What were you doing (careerwise) when you decided to create your own business?
I have always known that I wanted to own my own business. I wanted to be an international business woman since I was a kid. I always thought that I would have to go into something serious like engineering since I didn’t think that going into a creative career would be realistic. I went to school for material science and engineering and got a job as production control analyst. But even there, I would try to get involved in creative projects such as designing our promotional items, redesigning all of the forms and designing our shirts. I was presented with an opportunity to work as an assistant with billboards and took it. I was able to use my creativity and marketing ideas and was quite successful. My husband and I decided to start a family. A few months later I found myself pretty far along pregnant and without a job. I was quite heartbroken but at the same time felt rather charged. My husband and I took a deep breath he gave me a big hug, a kiss and his support. I decided that this was my make or break moment!
When did you start your business and what inspired you to do this? How did you turn your dream into a business plan?
The Posh Event really evolved into what it is today. 7 weeks after giving birth to my daughter Yanna, I ended up getting sick with mastitis and in my exhaustion nearly burned down our house! We had to stay in a hotel for over a month while our house was being repaired. I sat down with my laptop and built my photography website, registered the business and started to market the company. After a year of doing photography I started an Etsy store making felt accessories to cover my crafting addiction expenses. I made my first sale after two days of being in business and things took off from there! I wanted to get some cute packaging for my items but didn’t want to spend a huge amount of money on them. I decided to design them myself which worked out great. The box and tags that I designed were added to my shop as digital files for other sellers like myself who may have needed the same thing. They started to sell even more than my felt items and I started to get custom printable design requests. Thus The Posh Event became what it is today. I dubbed it my accidental business. Due to its success we decided to start The Printable Shoppe early 2011.
What was your start-up cost? How did you get the money, and what did you use it for?
I didn’t have any start-up costs. I was lucky that I already had a good computer, camera and all of the software needed. I had spent about twenty dollars on felt supplies when I was making accessories. Time was the biggest cost. We saved money from sales to do have our website professionally designed. We hired Stephanie with Sweet Boutique Designs to do The Printable Shoppe which was money well spent!
What was the biggest obstacle?
I have always had huge ambition. It is so hard for me to keep things simple. I have these delusions of grandeur with each project I take on. Sometimes this works and sometimes it is a cause of great stress. As a mom, finding the time and concentration to accomplish these lavish goals is near impossible. After all your kids need to eat right?
Did your friends and family support your dream?
Oh my yes! My husband grabs the kids as soon as he gets home and tries to get me some time to work. He has been known to grab a pair of scissors and a glue stick and get to work next to me. He also takes care of some of the mundane business things like bookkeeping and taxes! My sister Danielle helps me with the legal aspects and is always on the lookout for new opportunities for me to get involved with. My father and mother have been amazing with support of all kinds. Really, our entire family has been wonderful!
How did you maintain your confidence when doors were closed in your face, when people didn't get it or said no?
I do have a lot of people who just do not get it. I tell people that I am a printable designer and I get a smile and nod. I designed folded business cards with a mini portfolio inside of them. Now after I tell people what I do, I hand them a card and see them go from a smile and nod to a “OOOOOH! I can do that with my printer!? This is great!” After a disappointment I try to maintain confidence by envisioning that this will all be part of my story. The trials and tribulation on my journey towards ultimate success. My Lifetime movie special can’t be all rainbows, that would just be boring. I just remind myself how badly I want this and that I am willing to work hard and fight for it. I go and look at my past sales and my stats. Being a stay at home mom with her own little business and seeing that I had 4,000 clients in one year and sold to over 100 countries means something and is quite uplifting.
How long did it take you to get everything off the ground?
Once on Etsy, it took about a week to make, photograph, and list everything. The printables then started to take over my shop a month after listing my first printable item.
How long did it take for your business to become profitable?
I was profitable within the first two days! I didn’t have any overhead at the time. The more we grow the more overhead we acquire and more sales we need to make to maintain those profits.
