{Quit Your Day Job, featuring Sarah Jane Studios}

Hello, hello! Today’s post is super special and is a continuation of my {Quit Your Day Job} series from earlier this year. Today’s feature highlights the sweet shop & blog of Sarah Jane Studios. I know you will enjoy it. One of my favorite quotes, “Inspiration is all around you,” — wishing you baskets of inspiration as you peek into Sarah’s life. xoxo



Bio:

Hi! I’m thrilled to be over here on Gussy. I’m a huge supporter of starting a business doing what you love to do best. I started my ETSY shop during the Christmas Season of 2007 in an effort to support my husband through Graduate School. I had a strong vision of using my illustrations in the children’s industry, but wasn’t exactly sure how. So I started out selling my art prints and stationery on ETSY, and have gradually expanded to illustrating children’s books with Harper Collins Children’s books, and designing fabric for Michael Miller Fabrics and also designing Embroidery patterns!

My ETSY shop is currently in the top 10 sellers of Art on ETSY…

…and my fabric CHILDREN AT PLAY is due to hit shops this month! It’s been an amazing 3 year journey, and I’m so happy to share it!

The interview:

1. What were some ways you prepared to become an handmade biz owner {your day-to-day schedule, financially, emotionally, etc.}?
Before I started my business, I spent a lot of time doing research. I had two infants, and didn’t have much energy to do much more than surf the web, looking for information on how to start doing what I dreamed of. I was creating art, but not even in the form that I am now. I was painting originals, and I learned that I just couldn’t do that with 2 infants and a small apartment. So I contacted other artists, looked into ETSY and got familiar with my options as a stay at home mom.

ETSY was still very new at the time, and there were very few artists doing what I do now. I was able to communicate with many of them, learned a bit of what I needed to do to get started, and went from there.

Another thing I did, was be part of Startup Princess: A community of women who can get information and support for starting their own business. By attending a couple seminars, I felt confident that I had what it took to start.

When I stared my business, I was the perfect mix of smart and naive. I knew what I needed to get started, but not much after that. Kinda like being in a marriage actually: A good marriage (I believe) involves a lot of “learning on the job” and that kind of learning can only be done once you dive in. So, as much as I studied a bit about what it was going to take to get started, I also knew that I wasn’t ever really going to find out what it was going to take until I just got my feet wet!

Emotionally, starting Sarah Jane Studios was like jumping off the high dive. I’d seen other people do it before, and I knew that even if I belly flopped, I’d survive and would be up that ladder trying again.

2. Share with us a positive “ah-hah” moment from this process.
Because I started with my husband’s support, and my over-drive enthusiasm, I learned really quickly that any business can take of every spare space in your brain. I was so gung-ho, and my husband was so supportive, but I soon realized that if I didn’t shut things down and disconnect from my creative pursuits, those ideas could easily take over. I am a very passionate person, like most creative people, and if I get going on somehting, it’s hard for me to stop. Also, un-plugging and taking breaks is really hard to do when you are driven to pay the bills, and get a real business going. But take walks, date your husband, go out to a movie, and pace yourself. Especially if you have a family, having clear expectations of when you are working and when you are not working is a very healthy part of your work.

3. What was the time frame from when you decided you were going to quit to when you actually put in your notice/took some serious steps toward becoming self-employed?
My husband was in Graduate school. We were living off very little. My husband thankfully had a job that paid the mortgage and groceries, but we had no means to pay off our student loans. I started looking for work that I could do from home, and then even started looking into selling health products with a MLM company. I had previously had my own vocal studio, and I had previously taught voice lessons at BYU, but because I had 2 infants, I just couldn’t keep a regular work schedule. I needed something flexible.

One night while we were talking about our options, and my fear of making cold calls to strangers, I felt a very strong feeling that I need to start my art again. I had put it aside while I graduated from college and supported my husband’s undergraduate degree by teaching voice. But I felt very strongly, that now was the time to begin my art business. And being a very religious and spiritual person, I knew that feeling was from God. I was so happy to have that confidence from Him, and since then I’ve never looked back. I’ve always known that I would make a career out of my art, or that it would be a huge part of my professional life. But this was such a HUGE leap, I needed that extra confidence from my Heavenly Father. That impression is honestly what sealed the deal for me.

4. What was your first day like as a handmade biz owner? Describe your feelings, were you really excited? did it seem soooo weird to be home/self-employed? Share this moment with us.
The actual first few days/weeks of my business were rather comical (In hindsight! Not then!) I thought because I had such strong, spiritual impressions to start this business with my art, that it was all just going to be easy-peasy. Wrong! This business has been one of the greatest learning curves in my life!

