Shop Etsy

How a Mother’s Etsy Shop Saved Her Family From Eviction

Jul 18, 2017

by Tess Duncan

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

It was summer 2015 when Krystal Shaw received the news: she and her family were getting evicted. Krystal, her husband, and their two kids had moved into the apartment in Houston, Texas, earlier that year. Krystal had quit her day job as a receptionist to care for her newborn son, Messiah, since they couldn’t afford to pay for daycare, and switched to working as a freelance seamstress. But her sewing money wasn’t enough to supplement her husband’s salary as a welder, and they were behind on their bills. “It was sheer panic,” remembers Krystal, “trying to figure out what you’re going to do to keep your family off the streets.”

The Shaws were about two weeks from being officially pushed out of their home when Krystal got the idea to try selling baby rompers in mix-and-match patterns as a last-ditch effort to save her family. A friend suggested Etsy, so she started creating a shop. “I was excited and nervous, but I really had no clue what I was doing,” she recalls. “Putting things that you work on out for the world to see is pretty scary. All you can do is try.” Her mother had gifted her some fabrics and she already had sewing machines and thread, so she whipped up as many rompers as she could and listed them on Etsy in September 2015. Random Rompers was open for business. To her surprise, Krystal started making sales almost immediately. She was able to start paying the bills and save her family from eviction. About five months after that, her shop was generating enough income to support the family.

Today, business is booming for Random Rompers. Krystal’s husband, Michael, found a higher-paying full-time job, but her Etsy shop is the Shaws’ primary source of income. We talked with Krystal about how she saved her family from eviction and turned her business into a full-time job.

Krystal learned to sew in a home economics class in high school, and studied at a fashion institute in her home state of California.

What was it like to pay your bills with money from your shop?

I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s an extremely satisfying feeling. I’m doing something I love and was actually able to save my family. It’s the most amazing and proud feeling I’ve ever had in my entire life. When I gave them that money to stop the eviction process, that was amazing. And now I do this full-time and overtime! And make more than enough to support us now. I still remember that moment when I made my first sale. Oh my god, it was so cool! I didn’t know the app made that “cha-ching” sound. I was sitting at my desk and I was sewing things and my phone started “cha-ching”-ing. I actually jumped and almost cut my fabric! I said, “What was that?! Oh my god, I sold a romper!” Everyone was getting up and jumping up and down. My daughter was like, “Oh, we’re dancing!” And I said, “Yeah, we’re dancing!”

Krystal launched Random Rompers to support her family. Two years later, four-year-old Messiah and seven-year-old Kalani continue to motivate Krystal in her work.

Aside from living expenses, what has your Etsy income allowed you to do?

We had financial struggles the past two or three Christmases because I wasn’t working. I’d had my son so I took some time off, then we moved from California to Texas and stayed with my mom for a while. Thanks to the shop we were able to put presents under the tree and have our first real Christmas. We’ve been able to help our relatives out too. It’s a great feeling because we needed a lot of help before, and now we’re able to help them out thanks to the Etsy income.

We put my daughter in cheerleading, and she was thrilled when we told her. Now she’s in gymnastics and my son is in jujitsu, and they’re both pretty expensive sports. I was even able to start homeschooling my son, because public school wasn’t really working out for him.

One of Krystal’s favorite parts of running her business is her reviews. “Getting the five-star review is the icing on my cake. I love what I do but knowing that the people who buy my rompers love them is just perfect. I look back and read the reviews when I’m having a bad day.”

How have your financial struggles affected your approach to pricing?

I wanted my designs to be affordable for people like me who can’t afford the expensive rompers. I never want to be one of those super-expensive brands. I wanted to stay around the $30 range because I don’t want to spend more than that on stuff for my kids. They destroy it anyway and outgrow it so fast!

I try to source fabrics that aren’t going to be expensive. You just have to find the right fabric content. If you know your fabrics, then you can buy decent or great fabrics for a lower price. And if you know how to sew then you can make something amazing without having to charge an arm and a leg to do it. Each romper costs me $6 to $9, and I price them between $20 to $30 depending on the pattern that I use.

Krystal works out of a room in the apartment she almost lost when her family only had money to pay their gas and electric bills.

