Starting Willow and Bee

Starting Willow and Bee

The Idea

The idea of posting, podcasting, and teaching about creating a handmade business started with my bumpy journey. I’ve learned a ton about the best ways to start and grow my business, Willow and Bee. There was also a time when I thought that maybe it would be better to pause my little business until life was less busy. Oddly enough, life didn’t get the memo that I was struggling, so I pushed on. Whether you’re just starting your journey, or if you’re well into your handmade business, I’m sure you’ll find it entertaining and informative to follow along. I’ll keep sharing stories, tips, and ideas. I’ll also have a host of other business owners that have been brave in discovering their gift. We’ve all found a way to carve out a little corner of the internet. We sell from our homes, from our shops, at our workshops, through word of mouth, and at farmer’s markets. Our dreams were born out of creativity, out of need, out of love. Thank you for tuning in today, here is a condensed version of my story with Willow and Bee.

My little helper in my first official studio space

The Inspiration

My mom told me I should make jewelry. I’m not sure why she suggested it since the last time I had made jewelry, it was with rainbow-colored pony beads. Not to mention, I was eight years old. Not only did she suggest this, she told me to sell my jewelry at Von Maur (our favorite store EVER). I went to the craft store, bought beads, and I made a bracelet. I wasn’t sure where I would sell it, so I tucked it away. A year or so later, my daughter started preschool.  I helped her classroom make rosaries for the school’s gala. I felt a wee bit experienced after I made that bracelet. My son was in second grade, and a few of the parents in my son’s class asked if I could make rosaries for their child’s First Communion. This is how I start selling online. I opened up an Etsy shop, took a horrible picture of my custom rosary, and I posted my first piece. My friend Naomi purchased her custom rosary from Etsy, and I started to get the hang of the whole thing.

Blue Swarovski rosary

First Things First

The first thing I did was secure all of my social media handles. I wasn’t sure how to use most of them, but I knew I would eventually learn and need to be on them. At this point, I should have secured my name (trademarked) with the government agency too. It would have saved me a significant amount of time and money to do it from the start. This whole frustration would have been avoided had I registered and trademarked my name from the beginning (but you live, and you learn…then you teach others!) I also recommend opening up a business account. You’ll need to pay taxes, and it’s a lot easier to keep things separate if you intend to avoid a headache at tax time.

My first logo

The Fun Stuff

The next thing was to create a logo and purchase stickers, cards, etc. For this, I used the services of someone on Etsy. I loved an used that logo for a few years. After getting a better feel for the look that I wanted and the products that I was selling, I finally rebranded and created my new logo with the use of PicMonkey. I started with the free version and eventually upgraded to pro. I love this platform. It is simple to navigate, and they offer tutorials for free! And that was the start of my little business. I got busy with taking pictures, posting online, and spreading the word. Little by little, my business grew, and it continues to do so each year. After I had established my shop online, I contacted a buyer at Von Maur. It was finally time to try and fulfill my mom’s prophecy. It was both scary and a relief to get that email out. Eagerly I would check my email for a response until I finally got word that they wanted to sell my pieces there! You can guess who I called first with the good news.

My pieces featured on the Von Maur postcard.

Sell Here…and There

It has been fun discovering the things that work and that don’t work on each platform, and I’ll be sure to fill you in on those details in future posts. In the meantime, if you have any questions about getting started online, please reach out, and I’ll get those questions answered. I want you to feel empowered by the creations that you are making and selling. It has been a happy struggle to figure things out, but an absolute blessing to be able to make money while doing something that I enjoy. I have been selling on Etsy since 2010 and at Amazon Handmade since 2017. I most recently moved my shop to Shopify, but will soon be making the transition to Pattern by Etsy. There are other platforms available too. Take a look at a few of them and pick the one that is the best fit for your product.

woohoo…let’s do this!

Si Se Puede!

I hope you get started with selling online soon. I know I had a lot of fears before I put my first piece out there, but they soon went away. It just takes time to get going and to take each step with the best attitude possible. You’ll make mistakes, have changes, and you’ll keep refining your products and store with each bump and failure.  Let this be an encouragement to get started even if things are not yet perfect.  You can do it!