The first day was filled with stuffing envelopes and cellophane sleeves on my bedroom floor, emails, responding to customers with questions I had no idea how to answer, and printing out art prints in the dozens from a printer that was actually broken. It was a mess! I honestly thought I would start off small, and go from there. But instead, I had 50 sales my first weekend, and though I paid off all my business expenses my first week, I wasn’t prepared for that kind of volume. So, it was filled with lots of trips to the store, figuring out where to purchase supplies in bulk, and learning the ropes as I went. It was actually pretty funny. On top of that, my babies had the stomach flu, and my husband was out of town and my brand new printer broke. So, it was the typical mayhem you’d expect from someone who though maybe they’d sell one or two prints to see how it felt to have a business, to people asking for wholesale orders the first day. I had a lot to learn!

But, like I said: you can only learn by doing it. And man, I did it! I learned a lot, and am still learning. It’s an exciting ride!

5. Do you write out a “schedule” for each day? How do you divide and organize your time?
Because I have 3 children who aren’t even in full time school, my schedule is very flexible. Normally, I work at night after the kids go to bed. But when there are pressing deadlines, my husband will watch the kids for part of the day on Saturday or after he comes home from work. Every day is different, which can be very challenging. Being an artist, I really value big chunks of time to just work…but that doesn’t happen very much! When I know I need those big chunks, my husband is very good to take over. When I created my last fabric line, we used money from our business account to have my husband take the kids out to a local hotel for 2 days. They swam in the pool, played in the elevators, went to the zoo, etc. I stayed at home in studio with uninterrupted time and designed fabric. So, really, depending on the work that needs to be done, we adjust. Frankly, a lot of it is done between 10pm and 1am. That’s the truth!

6. What is a current challenge are you facing, and how to you plan to overcome it?
Being a creative person and a business person takes up two totally different parts of my brain. Add being a mother of young children into the mix, and my brain is full! I don’t have a lot of time in my day, so the biggest challenge I have is learning how to focus better, and schedule my time better. Because I run a household and a business, I’m learning how to do the things that take the least amount of brain power (bills, laundry, cleaning) as fast as possible. Because I’m a creative person, my mind is usually full of creative, wonderful things ALL the time! And being a mother of children who inspire me every day, it’s hard for me (and I’ll be perfectly honest here!) to focus on a simple task and complete it. But, I am not creative when my house is out of order, so it’s a catch 22. The challenge as a mother as well as a creative, is to live creatively everyday, but also to get the mindless mundane tasks done faster so I have more time to be creative! Kitchen timers have become my friend.

7. What are three tips you can to pass along to someone that’s ready to make the leap? :]
I’m a list person, so here you go:

    * Do what you do best, and let others do the rest. In the beginning, you really need to do it all. And frankly, I still mostly do it all. But I’ve learned to delegate the things that I don’t need to do: Shipping, book keeping, etc. Slowly start to take the things off your plate that take time from you doing what you do best: CREATE!
    * Know your finances, and set goals for what you need/want to make out of your business. When you start, it’s vital that you set goals. You want to earn $10,000 this year? Set it! And you’ll be amazed at how setting a specific amount leads you to creative opportunities that meet those goals.
    * If you are a mother, let your children be part of your creative work… let them work beside you and learn from you. Try as hard as you can to let your children see you be creative, and encourage them to do the same.
    * And one more: Be aware of trends and what other people are interested in purchasing, but then go to work and do what comes to you. It’s important to be aware of the market, trends and the niche that your business falls into. But only be aware enough to know it, and when you work, let it come from you, and only you, and you’ll be successful!

Connect with Sarah ~
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
ETSY
Website (coming in July!!)



Leave a comment below and share with us:
What is your favorite way to find inspiration,
or what tips can you share that help you to have a super productive work day?



{mini-feature: For the love of Joy}

I’m super excited to feature a little bit of Anna’s story with you. Having a handmade business is hard work — no doubt, but it is so rewarding. My favorite part of this blog is that it’s a source of encouragement for so many; this warms my heart. We all have amazing talents — some know of them right away, others take a little more time to bloom. Your input and experience is so valuable, regardless of what stage you’re in, and I hope this mini-feature helps you to know that. xoxo.

My name is Anna and I am the creator and designer for For the Love of Joy. I am 26 years old, a wife and mom, and a graphic design major. We live in Euless, Texas, a small city inside of the sprawling metroplex of Dallas/Fort Worth. When I’m not taking care of my family or creating, I enjoy cooking and eating, watching Conan and Jimmy Fallon, and decorating my home.

My two greatest accomplishments to date are becoming a mom and starting For The Love of Joy. These are two things that I never in my life thought I could or wanted to do and here I am doing it…and I love it!

It was such a great weight off my shoulders the day I quit my day job. I was not happy doing that line of work and so when I quit, I felt happy just to get away from that. Then I felt immense joy to know that I am one of the very few that get to do what I love AND be my own boss. It is such a huge blessing!