Why do you think your business took off the way it did?

I had a lot of help from the moms of my baby models, who spread the word and posted about it on social media. When I created an Instagram page for the shop, one of the moms found me there and asked if I needed a brand rep. I was like, “What is that?” She said, “We’ll take professional pictures for you in exchange for the rompers.” Now I have a big ol’ team of them, about 40 that I work with to take pictures. We tried photographing my son in them but he is a crazy kid. Getting him to stand still is not going to happen ever, and then he poses like a superhero, so that didn’t quite work either.

I know that has driven some traffic. As much as they have helped and done advertising—and I do advertising on my own—most of my traffic comes from Etsy, from promoted listings and things like that. If I wasn’t on Etsy I don’t think it would be as popular.

“I was pulling at straws to figure things out, trying to do what I love and make money,” says Krystal. “I just thank God that even the little guy can make a few bucks and help their family.”

How does it feel to support your family with your craft?

It makes me feel like superwoman. There aren’t many people who get to say they do what they love every single day. Not to mention I get to do it in pajamas! When we were able to have a real Christmas that year, I was so thankful. It was very touch-and-go for a little bit and being able to put presents under the tree, even the ones that claimed to be from Santa, it just felt so good. Thankful is the best way to put it.

All photos by Ana Lavalle.

Want to start your own Etsy shop? Explore the Seller Handbook for advice and inspirational stories like this one.

57 comments

  • shosh02

    Keosha Burns from ShoshShop said 33 days ago

    What a beautiful and inspiring story! *tears* Thank you for sharing.

  • rellyh

    Relly from RelsFindsNapaValley said 33 days ago

    AMAZING, inspiring story of a beautiful family. Congratulations Krystal of shop Random Rompers!

  • EnidEnchanted

    Michele Collins from EnidEnchanted said 32 days ago

    Congratulations on your success, you are truly an inspiration!

  • jacobswoodentoys

    Tim and Brigita Cornwell from jacobswoodentoys said 32 days ago

    Inspiring story. All the best to you Krystal and your family.

  • dfoxinspections

    Noni Fox from DIYslipcovers said 32 days ago

    You are really inspirational Krystal!

  • gardenmis

    Priscilla from Gardenmis said 32 days ago

    Loved reading your inspirational story! Congrats on your success and best wishes for achieving all your goals and dreams :)

  • mellyellen

    mellyellen from mellyellen said 32 days ago

    Love these rompers. They are the cutest I've seen on Etsy! I am also a dressmaker and congrats to Krystal and her wonderful talent.

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 32 days ago

    Those are the cutest rompers ~!~ They look very cozy using lovely fabrics and showing easy to follow size comparisons. Great shop ~ great feature ! Cheers to much continued success.

  • StephieC72

    Stephanie Cisneros said 32 days ago

    Congratulations on your success! Your rompers are adorable, and your story inspiring. :)

  • TreasuredMemoryLane

    TreasuredMemoryLane from TreasuredMemoryLane said 32 days ago

    What a great inspiring story! Beautiful rompers! Wish you much success!

  • BluBaLooDesigns

    Andrea Gray from BluBaLooDesigns said 32 days ago

    Amazing... Thank you for sharing your lovely success story... : )

  • coalchild

    coalchild from coalchild said 32 days ago

    You are an inspiration, so glad you found you power. Wishing you many other life successes.

  • MadeByNena

    Nenny from NennyDesign said 32 days ago

    Beautiful story..! I'm feeling the happiness that you have. Thank you for sharing.

  • mrsakarn

    cindy Q. from mrsakarn said 32 days ago

    What an amazing story. I agree, tear drops! You and your family are truly blessed, and you are an inspiration to us all, thank you for sharing!!!! Cindy Q

  • KippyRose

    Kippy from KippyRose said 32 days ago

    Inspirational story & great products. I love how "real" the family seems, like if you all were my neighbors or a dear friend. Wishing you years of success!

  • laurastark

    Laura Stark from laurastark said 32 days ago

    What an inspiring and empowering story. Thank you for sharing!

  • GTDesigns

    renee and gerardo from GTDesigns said 32 days ago

    A sweet and endearing tale!! Inspring too! Cute line of babies' clothing! Congrats and wishing you and your family the very best and continued success!!

