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Interview with Kari, Creator behind Lotus and Clift

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Tell us about yourself and your business.

 Wisconsin born and raised and the oldest of four, I moved to Florida in my early 20’s and shortly after I met my husband (married in 2007) and we started this thing called life. In 2012, I quit my full time job as an HR Manager to stay home with our first born and finish my bachelor degree. I planned to go back into the corporate world after graduation, but shortly after I quit my job, my creative juices were flowing and I needed to create. I thought what’s the harm in opening an Etsy shop? I opened my shop in 2012, and made yoga mat bags at first. I took a break after a while to focus on kids and school. In 2016, I decided to change directions and work with wood. I then graduated with my Bachelors in Business (and a minor in Sustainability and Green Management), and I knew I needed to continue with Etsy and my shop. I was loving it. We also had a toddler in the mix as well as a six year old, so I knew I could make this work. I loved being home with the boys and being my own boss! ! In March of 2018, we all migrated BACK to my home state of Wisconsin (after being in Florida for 15 years), and we’re loving it – even my native Floridian husband. Now, at Lotus & Lilies, we make; classic, rustic, and contemporary wood signs. They’re perfect for any place in your home. They are funny and sweet just like my personality

 

What is your background? Education, Work Experience?

I worked in the corporate world my whole life. Out of high school I worked in reception and would gradually work up to manager. My last “corporate job” was as an HR Manager in an Entrepreneur company ran by two incredibly driven women (who are now good friends). I learned so much from them. Stay driven, focused, and never give up were the major takeaways. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Management and Organizational Leadership with a minor in Sustainability and Green Management, from St. Petersburg College in Florida.

 

How long have you been in business?

Officially Lotus & Lilies has been in business since 2012, so six years! In 2016 I focused on woodworking and that’s where I’m sticking. Although I’m a person with many passions.

 

How did you get started in this business?

 As I mentioned above, I love being creative. It runs in my blood. My Aunt and Grandmother were always creating. They loved all things like me, but mostly stained glass, beading, and sewing. I have many pieces of stained glass from both of them. I also have my grandmother’s sewing machine. She made all of our costumes for Halloween. I dabbled in jewelry making and when Lotus & Lilies made the yoga mat bags, I used my sewing experience from my Grandmother to make those. Side note, my business name; Lotus & Lilies was inspired by my grandmother. We share the same birthday in May and the Lily of the Valley is May’s flower. I have also loved Lotus flowers. They bloom in the murkiest of water. So no matter what life throws at me or whatever stress is there, I will always come through.

 

How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?

 I am mostly self-taught with inspiration from my Grandmother and Aunt. I watch countless YouTube videos on wood working and framing. It’s mostly trial and error. When something doesn’t work, I can aways figure out why and fix it for the next project.

How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business? 

Etsy is pretty incredible on the tools they give you. I use a lot of their promoted listing features and tips for searches. I do more than half of business from Etsy alone. I was also sharing on my personal and business Facebook, but since Instagram, that was a game changer. You can reach so many other people and I love the creativeness of the app.

 

Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years?

I see Lotus & Lilies moving more into the Wholesale market. I plan on starting on the local end here in the Northwest Wisconsin area. More vendor shows as well in this coming summer, 2019. I would also like to start making more larger end furniture for home and garden. Another big piece on my to-do is refurbishing furniture. Taking those dreary pieces and giving them new life. 

 

The next ten years?

 For now, I’m focusing on the five year, but probably custom furniture!

 

How has technology, such as computers and the Internet, impacted on how you conduct business?

Word of mouth is huge, very huge. I’m sure I could be successful just from being present in my community. However, being able to use Instagram, Etsy, and Facebook to target customers all over the country and the world, is incredible. 

 

Whom do you seek advice from for your business? 

I listen to Podcasts most of the time. I’m not sure if I’m able to name drop, but Cara Alwill Leyba – Style Your Mind, she’s my #1 I listen too. Also, the Etsy Success Podcast and The Merriweather Council with Danielle Spurge. Those are my top three!

 

What advice do you have to new business owners? 

