After receiving a notice in December 2014 that my health insurance premium was increasing yet again and my deductible was tripling, I brainstormed ways that I could increase my income without increasing my workload, and have a little fun at the same time. What started as an endeavor to make a little extra money and have a little fun has morphed into my new full-time business. I’m living the introvert entrepreneur’s dream, complete with a cozy little cabin studio right here on our acreage, with my chickens and cats to keep me company.
How did this happen? I had a full-time signs/banners/apparel printing business, complete with a walk-in shop just off main street. I loved working for myself and I made enough to get by, but the volume of customers just kept growing, and my attempt to keep it a one-woman show was turning into a major case of burn-out. Trying to keep up with deadlines, constant interruptions, burning the candle at both ends day after day, and missing time with my daughter. I was also making a lot of costly mistakes because of fatigue. I was trying to “do it all” while fighting an auto-immune disorder which often leaves me exhausted, and on really bad days, unable to walk until I’ve had a good dose of anti-inflammatories. Lettering a vehicle or a putting together a big sign often left me with a major flare-up for days afterward.
My goal for the second source of income was just to make enough to cover health insurance and put a little in savings. I was also driving a 15-year-old pickup truck that I knew wasn’t going to last forever. This is where I can relate to almost every story in Daymond John’s book Power of Broke. Something had to change. Years ago, before my daughter was born, I had a daydream about selling t-shirts online and working from home. I designed a few shirts, but I had no idea how to make it happen back then. I had a background in marketing, but when I went to college, (in the days of dinosaurs according to my daughter) web design, SEO, and internet marketing classes didn’t even exist! Amazon and Ebay were just babies, and Etsy was unheard of. I thought about my failed attempt at Etsy in 2009 when I had tried selling vinyl wall decals. I did some research and decided to give Etsy another try, but with selling silly little t-shirt designs this time.
I re-launched my Etsy shop in January of 2015. Within 4 months, I had doubled my monthly income. I spent every spare moment reading about SEO and e-commerce marketing. By end of the year, I had tripled my annual income and was driving a new-to-me SUV. I knew I had to make a decision. I couldn’t run both businesses–at least not with any sanity. Jon and I talked it over. It was a no-brainer. We decided to sell the brick and mortar shop, build a new studio next to the house, and make Suzy Swede Creative my full-time business. I’ve hung on to a few of my old customers–but now my focus is on this business and all of the great customers I’ve “met” from all over the world. Thanks to a few snags this year, it took 10 months, a lot of late nights, and every ounce of perseverance we could find to make our plan a reality, but we did it! We sold the shop and now I’m working out of the coziest little cabin studio ever, I absolutely love my work every single day, and I am blessed beyond anything I could have ever imagined. [wc_fa icon=”heart” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Thank you to all of the great customers, and everyone who has supported me, especially Jon and Treva. Big thanks to Renae Christine, Carey, and Benjie too for helping me make this site a reality! I think “living the dream” sounds a little cheesy, but that’s the truth.