  • bannyjoe

    Banzell from LoveOutreachJewelry said 32 days ago

    You are truly an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. Wishing you continued success and peace for years to come!

  • farragio

    farragio from farragio said 32 days ago

    I love inspiring stories like these. Congratulations on the feature and on your wonderful success!

  • silverdollar49

    Marlene Strobel from silverdollar49 said 32 days ago

    Congratulations Krystal!! Love your story, Marlene Strobel StrobelCE@msn.com That wonderful man in the picture with me is my husband Chris. After 23 years of marriage he died of Parkinson's Disease. I knew it when we married he had Parkinson's Disease but we loved each other so much. We had no children I had had Uterine cancer at an early age. Take care, Marlene

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 32 days ago

    Wonderful story! Congrats on the feature!

  • presul13

    Sofia from KedzieAve said 32 days ago

    As a parent myself, I LOVE reading these kind of stories! So happy for you and your success!!

  • TropicalGarden

    TropicalGarden from TropicalGarden said 32 days ago

    Lovely shop and inspiring story! Congratulations on the feature, and best wishes to you and your family!

  • rhondastubbs2

    Rhonda Stubbs from RhondaCorner said 32 days ago

    What an awesome story. I am so glad to hear that your ETSY store is doing so well. Thank you for sharing and I wish you the very best on your future endeavors.

  • pabdelegance12

    Patricia from IndigoEmber said 32 days ago

    Beautiful inspiring and empowering story! Congratulations on the feature and much success to your company!

  • aiek

    Keia B from PresenceandGrace said 32 days ago

    Such a great story. Great work as well. Many continued blessings to you!

  • Andiroth

    Heidi E from MyLittleCrochetShop said 32 days ago

    Wow! What a wonderful inspiring story! Congratulations on your success! May your story inspire others to find a step up using what they already have/know within themselves! Much love! .. Sharing this story!

  • elizamoon

    elizamoon from elizabetmoon said 31 days ago

    One of the most inspiring stories I've read on Etsy! Congratulations on your success Krystal! Well earned!

  • beeatthegarden

    beeatthegarden said 31 days ago

    Sends chills down my spine for the inspiration of your story. Keep making those wonderful rompers. Congratulations on your overcoming the unknown and jumping in to provide a wonderful product. Kudos to your insight and daring! I so appreciate reading your story. Love to you and your family.

  • BlackberryDesigns

    Dea Shelton from BlackberryDesigns said 31 days ago

    Stories like this really make my day! A small business made successful on a great idea and lots of hard work. I can relate to your story, more than you know.

  • woodironandrags

    Wood Iron and Rags from WoodIronAndRags said 31 days ago

    Such an amazing story!!!

  • ThreeBarDGifts

    Monica from ThreeBarDGifts said 31 days ago

    I'm so happy for the success of our shop! What a blessing to make a living doing what you enjoy the most! Best wishes to you and your family and congrats on the feature!

  • BellaDuafe

    Toeanzar Norment from BellaDuafe said 31 days ago

    I love this story! Congratulations and I hope your business continues to grow and allow you to be the super women you are!!!

  • ponyhoney

    Debi from MadGirlRetro said 31 days ago

    This is the kind of success story I really like! But I'm not surprised. The rompers are really cute. I will have to buy one for my granddaughter!

  • artsbykellyhand2

    Kelly Jones from YogArtShop said 31 days ago

    Great story and congratulations on your success!

  • YearsAfter

    Sharon from YearsAfter said 31 days ago

    Very enlightening story! Glad you had supportive people and Etsy to help you to success! Wishing you and your family the best!

  • foofoogal54

    foofoogal54 from GracefulVtgClothing said 30 days ago

    This is very cool. Hard work and talent paying off. From a former Texan kudos to this seller. Very cute and they look so comfy. foo

  • juliepeach

    julie malone from juliepeach said 30 days ago

    This is AMAZING. Yes. !!

  • ericahousewife01

    TheNew Housewife from TheNewHouseWife01 said 30 days ago

    Very inspiring!! congrats!!

