Deanna of dedeetsyshop helped run her husband’s three businesses, went to school for ultrasound tech, and took on the role of stay-at-home mom before opening her Etsy business. Her shop began as a creative outlet while in the midst of her studies, but its immediate growth and success soon demanded more of her time. She’s now focused on the shop full time, which allows her to devote time to her son and “the opportunity to do something I love, something creative, and something that truly makes me happy!”.
How did you get into the business of making things?
I feel like I was always making things. When I was little I would sit in my grandma’s basement and sew little animals by hand out of scrap fabric. I would dig through all her ribbons and buttons and make whatever came to mind. I don’t think I ever set out to make a living doing it, but I always remember creating from a very young age.
Tell us about your previous working situation.
Well, my working situation prior to Etsy was not very conventional. My husband owns three super busy businesses: a roll-off dumpster business (the ones contractors use when building and tearing down places), a car dealership, and an auto repair shop. I helped out with all three a bit, plus I was a stay-at-home mom to our son Connor and went to school at the same time (I was studying ultrasound tech). Oh, and we flip houses — phew! Weekends were spent working on our flips and weekdays were packed with homework and very little free time.
When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
To be honest, no. I started out just doing it for fun while I waited for clinicals to start. I never imagined that it would turn into a full-time job! Of course, in the back of your mind you have all these “what ifs,” but I never gave it a lot of thought. Who would have thought that selling pillows online could be so busy? Not me!
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?
No, and I wish I would have come up with some sort of business plan. I am still trying to sort out the whole financial aspect of it: what comes in, what goes out, shipping costs and such. It would have been much easier to research those aspects prior to starting. I jumped in with two feet, not thinking that it would turn into what it has. Gosh, I didn’t even think of a good name. I still regret that! I thought “dedeetsyshop” was just going to be my username, not my shop name! Hence, the Harper and Henny — that was supposed to be my shop name!
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
I wish I could say some super smart, savvy tip, but I don’t really have one. Word of mouth is good. Twitter gets me a lot of views, but I am not sure how many sales I actually get from it. I did wholesale to some different shops in other states and it does seem those states get more sales than others. But then again, that could just be my imagination.
What has been an unsuccessful promotion? Do you have any regrets?
I do not find Facebook or Flickr to be much help to me. Saying that, there would be nothing I regret, because any type of promotion gets your shop out there and in the minds of people. Maybe if I didn’t live in a tiny town in the thumb of Michigan, promoting would be easier, but that’s not changing anytime soon, so I work with what I have and just do my best! Some methods totally work for one shop, but not yours. Just find your niche and what works for you. If you like blogs, promote your shop on like-minded blogs. I have bought ad space on some decorating blogs in the past.
Walk us through your typical workday.
- I wake up around 7 a.m. every day and get my little boy up and ready for school.
- After I get home from dropping him off, I check my emails, relist any listings that sold, and make my list of orders to be made for the day. I can only get about 6 pillows done a day, max.
- I work on them from about 9-12, break for a quick bite to eat and then finish up the ones I am working on.
- I try to get them all packaged up and ready to go before I pick up my son from school, otherwise we have to come home, finish, and then leave the house again to get to the post office before 5.
- It is pretty hectic, especially on days when I have to run errands and grocery shop. It doesn’t help that the closest fabric store is an hour away (I thus buy most my fabric online).
- Once dinner is made and eaten, I try to cut some pillows out so they are ready to be sewn in the morning. It just seems to save a lot of time.
- My husband does not usually get home till after 8 — not fun! We chitchat about our day, spend some time with Connor and then I hit the hay.
What do you enjoy most about not having a job? Do you miss anything?
What I enjoy most is being able to be here for my son. I love that I can attend his little classroom parties, take a long lunch if I want, take the dog for a quick walk whenever. I am always able to drop him at school and pick him up. If there is a snow day or he wakes up sick, it’s no big deal rushing to find a sitter. I give a lot of credit to mothers working full time.
I will say that I miss the friendships made at a typical workplace. I don’t really have anyone to talk to face to face throughout the day besides my husband and son. All my friends live pretty far away or work during the day, so I can feel pretty isolated at times, especially in the long Michigan winters!
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
The hardest part is definitely time management and the finances. There are some days that I do not feel like sitting at that sewing machine. But I see it there staring at me and I always end up sewing. As for the money part, it is so hard to keep track of all the expenses. Making sure you are charging enough, not charging too much. When I have fabric, thread, shipping, shipping supplies, and stuffing to keep track of, it can seem like a burden, but is so important.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? Others?
I wish I would have given myself a plan, or some sort of goal. My little shop took off pretty fast and it didn’t give me a chance to sit back and determine how it was going to run. It started running me. I got really burned out for a while. Some days I have to tell myself, “Okay, I am only going to work from 9-2 today.” It keeps me from feeling overwhelmed and I am able to get stuff done around the house that I want to do, like plant flowers, paint, and rearrange our furniture (I am an OCD furniture arranger).
I would tell others that time management is very important. You almost have to run it like a 9-5 job, but then you have to think of when you are feeling the most creative. Some people are night owls and work best after everyone goes to bed. I get in these moods sometimes and I get a lot accomplished. Do what works best for you and it will work out.
What goals do you wish this coming year on Etsy for your shop?
Well, one of my goals was just realized: I had a pillow in Family Circle Magazine! I always see all these fabulous Etsy shops in magazines every month and now I am one of them. It feels really good to know someone saw my pillows and wanted them in a national magazine.
Is there anything else you want to share?
I just want to thank Etsy for giving me the opportunity to do something I love, something creative, and something that truly makes me happy! I also want to thank my wonderful, patient customers during my busy time the past couple months! I am trying my hardest to get my pillows out in a timely manner.
Thanks to Deanna for sharing her story. You can see some of Deanna‘s beautiful work in the Related Items. Check out previous Quit Your Day Job posts here.