Handmade CEO Podcast – Episode 1

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Handmade CEO
Hosted by
Maria Laurin

Thank you for joining me for the first episode of The Handmade CEO podcast.  I’m so happy that you could join me for today’s inaugural show!  

This project has been an ongoing idea for a super long time, and it eventually took the shape of a podcast about a year ago.  And yes, it took me that long to finally hit the record button.  

Today will be a brief explanation of the past, the present, and the future…or less poetically put, why I started this podcast!

Initially, I wanted to write a book featuring small business owners.  Each time I began to brainstorm, I kept going back, over and over, to the stories of hardworking women and men that handcraft their income.  

I always feel a surge of excitement when I hear a story of how someone handcrafted their way out of debt and into a better lifestyle.  

I still remember reading Mrs. Fields’ success story when I was a teenager.  Mrs. Fields not only created the most amazing chocolate chip cookies, but she also created a successful business all from the deliciousness that emerged from her oven.  If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is!  

This was actually the first Handmade CEO success story that I had ever read, and I loved it!  I found it so inspirational, and I felt like EVERYONE should know this story.  

As a child, I grew up on stories of my mom making small marzipan animals to sell before school.  When my uncle was a little boy, he would make and sell cute wooden toys that he would carve out of scraps.  These stories excited me and gave me hope that I, too, could make money.  After-all my mom and uncle were making money as children, and that led me to ask, “why couldn’t I do the same?”

My journey into business started early.  I started making and selling Barbie clothes in grade school. And by Barbie clothes, I mean Brook Shields’ clothes, I don’t know if I had the regular Barbie dolls, I just remember I related to the dark hair and big eyebrows that Brook wore so well.  As a bonus, her hair got extra frizzy once I brushed it, so I felt like we were basically twins.  My mom would buy patterns, and I would hand sew tiny outfits to sell.  It was a blast!  

Although sewing was fun, my next project was in the kitchen.  I use to make food for my mom to sell to her coworkers at General Mills.  I would make a ton of burritos and tamales, freeze them, then my mom would sell them at work.  This was ages ago, and I kinda feel like this little side hustle resembles the modern-day food truck…not that I’m taking credit for it…but believe me, I can see why food trucks are so profitable!

I finally found a project that was more up my alley when my kids started to go to school.  They attended Catholic school, and it was then that I tried my hand at making rosaries and jewelry.  

I was receiving enough requests from friends that I finally decided to open up an online shop, Willow and Bee.  That first shop opened in 2010 on Etsy, then several years later, I opened a shop at Amazon Handmade, and finally on Shopify.  

Although this handcrafting business intrigues me to no end, at times, it’s a double-edged sword.  It’s hard to know if you’re making the right moves, there isn’t a playbook, a manual, or a how-to guide.   You’re the one making all the rules, good and bad.

As a small business owner, you’ll also have to get comfortable with trying and trying again.  At times there isn’t anyone to cheer you on, especially after a big failure. In the beginning, you’ll need to wear many hats, from maker to marketer to shipping expert.  

It took me a few years to finally hire help and a hot minute to realize that I should have done it way sooner.  My business looks like a hobby to some people.  To others, it may seem that I put a lot of time into “crafting,” but in the end, this little business has a pretty good return.  It has grown year after year, has given my family an extra income to do more things like travel, and, most of all, has allowed me to work from home on my own schedule.  

At the root of it, it seems magical to be able to take a skill and create a business out of thin air.  I have heard some incredible stories that give me the energy to continue searching for new ways to grow.  From soap makers to doll makers, I know that you’ll find inspiration in all of these tales.  

Although most of the stories that I’ll share are of adults creating their dreams, I will showcase a few young entrepreneurs too.  All you’ll need to do is listen to the stories and let yourself be inspired.  It just takes that little spark of inspiration to start creating the life that you dream of.  I would love it if you could have that childish innocence of thinking, “why can’t I do it too?”  I promise to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.  The process is never easy, but it is sooo worth it.  I can’t wait to highlight all of those Handmade CEOs that plug away at their craft, earn a living, and have fun doing it too.

So if you’re curious to hear from the makers themselves, be sure to tune in every week.  I’ll also interview industry experts on those pesky things that you’ll need to do to get your business off on the right foot.  Apart from the stories and tips, you’ll also find that our generous guests will have coupons or promotions that they’ll offer to you, the listener!  

Thank you so much for listening to the very first show!  A new episode will air every Wednesday.  Be sure to reach out if you know of, or are, a Handmade CEO; I would love to feature your story.  

Now it’s time to grab that inspiration, take action, and start handcrafting your dreams!

See you next time!

Here are the resources for the businesses and pages mentioned in this episode.

Willow and Bee-www.willowandbee.com

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