, I was originally making cards and wall art. The further I got into my journey, the more I noticed that new handmade business owners needed unique, affordable graphic design services and packaging solutions. So I completely shifted focus and built my shop inventory around them and for them.

3) What is something you’ve learned during your handmade journey that you’d like to share to help or inspire others?

It’s kind of cliche, but growing your shop takes time. We all cross our fingers and hope that the minute we put something on the internet it’ll go viral or sell out in minutes; but it just doesn’t work that way. However, if you work hard enough and you’re good to your clients, you’ll slowly but surely build an amazing audience and make wonderful friends along the way.

Also, you’re going to make plenty of mistakes and that is completely normal; it’s all apart of learning the ropes and it’ll shape you into a better business owner.

4) How has the Handmade Journey Academy helped grow your business?

I can’t even begin to count all of the ways that the Handmade Journey Academy has helped my business grow. I struggled with SEO for a good few months before stumbling upon Jami’s blog, and ultimately the Academy. I also knew next to nothing about how to interact with an audience on Facebook and Instagram and HJA helped me tremendously there too! Having a wonderful community of makers to encourage you and help you along the way is invaluable.

5) What are your future goals for your business?

I want to make more products to help handmade business owners. Right now I’m working on a Holiday line, as well as cupcake boxes, soap boxes, and soap bar wraps.

Where to find and follow Graceful Guessing:

Etsy
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest

Want some help with your Etsy shop?  Click below to grab your free Etsy Makeover checklist!

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