I’m so excited to share Laurel from Sing All You Want with you tonight. I found Laurel a few months ago through a mutual friend and fell in love with her beautiful and thoughtful work. I’m a sucker for a pretty quilt and when I came across her blog and Etsy shop I was smitten. We just got a new couch and painted our walls a light shade of gray and I’m just dying to get my hands on a couple of fun multi-colored quilted pillows to brighten up the room. Laurel’s work is careful and creative and I hope you enjoy browsing through her work after your read her interview below.
Tell us about your job.
First and foremost, I’m a stay-home Mom to my two kiddos (Maggie, 5 and Joe, 4). I’m expecting a 3rd baby in September! According to my Dad, I “created a whole new life for myself” when I learned to sew and quilt and began sharing my pursuits with others and on my blog. In May 2012, I opened an Etsy shop to sell some handmade items. I offer ready to ship items in my shop, but also welcome custom orders for anything from patchwork pillows to pretty handbags and clutches. When it comes to sewing, I like to make bright, functional items that add a bit of unexpected to an individual’s life or home.
Tell us about your previous jobs? How did you get to this point?
Before I had children, I worked as an Environmental Engineer – yup! I bought a sewing machine just before my first child was born with the goal of mending and making basic things for our home. A friend helped me get started, but it never really clicked with me. A couple of years later, my Mom approached me about making a quilt for my sister who had breast cancer at the time. She cut the fabric, I pieced it, and a kind friend of my Mom’s quilted it. In the midst of that project, I found myself stuck at times, so I went to the internet for help. There, I stumbled into the world of modern sewing and quilting blogs and fell in love. Shortly after, I just started making things and never stopped. My Etsy shop came to be because I felt I needed to focus my handmade pursuits (and finance my hobby!).
Describe yourself in three words.
Caring, Motivated, Shy
What preparations did you make, if any, before starting your business?
I did the typical things like come up with a logo, order business cards, and purchase shipping supplies. I discussed my intentions to open an Etsy shop on my blog and posted about items I was working on for the shop. I planned and made a “collection” of items that I thought would give shoppers an idea of my style and capabilities. I did my best to take quality photographs of my items, which I think is soooo important!
Where do you work (home office, on location, brick and mortar, on your couch, at your favorite coffee shop)?
I suppose I work all over my house, but I do all of my sewing in my kitchen. Our house is on the small side and I hope to one day have a studio space that I can devote to sewing, but this works for now. I appreciate being in the “heart” of our home when I’m working so I can continue to interact with the kiddos or keep my eye on them when they’re playing outside.
When did you first feel successful?
Success is an interesting term! I felt successful when I first started putting pictures of my handmade items into Flickr groups and got positive feedback. That was long before I opened my Etsy shop, but it helped build confidence, connect me with others, and eventually led the way to the opening of my Etsy shop.
How do you balance your time between work and play?
Finding balance is always hard! Truthfully, most of the time I spend sewing is playtime for me, whether I’m working on items for my Etsy shop or something for my home or a gift. But, my primary job is, of course, to take care of my kids (that can be fun too!). I’m blessed that my kids are best buds and quite independent. I limit my work time during the day when I need to be with them. But, I often set up something (a craft or art project) that they can do in parallel with me. I’ve found that my children seem to be inspired by seeing me work and create. Then, there’s my awesome husband who often takes the kids and gives me a break on the weekends.
What is the best part about working for yourself?
The best part is that I have control over how much time I choose to commit to my business. At this point in my life, that is necessary to maintain balance. If I have time to make a bunch of items for my shop, great. If I need a break or need to devote more time to the kids, then I do that.
What has been the hardest?
I have a flood of inspiration and ideas, but it’s difficult to find time and resources to make it all happen.
What is the most important thing you’ve done for your business?
Definitely blogging! It has helped me to connect with other sewists and quilters who have inspired me, helped me to learn new ideas, and offered advice and tips on growing a business in different ways. I have connected with other bloggers via Flickr groups and do my best to be an active participant in the the sewing blogosphere. I have participated in sewing contests and leave questions and comments on other blogs. I “networked” this way long before I opened my Etsy shop and I have definitely made some great contacts (and friends)!
What are your goals for the next 3 years?
Well, I’m having a baby in just a couple of months, so I think life in Mommy-land is going to be crazy fun and super busy! I do want to continue to grow my “small business” in some shape or form. I have so many ideas about different things I’d like to pursue. I’d like to try craft fairs to sell my handmade goodies and help expose my business locally. I’d love to create and publish some sewing patterns – possibly children’s clothes or handmade items for kids. And, I’d like to get involved in more charity projects, such as a charity quilting bee.
Share the love: Tell us about a mentor or supporter (in your industry or niche) who has helped you get where you are today.
My parents always encouraged independence! They let me try things, make a mess, and figure things out on my own. And, of course, my Mom convinced me I could make a quilt top when I knew very little about sewing!
Thank you Laurel! It’s been so fun getting to know you through your work (and in person). I’m still in the market for one of those sweet notebook covers. I’ll get my order in soon! Please visit Laurel on Facebook, at her Etsy shop, on her blog, and follow her on Instagram at laurelk76!
If you or someone you know is interested in being featured in this series, please contact me at email@example.com.