In this blog post, I'll answer some common questions I receive as both a teacher and a small business owner
People often wonder how I manage to teach, run a business, and have a family, and I'm here to share my journey.
My Journey Begins: Starting a Small Business:
I’ve had a small business longer than I have been teaching.
I opened up an Etsy shop around 2010 so not quite in the beginning of Etsy but definitely way before the way it is now.
Back then, I was really into jewelry making and like all makers I had more jewelry than I’ll ever need so I figured “hey Let’s sell some stuff.” I’m pretty sure I only sold to friends and family and then I slowly switched to knitted items and sewing.
I started making zipper pouches and I had several customers but certainly nothing I could live off of. It was more of a hobby than anything. I probably spent more money on supplies than I ever made but the upside is many of my friends and family still have some of the early pouches I made so I seemed to have done a great job with quality.
So, I ran a small business for several years just making things. I did a few craft shows but by the time I started teaching I had to set it aside.
Teaching Takes Over:
If you are a teacher, you know that the first few years are rough. I spent so much time prepping, planning and working that it left for little time after. I also had my first child during my second year as a teacher so I had like no time or sleep and then my second child my third year as a teacher. I was dead.
One of the things I like most about teaching is the ability to be creative and incorporate that into lessons. Especially since I taught science. I could have the students do some really creative activities and for a while it did satiate that creative side. But like anything once you get into the routine of things, I no longer had to stretch that creative muscle anymore so that is when I started to transition into art.
Rediscovering My Creative Side
Fast forward to 2017, I started getting into watercolor painting. I really liked how easy it was to pick up and go or just drop it. I needed a creative outlet that wouldn't require too much of my attention because I had two toddlers running around at all hours. I also needed something that I could take with me if I wanted to go painting at a cafe or park. Watercolors was the perfect job for that. I bought small palette, a refillable watercolor brush and a sketchbook.
It was perfect and just like jewelry, I had a lot of prints and I decided...maybe I can sell these prints or maybe I can make greeting cards. So I reopened my Etsy shop and decided to dip my feet back into the handmade small business life.
AppleFallsPrints: A New Beginning:
I must admit I was not entirely confident when I opened my business again. I did not think I had the best artwork and honestly I didn't think anything will sell. If you look back at some of my earlier purchases on Etsy. You'll see that I rarely sold any artwork. I think I sold one watercolor print and honestly I still think that was awesome.
I continued to practice watercolor painting and even convinced my mentor to take a class with me.
When I purchased my Ipad Pro and invested in Skillshare and Adobe Creative Suite, my skills just escalated. I spent a lot of time practicing and learning how to use Procreate and Illustrator and I still practice skills all the time. Eventually I started feeling more and more comfortable with my work that I started to use Print on Demand sites like Printify . It was a really nice way to dip my toes into making things for others without having to buy tons of supplies.
Present Day AppleFallsPrints
The business still growing and still learning. It has been a 13 year journey that has had lots of ups and downs but I went from not knowing how to make anything for sale to having my products in stores. It has been awesome.
My skills have evolved to the point where I can now revisit my jewelry making self and incorporate these new art ideas. If you check out my latest collection you'll see how try to combine my minimalist art style with my new laser cutting skills.
Balancing Teaching and Business:
Common questions are; How do you do it? and Can I do it?
My answers are lots of support and yes you can. I am very thankful that I have a spouse that really supports my endeavors and not just saying "Hey.. I'll buy supplies" but also agreeing to watch the kids so I can do markets or spend more time on an order.
While I was teaching, my husband would make sure I had an opportunity to slip away to have some creative time and that is when I usually made things. I also would work when the kids went to sleep.
One of the big things though was making sure I didn't bring my work home. As a teacher that is very challenging because there is always so much to do but if I wanted to make this teacher entrepreneur life work I had to set boundaries. I also had to make sure I reminded myself I had boundaries. Maintaining boundaries as a teacher was/is always an ongoing process.
Just like any new hobby or life event, making an effort to set aside time to do this new thing really helped me grow my business.
Follow along and see how much progress I have made with my business!