We are turning the tables a little bit for today’s episode! Chereen From Smeeny Beanie Knits interviews ME for her IGTV live series! For the full audio visual experience you can head over to her Instagram! We agreed to broadcast it on The Merriweather Council Podcast, too!
A bit about me
You already know me, hopefully! But in case you are new here. I am Danielle and I am the founder + host of the Merriweather Council and Merriweather Council Podcast. Through the blog and podcast, as well as our membership and Etsy Training Course, I teach makers how to turn their crafty tendencies into profits! As a maker/ crafter myself I have also built a handmade business selling custom hand embroidery online for the past 10 years.
I attended the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and graduated with a BFA in 3D fine arts with a concentration in fibers. The focus of my major department was more on the fine art side, rather than textiles, and truly that isn’t actually my jam. I learned that I really love to make and build things but I do not really enjoy the conceptual part of fine art.
Many of you might enjoy knowing that I did my thesis on the handmade movement and how I wanted to be involved in it. My teachers were a little hesitant to encourage a life as a handmade business owner, due to the newness of the movement and their lack of awareness to it. But no biggie, I did it anyway! Really long and dramatic story short, I decided against going into grad school and got into Etsy when it was still newish in 2010. That’s right, I graduated college and started my handmade business right away!
starting a business is a struggle
Make no mistake about it, I struggled just like everyone else when I first started out. Eventually, I found some traction and things began to take off. Here’s a fun historical fact for those of you who are newer on Etsy: back when I was first on Etsy, virtual Etsy teams were popular and they played a big role in my love of helping other sellers. I was regularly asked by other makers for advice and critiques and I really enjoyed having those conversations. I started working business topics into my blog posts and people really loved those! I discovered that people really wanted this kind of info.
There was not a lot of support for handmade business owners when I started mine and I really wanted to be able to provide some support to others who had none. Based on the feedback we get, we are confident that The Merriweather Council Blog and Podcast definitely are supporting people as they build their businesses and we LOVE that. Over the years we have really grown in the ways we support handmade business owners and if we can help you turn your crafty tendencies into profits, we have succeeded.
chatting with chereen
I really enjoyed chatting with Chereen about both parts of my business – the embroidery side and education side. Chereen asked me about my Etsy shop and approach to Etsy and I explained that my Etsy shop works for me even when I’m not actively paying attention to it. You have heard me say that before! I cannot stress this enough: you should not be pushing traffic to your Etsy shop! If you are generating your own audience, send them to your website where it is all about you! You don’t want to give Etsy the business you worked so hard for. Etsy should be earning the commission you pay them. Etsy should be driving AT LEAST 50% of your traffic. (ideally more like 70-80%). Does this pique your interest? If so, watch our free Etsy masterclass to learn more!
my students inspire
These days, I find most of my work inspiration in my students and members and the makers we help daily! Entrepreneurship was always going to be my thing. It is how I see my own career and what I love to talk about and the thing I geek out about most. I love seeing how our course and membership help people create businesses for themselves. It gives them freedom to be with their families and do things that are important to them.
But I also love making
In my embroidery work, I’ve recently had a bit of an epiphany. Similar to what I discovered about my art-making in college, turns out I DO love to make things. And that’s it! I do not really care about the end result being something new and exciting, I find the process to be the most exciting part. I just love making. I love the actual process – warm iron smell, cutting fabric, pulling threads apart… it doesn’t matter too much to me what I’m making, just that I am making something.
managing both sides of my business
Blending the two sides of my business has been a challenge for me over the years. I’ve found that blending two types of content that are so unrelated on something like Instagram, for example, doesn’t work for me. I tried and tried again to make it work before reluctantly determining it actually made more sense for me to simply not have a presence on Instagram for my embroidery work. *GASP* I know. If you are in a place where you have two unique sides of your business, you might find this can work for you, but for me it just didn’t and that’s okay.
make a decision and stick with it
There is no right way of doing things. Like I told Chereen, you just have to decide and be confident in that decision. Letting go of some tasks and projects can give you the time to work on things that are more rewarding. For me, I feel most accomplished right now when I am helping my students and the makers who follow The Merriweather Council. This is a more interactive and engaging part of my business and so right now, I’ve chosen to prioritize that. But that is the beauty of being your own boss! You can decide, and you can change your mind.
Some final advice
Finally, Chereen asked about my biggest piece of advice for makers. One of my favorite questions, of course. I just want to tell you that YES it’s totally possible to make a profit and you are not too audacious for thinking it is! We know it’s possible, we’ve seen it happen, have made it happen and continue to support and assist in turning that maker-dream into a reality!
I would love for you to watch the IGTV version of this interview on Chereen’s Instagram @smeenybeanieknits.
Thank you Chereen for hosting this interview and allowing us to share it on the podcast!