My advice isn’t one clean statement. I have many things that I’ve learned from inspiring people and personal experience. Here are some: Don’t give up when you feel the heat. Persevere and push through. You’re going to be tired. There are times you’re going to be burnt out (hello Holiday season!), just keep going – BUT – take a day to recharge and refocus (I do this often). Self-care is huge. Toss the ideas that haven’t worked or aren’t working and find inspiration for new ones. I’m not some top level interior designer, either. I love creating, DIY, and sharing my vibe. Your first pieces aren’t going to be perfect, just keep evolving. Don’t worry about waiting to start until you have everything in perfect place. Don’t be afraid to jump and start sharing with the world. We have one shot at this thing called life, so live it with zero regrets. That sounds super cliché, but it’s so true. I never wanted to look back and think; “man, I should’ve started that business”. That would be gut wrenching. Be customer service driven. My Grandfather always said, “people buy from people they like”. Be authentically you. Stay in your own lane. Don’t stress about the others who youthink, are more experienced, has more followers, or you think are doing more, or in your mind, better. Focus on you and your success. Lift each other up and surround yourself with positive and inspirational people. 

 

Social Media Pages:

Website/Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LotusandLilies
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lotusandlilieskariclift
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/lotusandlilies/ 

Interview with Hitomi, Owner and Creator of Vert Jewellery

Tell us about yourself and your business.
My name is Hitomi and I'm the owner and designer behind Thé Vert Jewellery, based in Vancouver, Canada.  I was born in Japan and grew up in Canada.  I love both countries and always looking for ways to connect them, giving me a reason to travel back and forth.  Thé Vert Jewellery strives to provide unique, but simple jewellery with some Japanese influence at an affordable price point.   Each piece is delicately handmade by me.  Signature pieces include ribbon tie necklaces, origami triangle necklaces and earrings.  I hope that our pieces bring happiness and confidence to our customers.

What is your background? Education, Work Experience?
I have a Bachelors degree in Arts.  My background is in Human Resources and Arts Entertainment, so not very related, but I've always had a love for fashion and a creative side.  Because making clothing takes a bit more time, I decided to start creating jewellery in my spare time.  I started giving my pieces to friends and family, and then eventually, started selling at craft markets.

How long have you been in business?
I have been making jewellery for over 15 years, but started my online store in 2016.

How did you get started in this business?
I started by sharing a small space at a table at a craft market with my good friend, and then started to increase the number of pieces until I had enough to have my own table.  When my life took a turn and became a stay-at-home-mom in 2016 to be with our kids,  I took the next step and opened up my online Etsy store - something I had dreamed about for a long time.

How do you market your business?
How are people aware of your business? I market my business mainly through social media - Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.  When I'm at the craft markets, I ensure that I have plenty of business cards to give out.  My friends and family have also been great marketers for me!


Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years?
This year, I'm hoping to expand my jewellery line, look into improving my packaging and branding, and overall increase sales.  I would also like to start knocking on some shop doors to find some stockists.  In the next 5 years, my goal is that I'm stocked in a bunch of the local boutiques in Vancouver.  

The next ten years?
My goal in 10 years is that my jewellery is in shops across the globe.  

How has technology, such as computers and the Internet, impacted on how you conduct business?
Technology has definitely been a game changer for me.  Having access to all the social media and being able to open up an online store has made a small shop like me be able to advertise at very little cost.  With the right kind of marketing, you can reach almost anyone in the world.  You have to be smart about how you apply all this technology, so that you are getting the most of what is readily available to you.  

Whom do you seek advice from for your business?

I get some good pointers from the jewellery parts suppliers I go to, as well as my fellow craft makers.  I always make sure that I connect with fellow vendors at the craft markets I go to too.   

Social Media Pages

Website/Etsy Shophttps://www.etsy.com/shop/TheVertJewellery
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thevertjewel/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheVertJewel
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/thevertjewel/

Interview With Torshanda and Emily, Creators and Owners Behind The Peaceful Moose

The Peaceful Moose

We sat down with Torshanda and Emily, Creators and Owners Behind The Peaceful Moose, to interview them and their small business!