What do you love most about being your own boss? What are the drawbacks?
The best and worst part of being your own boss is that you are fully responsible for your success and failures. You can have some high highs and some low lows with this weighing on your shoulders every day. I am in charge of my schedule, what work I take on, which direction I want to go, etc. It is hard to know when to stop. With my type of business time is topsy turvy and you almost become part of a virtual world. Now that I have a smart phone I have been known to wake up in bed and answer emails in the middle of the night. My daughter sees me and wants to play all of the time. You feel very guilty when you have to tell your little one that you have to work instead. That being said, it is one of the best feelings when you achieve success and recognition for yourself and your business. It’s addictive. You want to stay on top of the world forever.
Where do you work from?
My husband and I turned our sunroom into a studio! There are plenty of windows all around with plenty of light. Both my husband and I have our desks in there and we built in a little “office” desk right next to mine for my three-year-old daughter. I also do a lot of work on the road with my laptop.
Do you have employees?
I do not have any paid employees as yet, but hopefully soon. My husband helps me so much and has some mad scissor skills!
How has your involvement with Martha Stewart’s Dreamers into Doers helped you and your business?
The old adage that it takes a village to raise a child holds true when it comes to your business. Your business is like raising a child (including sleepless nights). Getting involved within a community such as Martha Stewart’s Dreamers into Doers helps so much and plays a part in your success. It is wonderful to have the support from others who really understand.
How have you been using social media to grow your business?
I have been using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, any my blog. They have been excellent resources to reach more people and to help me bring more of a personality to my business. It is also amazing how this has helped expose the business world wide!
Do you have entrepreneurial role models? What’s so inspiring about them?
My Father set out for sea at the age of 15 and became one of Germany’s youngest sea captains at 23. He moved to the U.S. and got a land job to be able to be there for his family. At the age of 76 he decided to start his own business! He has been very successful and I am so proud and inspired by him!
Martha Stewart is one of the ultimate dreamers into doers. She is a DIY visionary who looks at things and says “I can do that myself and I can make it better!” Then she went and did it. Her story is amazing. I am inspired by how scrappy she was and is.
How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your business successful? How do you continue to grow and learn?
My high school principle once told me that you don’t have to go to business school to be successful in business. It is more important to have a business sense and that I can learn the more technical things along the way. This is so true. I learned a lot about things like marketing, pricing, accounting, building processes, networking etc through the positions I have held.
I have been designing on computers since I was a kid. I would design backgrounds for our home computer and draw pictures on MSPaint back when they had only 8 colors to choose from! I went back to school for graphic design to learn how to really use the tools of the trade. I continue to grow and learn as I go usually due to necessity. I come up with an idea and I have to learn how to implement it. My customers are constantly inspiring me with new ideas and challenging me with new projects. Plus I immerse myself in communities like the Etsy Forums and Dreamers into Doers where I learn a lot from other business owners.
What's the best piece of business advice you ever received? If you had it to do over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
I know it’s kind of cliche, but “Believe in yourself and do it,” and my mother’s chant, “Keep your eyes on the prize.” It will come.
Set Goals. I was in an online conference on owning an online business with Corinna Buchholz of Piddix. (I believe that she now has about 30,000 sales on just on Etsy.) She said that she started out with a goal of making one sale a day. I decided to try this. At first I had to work harder to get that one sale, but then it really started to take a life of its own. I ended up making sales every day except on my birthday!
If I could do it again, I would have set up a business plan and standard operating procedures sooner!
What is your favorite product/service that you offer?
I love designing boxes and anything with dimension. It is so much fun to create.
What is your best selling item/service?
My damask butterfly wine glass place cards. They are really cute!
What advice would you give to Dreamers who haven’t become Doers yet?
Believe in yourself and do it! Do not get intimidated by everyone around you already “doing”. There are some talented and successful people out there who did not become who they are today overnight. You have to work hard and take one step at a time. Keep to the course and your eye on the prize!
Is your "Dreamer" business your full-time job?
Yes and then some!