Monday, November 7, 2011

Spotlight on Mommy -- Colleen Johnson of 2 Sisters -- Handcrafted, Personalized Jewelry and Accessories From the Heart

Our third and final Spotlight Mommy this week is Colleen Johnson of 2 Sisters -- handcrafted, personalized jewelry and accessories from the heart.  Click here to visit her Etsy shop to see all the beautiful and one-of-a-kind pieces Colleen makes.  I fell in love with the following items available in her store.


These would make great holiday gifts for moms, grandmothers or that special person in your life.  Who doesn't like to receive handmade, personalized jewelry and accessories.  They can be treasured for years to come, and make great keepsakes.  

Stay tuned because I will be reviewing a handmade product from Colleen in the coming week, that she is working on while we speak.  I can't wait to see what she has created for me, symbolizing my two daughters (Note:  Arabella Sofia will arrive on or before this Wednesday).  This is going to make for an exciting new mommy gift when I arrive home from the hospital.  And, as an added bonus, one lucky Inspired by Savannah reader will win a $40 gift certificate from Colleen, that can be used towards an order from her Etsy site once my Feature Friday post runs.  And, all readers will be again to save 10% off their orders with a special coupon code Colleen has graciously set up for us all.

In the meantime, please enjoy my Spotlight on Mommy interview with Colleen. 

