Setting Up Shop: Step One

April 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

I am really excited for all of you to go on this Etsy journey with me! If you are interested in setting up your own shop, already have one and just like to stay connected with other Etsy sellers, or are just intrigued by what all goes into starting a new business, I hope that the things I share here will be fun for you to read about!

For me, long before there was an Etsy shop, there was dreaming. I knew I loved creating things and I so envied those lucky ladies and gents who were able to work from home being makers. I’d salivate over posts of others going to the Indie Craft Parade, to South by Southwest, or the National Stationery Show. Yet, I felt in no way capable of making anything that people would pay me to work on from my home.

If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you were actually witness to this struggle of wanting more, but not feeling talented enough to make this “life of the creative” happen. Despite my lack of belief in my abilities, little by little, I latched onto my desire to make. In my spare time, I wrote posts on here, worked on DIY crafts, and observed others in the creative world. As I mentioned in my post the other day, it wasn’t until several months after my dreaming began that I really identified what it is I wanted to do and gained the confidence that I could train myself to become good at.

But that dreaming period was critical. If I hadn’t really wanted a change and identified what I wanted to be doing with my life, however vague it was, I don’t know that I would have just stumbled into the opportunity I find myself in now. That active dreaming, seeking out my heart and the Lord’s heart, and taking risks was so crucial to getting to where I am today.

So practically speaking, how can you go through this process as well?

1. Identify other dreamers in your life and surround yourself with them. Several of my friends were also on journeys to discover what they wanted to do with their life, right at the same time I was. Realizing that our dreams didn’t look the same, but that we were all reaching for that next thing, I started planning dream sessions for us. In my head, I had these grandiose plans to organize monthly nights for all of us to meet, brainstorm about our dreams and network {with wine and cheese, of course!}, but those never really panned out. But I did have regular breakfasts and dinners with friends where we dug deep into what we were passionate about. We shared our hopes with each other, bounced ideas back and forth, and created some serious accountability.

One of my favorite dreamers is Sallie. Sallie and I have been best friends since we met and lived together in college. Both of us have been DIYers our whole lives and we share the same hopes of being moms who own creative businesses one day. We started meeting for breakfasts last year and would use this time to daydream together about the future.

The thing I love about our time together is that it’s action-oriented. After talking through her dreams to open a jewelry shop, Sallie literally left breakfast one morning, went to the Mart, bought a ton of supplies, went home that night, created four or five items, opened her Etsy shop Sally & Bea, listed the items, and started that business. Talk about lighting a fire under me! Watching her take the ideas in her head from dream to reality that quickly was such motivation for me. It was through that experience that I actually took the first step to move towards quitting my job. And since then, she continually pushes me to actually just start working – to tangibly put something on paper, start the Etsy shop, list an item. This kind of orientation towards action is so valuable in a dream friend!

We had breakfast this morning and here are some shots from our dream session.



And here are a few pictures of the gorgeous jewelry she makes!!

I am blessed enough to have an entire coalition of dreaming friends in my life. What a blessing it is to think big about the future with others that you care about!

2. Utilize resources available to you to unearth your strengths and passions. I’ve mentioned before, but Storyline by Donald Miller was an incredible experience for me. It helped me look at all of my life events up until this point to see what God has been doing throughout my story. It then had me categorize the different roles I play and how God is using each of them to help tell his overall story of saving many lives. It was through this experience that I realized a corporate role was never going to be the best use of my strengths or the gifts I’d been given.

Additionally, Lara Casey has an AMAZING series on goal setting and making things happen. This process helps you find who you are at your core and what you’re all about. It will dig deep and reveal things in your heart you didn’t even realize about yourself.

Consume Ted Talks, Fast Company articles, and books/blog posts from people who inspire you constantly. You’ll start to notice patterns about who you’re gravitating towards and what rabbit trails keep you up all hours of the night because you just can’t stop reading about them.

Take strengths and/or personality testing. I am a junkie of this stuff, but truly believe that assessments like Myers Briggs, StrengthsFinder, StandOut, and DISC are incredible tools to help you understand yourself, what motivates you and what types of careers fit you best.

Finally, I’ve heard Jennie Allen writes amazing books that help you uncover what God’s created you uniquely to do. I want to read Restless immediately. And checking out her blog, she looks my age, which makes me super inspired to read her stuff because how cool that someone my age could be a published author?!?! So cool.

3. Find a mentor. Once you’re nearing the culmination of your dreaming and you have an idea which direction you’re going in, seek out a mentor. Cason and I struck up a fast and easy friendship at my corporate job. Sharing a love for all things colorful and sparkly, we knew we were destined to be friends. Cason began an Etsy shop {When It Rains} three years ago with her sister selling bright and fun paper products. Watching her artfully juggle a booming small business at home, while kicking ace at her 9-5 was inspirational, to say the least. So when I started thinking about a paper business as well, Cason became a go-to mentor of mine. We had regular dinners, along with two of our other favorite dreamers, Lauren and Emily, where we’d dream and I’d learn from her. Cason, her sister, and two of their insanely creative friends recently started an awesome blog called You Can Sit With Us – you should definitely check it out for some creative inspiration!

It’s always such a blessing to have others that have gone before you who are willing to share. In addition to Cason, Mattie at Puddleduck Paper Co. was an amazing encouragement and help to me. Her stuff is gorgeous as well! Be sure to check her out on Etsy or on her website.

4. Talk to someone. Last but not least, counseling. Y’all. I know that working on our mental health can have a really negative stigma even now in our anything goes society. People don’t want to be seen as crazy or unstable. But I truly believe everyone should meet with a counselor. It is so good for your well-being. My particular counselor helped me cut through the clutter of the “shoulds” and the shame I felt over wanting something different and helped me to realize that God might be calling me in this new direction. If you’re interested in meeting with an incredible counselor in the Atlanta area, I can’t recommend Mazi Robinson enough. Breakthroughs happened y’all. So good. Also, she is certified to teach Brene Brown’s The Daring Way Workshop and has one coming up in May. If you want to really get vulnerable and dig deep to find out what you’re made for, you should so attend!

There are so many other dreaming resources available, but this is a good list to get you started. This dreaming is so critical to finding what unique thing you feel made to pursue. Doing this heart research also prepares you to put forth the time and effort it’s going to take to get a business off the ground and to keep it running for years to come with joy and excitement each day.

Dream away with me and share your journey, please! It would make my life!


§ One Response to Setting Up Shop: Step One

  • Cason says:

    This is great, Ash! You are truly an inspiration to so many. Thank you for the sweet shout out but you’ve been just as much of a mentor to me as I have to you! xoxo

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