Taryn of poppychicdesigns is a one-woman powerhouse: she manages her own business, is a wife and mother, and still manages to indulge her creative side. This song and dance act may seem too hectic for some. However, Taryn is used to the hustle and bustle from her early days as a showgirl for Carnival Cruise Lines. After meeting her musician husband she directed dance for a local theater company for eight years before deciding she wanted to spend more time with her growing family. Taryn developed an appreciation for costume construction through her work in dance and theater and emerged with her own line of flower hair accessories, which she now sells full time on Etsy. Her mottos include staying focused on what you love to do versus what you think you should do and the power of teaching your significant other how to print shipping labels.
How did you originally get into the business of making things?
I used to be a dancer…yes, mommy used to be a showgirl. While working in the world of dance and theater I always loved the costumes and accessories and would help out with them whenever I could. I even worked as the seamstress’s assistant for extra money while dancing on cruise ships. Those costumes were full of sparkling goodies and feathers and I was always reattaching them and beading my brains out!
Tell us about your previous working situation.
After meeting the love of my life while dancing for Carnival Cruise Lines (daddy used to be a musician) we settled in Maryland. I directed dance for a local theater company, taught dance classes at local studios and choreographed local musicals. After having my second child I found I was longing to be home more.
When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
I really had no idea I would quit my job, but I really wanted to find a way to be at home with my boys. I thought if I could make a little extra money it might give me the freedom to cut back a bit and be at home in the evening.
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time? Feel free to give us the nitty gritty business details.
Honestly, apart from creating and registering my business name, I just started making goodies for my friends and got their feedback. After some trial and error I decided I needed to focus on creating products that made me happy. Flowers make me happy.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
- Wear your stuff. I have had more people stop me and ask where I got that cute flower. I love chatting with folks, so it’s a great chance to promote my shop! I also have my collection in local boutiques, which has allowed me to develop a great local fan base.
- I’ve had my poppies included in celebrity gift bags at the Golden Globes and have donated to charities like MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon’s auction baskets. These types of promotional opportunities are so much fun for me, and receiving positive feedback is fabulous!
- I try to list new designs on a regular basis. I also think it’s important to keep shop announcements fresh and current. I always answer Convos as soon as possible and think it’s very important to provide excellent customer service. I love, love, love to rearrange my shop so my layout is aesthetically pleasing. Thanks, Etsy!
- Oh, and I totally dig the share tool on my Etsy page!
What have you found to be an unsuccessful promotion?
I did every craft show and holiday bazaar I could find my first holiday season. I learned that waking up at 4 a.m. to set up my table of retro flowers next to an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast just wasn’t worth it. Now I only do a few of the local artist markets that I just adore!
Walk us through your typical workday.
I have two boys who are seven and two years old. I have yet to have a “typical” workday, as there is always a curve-ball at some point! But here it goes…
- The morning is full of cuddles, cartoons, breakfast, checking emails and Convos. Then I get my second-grader off to school.
- I spend the next part of the morning playing with my two-year-old and packing up the orders that are heading out that day.
- My son loves to go “bye byes” so we usually head out around lunchtime to mail orders and then go do something fun (bookstore, playdate, take a walk, park, grocery store, or lunch at the coffee shop).
- During his naptime I do my computer work. I answer more emails and Convos, list items, work on my Facebook fan page, edit photos… you know, quiet work. I also try to coordinate it so that happens during One Life To Live — love that show.
- The rest of the afternoon and early evening is family time. I love family time: that’s why I do what I do!
- Once the kiddos are winding down for the night, my glass of merlot and I get to crafting while the hubby entertains them for bit. My office is in the kitchen so I’ve been known to make flowers while engaging in an intense light saber battle. After their bedtime I finish up my orders, catch up with my husband, curl up and watch a little Chelsea Lately — love that show too.
- Of course there is the occasional day when my mother comes over to watch my little guy so I can work on my flowers nonstop like a crazed elf on Christmas Eve — it’s been known to happen.
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? Is there anything you miss?
I enjoy being creative for a living, inspired on a daily basis and truly loving what I do. I feel so blessed that I get to be with my boys every day while working on my dreams.
What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
Sometimes being the business woman, the creative artist, the PR person, the computer whiz, the mommy and the wife all at the same time can get a little hectic. You just have to roll with it.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you give someone else?
- Stay focused on what you love to do, not what you think you should do.
- Focus is good, whims cost money.
- Keep your receipts.
- Teach your hubby how to do shipping labels, then wink and tell him he’s the best shipping label guy ever (he will then continue to do your shipping labels whenever you need help).
What goals do you wish to accomplish in the coming year for your Etsy business?
- First and foremost I want to continue to create retro girly flowers that make me smile.
- Next I want to focus on blogging. I’ve dabbled in the past but I’m going to get serious!
- I’m going to do more charity work. I was recently blessed with the chance to work directly with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia by donating a bunch of Poppy Chic Designs goodies to a New York women’s shelter for domestic violence called Safe Horizon. It was amazing; I’d like to do more of that!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would like to thank all of my fabulous customers who rock the retro look and have made this all possible! And would like to thank my husband and my little boys for being the best (and cutest) support system I could ask for. Lastly, never underestimate the confidence boost of a well-placed hair flower.
Thanks to Taryn for sharing her story. You can see some of Taryn‘s beautiful work in the Related Items. Check out previous Quit Your Day Job posts here.