Name: Colleen Johnson
Company Name: 2 Sisters - Handcrafted, Personalized Jewelry and Accessories From the Heart
Company Location: Barrie, Ontario, Canada - Home Studio
Age of Company: 6 months, more than 2 years non professionally
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: "Family First", "Enjoy what you do have instead of focusing on what you don't"
Favorite Book: I love to read a lot! My current favorite authors are Jodi Picoult, David Baldaci and James Patterson. But when I'm just looking for an old favourite it's always Gone With the Wind or Scarlet (the sequel.)
A Bit About Me:
 - I'm a work from home mom.
- I run a small daycare from my home. It includes my two children, 2 full time girls and one boy for holidays and before and after school.
- My girls are ages 7 and 4 in Dec. My oldest is now in grade 2 and my youngest actually started JK this year. Boohoo :(  JK in my area runs all day, every other day so I am now down to 2-3 children in the home during the day.
- My two daycare girls have been with me since they were a year old or less and are now almost 3 and 3 1/2yrs old. They call me mommy or mommy Colleen depending on the day.
- I am married to my high school sweet heart and my best friend! We've been together for 20 years and this Dec we will have been married for 14years. (OMG!)
- I'm 36 yrs old but most days still think of myself as someone who is young, not at all like my parents, ewww!
- I love to read, listen to all kinds of music (almost,) I love coffee and I love to cook without a recipe. I'm pretty sure I would love to travel too if I had that in the budget ;)
- My favourite thing to do is to spend time with my family, just us! We call our weekends Family days. The girls will sometimes do the countdown to family day.
- We are fierce when it comes to each other but generally an easy going family! We play first and clean later.
- I went to University to become a teacher but at the time teachers were being lay off so I ended up in retail sales, merchandising, high end retail management, team building and training and a retail district manager. I now put my fashion and retail experience into my jewelry.
About My Business:
- I make handcrafted, hand stamped personalized jewelry and accessories for everyone in the family.
- Hand stamping is a process in which I use individual metal letter or design stamps and hammer them one by one into the metal (usually sterling silver in my case.) A variety of tools are used big and small. I am able to offer a few different fonts in several different sizes. I also have aprox 20 different design stamps to add character to a piece.
- Because each letter and design is being stamped by hand, it takes time to make sure word are centred, aligned and straight. I do my best to get the correct spacing as well.
- Each piece is truly unique and one of a kind because I hammer in everything by hand. Sometimes there will be variations in how hard the letter imprints, or how letters line up but these things add to the character of the piece.
- I work from home in my own personal, private studio. I used to work from the kitchen island but my husband built me a work area in my basement. That may not sound appealing but I never have to worry about the kids getting into anything, I don't have to put things away when I'm in the middle of a project to make dinner and I can still stamp (hammer) during nap times and not just at bed time! To me the basement is my own private piece of heaven.
About How I Got Started:
I know everybody says this but I really have been crafty my whole life. A lot of things I'll look at and think "I can do that" and then go about doing it myself. My jewelry designs started much the same way. I came across an artist who created personalized jewelry and thought it would be an incredible gift for both mine and my husbands moms. When I got the pieces, I was very happy with them! This isn't a story where I thought i could do better, just that I could do and do differently.
I knew I wanted some pieces for myself so I went about learning the craft of metal stamping. I researched online. I bought books. I took online courses and I practised a lot. I wore all my pieces. Some were personal and some were inspirational but eventually people started to notice. I could only wear so much jewelry so I started making pieces as gifts. Eventually I started stamping items for any and every occasion. My family and friends told their friends and the word spread.
My best friend is my biggest supporter in this business idea. I know people are successful doing this but what made me think I would be too? My BFF would,t hear any excuses and made me go for it!! I'm glad she did because I really love making personalized jewelry and accessories. I sometimes wake up or can't fall asleep because I have so many ideas running through my head. In fact, there just isn't enough time in the day to get all my designs out there so everyone will have to just keep checking back for new and exciting things.
The thing that surprised me the most was how much I would really get to know and enjoy my customers. A lot of them feel like friends by the end. Because my pieces are personalized I hear all kinds of request and stories and it really feels great to know that what I do is not just beautiful but is very meaningful to some people too.
A Typical Work Day:
- I wake up at five now that my business is growing so that I can go thru emails, review orders, order supplies, fill orders... all before the girls wake up and need to get ready for school.
- I finally got myself a smart phone when my online shop opened so I get orders and correspondence on my phone so I can respond quickly when I need to.
- Mornings, after my girls go to the bus, I play with the other two girls in my care until it's time to make lunch.
- After lunch is nap time/ quiet time. I can go downstairs and work on some orders. I do one at a time and not an assembly line process. My greatest fear is getting the wrong item to the wrong customer. So once I start an order, I finish it until it's packaged and ready to be shipped.
- After quiet time, the kids come off the bus home fro school. This is my craziest time of the day! I'm waking some kids up, making snacks, doing crafts, sending kids home, doing homework, making dinner, eat, finish homework, get the girls ready for bed. They thankfully are good sleepers now and we start bedtime at 7pm. Then lots of stories, at least 2. Lullaby's each and tucking in.
- Around 8 is quiet time for my husband and I. We connect about our day, plans for the TV and veg!
- Usually during this time I also check emails and follow up on correspondence. If I'm behind on orders, I go stamp some more while my husband goes to bed when he's on the day shift. If he's working the afternoon or midnight shift I go straight downstairs after the girls go to bed to finish all order so I can just create new ideas in the am.
Start Up Struggles:
- It's all about budget and time in my case! I have lots of ideas but I have to be able to buy enough supplies to offer many pieces in each style. Because of this I have to be willing to keep a large amount of inventory in stock.
-Time is also a problem because I'm one of those people who doesn't like to do anything unless I can really do it. So I wanted to know everything about everything ASAP. In actual fact I spent 7 months just doing research before I opened my shop. But once I did, I had a banner, shop policies, shipping prices and procedures, listing procedures, google analytics, key word research... I'm still learning every day, but I'm soooo glad I took the time to learn as much as I did before I open shop.
Major Successes:
My major successes to some may not seem so exciting but I have to tell you, with all of the following I jumped up and down.
- I was featured in Etsy's newsletter for new up and coming exciting shops to watch
- I was interviewed on a bog talk radio show
- I've been featured in 5 blogs as features or favourite items
- I hit my 100th sale on etsy within 6 months
- I just hit 100 facebook fans
- I will be having my first open house and the RSVP list is looking GREAT! I will be having a full house thanks to a great response.
Major Challenges:
- There are always lots but my main challenge that I'm still working on is balancing work with family. Do I really need to answer that message now, Can't I just sit without my phone when I'm with my husband, can I please just read one more book....
What Motivates Me:
Two things really:
- I want to take my girls to Disney on my own dime. (Totally selfish and materialistic I know but I can't think of a better way to celebrate success but with my family!)
- The stories of the people I make my pieces for. They remind me what's important.
Where Do Get My Balance?:
This is something I do struggle with. Working from home while I still have my children home with me makes sharing my time difficult. I try my very best to get my work done during designated times like first thing in the morning, nap time and after bed. If I let myself, I'm sure I could fill 16 hours a day with work and only work. My oldest daughter in 2008 spent a few months in the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital. We almost lost her. That experience has taught me what is most important. I'm human so I have days where I stray from regular work hours. I answer messages when I could be playing. But it doesn't take me long to get pulled back to where I need to be.
What Is Next?:
- I keep growing.
- I have a website sitting just waiting for me to make it mine. I have an incredible friend who is willing to get it up and running for be. But I go back to not wanting to do anything until I can do it right so... until after the holidays I focus on what I can do to build my business as it is for now. For this holiday season I am working hard to come up with quality, unique gift ideas for the whole family such as wine bottle labels, DIY bracelet kits for girls even a party bar accessory package is in the works and will be available soon. Later will include a signature collection on a sit of my own. Stay tuned ;)
- Take your time and do lots of research.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you find someone you admire and would like to learn from them, why not ask? The worst they could do is say no, and you might find that more often than not they will be happy to share. Woman can be really tough on each other but with the right approach, we can be your greatest support!
- If you don't value your work, nobody else will either! Don't give away your product for free! Your hard work and time is worth being paid for. Find a fair price for your product that includes many things including your time.

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