Welcome to the first Spotlight on Mommy Monday post. I am pleased to introduce you all to Stacey DeGrace of Simple Subtleties. I asked Stacey to answer the following questions, so we can all get to know her and her business a little bit better. My hope through these posts is to introduce you to some amazing women, who are not only mothers, but also successful business women. They will share their personal stories with us, and show us how they balance work and family life. Their stories will provide inspiration to other mom entrepreneurs, as well as those who are on the fence about starting a business, but not knowing how they will juggle family life and a business at the same. Feel free to comment below this post with any questions or comments you have for Stacey. On Friday, I will be reviewing some of her handmade jewelry and charms. And, as an added bonus, Stacey has graciously offered one of her flower glass charms as a giveaway item.
(If you are a mom entrepreneur and would like to be featured in our Spotlight on Mommy Monday posts, email me, or click here to learn more.)
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Name: Stacey DeGrace
Company Name/Product/Service: Simple Subtleties: Handmade & sometimes serendipitous Art, Photography, Repurposed Jewelry, & Soldered Glass Charms
Company Location: Independence, MO
Company Website: http://www.etsy.com/shop/simplesubtleties and a blog at http://www.simplesubtleties.blogspot.com/
Age of Company: Opened in April 2010, so less than 1 year old.
Favorite Inspirational Quote: "What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments. But what is woven into the lives of others." Pericle
Favorite Book: Author Garth Stein - The Art of Racing in the Rain
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How many children do you have? What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.:
I am a 43 year old wife, mother and Registered Veterinary Technician, plus a part-time Artist/Photogragher. My nest is empty, but my kids and my only grandchild continue to light up my life, and my husband is simply the best. My oldest son is 25 years old, and on a quest to find the love of his life, which I hope happens in 2011. My 24 year old daughter lives about 5 miles away and is raising our 15 month old grandson Colton. He is at the cute stage of learning and mimicking anything & everything he can. (I can’t help it -- I take a million photos of that little guy!) My youngest, is 22 and just recently moved out into a bachelor pad with two other guys.
My hobbies include photography (taking photos and restoring old photos), sewing, painting, art, reading, home décor, scuba diving, traveling, bike riding, watching movies with my husband and walking anywhere with my dog, Valentine.
Briefly explain your business. How did it come about?: I have always made things, even as a small child. I like to try new things and see what I can do. I’ve won a few awards in art and photography and often times my creations would become gifts for a special friend or family member. Along the way, people have encouraged me to start selling my artwork. I always dreamed of owning my own brick and mortar store in some quaint little town, but have never had the finances to do so. I discovered Etsy and made it my goal for 2010 to open my own store, which I did in April. I had my first sale in less than a month, and it’s been pretty steady from there. I love it! I would still one day like to have my own off-line store, but Etsy is awesome in the fact that now I’m selling all over the world. It is a really cool feeling to know something I made is touching the life of someone else, so many miles away!
What is a typical work day like?: I still work a full-time day job, so most days my life is consumed with the animal hospital and then chores at home. I do check my email a couple times a day to see if I have had any sales or conversations that need addressed. If I have a sale then I will take the time to package up my product and reply to my buyer with a thank you, either before I go to work or before I go to bed. I try to create something new each week that I could post to my store. Some weeks I get more done than others. I once thought that when my kids were grown and gone I would have so much more free time, but it’s just not true! I really don’t know where I ever found the time to do all I did with them as I seem to never have enough minutes in a day now.
What has been a struggle while starting up your company?: Getting organized was a challenge, as I have more “stuff” since I’m making things and holding on to them until they sell. I think I have that problem solved thanks to a few of my friends and the neat organizational gifts they have given to me. My other problem is just finding the time and/or inspiration. Sometimes I will have a whole day off and I wander around getting nothing done because I’m not feeling inspired. Other times, I want to stay up all night because I’m so inspired I can’t sleep!
What did you do in your past work life?: For almost the past 20 years, and what I continue to do today is my career as a registered veterinary technician, which is a nurse for animals. It is a very physical job, even though my patients are mostly dogs and cats. Every day is different. Before that, I spent almost 10 years in accounting. I think both jobs have helped to round me into the person I am today.
What have been some of your major successes?: Each sale is a major success for me! It’s just a reminder that I can do this and to keep moving forward. I recently had one of my reproduction prints published at http://literacyhead.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4042&Itemid=121, and I considered that a great honor.
What have been some of your major challenges?: My hubby wants too much of my time! He works long, long hours and so I keep myself company with my arts and crafts. When he comes home, he wants me to be done with it all right now, so we can do something or go somewhere. Plus, he doesn’t understand how I can spend so much time on the computer (Etsy takes computer time), or if I’m making something he will keep asking how much longer. Sometimes it makes me crazy. Especially if I have a great idea and he keeps interrupting me before I can finish it. I think he is ”more needy” now that the kids are gone, but don’t tell him I said that.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going? Usually a book or website on how to do something can gets me going. Sometimes, just looking through my art room I’ll find an object I forgot I had and that will be enough. Good music always helps, and oh man, if I have company, look out! I get so bored creating all by myself, but if there is someone else to talk to or give me ideas, I could go for hours!
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family? Since my kids are grown, there is not much to balance other than my time with my spouse as I mentioned above. I do babysit my grandson frequently, so I have not found a good balance to get much done on those days. He is like a good book -- I just can’t put him down.
What is next for your business?: I would like to increase my sales and find my style. Right now, I have a hodge podge of things I have made and maybe I’ll always have a store like this, but it would be nice to find the one thing that people are really drawn to and be known for that. I have not painted in a few years and would like to try some Artist Trading cards and see how that goes. I also really enjoy making the reproduction fine art prints from old photographs that have long been forgotten. They come to me as tiny wallet size photos, and I restore them and turn them into giant fine art prints for homes and offices. If I ever do have a brick and mortar store, I will have these scattered throughout!
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?: Etsy is great for those of us just starting out because you can list one item if you want. (However, I think your sales go up the more you list) It only costs you 20 cents per item to put it in your store. It’s low risk and easy! Just remember, when you climb a tree the fruit is out on the limb. If we stay near the trunk, we don’t get the fruit. Fear of failure keeps us at the trunk. Take risks.
Keep some log books: 1) For websites which can store all your passwords and user id’s. 2) For ideas (I have two -- one at my desk, and a small one in my purse that is always with me.) 3) For Etsy notes, I keep a list of keywords, pricing from other’s websites on similar things I sell, tips for sellers from Etsy (or other websites), marketing ideas, etc. 4) For cost and expenses I also keep a file with every receipt from supplies, all my Etsy receipts (sales, purchases and my Etsy bills), plus a print-out of all my Paypal invoices.
If you go without a sale for a few weeks, then change your store up a bit. Move things around, design a new header, relist or renew some items, etc. Create some treasuries, favorite some stores, it will all come back around to you. Good luck!