Every time I go to write this story, it comes out differently. Here’s how it goes today:
PART I: Starting out.
I always wanted to start a business. I thought about opening an Etsy shop ever since I knew what it was. I also had wanted to be a fashion designer and knew how to sew, so I went with it. One day during the summer of 2015, I randomly declared that I would be opening an Etsy shop. Selling what? Well… I was afraid to sell clothing because I hadn’t been formally trained in how to create clothing of various sizes. My logical response? Bags! They’re one size and easy to measure so I knew customers would never be surprised with what they’re getting.
PART II: Walmart Fabrics.
Etsy wasn’t a booming success immediately. Who could expect it to be? I was thrilled when I finally got my first sale about a month later though. I was on the way to the beach and had forgotten to put my shop on Vacation Mode due to its inactivity. So what did I do in the meantime? I applied to a children’s craft sale (I was still 18 at the time). I wasn’t sure if an 18 year-old high school graduate still constituted a child, but to my excitement, I was accepted. I sewed for a week to prepare. I ended up with about 50 bags, all made from fabric bought at Walmart.
I got to the sale with a $10 pop up tent, trying to assemble it in the pouring rain as the instructions melted away. The last pieces put together were just guesses. I plopped my 50 bags out on the table and spent the day vending my wares. I ended the day with almost all bags sold except for three bags with a glittery rainbow print. I still have those bags today.
PART III: Proof of Concept
I didn’t know what that term meant several years ago. Since then, I have learned that the day I spent in the pouring rain, “making bank”, as my friends so generously dubbed my success, was in fact my proof of concept. That day was the proof I needed that people liked what I was doing and it convinced me to continue my business and grow.
PART IV: The Pivots
A lot has happened since that first sale. I’ve sold hundreds of bags, in person and online. For a year, I exclusively worked with upcycled fabrics. I now screen print my original designs on my canvas bags. I am always looking for new ways to grow and explore.