Running your own business is very hard and time consuming. Make sure that this is what you not only love to do but what you’re meant to do. I’ve seen many friends who want to start up their own shop but it never works out because it was just about the money and not about doing something that they loved. Also, learn to manage your time and stay committed. Most of all, be proud of your work and share it with everyone you know. Word of mouth is the best way to get your business up and running!

My struggle right now is learning to budget my business money. I always want to run around and spend it all on my favorite fabrics but like Gussy says, you must tell your money where to go or one day you’ll wake up wondering where it all went! {seriously — so true!}

I hope my story inspires those who have this strong feeling to start their own business but don’t know where to start. I always knew creating was something I was suppose to do with my life but I thought that couldn’t happen until after I went to college, worked for an agency, blah blah blah. Just do it. I learned about my business through my experiences and from asking questions from those who are living out their dreams right now. You’ll have your ups and downs for sure but if you believe this is the path you’re meant to take, you’ll get back up and keep going. Don’t be afraid to dream big….it’ll just make you work harder to reach your goals!

♥ For the love of Joy: shop | blog

Share with us: What is something that’s holding you back from professional success and/or growth? What is one thing you could do to improve this? — leave a comment below, let’s encourage one another.

Homework: Write your answers down at home and keep them nearby ~ let your experiences encourage you to seek change.

{Quit Your Day Job, a story of bravery & uncertainty}

Editors note:
It has been 8 months since I quit my day job to work on Gussy Sews full time — and to help celebrate the anniversary of this little dream of mine, I’ve put together a {Quit Your Day Job} mini-series. Please take some time and read through the features — each feature is unique to the next, which I love. Everyone has a different story to tell ♥.

This post is particularly meaningful as it’s Jennifer’s story of bravery & uncertainty. To protect Jennifer’s job, aside from sharing her name, this is an anonymous story. She may not be a full-time handmade business owner yet, but she is determined, intentional and so, so excited! I am so very proud of her — Jennifer has real fears and real plans to overcome them, and we invite you to read her story below.

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[photo credit]


Jennifer’s Story // The Interview:

1. Give us a little glimpse of who you are and what your handmade business is.
My handmade business — which is in its infancy, or maybe even pregnancy! — is home decor made with digital art. The first products I am offering are canvases to hang on the wall and refrigerator magnets. I have stock items and will also take custom orders. Other products that could come later include coasters, party banners, posters and personalized cookbooks. I would eventually like to add designing scrapbooks for people (as an offshoot of my work as a consultant for Heritage Makers) but this is a much more expensive product than the home decor items so it’s a much more limited market.

2. What are some ways you are preparing to become a handmade biz owner?
I am working to pay down my credit card debts and create a budget that will allow me to quit my full-time job. I’m also looking for part-time jobs so I can ease into trying to make enough money on my business instead of going straight to no-guaranteed income. My real struggle is finding time to get my business set up while still working full time and taking care of children. My husband and I work opposite shifts so when I’m home, the child care is all up to me. So things have been moving slowly. I had hoped to have my Etsy shop open by January 1st, but it still isn’t. I think the time and scheduling is actually a bigger roadblock than the financial aspect.

3. What kind of progress have you made? — and how much longer do you have to go?
I have some products made, and some partially made, but have none photographed for the Etsy shop. I have a blog for the business but am not posting on it regularly yet. I have established customers for my consultant job who I hope will help me spread the word once the home decor business is launched. As for how long I have to go … I really would like to have the shop open by the end of the month. But when it will become a full-time business, I truly don’t know.

4. What kind of steps are you taking so you can give your 2-week notice?
Step 1: Get initial products finished
Step 2: Get products photographed and descriptions written
Step 3: Get products into Etsy shop
Step 4: Publicize shop
Step 5: Find a part-time job. I had been looking for one in my professional field but as I write this, I think something like retail would suffice
Step 6: Set up a schedule with my family to balance business work, family time and the part-time job

5. What are you most afraid of (with putting in your notice)?
I am most afraid of failing. Although the loss of guarantee income will be scary, I’m far more scared of telling people that I am quitting a good-paying stable job for this venture and even more scared of the possibility of telling them a year later that I couldn’t make it work.

6. Share with us what excites you most the most about being a self-employed biz owner.
I’m most excited about making money to be creative and do something enjoyable and to share my work with others. I also like that I can work from anywhere and set my own hours, so when my husband (a teacher) is off and wants to go on a trip, I can do that without being tied to a specific shift or location.

7. Based on your experience so far, what are three tips you could to pass along to someone that’s ready to make the leap?
1. Easier said than done, but don’t let fear rule you
2. Think through your business name, domain name, twitter account and anything else that might have your name on it before you start setting them all up
3. Network, network, network

[photo credit]


*A true thank you to each woman who allowed me to feature her.
Thank you so very much to: Kyla, Katie, Lisa Rungren, Kim, Lauren, Lisa Leonard, Sarah, Natalie and Jennifer.

