Crafting on Etsy: This Mother-Daughter Shop Showcases the Value of Handcrafted Items
This summer, GOBankingRates is continuing its annual tradition of the Small Business Spotlight by featuring small businesses that have been nominated by our readers. We hope to shed light on inspiring local businesses, particularly after the pandemic left so many establishments struggling to get back on their feet.
In this small-business feature, we’re spotlighting Happily Handcrafted By Anna & Julianna, the co-owners of the Etsy shop as well as a mother-daughter team. Anna and Julianna Babin run their Etsy shop from Chicago, but what is now a booming online business started from humble beginnings. Julianna started making crafts at home when she was younger, and through the years had amassed such an impressive amount of homemade items that she and her mother decided to start selling them at Chicagoland art and craft fairs. After selling at these venues for nearly a decade, they opened their Etsy shop this year to offer their creations to a wider customer base and to have the flexibility of working from home. Their Etsy shop features polymer clay creations, decoupage decor, ribbon bookmarks and more. Here, we speak with Anna and Juliana about the inspiration behind their handmade items and the advice they have for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?
Julianna: I have always loved doing crafts ever since I was a little girl. I really liked drawing and making bracelets. Around 2010 or so, I began taking painting classes at a local art center and started exploring how to sculpt with polymer clay and make jewelry through online tutorials and magazine articles. Before I knew it, I had a huge supply of crafts I’d made. My mom thought it would be a great idea to do a craft fair together.
Anna: I decided that I also wanted to participate in the craft show, and I started exploring ideas for crafts to make. I began making decoupage ceramic tile coasters, which were a bestseller at our first show. From there, I began brainstorming other ideas and started making ribbon bookmarks with my daughter. I also began making painted rocks, which I really enjoy. I love working together with my daughter.
What did you take from past experiences or jobs that you knew you wanted to be a part of your new business?
We really enjoy interacting with our customers and describing the stories and the process behind our work. Now that we are on Etsy, we still continue to engage with our audience on social media and love receiving feedback and ideas for what our customers would like us to make next.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?
There are endless opportunities to try new kinds of craft projects. We have the freedom to go in any direction we choose. We can explore our creative interests and also bounce ideas off each other often.
What inspired you to transform your business from sharing your creations at craft fairs to creating an Etsy shop, and how has that transition affected your business?
We wanted to reach a broader audience by sharing our creations online. Handmade gifts are extremely special and we wanted to have more opportunities to share our crafts around the world to brighten people’s lives. Crafts are a very therapeutic part of our life, and we enjoy working together as a team. The transition has been smooth for us, especially during the pandemic, when we could no longer display our crafts in person. Selling online has given us the freedom and flexibility to work from home.
Why are small businesses like yours so vital to the Chicago community?
There is something very special about handmade items that makes gift-giving all the more meaningful. We make each of our items by hand in small batches, and each piece is one of a kind. This gives people in our area the opportunity to support the arts in our community.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Never give up. It is hard to gain momentum at first and can be discouraging, but it is important to keep trying. Loving what you do makes it all worthwhile.
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