Changing jobs is always stressful, but leaving your full time job to launch your own business? That takes stress to a whole new level, but that’s what Jamie McCoy did when she started WanderRoot – a handmade paper company that’s expanded to include a variety of handmade creations. Jamie’s learned some things over the years, and she was kind enough to share her story with us.
Welcome! Please tell us about your business.
My business is called WanderRoot, and I make and sell handmade plantable seed paper products such as wedding place cards, gift tags, and greeting cards as well as seed bombs, hand embroidery, paintings, illustration prints, copper jewelry and ornaments, and more. I’m crafty!
I started with selling my photography on Etsy in 2009 after a friend urged me to do so. It was a side project for a long time while I worked in social work, and became a full time job later almost by accident after getting laid off.
What has been your biggest struggle in launching your business?
I think for me, launching wasn’t a struggle at all, but maintaining was more difficult. I’ve struggled with maintaining normal life stuff like relationships and a savings account, as well as business related things like consistent order flow and inventory.
How are you overcoming that obstacle?
I’ve recently picked up a part time job to supplement my income and to help me meet people and to help me continue to be social. I’m now focusing on selling in-stock items only as opposed to custom wedding orders, which became complicated and difficult to maintain.
What’s surprised you the most about working for yourself?
I was raised as an only child, so I have always been independently motivated; however, I didn’t realize how satisfying having only myself to rely upon would be. When you do well, that’s a huge sense of accomplishment.
What’s your favorite part of this kind of work?
I love the flexibility. It’s so nice to be able to set my own schedule and work when I want. I also like coming up with new crafting ideas and implementing them.
Is there any one event/moment that helped you move from starting your own business to making a living with your own business?
I honestly quit my full time job on a whim, without any planning at all. I’d been selling my arts and crafts online and at craft shows on the side for a number of years while continuing to work in social work, but I wasn’t happy at my full time job. It was stressful, and while I am a compassionate person, I don’t excel at compartmentalizing in the way necessary to work in social work. While I was good with my clients, I became not-good at real life and carried a lot of stress with me. So when my employer changed my job title and description to something I was no longer qualified to do, I took the opportunity to move on to a new career.
If you could give a new entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Plan ahead for money. Work load may vary, and if you don’t have a plan in place for how you will financially sustain yourself during these times, you will not be able to maintain your small business. Unless you have a financer, you will need to have this taken care of yourself, preferably before the drought in work hits.
If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be?
Similar to my previous answer, I’d have planned better for slow periods financially. The first year or more will be a struggle unless you have a plan in place. I also recommend diversifying your income streams as much as possible.
If you’re crafty like me, Etsy is a great jumping off point, but it’s not meant to sustain your entire business forever, so build your own website, sell at local businesses, other websites, and at craft shows. Get your name in as many places as possible. That way, if one income stream is negatively impacted by a set back of some kind, you will still have an income coming from somewhere.
I would have started with a savings of several thousand dollars before I even considered selling my arts and crafts full time. I’d also have set up my stand-alone site sooner and funneled my returning customers from Etsy to my website to reduce overhead costs.
What’s your favorite kind of work? Why?
I like painting. It’s a lot if fun to have an image in mind and find a way to bring it to reality. It’s very fulfilling.
What does your work space look like?
I work out of a spare bedroom in my home. It has a ton of shelving units for storage, a closet full of displays and tents for craft shows, and fold up tables that hold my current projects. It also houses a cat tree for my furry office mates, Chibi and Gordon.
What does your work day look like?
If I am not working at my part time job, I am working on my business. I get up in the morning and go to the coffee shop to do any website or internet work that is necessary. Then I run my personal errands before coming home and making a to-do list of projects to work on. Before bed, I package any orders that need to be shipped, then ship these first thing the following morning.
What’s your go-to snack when you need one?
Chocolate covered peanuts or chocolate covered espresso beans.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Check out my offerings at www.davitasrg.com and use coupon code “karinbeery” at checkout to save 15% on anything! And take a chance in yourself. Even if you fail, you learned something. Life is too short to stay in a job that isn’t right for you.