I still remember distinctly when I first discovered Etsy. I was sat at my desk in my office at work, back when I worked in the family business. My office was an old junk room in the building we rented that I had cleared out and painted so I could put up inspirational pictures and play my music loud.
I was always bored and this particular day I was browsing online and stumbled across Etsy. I’d never heard of it before, nor did I know you could buy awesome handmade products on there. What caught my attention was the craft supplies section… hundreds and thousands of adorable little charms.
I was always lacking a creative outlet back then and so my mind started buzzing with all these amazing things I could make, thus began a long journey that brings me to where I am today.
Those early days were so hard!! I never sold anything and I didn’t know what I was doing. Oh my God if I could show you the person I was then and how much I’ve learned since… it would be insane! My photography was terrible and all I made were earrings from mass produced charms. I constantly ‘quit’ and my boyfriend, Stu, pulled me back in. I can’t imagine where I’d be now if I had stopped my little venture in the first couple of years.
When I first discovered laser cutting was where my shop started to take off. Instead of being at the mercy of what I could find on Etsy, I could turn my own ideas into my very own, exclusive charms. I knew absolutely nothing about how laser cutting worked and my artwork files were just JPGs I had painstakingly drawn in Photoshop, using the track pad on my laptop. I get carpal tunnel just thinking about it!
When I was asked to join Not On The High Street I almost turned them down, back then the joining fee was something like £800, but during my first Christmas on there when I made £1000 in one week I was completely bowled over – not to mention exhausted as I was also working full time!
One Summer I spent a week following my favourite band tour the country with my besties – we had a freaking blast watching these guys live their dream and I soooo badly wanted to live mine. When I got home I reduced my working hours to just two days a week and not long afterwards the company folded and I got made redundant. I never got a new job.
I always dreamed of owning my own laser cutter in the big and distant future, but somehow it became a reality a few years ago. I’ve always been the sort of person that once I get an idea in my head, there’s no going back! More recently I invested in an iPad and Apple Pencil, also on a whim. I’m not rich, by the way(!), but everything I make I invest straight back into my business – bar paying the mortgage of course. The Apple Pencil is a total game changer for hand drawn design.
I can’t tell you how incredible the freedom of owning the right tools for your business is. I can design something new in bed the night before and be sampling it first thing in the morning.
Somehow with tiny little steps forward, not to forget a few steps backwards of course, I’ve managed to carve out the life of my dreams. Don’t get me wrong, somedays it’s so hard I just break down and cry. There are a lot of things I have to sacrifice, especially when it comes to my finances, but I can’t believe I get to do what I love every day.
I really want to help you guys love your work too, so if you think there is anything, anything, I can teach you to give you a helping hand, give me a shout here in the comments or on social media and I’ll write a post or make a video for you. If I can help you live your dream by letting you stand on my shoulders, well that would just leave the perfect Sophie-shaped mark on the world for me.