Tell us about yourself.
Hi there! I am a wife, mother of two wonderful adult children, one fantastic stepson, and several beautiful grandchildren with two being great-grandchildren. I am very blessed! I am 63 years young now and enjoying my family and my creative business. For many years, I worked two jobs until I married my supportive husband. After giving birth to our first child, I became a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled for four years. This put a damper on our finances some, so I made all our home decor myself. When my children went to pubic school, I became a paraprofessional so I could work with children with disabilities. My time in this job gave me precious memories.
I have always been active and big on fitness. I like to water ski, snow ski, dance, do aerobics, walk, camp, swim, play piano, and research anything I hear that I don’t know. My husband is the mechanic of our house, and I am the techie.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I have a daughter that has had chronic illnesses that began when she was 16 years old. We have been all over the USA in search of successful treatment. Her illnesses have caused ME/CFS and she has adrenal insufficiency. I retired from being a paraprofessional so I could be with her at home as we continued to search ways to help her. She is 29 now and still fighting illness.
I continued to create decor for my home when it occurred to me one day that I could also make pretty things for others and sell them. I started researching ways to do this and stumbled on Nancy Alexander’s video tutorials. Nancy owns Ladybug Wreaths. I contacted Nancy and joined her Facebook group so I could grow my new business the right way. After learning the valuable instruction Nancy has, I also joined her Nancy’s Inner Circle Group. I enrolled in her Etsy Training course and from there, she and Linda Joseph helped me create my own website pleasantexpressions.com after I won a contest in the Etsy Training for being the most improved student. When I chose the name for my shop, I wanted it to sound like what I feel in my heart about creating warmth for a home. That’s when I chose the name Pleasant Expressions. That was three years ago. This last year, my son Charles became my partner in business. He has a BBA in Business, and a MA in Administrative Leadership. He is my financial advisor, marketer, and shipper. He also handles our gift shop on Amazon. I am so thankful for him.
Tell us a bit about your products.
I began my business only making and selling wreaths. After a few months, I saw so many other types of decor that I loved, so I began branching out to other areas in handmade products. I discovered that I love making arch swags. Many of my customers have bought these for wedding arches. I also love lanterns and embellishing them with triple bow swags hung with beautiful greenery and seasonal picks. Then, I discovered that I could make centerpieces using many kinds of bases like wagons, wheelbarrows, and trucks. I also enjoy making beautiful grave saddles. I found cute signs and sleds that I could decorate with bows, picks, and seasonal florals that many people have liked. I especially like creating things that no one else has done yet.
After working on my handmade products for two years, I decided to start selling some of my overstock as a way to keep my bulging inventory in check. When Etsy opened up Etsy Studio, I was ecstatic!
What inspires your work?
Oh, so many things lure me out to my workshop! I see so many things around me that give me ideas. Just walking around our woods and gardens brings nature into my creations. Much of what I create in my wreaths comes from a picture in my mind of what is real in our beautiful world. That’s why I incorporate a lot of birds, nests, houses, butterflies, frogs, ladybugs, mushrooms, and many more. I love wildlife and I am a rehabilitator. I have raised three opossum litters and three squirrel litters. I look forward to many more. I love whimsical creations, but the decorations that come from nature are my most inspiring.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
This year I want to work more on reaching out to my customers and followers. I want to do more videos. I’ve had a hard time staying in touch with my special people on social media. My mother had a stroke in December and my time with her has been very important and a blessing. Also, I have traveled quite a bit with my daughter for consultations and treatment. I have struggled to expand in this realm and sometimes I felt that I should just keep trying to create new products instead while the time I spend in my workshop creating something is wonderful therapy for me. It relieves stress while I make something pleasant. This year, I will give more time to reaching out to touch the hearts of those I have missed.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
Well, I cannot say my business is better than many others who do the work I do. In fact, I know many other ladies and gentlemen who are very talented, and I admire their work very much. I feel like all of us support and encourage each other.
I can say that with my own creations, I work very hard to make things that are not quite the same as others. I am very picky about everything in a design being a perfect fit and anchored to stay. In my wreaths, I like to incorporate many varieties of plants and colors. I like them to look like twigs and grasses stray out and do not lay perfectly because this is what we see in a natural garden. In my centerpieces, I like to create a scene that brings back a memory of something dear to our hearts.
For the most part, my business is different because it is a part of what’s inside me, LOL!
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
I have a wonderful studio! When I first mentioned my business plans to my husband, he said, “You really think people would buy wreaths?” Well, he was surprised! Last year he bought me a 12′ X 18′ storage building to put my workshop in. He and my son added paneled walls and an air conditioner and heater. My husband took a double/twin bunk bed frame and built me the grandest ribbon cabinet I’ve ever seen! Then I asked for pegboards to be installed on one wall and found peg baskets to hang and fill with all my florals, greenery and picks. The rafters have hooks hanging down that I hang some wreaths from. I added a rocking chair by an end table and have a drafting chair to sit on at my bench when my feet get tired. I have two easels to work on. My husband built my bench higher for me so I don’t have to bend to use it. I am very happy!
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
I wish I had known about the many wholesale vendors that I use now. I love my vendors. I wish I had been more careful about buying too much of some items, although I am constantly finding a way to incorporate them.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
I have run into people who have an interest in starting an Etsy store. I have given them my business card and told them that if I can help them in any way to please call me. Etsy is such a wonderful place to show our talents and make money too. I have never forgotten the help I received from Nancy Alexander, and I hope to help others like Nancy helped me in the future. Go for it!
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I have too many! Working in my workshop is a way to wind down, but my family wants me too. I love family movie nights, family game nights, and having friends and family come over to visit. I love to sit out by our pool in the summer, or gather around a fire pit in the back yard. I enjoy a roaring fireplace with lanterns and candles in the winter. I also enjoy fishing in our two ponds and frying up the freshest fish ever. We also have cattle, a horse, chickens, swans, peacocks, guineas, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and until 2 weeks ago a pet opossum Scamper.
What is your favorite quote?
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Where can people find out more about your business?
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would only like to add that I hope that I can put a smile on someone’s face, a pleasure in their heart, and leave them feeling like they are loved.
If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.