Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oh My! Handmade Goodness Entry

I mentioned that I was entering a contest from oh my! Handmade Goodness. Here it is:

It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not. ~Author Unknown

The story of how my online store came to life is probably quite a bit different from others. While I could exude a ton of confidence and tell you that my shop was meant to be due to my very art-oriented upbringing or that my parental figures were the picture of perfection in running a successful home business from the time I was a young girl...well, that just wouldn't be true.

In actuality, my family was not that into art, not even simple arts and crafts. My sister and I would sometimes be crafty but she was the one who had the perfect art projects and I was the one who would watch. As for having an example of someone running a business from home, well, that was unheard of. I can't imagine if one or both of my parents had declared that they were going to run a business out of the house. I'm sure it would have been deemed silly and irresponsible.

This isn't to say that my upbringing was poor. It certainly was not. I learned many valuable lessons from my parents and over time I even learned to believe that what they were saying was true - "You can do anything and you deserve the best".

Fast forward to now.

Hi there!

My name is Diana and I am the sole creator and owner of Not Your Everyday Cards better known by my Etsy user name matdi123 (Yup, even from the beginning I made a branding mistake!) I create cards, tags, garlands and scrap booking embellishments using, of course, paper! I have been in business for almost 4 years and I have loved every minute of it.

So, how did my shop come to be? Well, it was sort of, for lack of a better work - luck. Yup. Luck and some love. Luck, love and a soon-to-become passion for paper that I didn't even know existed...

It all started one Christmas when my sister gave me some supplies to make my own cards. I remember thinking "Why did she give this stuff to me? I am not crafty!" But, I had just had my second child and instead of feeling complete with the family I had always wanted, I felt empty. More empty than I thought possible. I had never had any hobbies or passions and I was worried that I would never have anything tangible to pass on to my children. My husband was the one with all the hobbies and had so much to share, what did I have?

So, with nothing to lose, I started to make cards from the the meager supplies I had and it was fun. Really fun. It was the best feeling to be creative and to do something that I enjoyed so much.

After realizing that my supplies were indeed very modest, I headed to the craft sore and was amazed at the new world I had found. I had seen scrapbooking/card making supplies at the store before but had never realized that people actually bought the stuff! It was eye-opening! After coming home, I started to make cards in earnest.

After doing what most people would consider very little research, I opened my Etsy store. I called my sister and she bought some cards right away but my first true sale didn't occur until a full 2 months later.

At the point of my first sale everything changed.

No, sales didn't take off.

And, no, I wasn't recognized for my outstanding work.

Something changed in me. I found what I had been looking for. A new outlook on life - full of promise, motivation and confidence. I found that I could do something that no one thought I could. I could make something with my own two hands and others would appreciate it and want to buy it.

As the years have gone on, I have learned so much about having an online business and about myself as a person and business owner. I have learned that honesty, determination and drive make it all happen. I have learned that kindness when dealing with others will get you everywhere. I have learned that if I keep a positive outlook on my shop and myself, wonderful things can happen and luck has absolutely nothing to do with it.

In moving my shop forward in 2012, I hope to have my most successful year yet. It took me two years to get to 1000 sales on Etsy but only a year and a half to make an additional 2200 sales so my shop is growing at a nice steady pace.

To maintain and increase that pace, I am now looking at giving my shop a makeover. Re-branding was something my husband and I had discussed prior to this amazing opportunity and I hope to realize it regardless of winning this giveaway. New banners, logos and business cards are definitely in the works. In addition, I hope to increase my use of Facebook and my blog in order to personally connect with my customers and show them the human behind the logo.

Here are my links in case they failed to link in my essay:

Thank you for this opportunity to tell my story. It's been amazing!

A New Beginning

As a way to start 2012, I am going to reinvent this blog and start doing regular posts.

As my first post, I want to tell you all about an amazing contest going on at oh my! handmade goodness. They are promising the winner, a new beginning in their online store by offering a re-branding package as well as some awesome advertising.

Please check out the giveaway for yourself here.

Well, off to keep working on my entry!