  • thewildplum

    Christina from TheWildPlum said 30 days ago

    This! Is! Fantastic! You are fantastic! Your shop and talent are fantastic! Your heart and soul are fantastic! Your family is adorable. Reading this made my day! Congratulations Krystal!!! And thank you for sharing the inspiration.

  • gailanders3

    Gail Anderson from gailanders3 said 30 days ago

    My heart is joyful for you and your family! Success and happiness always- Gail

  • DonnaRoberge

    Donna Roberge from DonnaRobergePhoto said 30 days ago

    I love your rompers and your story! All the best for the future!

  • creativelycc3

    Carrie Cronkite from CCsSoapinaPouch said 30 days ago

    Congratulations and I am so happy for you and your family. You are an inspiration!

  • FriedmanKlein

    Sarah Friedman-Klein from CurlsAllAround said 30 days ago

    I LOVE it!! You're an amazing artist and mom.

  • lovepinkmascara

    Fei Ismail from NyAndLu said 30 days ago

    I feel so inspired after reading your store success. Such an honest and heartfelt story. Thank you for sharing.

  • naylawriters

    Jeanita Jinnah from NaylaBookPublishers said 28 days ago

    It's easy sometimes to throw in the towel and give up in frustration. But I've learned from experience that it's more rewarding to keep pressing forward, especially if you believe in what you're doing - in your product or service. This is a truly inspirational story. I believe we all have gifts and talents. And those gifts and talents can sometimes save our life ... our family ... our sanity. Thanks for sharing your story, and your gift with the world. I'm inspired to keep moving forward.

  • InMaterial

    Peggy McCallum from InMaterial said 27 days ago

    This story got my day off to a wonderful start! Congratulations on your success.

  • yahhila

    yahhila said 26 days ago

    Congratulations Random Rompers!!

  • monabergin

    M B from BeachStudio7 said 26 days ago

    The power of a woman saying her family, always a powerful read. Great product!

  • SafiyyaEtsy

    Safiyya Akram from ArdenBelrose said 25 days ago

    Love this story! Etsy changed a family's life. Now THAT's something great!

  • kelseytaylorweireter Admin

    Kelsey Taylor Hunt from kelseytaylorweireter said 23 days ago

    So much love! What an inspiring story and what awesome rompers!

  • HiaroCultivado

    Esther from DuchessAndDomicile said 19 days ago

    This is great Krystal! What courage to use your talent to help your family. It's also great to have your family cheering you on. By the way, I live in the suburbs of Greater Houston. It's a small world :)

  • thoaidangphuong

    HanHan Creations from HanHanCreations said 18 days ago

    Excellent, Krystal Shaw, a sincere advice, thanks, thanks

  • 1StopSteampunkShoppe

    One Stop Steampunk Shoppe from OneStopSteamShoppe said 16 days ago

    Great inspiration story! Congratulations on all your success! : )

  • Snishka

    Doris Sherley from GiftsbyDorisSherley said 14 days ago

    Wow ... I just needed your story. Our family lives in Ukraine. Now we are in a period of a big economic crisis in the country and in the east of Ukraine is a war. Now I also take care of my little daughter. She is 1 year and 4 months old. And my husband is working hard. We do not see him in weeks. He is a bricklayer. Most of the earned he invests in our family craft. But while we do not a sale. However, I believe that very soon someone will buy one of our works and telling what is a beautiful and high-quality thing. We buy expensive foreign materials to make high-quality things.We adhere to the technique of execution. Never do anything fast, but all in the instructions. Our stuff is very reliable and high quality to serve many years. I believe that once our things will give joy to many people and decorate many houses. And now I have a lot of work at night when my daughter sleeps. And although NOBODY from my friends and relatives do not believe in the success of our family business BUT my husband and I believe and work a lot for that. Thanks again for your story. Now, I believe more and pray to God for more support. Never never never give up!

  • melissasantangelo

    Melissa from SynestheticonShop said 12 days ago

    What an amazing success story! I wish Crystal made adult-size rompers --- I would love a striped one to use as winter pajamas.

  • 8xxxhxiq

    NICOLE from RadianceByAyaNicole said 4 days ago

    Big Smiles this way! Wowwww, thanks for sharing. You will continue to evolve!

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