As far as stories go this won't be the most exciting or mesmerizing, but I do hope that it will help to inspire you to start your own journey or just help you with a DIY project or two.
Starting something new can be intimidating and downright scary. Change is a beast that many people choose not to wake for fear that it will just eat them alive. But it can also be a great opportunity in disguise.
I was terrified of change and in a relationship that I knew would never get better and I wasn't where I wanted to be in life. I had settled and I was ok with it.(Now I ask myself, why and how?) I thought that's what I was meant to do as a wife and mother. Be strong for my son and stay as a family. Right? However, I wasn't happy and that wasn't how I wanted to stay. That was probably one of my biggest mistakes and greatest learning experience.
Events unfolded that brought me face to face with my beast of change. I could have stayed, continued with the comfortable life that I had been so use to, but I didn't. I knew it wouldn't be better or different. So I didn't back down to change and it became my greatest friend.
We ended a 10 year relationship and I started over. In the beginning I had my doubts that I had made the right choice, but I knew I didn't want to settle again. Life was short and it wasn't worth just being ok with the way things were. I wanted incredible and spectacular.
From that experience I learned that change is not something to dread or avoid. It has led me to some wonderful experiences and put me on paths I never would have taken before.
I met am admirable man that helped me embrace change and possibility even more. He wasn't afraid of failure and taught me that if you don't even try you will never know. I'm sure I had heard that before and I'm sure you have to, but until you do it, it doesn't quite sink in the same way. But it's true!
Now here's the part of the story you really wanted to hear and suffered through the rest for, how I started out my business, quit my full time job and get to stay home and work in my yoga pants.
I had an office job working 8-5 Monday thru Friday, benefits, paid sick days, great people. What's not to love. Everything. I wanted to be my own boss, make my own hours. I'm not a morning person. I LOATHE mornings. No amount of coffee or caffeine will ever make them enjoyable. I hated having to tell someone, no ASK someone if I could take time off for the doctor or to go to an event at my kids school. I'm an adult, it took me a long time to get to where I didn't have to ask permission to do something I wanted to do. Paid sick days? I don't miss them, being home, I'm never as sick as I was working in an office full of people that brought ever germ their kids brought home to them. And don't need "mental health days" anymore, when I get burned out I can go outside and work in the garden for a couple hours and come right back in to work when I'm refreshed.
In 2013 my brother came to me with an idea that he had for a clothing line that he wanted to start but didn't know what he needed to do. We got everything trademarked and copyrighted(more on how to do that later) but didn't know how to proceed from there. Since we weren't sure how people would even respond to the designs we decided the most cost effective way to make the shirts was to do it ourselves. He bought a cheap one screen silk screening machine off E-bay and we attempted to screen print them ourselves. Lets just say we did not become experts overnight and scraped that idea. Our second idea was heat transfer vinyl this is where everything else began.
I didn't want to get a Cricut or a Silhouette. They work great for small hobby projects, but if you are looking to grow and do this for more than a hobby I would suggest something more industrial that can hold a 30" roll of vinyl.
With the little knowledge that I had at the time and armed with my boyfriend's credit card we ordered a USCutter MH vinyl cutter from E-bay. It has proved to be a great vinyl cutter that we still use to this day. It came as a kit with a sample set of vinyl which was great getting started we had vinyl to test and play with right from the beginning. If you don't get a kit, make sure you know what tools you'll need to get started. I recommend, vinyl, transfer tape, plastic squeegee, exacto knife, a weeding tool and a cutting surface. I order my supplies through USCutter.com, they have great products and customer service and fast flat $10 shipping. I love the Oracal 651 outdoor vinyl. It works great indoors or outdoors, it has a variety of colors and types to choose from. My transfer tape of choice is TransferRite Ultra Clear Medium tack. I don't like to use High tack as it tends to leave a residue on big projects and isn't great for all vinyl applications. As for your squeegee and weeding tool, I feel like it is more personal preference, but my favorite are the Wood Burnishing Tool for weeding and the Standard yellow squeegee. UScutter has a 5 piece squeegee kit that is a great starting out and getting the squeegee you like best for your project.
Now that we had the supplies we had no idea how to do anything else. With very limited how to videos or instructions we slowly figured out how to design, cut and make a decal. Woohoo! Now what? We had to sell them. But where? Well we started a website, added pictures, descriptions and even an about us page and then we waited, and waited. We would probably still be waiting for a sale from the website. There are just too many other websites out there doing the same thing and our designs were for a very small niche. That's not to say a website is a bad thing to have, but I would have waited to start one until you have more of a local or online presence that will draw people to your website and products. You can't rely on a google search alone.
Now what? My brother wanted to stick to his designs and clothing company, but my boyfriend and I had invested money into this endeavor and wanted to see some progress. I had always seen Ebay as an auction site to sell your old junk you didn't want anymore. I didn't think it would be the spring board for our business. But we posted a few decals up as an auction and a week later we heard a "ca-ching" noise coming from my cellphone. That was my favorite sound and still is! (Read How to Ebay, our experience)
Ebay was a great start but after a while we wanted more. We turned to Etsy and it has been even better to us. I would recommend Etsy over Ebay if you don't want to do both. Etsy is easy to use and customers and sellers are all great to deal with. It feels more like a community of small businesses and customers know they are getting a quality product and are willing to pay for that quality. Plus Etsy has an awesome "ca-ching" noise when you make a sale too! (Read our Tips to Etsy)
AND HERE WE ARE!
We have since added more products and started working on other projects not just decals and vinyl. Every step has been a learning experience that we welcome and enjoy (even with all the cussing and yelling at machines that don't understand us). We also do a lot of local work with businesses, screen-printing and embroidering shirts, business signs, business cards and a ton more. It keeps us busy on top of the online work we have to get done.
And now we have started a stand alone website in hopes that it will expand our business even further and reach more people that love our products as much as we do. So I can't give much insight into how it works or is working just yet but I'm hoping in the next 6 months to give a full report.