Monday, October 28, 2013

Making The Dream: The Comfy Times

I'm thrilled to start a new series where I'll be exploring the histories and goals of those who are 'making the dream' through handmade goods and crafts. Seeking out artisans, creative entrepreneurs and makers is inspiring, and I'm so excited to kick off this 'making the dream' series with my sweet friend, Bethany Morgan. Bethany started her handmade dream biz during a job hunting season as a way to make some extra cash. She never dreamed The Comfy Times would grow into what it has, and it has been such a joy to watch her Etsy shop thrive. 

I love Bethany's enthusiasm and her heart for the Lord. No matter where her entrepreneurial spirit takes her, she recognizes her purpose and value as a daughter of the King. I know you will be inspired by her journey (and her creations!) just as I am. I also know if you are a budding crafter or entrepreneur you will find her advice wise. 
1. How did The Comfy Times come about?

I started The Comfy Times when finding a job seemed like an impossible challenge.  I was hoping to make some extra cash to help pay some of the bills while looking for a "real" job.  I had no idea that when the Christmas season hit I would be crocheting nearly 80 hours a week! 

2. What are the most surprising rewards and challenges with owning your shop?

Finding success in something I love doing has been one of the most rewarding experiences. The Comfy Times helped restore confidence in myself creatively, as an entrepreneur (I majored in entrepreneurship at NC State), and as a dreamer.  

A major challenge I face with The Comfy Times is a fear of rejection.  I'm afraid people aren't going to like my items, that customers will leave a negative review, or that I will get a nasty message from a customer.  Dealing with negative customers, complaints, and criticism can be emotionally draining.  The Comfy Times has forced me to know when to take a stand for the shop, when to ignore petty arguers, and when to accept criticism and blame to make a change.  

3. What does a typical day in the life of Bethany look like? How do you juggle it all?

Thankfully I was able to spend the off-season building an inventory for this season, so I'm not nearly as busy this year (so far)!

I juggle The Comfy Times with my part-time job at a local non-profit.  On my days set aside for Etsy I usually spend my time:
- managing the shop: communicating with customers, monitoring shop stats, packaging/shipping orders, handling the finances
- crocheting  the goal is to make one inventory item per day and one new item each week for the future
- planning: big awesome plans for the future along with daily/weekly planning 
- running errands:  I spend a lot of time in craft stores :)

I find my Etsy/work life is a lot easier and I am much happier when I do two things: 1. make time for the Lord in the morning when I wake up  2. stay life-concious.  By that I mean making time for my husband, my church, and socially helps keep Etsy from taking over my life.

4. Anything exciting on the horizon for The Comfy Times? What does the future hold for your shop?

In 2014 I'm hoping to throw seasonality out the window and keep The Comfy Times going year-round!  I'm still wrapping my head around how it will all unfold but ONE idea (out of a million) I'd love to see come to fruition in 2014 is "The Comfy Home!"

In addition, I'd really love to continue to get more involved in marketing this year.  The Pinterest Repin Giveaway in September was a huge success and I'd love to continue to have flash sales, giveaways, and other fun stuff this year.  Liking The Comfy Times on Facebook is the easiest way to stay "in the know" about these types of events.  

5. Any advice for aspiring business owners or anyone interested in selling their handmade creations?

There's always so much advice to give but I think most importantly if there is anything you set out to achieve, these are good guidelines to follow:

1.  Envision your dream. 2. Write your vision down / Make a plan 3. Believe in yourself. 4. Believe in your dream.  5. Act / Do / Go 

"I love to use a wide variety of colors - my favorite is to combine really bold colors with muted colors. I love to use unexpected color patterns-- I hate to feel limited by tradition colorways so this year with my scarves I just went all out!" 
"An unexpected large expenditure of my time has been packaging!  This year I am using hand-polka-dotted brown baggies with fun tags I made with scrapbook paper-- and of course, tied off with yarn."
"I draw inspiration every day in everything I see.  I love color, nature, fun patterns, and anything vintage. I try to remember that not everyone has the same taste as me-- so as I play around with color palettes I always try to picture who my customers are and what THEY want, not always what I want."
"On my crocheting days, this is where you'll find me in full 'comfy times' mode wearing sweatpants, hair a mess, and wrapped up in a blanket - watching netflix or listening to music."
"I've started experimenting with patterns to make for The Comfy Home.  I made this garland here to add some autumn decor to my house and would really love to make a wide variety of garlands to sell! Of course with other home decor fun goodies." 
"I am so grateful to have a community that supports The Comfy Times. A message that I want to communicate through Etsy is a joyous and mirthful life-- my models were so great at staying true to my vision and message."

"Yarn is sooo mobile which is one thing I love about crocheting. I try to keep things somewhat tidy by using the bin under the table to keep current projects and my trusty pitcher of crochet hooks/scissors, but honestly you can find yarn and scraps throughout my house."
If you love all-things cozy and crafty, definitely check out Bethany's shop. Every time I see these warm scarves I curse the eternal summer weather in Florida; but it's okay -- she's done some expanding so even this gal can relish in her own comfy times creations, 80 degrees and all. :) You can follow The Comfy Times on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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