Hobby to a real career? Probably sounds too good to be true, but with all the available resources today, yes, it is possible!
If you're stuck in a daydream of working a 9-5 but doing what you actually love, take a cue from Skylar Cunningham. Skylar is the founder of e-com brand Skylar Grace Co., that launched during quarantine, and with sales that skyrocketed after trending on TikTok:
"Hello! My name is Skylar Cunningham and my ecommerce brand is Skylar Grace Co. This is named after my first and middle name. I started my business during quarantine around the end of April. I am a creative person and was struggling with boredom so that is why I started Skylar Grace Co.! I didn't start the business with the intent of where I am now."
Skylar began creating custom digital illustrations for her fam and friends. She then expanded to drawing stickers; printing and cutting them by hand. Basically doing everything manually.
"After I sold quite a bit, I invested in a Cricut machine so that I was able to stop cutting stickers by hand. With this machine, I was able to expand into apparel, but using a material called heat transfer vinyl. Around this time, I decided to make a website and post more products on my social, rather than digital art.
At the end of June, the tees blew up on TikTok and went viral. I got hundreds of orders overnight and had to shut down the site so that I could keep up. My boyfriend Jared and I spent the next 3 weeks making all the tees by hand with vinyl and a heat press. At this time, we thought it was a great decision to get in contact with a screen printing business. Screen Printing is faster and more durable than using vinyl. I reached out to a local company, and to this day, they provide us with the majority of our tees."
Since her business gained quick traction, she didn't have time to envision what she wanted for her brand.
"I was lucky enough to go into it without any expectations. With this, my biggest advice to other aspiring business owners is to just start. Don't wait for the perfect time or have expectations; just start today."
As crazy-good as it may seem, Skylar still faced challenges in her business. But she still thrived and got going. Taking inspiration from current trends and her small biz community.
"One of the biggest challenges in being a small business owner is that you wear all the "hats." You must be the web designer, social media marketer, graphic designer, customer service, product photographer, packager, and so much more. There is also a lot to learn about the legality side of owning a business. I have come to learn as I go, but it's important to recognize that it's OK if you're not perfect at all of the "hats" or positions. Not all creative people are going to be great marketing people or accountants, but when starting, you kind of have to act like it.
For me, my creative ideas come naturally and randomly, but I am subconsciously influenced by the art and fashion I am surrounded by– both in-person and on social media."
What makes you different from other artists?
"Within the small business community, I think what makes me different is my branding (which is how all brands are different from another). I try my best to create trendy products that are also unique. I do this through using popular colors, but adding in my own illustrations or quotes. It's not hard to be different from other artists, when in fact you ARE a different person than everyone else. Every artist has their own style and personality."
Best customer story?
"I don't really have one customer story that stands out, as it's hard to make interactions with customers through ecommerce. I do however always notice and truly appreciate my repeat customers. It's also so exciting when customers leave notes for me at checkout."
Who do you think is doing great creative work at the moment?
"Two bigger brands that I look up to for creative branding are Talentless and Lonely Ghost. I love the simplicity of their items, but also how high quality and trendy they are as well."
As an online store, Skylar new that packaging was one of the important aspects she had to look into. She values sustainability and wanted to incorporate this to her business.
"I wanted to make sure that I wasn't being wasteful in the supplies I used. All of our polymailers are recycled, recyclable, and reusable. Our thank you cards double as a small print, so that customers can use them as decoration rather than throwing them away right after they open their package. We are now expanding into biodegradable clear baggies as well. Our latest packaging add on is tissue paper from noissue, and I'm in love!
We really wanted to upgrade the look of our packaging after nailing down the sustainability piece. I was so happy to find noissue because it allows for custom printed sustainable packaging. Custom packaging can get pricey, but we decided to take the leap in 2021 to give our customers a better experience when opening their new goodies. This makes your items elevated and more professional. It also shows that you put more care into our business and want to create a fun experience for the customer.
I chose noissue based off of sustainability and customization. The branding of noissue is really inviting and the site is very easy to use. When ordering you can even plant trees. After placing an order, noissue gives you a digital and physical badge to present on your site and/or storefront to show that you are an ecofriendly brand. noissue has great quality products, is easy to use, and has amazing costumer service! I would recommend them to everyone!"
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