2 years ago I had just quit my teaching job to stay home and raise our family! I knew this would be my role way back when I was in high school. When I married Ryan, we were two teachers who were vigorously getting our finances in order in preparation for a future child. We didn’t know when we would have kids, but we knew two things. One, I would stay home! Two, it was nearly impossible on ONE teacher income. Ryan does officiate basketball, but that is not our security, nor is it consistent.
By the grace of God and extremely hard work, we paid off our house after a little over 2 years of marriage, eliminating a mortgage. Why our house? Our cars were paid for, so the only thing left on our budget that was a big chunk of money was our mortgage. So we HAD to get rid of it if I wanted to stay home. So we did. Plus, the thought of paying THOUSANDS of dollars MORE than the house was worth (in interest) made both of us throw up a little in our mouths! A couple years after that, we had our first baby.
Once I started staying home, I was really nervous about how we would make budget. Plus, we started saving for retirement which added a HUGE dent in our budget. Teacher retirement is great, but definitely not how we want to live when we’re 60! Our budget was pretty tight, so the only thing we could do to save more money was make more money!
I started making birth stats signs for gifts when people had babies. They were a huge hit and I started getting requests for them. I was creating them in Power Point (I laugh when I think about that), but it was working. One day my friend Jennie (her shop is HERE) and I were talking about “needing money” and she told me I needed to open up an Etsy shop and sell something. She swore people would buy. The only thing I knew how to make were these signs.
So, I started working harder than I ever have before, researching everything about how to start this business. I eventually figured out I needed an editing program if I were going to do this (Power point is not efficient, nor does it have near the capabilities as others). So, I purchased Photoshop Elements, and studied a lot…like A LOT! Hours upon hours in the middle of the night, watching Youtube video after video. Reading tons of Help articles, books, and more. I’m a perfectionist, so I wanted to know everything about it. 2:00 AM was my new bed time! FYI, I’m STILL learning…learning never stops in any business!
I spent about 6 months “prepping” and finally on June 5, 2013, I opened up my shop! I purposefully opened in time for Father’s Day. I sold 30 orders that month in June! That was well beyond my initial goal. I was going to be happy if I sold 5 signs that month and was prepared for zero sales.
I started studying my shop’s stats and advertising on social media. Added more signs and continued to study Photoshop Elements and Etsy. I have probably learned more about business in this last year than I did my 4 years of college. My studies at SMU in Business Marketing did help, but once you get your hands dirty, is when you really learn a lot. I tend to play things safe so this was one of the biggest risks I’ve taken. I was so afraid of failing.
I’m continuing to study and add signs, but lately I’m trying to just keep up with orders. By the time December rolled around, I sold 141 orders that month (an order can be more than one sign). And now sell even more. It’s been a roller coaster, but mostly ups. I’ve even learned all about taxes…that’s a business within itself…my least favorite part.Ryan and I after our tax meeting…
I am beyond blessed and grateful God brought this opportunity to me. It’s allowed me to be home with my kiddos, while almost replacing my teacher income if my kids were in day care. I was a little caught up in June (when it was officially a year) with having a baby, but I wanted to sit down and write this so I can remember the first year I started Joyful Art Designs. I’m usually very hard on myself, but I am proud of what I’ve done this last year. I will continue to learn (there is still so much more to learn), add signs to my shop, hopefully open up a website for it as well, and figure out how to balance work and family. Family comes first, but I have I do continuously tell myself that sometimes. I love what I do creatively, but first things first I’m a
realist mom (sorry I had to…that was the first thing that popped into my head…if you have no idea why that was funny, than just ignore me…Iggy) :)
People I want to thank:
Jennie, for encouraging me to JUST DO IT and answering all my annoying questions about Photoshop and Etsy.
Ryan, my hubby, for supporting me and helping me take care of Beckham so I could work. For encouraging me when I was stressed or down on myself. It took a lot of time and money to start it up and you didn’t even bat an eye!
My parents, for sincerely caring every time I told them how much money I made that week or month. And for being proud of my small little business!
My customers! Whether you found my shop from this blog, on Pinterest, or through Etsy, I’m sincerely grateful for your business! Without customers, I would not be where I am today! I’ve had such a positive experience with customers. And I love knowing that something I created is hanging in your house or being used to make memories. I often ask for real life pictures of my signs being used and it’s the best surprise when I open an email to see them hanging in a house or being held by a little kiddo (back to school signs were a huge hit).
And Etsy! THE most amazing website for selling homemade products! They are super seller-friendly and easy to work with. Their help team is quick to respond and they have countless articles, videos, and more to help their sellers grow their business and customers find what they’re looking for.
Anyway, I just wanted to document this incredible journey that I’m really proud of and has now become a huge passion of mine! I hope to get some more time to CREATE and add signs! I get giddy when I add a new sign! God is good all the time and all the time God is good! God has taught me a lot about trust through this endeavor! He does provide!
Christmas is coming up…click HERE to browse for any gift ideas! And if you have a kiddo with an upcoming birthday, I just added this custom birthday board (perfect as photo prop and/or party decoration).