May you all be inspired.


{Quit Your Day Job, featuring Wishful Nals}

Editors note:
It has been 8 months since I quit my day job to work on Gussy Sews full time — and to help celebrate the anniversary of this little dream of mine, I’ve put together a {Quit Your Day Job} mini-series.

If you’re looking for inspiration, be sure and read all the posts in this series.

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Bio:

I am Natalie, also known as Nals (a wishful one). I live in my hometown of Boston with my sweet mister, our Portuguese water dog, Weber and an affectionate cat, fête. I am twenty-six and savoring this time. I am half french. In fact, we were married in France just a few summers ago. I have two sisters. They mean the world to me. I love fires, swaying willow trees, random acts of kindness and a good piece of dark chocolate. As an east coaster, I love the ocean. It moves me and soothes my callouses (even the ones I didn’t know I had). I love to travel, have adventures and seek inspiration everywhere I go. My mister loves to cook and I love to entertain. At the end of the day, I just love to smile and be grateful for all I have.

[photo credit]

The Interview:

1. What were some ways you prepared to become a handmade biz owner {your day-to-day schedule, financially, emotionally, etc.}?
To be honest, I quit my job rather impulsively. It had come to a breaking point. I could not take the angst, the frustration anymore. After attending a yoga retreat over labor day, I couldn’t ignore the friction. I had spent the last year with my mother-in-law who was loosing her battle with cancer. Knowing that I was going to loose her really put everything into perspective. Financially speaking, my husband and I had set ourselves up in a way that we would be alright if one of us lost or left our jobs. Having this cushion and his support was what ultimately allowed me to leave. And I am so thankful for that.

2. Share with us a positive “ah-hah” moment from this process.
The ah-hah moment is still here. I have not regretted my decision for one day. Every time that I realize I am doing my own thing, I can’t believe it. It was definitely out of character to get up and quit a stable job. But, I did it. It took courage and guts, and I am so proud of myself for making that leap. Ultimately, it has reduced my stress level and I am living my life in the way that I want. My personal and professional lives are no longer at war with one another.

3. What was the time frame from when you decided you were going to quit to when you actually put in your notice/took some serious steps toward becoming self-employed?
At the time I gave my two weeks notice, my dear, sweet mother-in-law had just entered hospice care. My older sister was about to get married and I was the matron of honor. I was in an emotional whirlwind. Before my last day of work, my precious mother-in-law passed away and my sister was married. I never knew that such heartache and celebration could co-exist in such a small space. But, that’s life, after all, I think. My decision to leave my job was certainly building and coming for some time, but I don’t think I ever realized that it would actually happen. So, in that regard it was definitely unplanned.

4. What was your first day like as a handmade biz owner? Describe your feelings, were you really excited? Did it seem soooo weird to be home/self-employed? Share this moment with us.
Since I quit my job, I have been on a traveling merry-go-round. We drove cross country, traveled to Arizona, California, Texas and France. It’s been great. Having this “in between” time has allowed me to have a bit of adventure and think about where I am headed and where I want to be. I am finally getting in to a groove and working on a few projects that I hope will provide a stable income. Once I have my first “real” day, I will let you know how it is!

5. Do you write out a “schedule” for each day? How do you divide and organize your time?
I don’t write out a schedule, but am sure that I will at some point. I make it a habit to wake up each morning with my husband, who has a traditional job. I spend the morning hours working on my blog and my new venture, The Boston Day Book. In the afternoons, I will go to the gym, for a walk with Weber, or run a few errands. My work definitely overlaps in to the evenings, something I hope to avoid down the road. I think it is important to have some separation.

6. What is a current challenge are you facing, and how do you plan to overcome it?
Although we bought our home one year ago, we are still settling in. We have a spare bedroom that I would like to see evolve into a craft and office space. Currently it is serving as storage space. As of right now, I am working from our kitchen table or in the living room. I often go to a local coffee shop. Once I have a dedicated space, I think a routine will come naturally. I think that the inspiration will flow better. I am really excited to create a space just for me.

7. What are three tips you can to pass along to someone that’s ready to make the leap? :]
Well, I think it is fair to say that the fashion in which I left my job is not the most traditional. It is probably not recommended, but if you are in a dire situation where you cannot take the stress, then I think you need to listen to the cues. My body was giving me so many signs. Since I had the support and was in the right financial and emotional place, it made all of the difference. We are all capable of creating our own dreams. If you are unhappy where you are, plan for it and make a change. Everything you want, you can have. I really think it’s all possible.

Connect with Natalie ~
Blog
Twitter

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Share with us: When you need to relax QUICK!, what do you do?
[need more? another feature is coming soon...]