Tell us about yourself and your business.

Our names are Torshanda and Emily and we are based out of Central Kentucky.  We have been friends for years and share a love for natural products, animals, video games and Invader Zim.  We created The Peaceful Moose when we both realized that we were tired of chemical laden bath and beauty products.  We wanted to create natural soaps and other bath and beauty products that are made with natural and ethically sourced materials and most importantly, we want you to be able to read our labels and know exactly what you have purchased and what was used to create it.

What is your background? Education, Work Experience?

Torshanda has always day dreamed about owning her own business as a child and even obtained a degree in Business and Technology. As for work experience, Torshanda has a lot of experience working as an entry level retail associate, and even worked at two corporate offices at different levels to help her understand the inner workings of the company.  Emily grew up within the dog show community and traveled with her family around the East Coast.  Instead of wanting to learn how to show dogs, she was interested in speaking with vendors to learn more about the products that they sell and how they got to where they are today.  Having the opportunity to speak with so many people allowed Emily's dream of owning her own business to really blossom.  Emily has experience as a retail associate and has held a number of leadership and customer service roles.  Emily holds a degree in General Arts & Sciences.

How long have you been in business?

July 2018 is when our research, brainstorming phase began for our company. Once we had created some sample batches of products, tested them and fine-tuned our process, we officially became a business and a LLP in September of 2018.

How did you get started in this business?

 How we got started? It all started with a bath bomb and shampoo bar kit Torshanda got Emily as a housewarming gift. After sitting down and talking we both realized collectively that we both have a drive and want to create something that was safe for us to use, and to give to others.

 How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?

 It took a lot of research, time, and a lot of trial and error.  Neither of us had experience with making soap or any of the products we sell today. It was extremely important that we learn more about the process of creating these products and best practices for making our products. We are still learning as we go and loving each millstone we achieve.  It’s amazing to be able to say we created this and we’re running our own business.

How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business?

Currently, we do a lot of marketing to separate groups that we belong to and purchase ad space on various social media platforms.  We have a great following on social media, through our website, and have a close-knit group of supporters of our product who help get the word out. One of our huge goals for 2019 is to start doing festivals in our state to expand our brand recognition. 

Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years?

 In the next year, we are wanting to have a robust line of products that suits various needs for our customer and community. Our current goals are scrubs, soaks, and a few other items we want to surprise you all with! As mentioned in the earlier question this coming year, we’re working on being more visible to our customers by going to festivals and events as well. In the next five years…hopefully sooner to have a store front location.

 The next ten years?

 In the next ten years, we would love to have our products displayed in local and well-known retail stores and websites that share our values of keeping things ethically scoured.

How has technology, such as computers and the Internet, impacted on how you conduct business?

We started our business as a 100% online business to start out with.  Having the ability to post our products on the internet and leverage social media has greatly impacted our business and our customer base. Plus with all the amazing technology that is out there, we can and have done sales on the fly for some of our customers.  I would like to thank PayPal for their store merchant app, it’s been a life saver when people want to buy from us directly instead of going to our website and for a custom order requests.

Whom do you seek advice from for your business?

 There are so many wonderful and successful small businesses out there and a lot of them have shared their successes and challenges openly through social media and blog posts.  We have reviewed what others have done and tapped into some local small businesses, such as Dirty South Pottery and Blue Grass Hemp Company.

 

What advice do you have to new business owners?

 It is not easy starting your own business and going down the rabbit hole that is IRS accounts, local law and various other regulations. Remember to laugh, have compassion for yourself, and never give up.  You are going to mess up and make mistakes sometimes and that is 100% okay.  Without mistakes, you can't grow and continue to build.  There will be times that you are completely overwhelmed with it all and continue to ask yourself, 'why in the world did I think this was a good idea?' but always remember WHY you started in the first place and let that empower you to get back up again.  You got this.

 

Social Media Pages
Website: https://www.thepeacefulmoose.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeacefulMoose/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MoosePeaceful
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/thepeacefulmoose/