January 08, 2015
I’m an introverted girl, so I have a hard time volunteering information about my business and family life, but if you ask me a question, I can talk your ear off. Especially about my business, because I’m so passionate about it. I received some questions in my previous post, so here are answers, as well as other questions I get asked a lot…
Q. Does your husband help you with your business?
A. My husband joined me in my business a year and a half ago, and we work together every single day. He finds our wood, which is all reclaimed from barns in our area, and he puts together all the wood for our signs. He also stains and paints the wood and puts a finish on the signs after they are lettered.
Bless his heart, his shop is a TINY one-car detached garage, and he’s put every square inch to use. He is incredibly organized and makes-do with what he has. He is also very detail-oriented (much more than I am), so this is the perfect job for him. And he loves it.
Q. Is all your wood old or is some of it new?
A. All of the wood we use is reclaimed barn wood that hubs finds. We live in an area where there is a large supply of old barn wood, so we can get large quantities of it.Q. Is it difficult working with your spouse every day?
A. I don’t know if this arrangement would work for most people, but it fits us really well. Not all days are awesome and we have disagreements, but overall, we work together really well as a team. It’s been great having flexibility in our schedules. The downside to being together all the time is that we don’t have a lot of “newsy” things to tell each other.
Q. Is your studio attached to your house or is it in a different location?
A. Several years ago we created a studio out of an apartment that was attached to the back of our house. We had been renting it to someone, but as my business grew, we needed the space for ourselves. You can read about the renovation here. If it wouldn’t be for this space, I wouldn’t have been able to build my business. I am SO THANKFUL to have a space that is attached to our home but separate from our living area.
Q. Do you paint all the signs yourself?
A. We currently have a team of seven people who work for us – all of them from their own homes. Most of them are friends of mine who are stay-at-home moms, and they help me with painting the lettering on the signs. They are all awesome and so great to work with! I’ve gone from doing all the painting to managing the business, creating the designs, and still doing a lot of painting too. My days are very full but very rewarding, and I love to be productive.
Q. Are the signs hand-painted?
A. All the of the signs are hand-painted, and we don’t use stencils. Here is a tutorial I shared a few years ago that give you an idea how we create the lettering.
Q. Do you have any signs in stock and ready-to-ship?
A. We rarely have signs in stock simply because we don’t have the time to create a large quantity at a time. We don’t mass-produce our signs. They are each custom made and go through many different steps until they are ready to be shipped. Typically my lead-time is 4-6 weeks.
This is my current stack of orders that will be made in the next six weeks…
Q. How do you balance work, family and life?
A. I’m not good at balance and honestly don’t really believe there is such a thing for me. Typically, if I’m doing an awesome job with my business, my family takes a back seat. And when I’m putting a lot of time into family and my home, my work suffers. There are no easy answers. Every day there are choices I have to make about what I spend my time doing. And I mess up a lot.
The thing that has been helping me the most during this busy season of life is keeping things at home and with our family VERY SIMPLE. Our kids aren’t involved in any extracurricular activities. At all. We keep things routine and don’t have a lot of extra things going on in the evenings, so we can just spend time together as a family. It’s not glamorous or exciting, but it’s what works for us. Simple is key.
Something else that has been key is having a husband who keeps me from saying “yes” to too many things. I love to be involved in lots of different things, but he definitely keep me grounded and focused on what my priorities should be right now. If I’m involved in too many things, I don’t do any of them well. I’ve learned from experience.
Q. Was your business a slow start?
A. My sign business started off as a hobby that I never imagined I would turn into a business, much less one that fully supports our family. I started by making some signs for myself and friends, then started selling them very slowly on Etsy. My blog is a big reason for the business’s success. Having an established blog following was instrumental in starting to sell the signs. I didn’t have any grand plans for the business when I started. It was just a creative outlet for me, and I didn’t feel pressured to sell a lot.
Q. What makes a successful blog?
A. I don’t feel qualified to answer this question, but I’m not a great blogger!! When I started my blog in 2007, there weren’t as many “home” blogs around and the internet wasn’t so saturated with blogs like it is now, which I think helped me. I think writing about what you love and are passionate about is key. People who are passionate about the same things will find you. Write on a regular basis (at least once a week) and just be yourself. Find other blogs and leave comments. Post great pictures. Photos are a big deal when blogging.
Q. Do you re-use your templates and how do you store them?
A. Yes, I re-use my templates a lot and store them in an Ikea wire cabinet that has drawers.
Q. Favorite parts of your work?
A. Creating new designs, picturing something in my head and seeing it become reality, learning new strategies from others, watching the business grow.
Q. Least favorite parts of your work?
A. Paperwork (taxes=worst.thing.ever), managing emails, feeling burned-out and creatively dry during particularly busy seasons.
Q. Any memorable moments in 2014?
A. One of the most exciting moments for me (business-wise) was getting an order from Philadelphia Phillies baseball player Cole Hamels. It was a pinch-me moment for sure.
Q. Are your signs available in any retail stores?
A. They are available at two local stores: The Treasure Place at Smucker Village and The Flower & Home Marketplace
Q. What are some of your dreams for the future?
A. I would LOVE to host small workshops in my studio where we would work on crafty things together. I’m working on a workshop for this winter and more details will be coming! Any thoughts on this? If you are local, is this something you might be interested in attending? I would love to meet you!
Thank you so much for your questions and interest! If you have any more questions, ask away in the comments and I’ll answer them!
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