I’ll never forget the night I opened my Etsy shop. It was the night of February 3… my hubby was out for the night and after tons of
nagging support from my friends, I finally set up an Etsy shop. I had dozens of baby/bridal shower and birthday invitations from my portfolio over the years that could be listed with a few clicks of a button.
It took over a month to get that first sale and then almost another year before I hit 100 sales, BUT then the ball really started rolling and by the end of 2014, I hit 1,000 sales—all while still working full time at my graphic design job at a Southern California marketing company!
By that time though, my other side hobby of hand lettering had really grown and I had added rubber stamps to my shop. I used my writing to create wedding favor, crafting and address stamps.
One of the reasons that I had hesitated to open my shop was that I had no idea how to set up shipping, nor did I think I had the time, but it didn’t take long for me to figure it out. I learned as I went and my inventory of listings grew.
My shop wouldn’t have grown if Etsy didn’t have such a friendly customer base! As people would reach out to me to create custom projects, I would then list the newly completed design. Growing my listings from just a dozen stamps to over a hundred different designs!
All the while, I kept practicing my lettering and growing that skill, even dabbling in watercolor brush calligraphy. In 2014, I also listed wedding vow artwork printables, embossed cards, name tags—and had more and more brides reaching out to me for different projects and soon I added rehearsal dinner and wedding invitations to the shop. I had even lettered some tattoos!
By the start of 2015, my shop was bursting at the seams and so was my graphic design job. Something had to give, I couldn’t keep up with both any longer. After a lot of prayer and consideration, I put in my notice at my job. It was so hard to make that choice, but I wanted to see where my Etsy shop could go if I could give more time to it. 3 months later, on my last day of working both jobs… a representative from an overseas manufacturing company reached out to me for some freelance lettering designs after finding my Etsy shop. Less than a year later, I saw my work in stores like Hobby Lobby, TJ Max, Home Goods, and Michaels! Read more about that here.
I always think of 2015 as the peak year in my shop. Sales have never been higher than they were then, but that’s in part because at the end of September that year, I took my shop on the road for a 7 week road trip with my husband who is a competitive BBQ pit master. We drove from California to Missouri to Tennessee and to Florida for his various BBQ competitions. By the time we got back in November, we found out I was pregnant with our first baby!
By the time 2016 came, my shop had started to slow down. I had hit 6,000 sales and was now getting ready to welcome home baby. That next year was a total blur. With a baby who wouldn’t nap—or sleep at night much—I fit in work when I could.
A big highlight for the start of 2017 was the release of the Crate & Barrel’s Spring catalog. I had been contracted the previous fall to create name tags for their place settings—it was thrilling to see how these tags were used and styled in their catalog!
And then, for a friend’s baby shower, I picked up my paint brush—that I only used for lettering at the time—and I tried to paint flowers. What started as a few flowers for the invitation grew to painting flowers everywhere and on everything! See more of this Shabby Chic Baby Shower here.
And as you know, painting flowers didn’t stop there. Later that same year, I painted up my first Floral Letter sign. It was just a fun personal piece for Alice in Wonderland… and then I did some individual letters, and then that grew with a commission for a family member of their last name… and well now I have the whole alphabet and dozens more last name signs painted!
The fun didn’t stop there though! By the end of 2017, I had worked on my first styled wedding inspiration shoot! Working with fellow wedding professionals opened my eyes to a whole new world! Putting faces to the names on social media, creating friendships with other entrepreneurs made working from home far less lonely. My creativity soared with all these new opportunities.
I had so much fun lettering on all the things!! I was introduced to handmade paper and had the opportunities to letter and paint on mirrors, acrylic, silk ribbon, wood, linens, and even tambourines!
2018 was a HUGE year… not only was I working on 2-3 styled shoots each month (which was insane with a 2 year old at home and running my Etsy shop), but I finally took the plunge and added more of my watercolor items to my shop… watercolor name tags and bridesmaid cards! Today, those are now the best sellers in my shop and were the humble beginnings of my watercolor wedding collection which has now grown to include watercolor table numbers, menus, programs, signage and more!
In 2018, I also started creating watercolor portraits! What started as a gift for our friend’s baby adoption, turned into a brand new offering in my shop. I’ve since created portraits combining photos of extended families that never get a chance to all be together, for baby and pet memorials, for new families, of vintage wedding photos, and so much more! It’s truly an honor to get to create these pieces.
Looking back on this history and seeing where I am today… it all centers on that fateful night I opened my shop. Without taking that leap, I wouldn’t have this wonderful career that has allowed me to stay home with my babies. I wouldn’t be getting paid to do something I LOVE and for that I am forever grateful!