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Starting Willow and Bee

Starting Willow and Bee

 

The Idea

The idea of posting, podcasting, and teaching about creating a handmade business started with my bumpy journey. I’ve learned a ton about the best ways to start and grow my business, Willow and Bee. There was also a time when I thought that maybe it would be better to pause my little business until life was less busy. Oddly enough, life didn’t get the memo that I was struggling, so I pushed on. Whether you’re just starting your journey, or if you’re well into your handmade business, I’m sure you’ll find it entertaining and informative to follow along. I’ll keep sharing stories, tips, and ideas. I’ll also have a host of other business owners that have been brave in discovering their gift. We’ve all found a way to carve out a little corner of the internet. We sell from our homes, from our shops, at our workshops, through word of mouth, and at farmer’s markets. Our dreams were born out of creativity, out of need, out of love. Thank you for tuning in today, here is a condensed version of my story with Willow and Bee.

My little helper in my first official studio space

The Inspiration

My mom told me I should make jewelry. I’m not sure why she suggested it since the last time I had made jewelry, it was with rainbow-colored pony beads. Not to mention, I was eight years old. Not only did she suggest this, she told me to sell my jewelry at Von Maur (our favorite store EVER). I went to the craft store, bought beads, and I made a bracelet. I wasn’t sure where I would sell it, so I tucked it away. A year or so later, my daughter started preschool.  I helped her classroom make rosaries for the school’s gala. I felt a wee bit experienced after I made that bracelet. My son was in second grade, and a few of the parents in my son’s class asked if I could make rosaries for their child’s First Communion. This is how I start selling online. I opened up an Etsy shop, took a horrible picture of my custom rosary, and I posted my first piece. My friend Naomi purchased her custom rosary from Etsy, and I started to get the hang of the whole thing.

Blue Swarovski rosary

First Things First

The first thing I did was secure all of my social media handles. I wasn’t sure how to use most of them, but I knew I would eventually learn and need to be on them. At this point, I should have secured my name (trademarked) with the government agency too. It would have saved me a significant amount of time and money to do it from the start. This whole frustration would have been avoided had I registered and trademarked my name from the beginning (but you live, and you learn…then you teach others!) I also recommend opening up a business account. You’ll need to pay taxes, and it’s a lot easier to keep things separate if you intend to avoid a headache at tax time.

My first logo

The Fun Stuff

The next thing was to create a logo and purchase stickers, cards, etc. For this, I used the services of someone on Etsy. I loved an used that logo for a few years. After getting a better feel for the look that I wanted and the products that I was selling, I finally rebranded and created my new logo with the use of PicMonkey. I started with the free version and eventually upgraded to pro. I love this platform. It is simple to navigate, and they offer tutorials for free! And that was the start of my little business. I got busy with taking pictures, posting online, and spreading the word. Little by little, my business grew, and it continues to do so each year. After I had established my shop online, I contacted a buyer at Von Maur. It was finally time to try and fulfill my mom’s prophecy. It was both scary and a relief to get that email out. Eagerly I would check my email for a response until I finally got word that they wanted to sell my pieces there! You can guess who I called first with the good news.

My pieces featured on the Von Maur postcard.

Sell Here…and There

It has been fun discovering the things that work and that don’t work on each platform, and I’ll be sure to fill you in on those details in future posts. In the meantime, if you have any questions about getting started online, please reach out, and I’ll get those questions answered. I want you to feel empowered by the creations that you are making and selling. It has been a happy struggle to figure things out, but an absolute blessing to be able to make money while doing something that I enjoy. I have been selling on Etsy since 2010 and at Amazon Handmade since 2017. I most recently moved my shop to Shopify, but will soon be making the transition to Pattern by Etsy. There are other platforms available too. Take a look at a few of them and pick the one that is the best fit for your product.

woohoo…let’s do this!

Si Se Puede!

I hope you get started with selling online soon. I know I had a lot of fears before I put my first piece out there, but they soon went away. It just takes time to get going and to take each step with the best attitude possible. You’ll make mistakes, have changes, and you’ll keep refining your products and store with each bump and failure.  Let this be an encouragement to get started even if things are not yet perfect.  You can do it!

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