All right everyone! For the next dream job post, I asked Sunni, author of the blog The Cupcake Goddess, to share a little bit about herself and her adventures as an Etsy shop owner. I am completely blown away by what she had to share. It’s so exactly why I started this series. Smart women sharing how they took something they love to the next level. And with that, here’s Sunni!
Tell us about your business…
I own a small Etsy shop where I sell Dressmaking Supplies, Sewing Notions and Vintage Patterns. My selection, at the moment is rather small, but I try to offer things that I have a hard time finding and that I would love to have myself. When I first opened up shop in 2008, I didn’t have alot of direction and I didn’t really know what my niche was. To be completely honest, I was trying to be and do something that I’m not. I had started my shop by making aprons. I just wanted to try it, you know, test the waters of doing something different with my life. The aprons were never really a smash and I would find myself hating every moment of making them and trying to come up with new designs and such. This is not to say that I don’t love aprons, because I do. But I love clothing even more. This past January, I decided that I was going to put a stop to making things that I didn’t want to and instead focus on making and creating the garments I’ve always wanted. I had closed up the shop and thought that I would never reopen it, even after having dumped a ton of time, money and creativity into trying to build it up. That’s when the journey really started. I started making over my wardrobe one garment at a time. I started lurking into blogs that were more oriented in this direction of sewing. Then I started needing more equipment, more of those sewing tools that are hard to find or are made so terribly these days. One day, I was roaming in the sewing notions isle of Hancock’s looking for a Tailor’s Ham. And they didn’t have one in stock! They had a seam roll, but not a ham. I then went to a nearby Joann’s and they didn’t have one in stock either. I was so mad! And frustrated. I thought I would just buy one online and then I thought, “hmmmmm…..I’ll just make one instead.” And so I did. Then I thought others would probably want this same thing. Especially when they are so colorful and fun and not quite so boring as the traditional tailor’s hams that you can buy at your neighborhood chain store. Many of the other things in the shop have come about in this same way. And many more will come too. This, of course, takes time which I don’t have much of either.
Do you have a day job? What’s your background?
Currently, I work as an 8-5-er. My husband and I are in the final months of working cruddy jobs to pay off some debt that was accrued while we were in school and such. It’s a necessary evil right now and one that, thankfully will be over soon. It takes me away from everything that I love doing and makes me do everything that I love hating. Yeah, it’s a pretty thankless job, so for those of you in the same position, I feel your pain. I really really do. And I completely understand when the tears of frustration and heartache come as you hit the snooze on your alarm and find yourself feeling like you are in the movie “Groundhog Day.” I’m right there with ya.
There is hope! Oddly enough, I have no formal training in sewing.
I’m mostly self taught. I went to school for music. I’m a regular flute player. I have a Bachelor’s of Music in performance and though it was wonderful in college, in the real world it’s been really hard. People want you to play for them and teach their kids how to play like you, but they don’t want to pay you the money. I found too, that though I love playing, my heart wasn’t really in it. About a year after college, I found that I really wanted to create something and found myself oddly drawn to sewing. I sewed a little bit in high school so I knew the general ropes. After a few badly fitting garments I decided it was time to get some books and such and really investigate what I needed to do to make better clothes for myself. That was 5 years ago and I haven’t looked back.
What’s your favorite part of making and selling your own things?
My favorite part about this whole enterprise is that I’m constantly learning new things and finding out more and more about the vast world of sewing. It’s a big, big world. One that is very motivating and inspiring for me. I find myself constantly at odds with time.
Describe a day-in-the-life…
My typical day consists of working my job and then coming home to get as much time in on the shop stuff as I can. On the weekends, I try to take photos and save a few hours of sewing for me personally while I do the usual household stuff that needs to be done in order to feel sane. It’s a constant struggle, but soon, very soon I’ll be able to run the shop full-time.
So how’s business?
The shop itself does pretty well. My business flow is more than enough to keep me busy and happy and motivated to keep going. I find that people really appreciate the things I do have in the shop and they are willing to buy from me because, if they follow my blog, they know me to a certain extent. It is not my sole support yet, but hopefully one day soon, will be.
Any advice for those who want to do what you’re doing?
Having tried a few different business tactics in the past, my best advice for those interested in starting up a shop or online business is to make sure that your heart is in what you do. It’s really hard work to go off on your own and be your own boss and so this stuff really is not for the faint of heart and you should make sure it’s something that you really want to do. I love sewing and so I thought that sewing anything and trying to sell it was what I really wanted to do. Unfortunately for me, this was not the case. I had to take a step back and really focus on the area of sewing that I’m most interested in and then, rather accidentally, the ideas just started flowing. I love to sew my own clothes and I want others to be able to do the same with some great tools to boot.
What’s next for the Cupcake Goddess?
What’s next? Well, I’m not exactly sure, but I would love to have my own complete line of sewing notions, including things like bias tape, metal zippers, ironing board covers, belt and buckle kits, sleeve boards, etc. Those things that used to be so widely available, but that are now quite hard to find. What ever happened to all of that?
I’m very excited for what’s ahead, even if I don’t quite know what that is yet. I do hope one day to be my own boss, that dream, for me, will never die. Recently, I did a post over on The Cupcake Goddess (my blog) of the Real Me. I talked about how it was hard to manage my time between my work and my dream and I received the most beautiful responses from some fellow women out there in the same boat. One of the commentors, Roobeedoo, said, “….if you have a dream, get out there and pursue it….cause you only live once!” And ain’t that the truth. The comment itself, when I first read it, just jolted me. I needed that. A good hard jolt. Since I read that comment, I’ve really tried hard to give my little business my all. I try to remember in the frustrating times that I will be able to do this full-time someday. And I will. Just. You. Wait!
And watch for my next post… we have a fun, giveaway coming courtesy of Sunni! I’ll leave you to happily imagine what it might be!